One of the best things about getting out of Delhi is a change of routine, a change of scenery and all of us being together...oh, wait, that's about three best things. I guess you can tell that I love traveling with my family! And, the best thing about being at the beach, besides the beach of course, was the hotel. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone wanting a nice seaside stay in Kerala. It is tiny--there are only four small villas that are beautifully decorated. There is a lovely pool, very nice grounds and it is just steps from the beach. Breakfast and dinner were included and they tailor the menu to your tastes (even to kids' tastes). We opted for as much fresh fish and fresh fruit as we could get.
During our first three days in Kerala, we did quite a bit of driving--about four and a half hours from the airport to Thedakky and about four hours from Thedakky to the house boat. Luckily, leaving the houseboat on our fourth day, we only had to drive half an hour. We arrived at our perfect seaside hotel on Marari Beach and knew at once it would be hard to leave after our four days there. The first two days or so it was pretty cloudy with slight drizzle from time to time. Apparently, just on the other side of the Indian peninsula in the Bay of Bengal, there was a cyclone and we were getting some of the side effects. Fortunately, it did not spoil a thing! The boys still loved jumping in the waves and digging in the sand or playing in the hotel's pool. If there was a bit of rain, we stayed on our terrace and the boys painted or played. It was such a relaxing four days.
When we were on the beach, I loved just sitting and watching the boys, listening to the waves and looking at all the fishermen and their different ways of fishing.
After two nights among the spice-filled hills, we crossed back over the Western Ghats and headed towards the backwaters of Kerala. The backwaters refer to a huge network of lakes, canals and rivers that border the Arabian sea. In total, there are 900km of waterways, including India's longest lake, Vembanad lake. Towns and villages line the waterways along with rice paddies and other farm land. There is even a system of transport--boat buses. The houseboats with their thatched roofs, called kettuvallam, were originally used to transport agricultural products. But, overtime, were used as living quarters then eventually for tourists. They seem to come in all sizes--ours was a modest one-bedroom but had an upper mezzanine and came with a captain, a cook and a waiter. We arrived at noon and were served a fantastic lunch of fresh local fish. We spent one night, which was perfectly enough with our two boys. It was a relaxing tour of the waterways and the boys absolutely loved being on the boat.
Passing another houseboat:
The view from above:
School kids walking home:
Heading back to land:
Along the way, we saw fishing boats, bus boats and birds. We listened to the croaking of frogs as we dined, then looked at the stars from the top of our boat.
Kerala is one of the southern most states of India. Since coming to Delhi, we've been told it is beautiful. It has places with names like the Cardamon Hills and the Malabar Coast...it just sounds so lovely. Recently, we were lucky enough to get to spend 7 days in Kerala. It is relatively small state but there is so much to see. We divided our time between spice plantations, a houseboat and the beach.
Our first stop after arriving in Cochin (also called Kochi or Koochi, if you're Arthur) was to the land of the spice plantations. We drove between 4 and 5 hours, but the ride was beautiful. Once you leave the city, you drive through the Western Ghats, a green mountain range dotted with waterfalls. From there, we passed rolling tea plantations with the tallest olive trees I've ever seen.
We arrived at our hotel to find we were the only guests...like our own private hideaway:
The next day, we met Bina:
Dorian really liked her:
We visited a spice plantation and saw all sorts of things growing: coffee, cocoa, insulin leaves, tree tomatoes, nutmeg, pepper, vanilla, oranges and pineapples. But, for me, the most impressive was the cardamom--I had no idea that it grew so closely to the ground:
The two days we spent near Thedakky in the land of spices were fun for all and we all experienced and learned new and interesting things. Oh yes, of course I bought some spices!
We've had a busy past two months, getting the boys settled back in school. Dorian was happy to go back but Arthur took about a month to adjust to his new school. For me, it's nice to finally have them at the same school on the same schedule. So, it's been school, play dates, homework for Dorian, etc. But, lucky me got to get away for a night with four awesome ladies. We booked a big room at the Neemrana Fort Palace (fort palace). It is a mere 2-hour drive from Delhi but feels worlds away.
Our first activity upon arrival was to do the zip line. After hiking up to the top of the hill, we were a bit nervous but it was such fun!
We weren't the only ones to relax at the pool...
It was a lovely time with good friends. Hopefully we'll get to do it again!