Incredible India: Varkala – Alleppey – Kochi, or The State of Flow

Travelling in India is very easy and enjoyable. All you need is an intention. No need for figuring out schedules, making plans, or booking tickets.

I decided to leave Varkala as soon as I wake up. This happened around 6 am, and Vladimir and I left the already feeling-like-home Shiva Garden. What followed throughout the day is what I call the state of flow. Throughout the journey to Kochi – literally from sunrise till sunset – I took:

  • a local bus in Varkala
  • a train from Varkala to Alleppey
  • a public ferry from Alleppey to Kottayam
  • a local bus in Kottayam
  • an inter-city bus from Kottayam to Ernakulam
  • a local bus from Ernakulam to Kochi
  • a local bus from Kochi to Fort Kochi

Throughout the trip transport timings somehow fit perfectly together. As soon as I arrived at one place, there was an immediate or very close connection. No planning at all! It felt like someone or something had already arranged the things for me to have a smooth experience.

A short video about my destination Fort Kochi (Cochin):

Below are some snapshots of my journey with comments.

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A colourful local bus for 7 rupees: great start of the journey. I realized only today that women always sit in front, while men in the back. Now I understand a strange look when I sat next to a woman in one of the buses ahead 🙂 

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Passengers waiting for the train at Varkala Sivagiri station. Indian train stations are quite clean. This was my first train experience. Travelling by train is faster and more comfortable, even if you take a general sleeper class.

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Station Manager and Station Master – what’s the difference? 🙂

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Mothers and daughters. Different backgrounds, same human needs.

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Indian trains have no windows 🙂 At least in the general class. I think it’s smart as it serves three purposes at the same time: 1) cool breeze when moving; 2) can buy food from station sellers without going out; 3) can wash your hands (as I saw) without going to the toilet.

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There are also sun shields.

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Passengers

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Kids having fun on the second level

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Alleppey: next to the police and ferry stations

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Alleppey is the gateway to Kerala’s backwaters. In the photo: the city’s main channel along which public ferry runs.

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Passengers of the ferry from Alleppey to Kottayam – a 2.5-hour pleasant ride along the main channel for incredibly cheap 15 rupees (2.5 USD).

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The famous houseboats where you can stay overnight and travel on the backwaters. The service is very expensive – 15 000 rupees. It’s exactly 1000 times more than a ticket for public ferry! The target group is foreigners and wealthy Indian people.

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Houseboats on the main channel

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Smaller boats with locals can also be seen.

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A typical pier along the main channel. The influence of the Communist party is visible.

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On the ferry I met Giri (meaning “mountain”), a Country Manager for India working for the Japanese Kubota tractor company in Chennai. Girl was on a vacation with his friend Raja; otherwise he travels a lot across India and lives mainly in hotels and on the planes. 

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And this is Raja (meaning “king”). Raja is a successful businessman; I could see it by his watch 🙂 He sells silk in 100 spots and gives employment to 200 people. 

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Beautiful green carpet on the water  

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Arrived in Kottayam at 14.00. A walk from the ferry station to the bus stop though a rustic and very calm area.

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There are many Christians in Kerala. Even in this remote part of Kottayam there is a church. 

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I had a feeling that the woman who sees stuff in this kiosks lives there too.

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Buses in Kerala are colorful. This local one at Kottayam looked like a fire-brigade car.

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Christmas feeling inside the bus.

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And this is the  first air-conditioned bus I took in India. A 2-hour ride from Kottayam to Ernakulam cost 132 rupees. I decided I prefer “normal” local buses. Not only that they are twice as cheap, but  it’s also much more fun. My fellow-passenger was a wandering priest in white clothes who was kept putting his palm on my knee whenever he talked. I think he was gay.

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Ernakulam – a very busy and noisy part of Kochi. Two more buses to take 🙂

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Finally arrived at Fort Kochi and checked in at Good Karma Inn. The last local bus ride was a bit crazy 🙂 Packed like sardines, bumping on the roads, balancing with one hand and holding the backpack in the other.

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Christmas lights in my residence. I arrived after sunset, and found the whole area lit with Christmas lights. It felt like holiday indeed.

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A hotel in lights across the street.

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There were many colourful buildings like this.

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A path of lanterns

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After such a long trip the traditional Indian food tasted like the best food ever.

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A cake kiosk  at one of the main road junctions.

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 What Christmas without a Christmas cake? I took a piece of plum cake and finished it off at my place. Afterwards played cards a bit with other guests, and went to bed around 10 pm as felt very tired. I switched off immediately and slept 9 hours, which is unusual for me 🙂

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