Kovalam to Thiruvananthapuram airport and home via Singapore

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Kovalam Beach to Thiruvananthapuram international airport and home via Singapore – Thursday 15th November

And yes we have learned to say the name of the airport! For every day use they have shortened it to Trivandrum.
We have to be out of the room by 11 but we are not being picked up until 7pm for our flight to Singapore – so we are scratching our heads as to what to do to fill in the time with no fixed abode. Am having trouble connecting to the internet today and am wondering if we have exceeded our monthly data limit or something. I have phoned Actrix @ $20 a call but have been cut off, so it can wait until we are home.
While we have been we have had fun observing people especially westerners on holiday. We have not been impressed by some culturally insensitive behaviour by westerners At one swimming pool a fat woman was swinging on a swing lying with her legs up in the air revealing everything. Yesterday we saw a western women walking among Indian people, in a brief bikini G string and all, but most of all we have ‘interested to observe, that many of the western women are obese++ with enormous chests the dynamics of which we have been fascinated with. One such very obese woman strutted around the swimming pool…….in a bikini! It seems she must be very comfortable with how she is, but call me prudish, I think some people should not wear bikinis! Have not seen any Indians in bikinis and swimming garb varies from the traditional togs with small skirts to suits as unrevealing as children’s sun smart, legs-covered-to-the-knee models.
In the end it has been no problem to occupy ourselves. Had a wee snooze in the waiting area, read, picked up the items from the tailor – I suspect we may be disappointed when we try them on but it was worth the experience. Had our daily chai, a swim and I had my hands hennaed just in time for them to dry before we were picked up for a sedate ride to the brand new and nearly empty airport. Bought gold plated bangles and chocolate with our left over rupees.
4 1/2 hour flight leaving at 22.30 and arriving in Singapore at 5.15 am. What happened to the night? Our bodies will be severely confused – we catch the plane to Auckland in 3 hours arriving at 23.45. When I connected up with wi-fi here a whole lot of e mails that had been sitting in the outbox, were sent. I don’t know what the problem was. Had hot chocolate and Greg went for a walk.
Homeward bound after an eventful and memorable time. I won’t mention that the combination of diarrhoea, sleeping pills and long plane journeys do not go together well!

It wasn’t always easy but ultimately an enjoyable break/adventure!

Kovalam Beach, Wednesday 14 November

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Kovalam Beach – Wednesday 14 November

Greg has discovered dosa – a South Indian specialty similar to a crepe, made with rice and lentil flour and filled with a potato curry, accompanied by a spicy tomato based samba sauce and a coconut chutney He has had it for breakfast each morning here. I couldn’t face curry for breakfast! We are managing on two meals a day and eat as much as we can for the free breakfast and have snacks to tide us over until dinner – nothing to do with economics but everything to do with not overeating.
We relaxed, reading and swimming all day, and went out to another restaurant with tiny tables on the sea wall. The food for the whole trip has been excellent with only the odd exception where eating places have concentrated on western food instead of the local fare. We have enjoyed the pineapples which we have eaten a lot of, as fruit juice, for breakfast and in lassis.

Kovalam Beach Monday 12 November

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Kovalam Beach

While Greg was out on a walk along the beach he encountered a group of men laboriously hauling in a huge fishing net with a long yellow rope. The net was about 1-2 kms out at sea and was identifiable by the polystyrene or plastic bottle floats. He was invited to help and did so until he got a blister on his tender hand. The men made room for him on the rope and then seemed to silently accept him as one of the team. They chanted as they hauled. He found it a moving experience – the net moved from out at sea to the shore but I don’t think that is what he meant! We later went down to the beach and watched the catch being sold (by a woman) and the empty net being carefully coiled so as not to tangle and reloaded onto the wooden (looks heavy) banana shaped boat, and watched as the team of fishermen moved the boat into the water and rowed it out to sea again needing only 2 men with small oars – the boat looked too heavy for that.
The rest of the day we swam, read, slept, ate and discovered that we have mislaid the lead which connects Greg’s camera to the Ipad so we can’t add any more photos – not that that matters to you guys as I still haven’t been able to load more than one photo at a time on Facebook. Thanks Rachel for your instructions which I will try again with. We are offended that we have lost something, but concede it is easy to do with packing, moving, unpacking the number of times we have done it in the last three weeks.
I have some impressive bruising from my little mishap last week and the lacerations are healing although a haematoma below my left knee is sore. 
Off to dinner soon to a cheaper place on the beach for which we were recruited when we passed this morning.

Kovalam Beach Tuesday 13 November Devali

Kovalam Beach – Tuesday 13 November

Today is Diwali and we expected there to be more song and dance than there has been.There have been a few fireworks only. We have been told that Diwali is not a big thing in South India and wonder if the reason is the Christian presence here. It is a paradox that Kerala has or has had a communist government, but is strongly Christian of various kinds – Lutheran, RC, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, and the most common Syrian orthodox. There are mosques around also as well as the usual Hindu temples and shrines. A truly ecumenical state!
On a walk on a path around the rocks to another bay we observed the Indians at play – it is a public holiday. There were crowds of people on the beach and a group of boys in the water playing water polo? The onlookers looked overdressed for the beach, men in business shirts and women in the traditional salwar kameez which is often an elaborate long line top with skinny or baggy trousers and scarf over both shoulders and the crazy thing is that the girls were paddling up to their knees so their beautiful clothes got wet. Another notable thing was that few of the onlookers were sitting as we would, but stayed standing as they watched the swimmers. 
We seem to have difficulty at times obtaining masala chai and it seems that it is less of a thing here in South India, than say Nepal or even Delhi, but we enjoy it at least once a day.
We took the plunge tonight and have arranged for a tailor to make Greg and me tops – so we were measured up and pick up the items tomorrow evening. I am also looking at having a dress copied. We also took the plunge……..into the hotel swimming pool and I slept some of the day. We are being rejuvenated by the do nothing time. 
We have eaten the last two evenings at tables on the sea wall overlooking the beach – very pleasant and windless. We are sticking to local food and Greg had a Kovalam speciality – a fish curry which he says was very nice. By day you can’t see anything on the horizon because of the haze, but at night you can see scores of lights belonging to fishing vessels.

