My idea with the ride in Kerala was to fly to Kerala, take 4 full days out to explore various sorts of landscape in the state and sly back. The idea also was to hire a Royal Enfield Motorcycle for out travels, but it being holiday season we were not able to get one. Instead I hired the easily available scooter, a Hero Maestro for the journey. Doing the trip on a scooter meant to things. Firstly I would clicking a lot less pictures of the machine against various backdrops and secondly the travel would be much slower.
The journey started with landing in Kochi, which turned out to be a good starting point. After arriving Kochi we head to Cherai Beach for our stay on the first stay. This is a relatively quite and clean beach in Vypin island. There are plenty of hotel options which offer beach side stay and thus it is easy to find a budget accommodation.
I stayed at a hotel called Mare Blu resort which was on the beach road. I got my scooter on hire from the hotel. At first I thought I will use it only to go around Kochi on the next day, but later on ended up using this very scooter for the whole trip.
Next day was spent exploring the area around Vypin island and attending a friend’s wedding.
So, on the 3rd day of the trip I started off for Munnar. Starting at 8am I comfortably reached Munnar at around 12pm. Even though the scooter was slow on the climbs it was faster than the cars struggling through traffic on the relatively narrow roads to Munnar. There were 2 waterfalls on road side on the way and the vegetation was thick and green.
The tea gardens unlike my expectation started appearing just maybe 10 km before we reached Munnar. The town itself is quite small with hotels scattered around the tea garden clad hills.
From Munnar, we head towards Thekkady the next day. The distance was around 120 km, comfortably covered till noon. The route from Munnar to Thekkady has long stretches of tea gardens and better views than those seen on the way to Munnar from Kochi. There are various tea companies with factory stores on the road.
Other than the tea gardens, the hills themselves are rather plain, with small lakes nested in valleys. The jungles are very dense and green, probably because of the ample rains and pleasant weather. The weather got warmer as we got to Thekkady.
The destination for the day was Peyiyar Tiger Reserve, which we entered from the gate at Kumily. The stay was at Periyar house which a kilometer from the gate, near the Pariyar Lake. On the hindsight, I think it would have been a better idea to stay outside the park. This is because inside, there is nothing to do. The network is poor, hotel’s wifi is poor, you cant step outside the hotel after sunset, the food was unimpressive and the cost was higher than most hotels of similar type outside the park.
However, we did participate in a ‘Jungle scout’ which was a two hour walk around the hotel area. We came across different types of deer, bisons, rabbits, porcupine. The reserve staff which came along with us, were quite excited at the sight of animals and it was a fine experience.
After Periyar, we head to Allapuzha beach, Alleppey. On the way we saw the backwaters with the house boats floating around. I personally did not find the backwaters things interesting, so just looked at them, took a couple of pictures and moved on. Maybe if in addition to houseboats, they also had restaurant boats, then the idea would have been more interesting for riders like me.
The area around Allapuzha beach is the small town that is built between the coast and the backwaters. At night, we head head out to try the local delicacies. Banana chips of various sorts, Uttapam with curry were out favorites, both being sold as fresh street food. The market area itself is small, but adequate considering the mood of the town.
Next day, we rode from Allepey to Kochi fort. Its a very short, 60km ride, roads all being highway. The Fort Kochi, unlike what I expected it to be is not a typical fort, as in just being a preserved building. Rather its an area with various lanes sprawling with cafe’s, restaurants, gift shops and hotels. The atmosphere reflects the place’s Portuguese inspired past and seems something like a mini Panaji.
On the way to Fort Kochi we came across various parades following the Onam festival. The parades had large groups of people wearing yellow and white clothes with some people dressed as mythological characters, playing their part with full energy despite the midday heat.