Kerala was the highlight of India for me. Situated at the bottom of the country the region is made up of beautiful beaches, stunning backwaters and vibrant local towns.
Fort Cochin is a small Portuguese colonial town with a few things to do and see. They have a fish market where you can buy freshly caught fish and then take it to a restaurant down the road who will cook it and serve up a range of side dishes. To the side of the fish market are the Chinese fishing nets which are still operated. Apparently these were first designed and built by a Mongolian and aren’t Chinese at all. The large frame nets are supported by long wooden beams which need to be replaced every seven to eight years when the whole frame is rebuilt.
I was told that there was too much fresh water from the monsoon and not enough salt water in the estuary causing fish to go further out to sea. Still plenty to buy in the market though and I decided on a side of Tuna from a stall with plenty of ice. The local restaurant spiced and cooked it as we sat on a balcony overlooking the fishing nets along the bank.
A bus ride south brings you to the town of Allepey. This is the northern gateway to the backwaters and there are some 500 house boats waiting to take you out for trips through and around the backwaters of Kerala. Allepey is pretty unremarkable in itself and you need a boat to see the real beauty of this region of India.
Palm trees line the banks of the river while women wash clothes and children wave as they walk to school. We stopped for lunch at a small family owned restaurant serving fish curry and cold beer. The boat trip was a real highlight for me and I’d recommend it to anyone visiting this region.
After leaving Allepey we spent a couple of days on the beach just south of Thiruvananthapuram airport. It was a stunning beach with golden sand as far as you can see down the coast.
The only negative was the local traders hassling you from the minute you step foot on the beach to the minute you leave. This kind of sums up India for me, beautiful but tainted to a degree. In a country with so much poverty and such division between the rich and poor it’s easy to understand and impossible to overcome. There wont be a real solution until the economy and government develop enough to support the huge population.
After two weeks in India I’m looking forward to moving on. The country is an interesting but challenging place to travel. I’m glad to have visited India, enjoyed my time there, will remember it forever but wouldn’t rush back for a vacation. Having said that out of all the places I visited down the west coast Kerala certainly has the most going for it and if you are travelling to India make sure you visit this region