The southern region of Kerala was the last stop on our travels in India and from where we catch our flight to Kuala Lumpur. Trivandrum is the capital and where our 40 hr train was headed to.
Whilst in Hyderabad Vanditas driver picked us up for the train station. The prospect of a 40hr journey was not a good one and at the last minute I asked the driver to instead take us to the airport. We got there about 11am
I went to the Jet Airways ticket office. I requested a flight to Cochin (it is spelt about fifty different ways) and I was told one left in an hour. I asked if it was the best she could do and the price was reduced. I saw other ticket offices and said id go see their prices first and then the price dropped again. It was a good price for a flight one hour away and before long we were 39,000 feet above India and then in Cochin about 2hrs later.
There is no public transport at the airport, instead a cartel operate where you have no other option than to pay for a taxi at the pre paid airport taxi booth. It is 30km from the airport to the train station in Cochin. Once there we got a train to Trivandrum and 5 hours later we arrived. We took a quick rickshaw to a hotel I sniffed out previously. It was midnight and since I needed to use the net downstairs I told Charlie to lock the door from the inside and I wouldn’t be long. When I returned to the room there was no answer. I spent about 10 minutes literally banging the door down and still no answer. The manager was ringing the phone and still nothing. He offered to give me another room across the hall at no charge until they woke up in the morning but I was having none of it. 30 minutes later it was obvious I had to climb up the back of the building and shout through the window. We were on the second floor and so I went outside and scaled a huge wall about 20ft high using a palm tree, walked across the wall down the side of the hotel and then climbed over the air ducts to get me onto the window below ours. I was trying to push the window open and suddenly I felt a huge blow to my back. I look around and some security guard from the hotel opposite was hitting me with a pole. I told him to go away and he wouldn’t he was shouting at me and poking me. I grabbed the pole off him and kept it with me and he shouted then marched off in a rage. I had by this time got the window open and was shouting Charlie. He woke up and opened the room door. As I was getting down the police turned up but since I was on the wall I easily hopped over the other side and back into our hotel. I came upstairs and got in bed, half expecting the police to turn up. They never did.
Kerala is India’s answer to a tropical paradise. If the rest of India is an out of control truck with no brakes bombing down the motorway at 200mph smashing everything in its path, Kerala is the little old lady doing half a mile a year on her Zimmer frame. It is so unlike India it is difficult to appreciate that you are still on the sub continent.
On our first day we didn’t really do a lot because there was a Kerala wide strike because of inflated petrol prices. Everything was closed, buses weren’t running and Rickshaw drivers had inflated their prices by 200%. We used the day to get things sorted for Malaysia and to bring our India trip to an end by tying up a few loose ends.
Our final day and we hit the bus station first thing for the bus to Kovallam which is where all the beaches are. The fare is 7 rupees for an adult and 4 rupees for Charlie, Abi was free. The journey takes 20 minutes and you get booted off at Lighthouse beach. It was about 10am and 30 degrees, not a cloud in the sky I thought that I would gift everyone a view of my body. The vest was off, beard was styled, sunglasses on and we were off. Expecting golden sands and clear blue water I was conned. The beaches are a strange black colour and the sea was like something out of a hurricane with waves at least 10ft high. But I have to say it was beautiful, stunningly so. The sleepy village we were in might not have been what we were expecting but damn it was gorgeous. Palm trees swayed whilst Bob Marley blasted out. Fishermen tended their bamboo fishing boats whilst everyone was simply in reverse. I realised that lighthouse beach was one of many small bays up the coast. We walked, and we walked for maybe 8 km, stopping every now and again to chill on the beach. We found a few beaches completely deserted, nothing but palm trees, some sand, a few monkeys and the kids and I. True paradise on earth. It was by now in the mid thirties and we were having a great last day in India. As we walked along someone came and started talking to us in excellent English and asking whether he could film us walking down the beach, i was very sceptical until i saw what looked like 15 or so crew with cameras and microphones and allsorts. He said they were filming a movie. I was convinced since there were actors who were also taking part. We must be naturals because it took only one take and Charlie got given a baseball cap and we were off; Bollywood stars in the making.
Before we realised it was 4pm. I called at one of the many stalls that lined the walk back to the bus stop and picked Abi 2 dresses up for 50 Rupees and Charlie 2 genuine Calvin Klein T shirts for 60 Rupees. We got the bus back to Trivandrum and visited a Temple we had seen from the bus at East Fort. We grabbed a pizza and a huge bottle of Sprite and hit the hotel for me to write this before we watch the England v Germany game at 7.45pm tonight.
A great last day and what a way to finish a 3 week whirlwind tour of one of the most diverse, chaotic, and magical countries on the planet.