24 Feb 2014

Kerala

I know it’s been a bit quiet on here of late and I must confess, it’s because I've been doing a bit of travelling – and I plan to do as much as I possibly can, while I can, and while I'm still based here in France. I was actually a bit reluctant to turn this blog into Deb’s Travel Diary…. But for those who are vaguely interested, I’ll keep updating as I go along … and of course Bize stuff, as and when….

So, in January, I took myself off to India for 12 days. Again, it was a last minute spur-of-the-moment decision – those long winter months/short days, you know. It was to Kerala state, in the south.

I don’t know why I thought it would be any less hot and humid just because it was winter in the northern hemisphere. I guess I hadn't checked just how close to the equator it was. My least favourite weather – hot and sticky! But it was all good and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and a really nice group of 15 people on the tour.

Kerala was a good place for my introduction to India – a few facts: the richest state in India, highest literacy rate (95%), lowest population growth, highest life expectancy and lowest homicide rate! I think we were sheltered from some of the realities of the poverty that exists in other parts of the country, as we saw none at all, and we did cover a lot of ground. The people are lovely and the food was good, though I probably won’t be cooking curry for a while.

As a respite from the heat, we did spend a few days up in high tea-growing hills. And I managed not to get sick until the last day. So all in all, it was a great short break away from the cold. 

Having said that, we’d actually had a very mild winter here in the south, and it’s feeling very spring-like at the moment, with a lot of plants and trees already with green shoots.  

Below, a few photos of lovely Kerala.

There are a lot of converted rice barges, now being used mainly for tourist cruises. Two days and night cruising the beautiful Backwaters was rather special.....
The Backwaters link to the open ocean so a lot of the fishing boats are moored away from the fishing ports.
Casting fishing nets at one of the locks in the Backwaters
A morning trek through Periyar Wildlife Reserve. There are tigers there, but we were assured that there was a 99.9% chance of NOT coming across one, and we didn't!
...but we were very lucky indeed to come across some of the wild Asian elephants that still live in the Reserve. A special experience.
Rubber tree plantation
Tapping a rubber tree for latex
Visit to a spice farm:  Cardamom plant
Cardamom flower and developing seeds
Nutmeg
Pepper
Tea plantations at Munnar
A lot of the tea plantations are extensively planted with Australian grevilleas (Silky Oak) for shade.

 Chinese fishing nets at Cochin
I just happened to have a birthday while I was away, and I was treated to cake for the occasion ....
.... and confetti.....
Lots of meals like this one ..... breakfast/lunch/dinner!
And the odd splurge on these .......


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