Kerala, India, Backpacking

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AustinW
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Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by AustinW » Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:09 pm

I am after some hints, tips, and ideas. We are planning an impromptu backpacking trip to Kerala, India for about a month starting in a couple of weeks time. Nothing planned at the moment other than a visit to the local pharmacy for a Typhoid booster, and we will be submitting our tourist visa application tomorrow. Once that's done we will book a flight and a couple of nights in a hotel. Thereafter its suck it and see.

Kerala, Fort Cochin specifically, as I have some family connections there: my family lived in the area for several generations until my dad and Grandad returned "home" in the late 50s. A great great Uncle (Joseph Ethelbert Winckler) was a notable figure in Fort Cochin and was the last person buried in the Dutch Cemetery and there is a statue of him near the port somewhere. The family house is now the Malabar House Hotel: an uber trendy boutique hotel and sadly way outside our budget at £250+ per night.

I know some people have travelled around India so all ideas and tips welcome. We ar not planning to buy or rent a bike or a car as we fancy trying out backpacking and public transport for a change.

thanks in advance.

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special one
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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by special one » Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:16 pm

AustinW wrote:I am after some hints, tips, and ideas. We are planning an impromptu backpacking trip to Kerala, India for about a month starting in a couple of weeks time. Nothing planned at the moment other than a visit to the local pharmacy for a Typhoid booster, and we will be submitting our tourist visa application tomorrow. Once that's done we will book a flight and a couple of nights in a hotel. Thereafter its suck it and see.

Kerala, Fort Cochin specifically, as I have some family connections there: my family lived in the area for several generations until my dad and Grandad returned "home" in the late 50s. A great great Uncle (Joseph Ethelbert Winckler) was a notable figure in Fort Cochin and was the last person buried in the Dutch Cemetery and there is a statue of him near the port somewhere. The family house is now the Malabar House Hotel: an uber trendy boutique hotel and sadly way outside our budget at £250+ per night.

I know some people have travelled around India so all ideas and tips welcome. We ar not planning to buy or rent a bike or a car as we fancy trying out backpacking and public transport for a change.

thanks in advance.
There's a program about walking the Himalayas you might find useful on channel 4 right now.
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AustinW
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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by AustinW » Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:34 pm

special one wrote:
AustinW wrote:I am after some hints, tips, and ideas. We are planning an impromptu backpacking trip to Kerala, India for about a month starting in a couple of weeks time. Nothing planned at the moment other than a visit to the local pharmacy for a Typhoid booster, and we will be submitting our tourist visa application tomorrow. Once that's done we will book a flight and a couple of nights in a hotel. Thereafter its suck it and see.

Kerala, Fort Cochin specifically, as I have some family connections there: my family lived in the area for several generations until my dad and Grandad returned "home" in the late 50s. A great great Uncle (Joseph Ethelbert Winckler) was a notable figure in Fort Cochin and was the last person buried in the Dutch Cemetery and there is a statue of him near the port somewhere. The family house is now the Malabar House Hotel: an uber trendy boutique hotel and sadly way outside our budget at £250+ per night.

I know some people have travelled around India so all ideas and tips welcome. We ar not planning to buy or rent a bike or a car as we fancy trying out backpacking and public transport for a change.

thanks in advance.
There's a program about walking the Himalayas you might find useful on channel 4 right now.
Thanks, I am watching it. Its the other end of the country though. Kerala is a sub-tropical paradise with beautiful white palm fringed beaches and friendly locals selling delicious sea food curries for a just a few pence. Or so Ihave been led to believe. :laugh:

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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by Tramp » Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:37 pm

Kerala tourism is very helpful. Lakshadweep Islands are ace and cheap via ferry from
Cochi.

Public transport interesting and varied we used ambassador taxis and local buses, the locals are friendly and trustworthy festivals are ace and go on all day and night with elephants and fire walkers etc..the hills are cooler and tranquil the coast is Christian and Muslim split both friendly but different. Tourist price s vary away from coast it's more local which is what I like most...the sea is dangerous with undercurrent and shit all along beaches..

Have fun and beware of snakes they are everywhere and do kill, medicine is highly conferfit like Africa ..it'll be hot and dry but rainy season has just finished... The backwaters are tranquil and take some binoculars.

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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by Tim Cullis » Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:13 pm

You'll probably fly into Thiruvananthapuram which isn't too difficult to pronounce, though the English call it Trivandrum. Kerala was my first experience of India and is a gentle introduction, there's not as much abject poverty as elsewhere and I've visited again a couple of times. Being at the southern tip of India it's a lot hotter than Goa or places further north. My overwhelming memories are coconut palms everywhere together with the thieving crows.

