Kerala Part 1: Varkala and Kovalam

SandHotels, guest houses, restaurants and shops line the coast of the cliff top meaning you are continuously bombarded with questions, most likely, if you could come to their establishment (which is also prominent in other areas of Asia). Descend the cavernous rocks by step and you will be surprised with the magnificent beauty of the beach side along the red cliffs of Varkala. We spent the afternoon sunning ourselves and although not being the only tourists on the beach, and not the best looking either, we were still watched in awe (and in a pervy way) as more and more photos were taken by locals standing next to us as if a tourist attraction.

Varkala Beach View

Acting like a MermaidThat night we headed to dinner at the arts cafe, otherwise known as Bohemia Masala which delivered us our best meal yet. We were taken to the back of the restaurant in the garden in the candle light, where we saw the menu was a combination of fresh and organic ingredients, highlighted by the waiters happiness to share the natural process with which the food and drinks were created. Ordering watermelon juice and pomegranate ice teas, I questioned if I would be able to be sober for a long period of time, where if I had the opportunity to drink such fresh fruit juices on a daily basis. I am sure my liver would be grateful and it would do wonders for my inner and outer health. My meal was barracuda wrapped in pandan leaves and grilled, all smothered with a garlic and peppermint sauce served with a side salad (Yes! Finally!) and putti- a juxtaposition of ground rice with cooked coconut. A delight.

Veg CafeFrom there we walked to Lunar Azul where we were told hours before, a night of entertainment of bollywood dancing and reggae music awaits. We arrived at the end of the show because of its distance from our accommodation, where we saw local boys break dance to absurd German techno. We were told it would be a “great spot” by Indian promoters on the beach in the day. These promoters were pleased to see us, and me being me, acting in my familiar friendly way, as well as seeing we had a shower (who wouldn’t?) and a change of clothes, they thought this was turn on. Ordering beers and hiding them under the table, we realized this because of the change in their attitude towards us, other waiters wanting to bring us more beer, although we were still drinking and them hanging around our table. Observing this, we quickly got the correct amount of money together, left it on the table and promptly left. Suddenly, the men began to follow us. Rushing away from them, shopkeepers saw our demeanour and asked us, “why so busy?” and “what’s the hurry?”, to which I honestly replied, “we’re being followed.” As the distance between us grew larger, I felt that an attentive shopkeeper most have confirmed to them how we really felt. Quickly, I have learnt my lesson to not be so friendly and interested in people as I normally am, but to keep a safe distance, which is annoying aspect of being a western woman in India.

Traditional DressThe second day in Varkala we headed to Kovalam, a hit in the lonely planet. To get there you must get a train to Trivandrum, which is the capital of Kerala, (great to get out of there as soon as possible) and take a bus to Kovalam. Lighthouse beach is the main beach area and is bombarded with thatched huts and fishing boats, and accommodation is stacked up like jenga pieces with the towering lighthouse in the distance. Although Kovalam was interesting to see, if possible, avoid this place, Varkala is much more of a gem.

Pretty Boat

FishA good quote that I have found which seems to sum up India is:

“India of the ages is not dead, nor has she spoken her last creative word, she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples.”

I like this quote, as it highlights India as a living, breathing creature, that whistles and shouts and screams. With 28 official languages, 29 states and an infinite number of subcultures, it is hard to ignore.