Kerala Part 2
11.01.2011 - 14.01.2011
View India, Jan 2011 on jkirsch's travel map.
We had a slightly more relaxed end to our time in Kerala. I say only slightly because our time in Periyar started off with a dawn-to-dusk excursion through the tiger preserve there. We didn’t manage to see any tigers (an incredibly rare occurrence), but we were fortunate enough to spot a group of elephants (we’d ridden a “domesticated” one the day before, but this was way cooler), a pack of wild dogs, some boar, and a bison. We were on foot, so thankfully there was a bit of distance each time – apparently bison can be particularly ornery. The scenery in the park provided quite a backdrop for the day, especially with the preserve almost entirely closed off to humans.
A Little cheesy perhaps, but hey who knows when we'll get another chance?
After Periyar, we were off to a homestay at Philipkutty's farm in the Kerala backwaters, a 4-hour drive along winding two lane roads.
Road to Kumarakom
At this point, it’s probably worth spending a moment to talk about the driving experience in Kerala (and I’m guessing India more generally). Most roads in Kerala are no more than two lanes, and often times only one. I say lanes quite liberally as at any time, all manner of vehicles from large buses to auto-rickshaws and motorbikes are using shoulder, the middle of the road, or the oncoming lane to constantly overtake slower cars, passing inches from other vehicles and people. All this is orchestrated by what seems to be a special language of horns and maneuvers. I would’ve liked to get photos that somehow captured this, but alas I was worried that if I spent to long looking at the tiny screen on my camera, I might lose my lunch. Apparently, starting today some new traffic laws are due to go into effect that will bring errant drivers into line, but I’d say the jury’s out on any lasting impact.
So, back on track… We spent our first night in the backwaters at the working Philipkutty's farm on an island in lake Vembamad (the second largest inland lake in India). Besides coconut and cacao, the farm also features six traditional cottages for guests as well as two dachshunds and a Great Dane. The small size gave us a nice opportunity to meet some of the other guests over wonderful meals prepared by the owner’s mother. Overall, the laid back atmosphere at Philipskutty was a welcome change of pace.
On the Move at Philipkutty's
We wrapped up our time in Kerala on an overnight houseboat cruise through the backwaters. My only past experience houseboatin’ was a bachelor party weekend spent on lake Shasta, so this was a decidedly different experience. We spent the afternoon cruising through the canals, stopping off at a village to visit a 500-year old church. We did feel a little silly as there was a crew of three aboard to pilot the boat and prepare food, but they were all low-key and made for a great experience. To top off the cruise, we moored for the evening in a more isolated spot and caught a gorgeous sunset.
As long as our SpiceJet flight isn’t delayed any more, stay tuned for the next update from Delhi. Thanks for reading!