After spending a few wonderful days in Mumbai, it took only 2 hours for Jet Airways to fly us to the tropical paradise of waving palms and wide sandy beaches in the southern region of India: Kerala. This state is blessed with a lush green vegetation and is also considered to be one of the safest and wealthiest regions of India.
After my five tips for Mumbai, it’s time for some of the highlights of our trip through Kerala:
1. Relax on a beach //
We spent some time on Marari beach, which was quiet and pleasant, perfect to just kick back and relax even though it wasn’t sunny when we arrived. We all enjoyed the sandy beach, the scenic beauty and the cool breeze; watching the fishermen pull their boats onto shore and making their nets ready for their next time out on the ocean. It’s also worth mentioning that the entire drive down to Marari Beach over a narrow and scenic road, passing by local villages, was a worthwhile experience in and of itself.
Kochi is one of the most photogenic cities you can ever visit. Each house, corner and alley is colorful and I could spend hours just walking around town. You find many ayurvedic spas and can enjoy various treatments. Take a tuk tuk to ride around and bring you to the local street markets. Or visit the Chinese fishermen catch a fresh fish and have it prepared for you by one of the nearby restaurants.
Another fun experience is a cooking class at a local guesthouse. A local lady shared some of her traditional Indian recipes with us, demonstrated the ingredients she used and helped us with the entire cooking process. (You may recall I love learning to cook local cuisine from my Balinese cooking class.) We loved the end result for which, let’s be honest, she deserves 99.9% of the credit!
Indian Pashmina make an excellent gift, but there are many low quality fake scarves being sold as pashminas. So the quick masterclass ‘how to spot a fake pashmina’ we were treated to in a small showroom in Kochi, was extremely relevant!
So before you buy one of those beautiful shawls, focus on this:
1. Price: A genuine, hand-made Pashmina shawl is never cheap. So if someone offers you one for 25 dollar, it’s a tell tale that it’s fake! The price depends on the quality, the size and whether it has embroidery or a fancy design.
2. No shine, only shimmer: If the pashmina has too much of a sheen, then it could be a blend and you should be slightly suspicious. As our Pashmina-guru told us, a real pashmina has ‘’no shine, only a little shimmer.’’
3. Burn test: a more tricky examination, as you surely don’t want to ruin your shawl, is the burn test. Simply light a match and let it catch fire. Watch and smell as the fabric burns: if it smells like burnt hair and the ash turns into powdery material, then it is indeed some kind of wool. But in case it smells like plastic or vinegar, burns quickly, and it has small hard lumps in the ashes, then you’re dealing with a low quality fake product, made with synthetic material such as acryl or polyester.
Kerala is known for its backwaters, a beautiful stretch of rivers through lush green fields that eventually run into a huge lake. Our one night cruise on the backwaters was quite an experience. The scenery was simply breathtaking and the constant cool breeze of air provided a nice change from the hot Indian temperatures. The boat had a lovely deck that was perfectly suited for viewing us float by the endless rows of palm trees. We had our meals – local cuisine – freshly cooked on board by a great chef. Around sunset, the boat docked at the company’s private dock. There is not a lot to do or see there, so make sure to bring a good book or .
Tip: Spend time researching this trip before you book you book, because the pictures on the website and in the brochures don’t always match the actual boats.
There’s something I feel I need to add to my posts about my India trip as a sort of a personal disclaimer: if you’ve followed my blog over the last few years, you surely noticed that when I was covering diverse places around the world like the US, the Maldives, the European Alps or Indonesia. I tend to highlight the colors, the light, the sun and the beauty. And on this trip organized by YourWay2GO, I also just loved the wonderful treatment in Jet Airways’ Premier Class, giving the entire experience an extra touch of class and quality.
But I want to point out that if you go to India for the first time, the standard of living for many people there, including children, may come as a bit of a shock. India is a wonderfully unique place, a universe of its own, with a diverse range of cultures, traditions and religions that take time to absorb and fully appreciate.