Oh how I love Varkala! It's a beautiful little beach town perched above the ocean on cliffs. All the shops, restaurants and guesthouses sit precariously close to the cliff, meaning that you can hear the ocean from your room, and watch the sunset from the roof (or your dinner table!)
Getting here, of course, was not so sublimely calm. I met up with a nice French couple headed the same way and we sat together on the train, along with a large, loud, very entertaining group of older Italian travelers, each with at least 2 very large pieces of luggage. The train only stops in Varkala for 1 minute (exactly 60 seconds!) even though most of the tourists get off there, so before the train pulled into the station, me, the French couple, all the Italians, and ALL of our luggage were crammed into the narrow doorway, ready to dash off. I managed to get off quickly, the French girl had to rush off as the train started moving, and as it pulled away, we realized that three of the Italians, and their massive suitcases, were still on the train! A hilarious few minutes of jumping Italians, tossed suitcases, and lots of laughter ensued. Once we were all safely off the train, we quickly made our way through the town of Varkala to the cliffside, where I found a cute little guesthouse run by a very sweet, very enthusiastic Indian woman who made sure I had everything I needed.
I spent all my time in Varkala lying on the beach with my new friend, Cath, a teacher from South Africa. We spent the entire time lying on the beach under an umbrella with copious amounts of spf 50 sunscreen on; because of some ozone thing, the sun in Varkala is VERY strong and even with sunscreen AND an umbrella, you can still get burnt. We went swimming a lot - the surf was nice and big and the weather was over 40 degrees each day, so we needed the cool down!
I managed to control myself with the shopping, only stepping into a few little stores, all run by Tibetans for some reason, for small items. I'm saving my big shop for Calcutta and Delhi, where things are cheap if you bargain hard (which I love to do!)
South India has been lovely...so laid back and relaxed compared with north India. It's been lovely to see the backwaters and get in some quality beach time, since I won't be at a beach again for a long time! Today I caught a train back up to Kochi, and tomorrow I have a flight (with 2 stopovers of course) up to Calcutta. I'm excited to get back to the chaos and craziness of northern India...my break in the south has been very rejuvenating. After a few days in Calcutta I head to Varanasi, where I'm meeting up with my friend Ash and then heading into the Himalayas!
I can't believe that I head to London 3 weeks from today, and head to Toronto in exactly 6 weeks! The past 8 months have been so incredible and have flown by...I feel like it should still be August!!
Here are the rest of my Kerala pictures...such a beautiful state! It's no wonder they call it "God's Own Country"