Posts Tagged ‘Kochi’

New Year, New Adventures

January 8th, 2013 | Rachel


Relaxing beside the river in Kerala, India

I keep waiting for things to “slow down,” but I’m not sure it’ll ever happen for me. I’m not sure if I want it to.

Maintaining an unconventional schedule definitely has its perks. I didn’t do any shopping until I got back and was delighted to find everything on sale! I also got really excited every time I went into a store or casino (I spent New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas) that still had its holiday decor and was playing Christmas music. Other patrons did not share my sentiment. On my first day back to work, my coworkers — despite having expressed no preference as to the type of music we listened to — answered my suggestion of Christmas music with unenthusiastic blank stares.

I told Steve I felt like I missed Christmas since I was in India almost all of December and spent Christmas Day in transit (6-hour car ride, 45-minute taxi ride, 15-hour flight, 4-hour flight, and a 2-hour shuttle ride….whew!), so we are still pretending it is the holiday season. The “tree” is still lit (and by tree, I mean our bikes on the wall covered in Christmas lights) and we watched Love Actually the other night. I made Sunday brunch yesterday and used an apple cider-braised bacon recipe from Martha Stewart’s Christmas Brunch menu. I’m going to see how long I can keep this pseudo-holiday spirit going.

The trip to India was incredible. Before we left, I was so nervous about getting sick from food poisoning or otherwise that I couldn’t sleep. During the trip, I didn’t verbalize my amazement at how smoothly everything was going until the last few days for fear of jinxing us.

Sure there were some stressful moments of uncertainty. Exiting the Delhi train station was probably the worst because we couldn’t figure out where the pre-paid taxi stand was, and we were mobbed by men pretending to be “helpful” but really trying to lead us in a different direction. Even after we finally got to the stand, there were so many random people around me trying to talk to me that it was almost impossible to communicate with the dispatcher (who still overcharged me). After the transaction, one of the random men insisted that he was my driver, but when I turned to the dispatcher, pointed to the man, and asked if he was my driver, the dispatcher said no. It felt like a miracle when we finally arrived at our hotel.

Our itinerary was divided into three parts: 5 days in Kerala, the the southernmost state in India; 5 days in Hyderabad for a wedding, the inspiration for the whole trip; and 5 days traveling the “Golden Triangle” in north India. In hindsight, we planned it perfectly.

South India is an incredible region. Beautiful. Lush. Green. Tranquil. Unbelievably hospitable. It was the perfect introduction to India.

We started in Kochi, a bustling port city with only a few tourist attractions.

Promenade in Kochi, India

 River promenade in Kochi, Kerala, India


Tuk tuk”


 One of Kochi’s main tourist attractions, Japanese fishing nets built in 1350


 One of South India’s claims to fame: spices!

After exploring the city for a couple of days, including watching a fascinating Kathakali dance performance, our driver drove us about two hours south of the city to Alappuzha, also known as Alleppey, where we spent a relaxing day and night at a “homestay” on a river. A homestay is like a bed & breakfast, only they provide all meals. This area has been appropriately called the “Venice of the East” because of its intricate network of rivers, lagoons and lakes. These backwaters create the perfect conditions for growing rice, so there are rice fields (and coconut trees!) as far as the eye can see.


 View from the front of our homestay


 View from the back of our homestay


 We went on an educational walk with our homestay host

The next day, we boarded a beautiful houseboat and spent 24hours cruising the rivers and lakes and eating home-cooked meals prepared by our new host. It was perfect.


 Houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala, India


Flooded rice fields

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 Dusk on the river in Kerala, India


 Final sunset in Kerala, India

We were sad to leave the houseboat.

Our flight to Hyderabad wasn’t until that night, so we spent the day walking along a beach of the Arabian Sea, exploring a palace, and experiencing Ayurveda, a traditional form of medicine that incorporates a lot of herb-infused oils. Ayruveda can treat more serious medical issues, but my mom and I opted for a massage and Shirodhara, a treatment where warm oil is poured on the forehead. The massage was kind of crazy (which began when I walked into a brightly lit room and immediately had an elderly Indian woman tell me to take all of my clothes off) and it took a few washings to get all of the coconut oil out of my hair (the first of which involved only a bucket of hot water at the Ayruvedic facility), but it was all the perfect cap to a wonderful week in Kerala.