Kerala – Kochin to Kovalam Beach

Kerala – Kochin to Kovalam Beach for 4 days of doing very little
The Indian agents for Pedaltours had arranged a car and a driver to transport us the 230+km from Kochin and Kovalam. We have been staying at Fort Kochin, but the city of Kochin is more extensive than we realised and the trip north tooks us through the Kochin suburbs and through numerous towns. This appears to be an auspicious time for weddings and we saw many celebratory banners and archways. Also saw a working elephant – I think a working elephant is different from a working girl – but my mind boggles thinking about a working elephant in the same way!
But WHAT A TRIP!
5 1/2 hours when we had our hearts in our mouths the whole way with the skilful/reckless driving and starting to wonder if we would arrive in one piece (2 pieces). I had visions of Indian hospitals, repatriation of us dead or alive by Southern Cross, and have some qualms about putting ourselves at such risk. This includes the bike riding . 
We breathed a sigh of relief when did arrive at this 4 star resort which is right on a white sandy beach and will be a great setting for unwinding and enjoying 4 days of doing nothing before the trip home. Dental surgery and therapy of every description can be done while you are here. I bargained vigorously or so I thought, for some jandals but was still ripped off, and we had dinner at one of the resort’s 4 restaurants. Mediocre.
We witnessed the most amazing electrical storm just after we arrived back at the hotel after a recce walk. Torrential rain went on for about half an hour, the thunder was deafening and at times was very close to the lightning, which went on for an hour.

Now that we have experienced them, we realise that Indian road rules are slightly different from ours as follows:
1. Yellow lines are for decoration only
2. Roads have room for a bus, a van, a tuk tuk, a bicycle and a pedestrian all at once, but not necessarily going in the same direction
3. There is always a space for your vehicle to slip into in the face of oncoming traffic, even if there isn’t!
4. The goal of travel is to arrive at the destination in good health and to go 80 kph all the way, not necessarily in that order.
5. The priority for road use depends on the size of your vehicle.
6. If you want to pass in the face of oncoming traffic, toot your horn loudly and longly. 
7. The horn can be used instead of the brakes.
8. Every road has three lanes, the left one, the right one and the one straddling the centre line, and entitlement to use the latter depends
on your size.

Today is Monday and we will be home late Friday night.

Kerala – Kochin, Grande Residencia

Kerala – Kochin, Grande Residencia

We remain very tired and feel fatigue in our legs when we climb the stairs to our room. We sent our 24 items of laundry to the local laundryman. I’m sure a NZ style washing machine is more effective and all the items will need a second go.
A very low key day strolling through Vasco da Gama (a Portuguese explorer buried here) Square, to the shore to watch the fishing boats, and the fish market – this really required a clothes’ peg on the nose, drinking chai and having a picnic of pakoras and coke in a shady spot overlooking the water. By eating things which are not recommended, are we asking for he d’s and v’s? We had swim in the pool and had one last foray to the stalls/shops. Didn’t buy anything. Often in the cold light of day acquisitions in such circumstances lose their appeal after some consideration and are often context specific – e.g. walking around in Indian interpretation of what is in vogue for tourists – muslin striped or patterned baggy trousers are OK when you are a tourist here but probably aren’t in Auckland. Suffice it to say I have bought very little on this trip with no regrets. Greg bought a series of carved owls which he loves – the owl is a symbol of the RNZCGP.
We dined at the restaurant of a neighbouring hotel with Kia a Canadian vet – from Ottawa no less, who was with us in Rajasthan also and is the last to start her 40 hour journey home. Disappointing food except for the apple crumble. Kia could hardly eat her fish curry and my chicken curry wasn’t much better. I don’t know why chefs don’t stick to what they are good at which they did for most of the meals we have had on the two trips. 
Had purchased an hour on Wi-Fi so we caught up with a little NZ news and emails

Kerala – Kochin

Kerala – Kochin Grande Residencia

Today we farewelled the other kiwis as they fly home via Singapore from the airport 2 hours away.
We slept in,and after breakfast collected our wits and ventured out. Kochin is less hassly than Delhi and we wandered about in the humidity initially to try and find some dressings for my wounds and then at the tourist stalls by the shore, drinking chai and watching the very interesting world go by. We ate a big breakfast and decided to forego lunch, had a lovely swim in the hotel pool – I wish all swimming pools were as easily got into temperature wise, before venturing out again via tuk tuk to the Jewish quarter. Tried on some things and will return tomorrow and clinch some deals – the very nice things are not that cheap. Greg looked at chess sets and also tried on a shirt or two. We are almost overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of goods for sale, and the usual fending off of shop owners. Greg had 2 migraines today, a sign of fatigue which will hopefully be remedied by the time we arrive home in exactly one week.
Took tuk tuk back and ate in an unprepossessing restaurant on the corner of our street where western diners were in the majority. I await the consequences of eating the food which was also unprepossessing.