India - Varkala and a trip through the backwaters of Kerala
Our start in Varkala was.... well, tired. Having been up since 4 am with a bit of sleep in the sleeper train from Coimbatore, we were desperate for a nice shower and a cool beer. The night before we had made a reservation at a guesthouse. But as we showed up, the owner told us that she had not received a reservation. Anyway, a room was free for 3 nights - so no problem. And what a room it was: it was the cleanest room that exists in India (at least that is what we think!) with a wonderful private balcony and a fridge! Perfect to buy and store some fruit and relax. Well, if (after this blog) you still want to go to Varkala then you must stay at the Mango Villa. The owner is simply amazing, the rooms are stunning and the location is quiet but still not far from the cliffs. So a cool beer, a nice shower and a perfect sleep was guaranteed.
Well, Varkala Beach itself is a place we simply did not like much. The cliff walk is surely nice, but it is full of little shops and the hassle is immense (overall the quality of the majority of things is not good). The beach looked really dirty and not inviting at all (may be we are spoiled by the beaches around Kannur) - in 4 days we did not go for a swim! And it is full of western tourists. This is not India - it can be anywhere in this world: Bali, Canary Islands, Thailand..... To many tourists dress themselves just not appropriately (even though it does not feel like - we are still in India!). Miniskirt and Bikini for dinner is just a no-go anywhere in the world, by the way. But what shocked us most was the commercialisation of Yoga and Ayurveda. We thought, in Varkala we could find sort of a spiritual feeling in the village. Varkala is originally a temple town and a lot of people come here for some spiritual activities. But we simply did not get this vibe for whatever reason. We are both spiritual and go to a Hindu tempel back home from time to time. But in Varkala was nothing left of such an energy. All activities, is it yoga, ayurveda or mediation is highly commercialised. And it is not cheap either.
So we did the best with our time. We enjoyed the nice restaurants and beautiful sunsets - one of the advantages in Varkala. We had some Kingfishers (called special tea) and we walked along the cliff far north. That was nice and we enjoyed ourselves but we have to admit that we will not come back again.
The biggest surprise in Varkala was to meet our friends Laura and Adam from Wayanad again. Poor Adam went surfing and broke his big toe. So the 2 were just hanging around the cliff for their last couple of days before heading back to Europe. It was great to catch up with them and have some breakfast together. We hope, you are doing fine in the meantime Adam!
Finally, we left Varkala again by train. This time it was a smooth ride back to Kollam where we took a rickhsaw to the ferry terminal. By public ferry we went through the backwaters to Aleppey. The whole journey took 8 hours. It was really cheap (300 Rupies each), very relaxing - simply a nice alternative to see the backwaters. We know that we just stayed on the big channel, the waterway 3 to be precise, but we did not care. We had a great time and saved a lot of money - and we were happy to be back to the real indian feeling. On this journey we made 1 stop at Amma's Ashram in Amritsar. We had thought about spending some time with her as she was actually there. But by seeing the huge ashram and hearing many stories about how commercialised everything is, we had decided to skip it. Varkala was enough of all this wanna-be-chilled-and-spiritual-type-of-things (I know I am getting mean, but it really shocked us). The second stop was in a small village where we enjoyed some very tasty snacks. Finally, after sunset we arrived in Allepey.
Allepey was our last stop together. From here, Markus took a bus back to Ernakulam to catch his flight to Delhi and then Frankfurt. Well, and I started my next adventure: a very personal one. I started my ayurvedical panchakarma treatment. More about that later....