As for food having curry (sambal and iddli) for breakfast is brilliant, and I would be only too happy to have my favourite meal of gobi manchurian, tarka dal and coconut rice every night for the rest of my days. Gobi Manchurian combines Indian and Chinese cuisines and is cauliflower deep fried in a spiced light batter. Freshly cooked tiger prawns by the Chinese fishing nets at Cochin is an experience.

You need to decide what to do about anti-malaria treatment. Larium gives many people the heebie jeebies with nightmares and other side effects. And none of them are 100% effective. Next visit I might just rely upon deet and long trousers/long-sleeved shirts at night.

I would suggest some time in the Western Ghats maybe at the start of your time there, as it will be cooler at altitude. A cruise of the backwaters is worthwhile to see local riverside life, as is an overnight in a rice boat on one of the bigger lakes. Travelling by train is another brilliant experience, India isn't much into health and safety.

Oh, and I should be disappointed if you can't blag a free night or two at the Malabar House Hotel.
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Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by AustinW » Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:35 pm

Thanks Tim. It seems we can fly into Kochi via Dubai. About 10 hours. My wife used to be a travel vac nurse so well up on drugs of all sorts but she says Kerala is v low risk for malaria so apparently we are not taking any - and trust me if she says we don't need drugs we don't need them.

Western Ghats added to the itinerary. Spice and tea plantations. I can't imagine anything better, and deffo a few legs of the trip will be by train.

A very very distant cousin visited the hotel a few years ago and they were very cool about the family history. It was last owned by one of my great uncles in the late 40s and has been several hands before becoming the hotel. It will be fun trying to blag a night or two though. I will be giving it a go for sure.

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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by dubber68 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:01 am

A trip to Peryar nature reserve is a good shout. You can see wild elephants there and also go on a tiger retreat stopping in jungle camps. We got there by taxi and found plenty of cheap places to stay. Lighthouse beach is also worth a night or two. Will post more tomorrow when I can access a proper keyboard.
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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by Tim Cullis » Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:19 am

Lighthouse beach is at Kovalam, which is rather unfairly regarded as a beach resort for middle-aged and older people. Varkala an hour to the north is the 'youngsters' hangout. Having said that I prefer Kovalam.

When getting a hotel try to avoid a room on the top floor, the roof of which will be superheated by the sun during the day and no amount of ceiling fans and aircon will cool down. How do I know... :(

Image

Just checked on the malaria situation above and you are right. The advice must have changed over the years.
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and enlarges the world in which you live," Irving Mather (1892-1966)

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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by AustinW » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:54 am

Tramp wrote:Kerala tourism is very helpful. Lakshadweep Islands are ace and cheap via ferry from
Cochi.

Public transport interesting and varied we used ambassador taxis and local buses, the locals are friendly and trustworthy festivals are ace and go on all day and night with elephants and fire walkers etc..the hills are cooler and tranquil the coast is Christian and Muslim split both friendly but different. Tourist price s vary away from coast it's more local which is what I like most...the sea is dangerous with undercurrent and shit all along beaches..

Have fun and beware of snakes they are everywhere and do kill, medicine is highly conferfit like Africa ..it'll be hot and dry but rainy season has just finished... The backwaters are tranquil and take some binoculars.
Thanks Russ, I will google the islands but the "ace and cheap" bit sounds very attractive and they are probably just the sort of place we are looking for. We are hoping to get off the tourist trail so it will be islands, hills and rural backwaters once we have finished in Kochi. I am hoping the weather will be settled and fine but not too hot - thats what the climate websites predict anyway. I am getting quite excited now.

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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by jackdaw » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:18 pm

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We flew into Trivandrum and travelled up to Varkala. Took a while to adjust to pace of life/attitudes. Had intended to rent a bike to ride up to the Western Ghats. First taxi ride persuaded me against that plan. I've ridden a few wild places but this really is the worst by a long chalk. Did have a day on a scoot (£3), sticking to back-roads and the paths/tracks round backwaters and now I think I would be brave enough to attempt the main roads. Public transport cheap and frequent. Beaches- some excellent with dolphins. Food brilliant. Many Nepalese/Tibetan restaurants. Varkala cliff = restaurants, hotels tourist tat shops on the edge of a cliff with narrow unprotected pathway! Health and Safety LOL.
Can't remember how long the visas took to come through. You might be cutting it a bit fine.
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