Kerala, India, Backpacking

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Tramp
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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by Tramp » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:53 pm

AustinW wrote:
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.

they used to be about 250 usd for accomodation and ferry there and back..think of them as the unspoilt maldavies....

also Kerela has one of the highest literature rates in india and the currys loose term are more spice than heat and vegatarian food is excellent and im a carnivore lol..yes Kovolam is good the hidden plantation and washing pit behind the main beach is interesting as its normal life..

Tourism is mainly local indians from other states and the outnumber westeners hugely unlike crappy Goa , there are some great backwater retreats away from Cochi and the Auverdic ? massages are well recommended..alcohol is rare and when the unions have a strike the whole beach is taken over in a family outing....

Ive some friends from years past who we met mainly a taxi driver [£10 a day ] we just said go drive somewhere the locals go..and we ate together and never had a bad day..the other friend who`s child we still sponcer is a poor muslim fisherman..heart of gold.

Tamil Nadu is good too as your in the area and as Tim says the western Gnats are well worth a look over and the old colonial tea plantations....

I know you`ll both enjoy it as you have the right mind set...and the tailors and clothes washers are cheap and friendly..we only took a few clothes and they made stuff as we neded it..oh yes and a picture in a "Kerela lungi" is required and no underwear....so liberating and no sweaty knackers...just mind the sand flies :laugh:

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dubber68
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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by dubber68 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:00 pm

A bit more detail. Peryar is a former British station and the nature reserve has a lake in it that runs pleasure cruises, best to get the last sailing of the day as this is when you are most likely to see the elephants at the waters edge. They also do a midnight guided walk in the park which is very interesting and a bit eerie. We were (un)fortunate enough to come across 2 sloth bears having a skirmish and even the guy with the rifle was worried.

Appeley where the house boat trips tend to leave from has or at least did when we were last there a large unspoilt beach as most people only visit for the boats. We got some really good accommodation very cheap right on the beach and were able to walk for hours on the beach without seeing another tourist.

When in Cochin go across the water to Ernakulam and buy your missus a ring. We paid £750 for a 1 Carat diamond ring which was valued at £4500 back in the UK. Came with a international gemological institute card and all paperwork as well. There is a mile stretch on MG road of just jewellery stores and you will be given free soft drinks and beer just for browsing. Gold jewellery is sold by weight in some stores so price is dependant on daily gold price not craftsmanship.

In Cochin you can purchase fish direct from the fisherman and the restaurants around them will cook it for a small fee.
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The Sarge
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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by The Sarge » Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:16 pm

Quote "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"

'Loŵ risk' is not 'no risk' just saying ! My younger Bro had a a similar approach and now has Cerebral Malaria with a list of further complications that at some point will put an end to his travelling. It's also worth remembering that being in an area surrounded by water that you will inevitably get bitten by mosquitto and other insects which can carry other desease not to mention the annoying enflamed itching bites. In June 2015 Kerala was badly hit with Dengue Fever and there have over 50 deaths from the disease since 2013, the disease is nearly always caused by Mosquitto bites, so I suggest your wife clues up on what prophylactics you need to take.
Prevention is always better than the cure so use a good repellent ( Deet based is better than Avon, 'skin so soft' despite the nicer smell) and sleep under a net at night, only my advice.

Sarge

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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by AustinW » Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:39 pm

The Sarge wrote:Quote "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"

'Loŵ risk' is not 'no risk' just saying ! My younger Bro had a a similar approach and now has Cerebral Malaria with a list of further complications that at some point will put an end to his travelling. It's also worth remembering that being in an area surrounded by water that you will inevitably get bitten by mosquitto and other insects which can carry other desease not to mention the annoying enflamed itching bites. In June 2015 Kerala was badly hit with Dengue Fever and there have over 50 deaths from the disease since 2013, the disease is nearly always caused by Mosquitto bites, so I suggest your wife clues up on what prophylactics you need to take.
Prevention is always better than the cure so use a good repellent ( Deet based is better than Avon, 'skin so soft' despite the nicer smell) and sleep under a net at night, only my advice.

Sarge
Thank you for your concern and advice. I didn't say no precautions, just no drugs which was confirmed at a travel consultation at the local chemist when we went for a Typhoid booster (the chemist does the travel consultation not the GP practice now). Tim Cullis included the latest position for India in his useful post on the previous page. Deet and Permethrin treated clothes will be being worn at most times, and all evenings. Wife says there are no prophylaxis drugs for Dengue fever anyway. Its just bite prevention.

Anyway the flight and two nights in a hotel is booked now, and the eVisa applied for - although the payment bit of the India visa website seems to be permentantly off line. Woohoo, can't wait.

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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by The Sarge » Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:43 pm

AustinW wrote:
The Sarge wrote:Quote "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"

'Loŵ risk' is not 'no risk' just saying ! My younger Bro had a a similar approach and now has Cerebral Malaria with a list of further complications that at some point will put an end to his travelling. It's also worth remembering that being in an area surrounded by water that you will inevitably get bitten by mosquitto and other insects which can carry other desease not to mention the annoying enflamed itching bites. In June 2015 Kerala was badly hit with Dengue Fever and there have over 50 deaths from the disease since 2013, the disease is nearly always caused by Mosquitto bites, so I suggest your wife clues up on what prophylactics you need to take.
Prevention is always better than the cure so use a good repellent ( Deet based is better than Avon, 'skin so soft' despite the nicer smell) and sleep under a net at night, only my advice.

