Nestled atop a cliff

Varkala, 1-3 September

It’s September now and we’re officially in our second month of travelling. In every new place it takes a bit of time finding our feet and today we have to figure out our first train journey in Kerala. Unlike Sri Lanka, trains in India are best booked in advance we’re told, at least if you want a decent seat, and after a few attempts we successfully reserve tickets through an app. We get comfortable seats in an airconditioned carriage for our 5 hour journey, God bless technology!

Snacks on the train are as cheerful as they are cheap: we’re having succulent, deepfried and battered jalapenos and bananas. Lauren gets a thumbs up from the other passengers for gobbling down her very hot jalapeno snack like a hungry seagull. So far the food in Kerala has been an absolute treat.

Varkala is a touristy seaside town and we’re staying in a cheap hotel on its red sandstone cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea. In recent years Varkala has attracted more and more visitors, but right now we’re in the low season so it’s pretty quiet. It also means the hotel pool is not operational, but we’ll survive somehow.

A bit templed-out, we’re giving most of the local sights a miss this time, taking it easy instead. We go for breakfast and dinner on the cliff, have a beer at the hotel, get hissed at by a trespassing monkey and watch eagles catch fish.

This time of year the sea is too choppy for watersports and nearby Papanasum beach is a holy site which means sunbathing isn’t allowed either way. The sea water here is believed to wash all of a person’s sins away, and at the beachside temple today we witness a very naughty teenager’s baptism, a ritual sadly also involving dumping a plastic bag full of flowers, or sins, into the sea..

Tomorrow we move on to Munroe Island for a short stay, but Varkala gets top marks since *drum roll* we found a restaurant which does a pretty good mac ‘n cheese, made with actual cheddar! All is well in Kerala.

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