The Waterworld that is Kerala

After Sri Lanka, I was back to India for one last hurrah. After seeing a lot of India, it’s safe to say that Kerala is one of the most enjoyable places to visit. Kerala is the southern most state of India, and while certainly not perfect, doesn’t have a lot of the challenges the rest of India is currently facing. Literacy rate is near perfect, the population isn’t growing exponentially, and the human development index is higher than any other state in India.   I spent my time on cruising around the backwaters for a couple days with 12 friends, enjoying the food and art scene in Fort Kochi, and relaxing in the beach town of Varkala for my final 5 days in India. It was the perfect way to end my time in India, especially because I was able to spend a few days by myself, taking in everything that has happened (and all the lessons learned) over the last 8 months. Here are three fun tidbits about Kerala, the rest you’ll just have to learn from the pictures!

Backwaters – The backwaters of Kerala are a network of canals, rivers, lakes and inlets, that are all connected in a labyrinthine like system and make up a large part of Kerala. People live all throughout the canals, some literally living on water – their houses perched on stilts. There are “bus stops” along the canals to take the public transport and people canoe pretty much everywhere. The soil is both fertile and rice is grown throughout the area. Because of this, there were barges the are/were used to move rice through the canals, and many of these have now been turned into wonderful “houseboats” to carry tourists. Since I was with a group of 12, ours was huge, with 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a kitchen, and living space. A trip on the boat is both peaceful and beautiful, giving you a chance to see a different kind of rural scenery. We were also able to get off the boat, and kayak through some tiny canals, which is where we really got to take a peak into daily life in the backwaters. Unfortunately, it was raining at that point, so I didn’t have my camera, but was able to snag a few good pics from boat. The first 10 or so photos are from this area. 

Toddy Shop – I was lucky enough to go to Kerala with some people who grew up in South India and knew Kerala well. Because of this, I discovered the most wonderful drink and some of the best tasting fish of my life (except I’m still not sure if that was because of the drinks). We were on a bike ride, literally riding through the middle of nowhere, when my friend turned to the right, onto a small path in a rice field. We rode for a bit until we suddenly came upon a couple shacks smack in the middle of the rice field. These shacks were about as run down and sketchy looking as it gets, but they were packed with men. It was in this tiny shack that I learned the wonders of Toddy. Toddy is an alcoholic drink that is made from the sap of coconut trees. Everyday, men go and collect the sap from the trees, let it ferment a bit, and then serve it at Toddy Shops. It has to be drank that day, or it will go bad and it goes perfectly with some spicy, freshwater fish.  There are a couple shots from the place above.

Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort Kochi – Fort Kochi is a smaller, quieter, more touristy area of that larger Kochi. Apart from the amazing food, art galleries, and Portuguese architecture, the fishing nets always draw in a crowd. They are basically giant nets that need about 6 men to operate and are all along the Kochi beach. The technology is said to have come from China, thus the name, but after some research, it looks like they actually were introduced by the Portuguese. I guess the name just sounds better? Anyways, I enjoyed walking around at sunset, talking to a few of the fishermen, and checking out all the fish they were selling. The last pics in this gallery are from here. Enjoy!

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