Pattikkad – Volunteering in Kerala
We arrived in Kerala early morning luckily. Sara woke up and randomly peaked out the window and noticed we were actually in the station we were getting off at! We grabbed all our things and rushed off the train at Shoranur Junction and waited on our next train to our first destination in Kerala: Pattikkad.
We were greeted at the station by Sidique [the owner of the home stay where we would be volunteering] and his cute two-year old daughter [Sana]. We would be living/volunteering with Sidique and his family for 6 days. His wife Salma [an amazing cook] and the older daughter Heena also taught Sara about cooking, henna and other aspects of the Keralan culture and religion.
Unfortunately we only did organic farming two days, the rest of the days we were weeding, painted some pots [we think there was nothing else to do] and Jimmy helped Sidique to repair the drive way. That aside we thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, Salma cooked a different Keralan dish every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some of the best food we’ve ever tasted even if a bit spicy at times, our taste buds were certainly expanded.
In these 2 days we learnt about basic ecological gardening. We learnt how to make fertile soil, planted seeds and transplanted seedlings into bigger pots. We enjoyed learning new skills but we would have enjoyed it more if we’d done more farming and less weeding. The Greenhouse is a very relaxing and welcoming place where Sidique and his family look after you very well.
As you are cut off from everything at the farm, there’s not much to do there so we decided to go on a day trip to see the oldest teak plantation in the world, just 2km from Nilambur [the closest village to the teak plantation, 40 minutes by train from Shoranur]. We first went to visit the museum and took a walk through the beautiful and exotic botanic garden where you can see lots of different trees and rare plants. Afterwards we got a tuk tuk to the teak plantation also known as Conolly’s Plot, be aware of the monkeys here as we seen them attack people. It’s a short walk over a bridge to the plantation where we seen some of the biggest trees we’ve ever seen.
Alappuzha – The backwaters and the banter
When we arrived to Alappuzha and took a tuk-tuk to our guest house, as soon as we seen the red, yellow and green gate we knew we were in the right place. Funky Art Beach House is a guest house with a difference, reggae playing all day long and they actively encourage you to do art on the walls and were nice enough to let us use the kitchen. We stayed for 7 days after only planning to stay a couple. We had a lot of fun with Sagar, Nihas and Poopy… they are legends!
We were glad to be in a happy friendly village again, surrounded by locals who were constantly smiling and so welcoming even without understanding us. Sara would do yoga in the mornings with Poopy on the roof then go to the beach and get some fresh fish from the local fishermen on the beach, then cook it up back at the guest house. Our days in Alappuzha were unforgettable and we were always chatting, singing or rolling about the floor laughing. GOOD TIMES!
Whilst at Funky Art Beach House you can do a tour of the backwaters. We recommend that you take the canoe instead of the big boat as you are going to be able to explore deeper into the backwaters this way. We did a day tour with another two Spanish girls, Brenda and Ana who were staying in the same guest house.
Our canoe driver was a legend, he was constantly smiling with a cigarette in his mouth rowing us through the narrow passages. When the heat got too much he took us to a backwater style bar, full of locals in there mundu’s [traditional men’s wear in Kerala] where we tasted the local coconut beer or “toddy”. Jimmy and Ana liked it but Sara and Brenda were not a fan, drinking warm beer is not for everyone especially the Spanish.
It was so relaxing bobbing in the canoe that were almost sleeping at points and you could help the driver row if you feel up to it. The driver introduced us to his eagles on the way back too which was an experience we will never forget.
The Funky Art Beach House was the best guest house we were in India, you really feel at home because the guys are so welcoming and there is a good vibe. We recommend here if you don’t want to go to the more over-crowded/over priced places you can do the backwater tours in Kerala.
Trivandrum – Goodbye India
Our last night in India was spent couch surfing at Manoj’s in Trivandrum, we had a lot of fun listening to him and his friends sing whilst he played guitar. We ate an amazing curry and drank some drinks until we headed to bed as we had an early flight to the next country in our adventure… Sri Lanka!