Robin is from Kochi (formerly Cochin) and invited me to come with him one weekend. He was heading to his home town in the state of Kerala to visit family. We took a bus from Whitefield to the bus depot and got on an overnight bus there. Before getting on the bus, I drank a 1L bottle of water, which turned out to be a mistake. On top of whatever liquid I already drank that afternoon, this water wanted out at some point, but the overnight bus was not planning to stop. Anywhere! So, I was uncomfortable for about seven hours of the journey from Karnataka to Kerala.
The Bus From Whitefield
Upon arrival in Kochi, the contrast in temperature and humidity from Bangalore was the first thing I noticed. I stepped off the bus thinking I had been transported to South Texas. We jumped into an Ambassador taxi and were off to Robin's parents' house.
Day one was not even close to being over. I met everyone and we had lunch, then in a rental car, Robin and I headed down to the mountains and tea plantations of Munnar.
Beautiful scenery, that is what Munnar is.
Western Ghat Mountains
Mountains, mountains, mountains! It had been fifteen weeks since I had been behind the wheel of a car, and I was driving in mountains! Every sight around Munnar was grand: mountains, trees and rivers. Even most of the trucks on the road were clean and ornately decorated and colorfully painted.
Kids Play in the River as Adults Wash Clothes
Majestic Trees Line the Roads
All good things must come to an end, so I pulled over on the side of the road to exchange seats with Robin. He was concerned we might get pulled over and hassled by police in the city if I was caught driving without a license.
The next night was going to be spent on a houseboat, or kettuvallam, on the backwaters of Alleppey. But, before heading away from Koshi, we visited a local fish market.
A Kochi Fish Market
Fishermen on a River in Kochi
We got up early and headed to the market to pick up fish and prawns for the next day's meal. After seeing some local Kochi sights, it was time to head toward the lake and backwater canals of Alleppey.
Kettuvallam in Alleppey Backwaters
Lone Boatman on the Lake
The houseboat experience was very nice and I highly recommend it. Mosquitoes were a pain, so I suggest you carefully pick what time of year you visit Alleppey. When the boat docked for the night, I was able to wander around the local neighborhoods. The entire time, I kept thinking about the property value of this non-commercialized area. Along all these canals there were nothing but simple homes with people who were by no means wealthy.
Guys Playing Cards
Woman Happy to Catch Fish
Having enjoyed some time in Alleppey, it was time to join Robin's family for lunch back in Kochi, where a surprise was waiting for me.
I had heard about a local drink named toddy, which I was told to stay away from. I was told that if I were to try it, do so only at the start of the day and that by mid-morning, you should never try the stuff. Here it was, after noon, and I was being given toddy to taste. Robin's dad poured an entire glass of the stuff for me. I tasted it, thinking it was nasty, and then quickly downed the glass to be over and done with the experience. As soon as I set down the glass, it was full again, Robin's dad smiling as if he thought I liked the stuff. Ugh! So, I gulped down the second helping of it and then held onto the glass.
Glass of Toddy
Toddy Bar in Munnar
I had been paying attention to the toddy bars seen all over this area, and toddy was the first word I learned how to write in Malayalam. Robin thought that was funny, saying a person's (child) first word written should be "Mom" or "Dad", not an alcoholic beverage.
A quick lunch of the fish and prawns picked up the day before and we were heading for the train station.
Back to Bangalore
Train Station in Kochi
We hopped on a train for the overnight journey back to Bangalore. The discomfort of the train car was bearable once I found out Robin's mom had packed some prawns for us for the ride home, along with bread made from the remaining toddy instead of yeast. Toddy that way was quite nice.
Train Car for Return to Bangalore