Sarge
Thank you for your concern and advice. I didn't say no precautions, just no drugs which was confirmed at a travel consultation at the local chemist when we went for a Typhoid booster (the chemist does the travel consultation not the GP practice now). Tim Cullis included the latest position for India in his useful post on the previous page. Deet and Permethrin treated clothes will be being worn at most times, and all evenings. Wife says there are no prophylaxis drugs for Dengue fever anyway. Its just bite prevention.

Anyway the flight and two nights in a hotel is booked now, and the eVisa applied for - although the payment bit of the India visa website seems to be permentantly off line. Woohoo, can't wait.
Austin,
Never a problem, enjoy your stay, it is a truly amazing State and even more amazing Country !!

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Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by AustinW » Sat Jan 30, 2016 1:29 pm

Ok, so we are here. Actually nearly two weeks in. The temperature is 33-36c in the day and it sunny 6am to 6pm. Hardly any Mozzies thank goodness.

We have spent 4 days in Fort Kochi where we stayed in a "homestay" with a lovely lady and had traditional keralan breakfasts of Dhosa, curried veg, onion masala omelette, and erm toast and jam. The homestay was fairly basic but clean and cheap 1200 rupees incl air con (800 without).

Then 3 days in another homestay about 50miles south in a large village near Allepy. The main attraction here are the backwaters and various boat tours. The VERY keen and overly attentive guy at the homestay steered us away from a houseboat and an overnight and onto a Chakara for about 4 hours starting early. He was from a very well to-do local family and everyone knew him and he was our personal guide for the 3 days. Well worth being guided by him too as we got a fab boat tour down tiny little waterways observing village life and taken into tiny backwater cafes where 4 teas and a huge crispy sweet fried pastry cost 60rupees (~60p), and got to sample the local hooch brewed from coconut palm sap in a "bar" - a thatched hut by the canal serving curries from fish they caught in the canal, teas, and this hooch. Rustic doesn't begin to describe it. But they all seemed happy enough, even the people brushing their teeth or bathing in the grubby canal water. I think it's actually very slow rivers that have been straightened and embanked. Norfolk broads is the nearest equivelant but covering an area the size of Yorkshire.

Our guide took us to a couple of "Indian Coffee House" cafes. This is a cooperative created to stave off competition from Starbucks etc. cheap doesn't describe it - coffee 20p a cup. Meal for three with soft drinks, and a couple side dishes under £4. I wouldn't say the best food but not half bad and clean - we got invited into kitchen at one to inspect and watch the cooking. He also helped me get an Indian phone. The phone was easy - walk into a shop and pay 1350rp for a basic Nokia. The SIM card is another matter: 3 hours, passport, passport photos, sponsorship from a local (my man), and a signed statement to say when I was leaving India and that they could disable the sim thereafter. Calls cost 1rp a minute. :)

We are now in Varkala on the coast having braved and won our first trip on Indian railways. It's a nice place and very different from where we have been. Lots of western tourists (not many Brits though) mostly of hippy dippy yoga/Ayurvedic type or young backpackers. It's a holiday resort so lots of touristy shops selling Indian style souvenirs and the hard sell from the touts. It's nice enough though with New Age music mixing with the traditional, incense, patchouli oil, and lots of Indian tourists making for a good atmosphere. The cliff top path is a nice walk and you don't have to go far to get away from it all. The main beach is lovely - clean, good surf and the sea is as warm as i would take a bath. The beach is even cleaned at night by a men walking up and down wearing head torches picking up the litter. No machine - It is India after all.

We are going to stay 4-5 days here as we haven't got a plan for the next stage but at some point we will into the western ghats for the tea plantations and a slightly lower temperature.

Most of my pics are on the proper camera and I don't have facilities to download so only what is on the phone for now.

More to follow in a week or so.


My great great great uncle put this up to commemorate the great fire of Cochin in 1890 (a bit neglected nowadays)
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Home stay hosts (and Mrs AW)
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The beach at Varkala

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Cliff top path at night
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Beachside temple

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Cows cooling down
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(Kerala is mostly Moslem so not so many cows wandering about. These were tethered).

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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by Wonkyconk » Sat Jan 30, 2016 4:48 pm

Munnar is a lovely place to do some trekking, cooler temperatures lots of tea plantations, spectacular views.
I drove a Tuk Tuk for the first time there, scared the life out of my passengers.
Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Tramp
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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by Tramp » Sat Jan 30, 2016 7:30 pm

Glad your enjoying it....lots of walks in the hills.and valleys below the tea plantations....locals are great guides and know where the snakes are ...

As the festivals...must be one soon for the full moon...

Kovolam is different to the north...

jackdaw
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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by jackdaw » Sat Jan 30, 2016 8:01 pm

Looks like you're having a great time. Very envious.

Tim Cullis
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Re: Kerala, India, Backpacking

Post by Tim Cullis » Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:01 am

Isn't it weird, 30+ºC temperatures and sunset at 6pm. Most evenings I found myself down on the beach with all the locals watching the sunset and hoping for the elusive green flash.
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