I haven't posted for a while, as I was in Kerala for a week long vacation. A good friend from high school, Esther, flew to Hyderabad, and we headed for a few days in Kerala.
It was a stunning trip, from the tea plantations of Munnar, to the wildlife sanctuary of Periyar, and finally, a trip through the backwaters of Allepey by kettu vallam (in plain english, a houseboat). Kerala is easily the prettiest place I've been in India, and is quite unique in many regards. A large Christian population, unique cuisine and the world's first democratically elected communist government set it apart culturally.
The first day was spent at a quiet beach, Cherai, nothing too eventful. The next day took us from coastal Cherai, and the sweltering humidity, into cool tranquility of the hills around Munnar, where we went boating on a local lake, and rode horses into out into the tea fields. The next day took us to Periyar, site of one of South India's foremost wildlife reserves. All the wildlife we spotted was from a boat which traverses a reservoir that extends through much of the park. The last day and night, in my opinion the highlight, were spent traveling through the famous Kerala backwaters by houseboat. Like a floating five star (There was an A/C bedroom, TV, dining room, bathroom....you get the picture), that somehow manages to feel only slightly contrived amid the rustic setting of the backwaters, it was an incredibly luxurious.
The photos more or less describe it all