For the first three nights we stayed in Fort Kochi – the more touristy part of Cochin – which is on the coast and here we stayed in Fort Murziris a small accommodation consisting of only six rooms. Although the inexpensive rooms were fairly basic, they were clean with a/c, and ensuite bathrooms. There was free wifi and the location was great! However the highlight for me was the balcony restaurant with a great view of the street where we had the included breakfast. Anything could be chosen from the menu which included a great range of Western and Indian choices. Gopan, the owner, was fantastic! He had good English and also made the place by continually being welcoming, cheerful, helpful and extremely hard working. He was also a great fixer and could readily sort a tailor, train tickets, laundry and even helped me on my request to find how to travel to Lakshadweep.
On leaving Cochin we travelled to Kumarakon in our own private transport. We were going there for our trips – both by houseboat and canoe – on the back waters. There we had booked to stay at Kodianthara Heritage Home which was both remote and beautiful. However it was extremely challenging for the Tempo Traveller bus we were travelling in to navigate the small alleyways to find the place. This lovely, 165 year home has been in Crispin's family for 5 generations. It is built in the traditional Kerala style (Tharavadu) and is surrounded by trees and lush green foliage. There is also a small pond on the property to complete the picture of my idea of a truly serene and green village home in Kerala. The inside of the house is beautifully weathered and the sepia toned photographs of Crispin's ancestors strewn around the house told their own tale. The rooms though that we stayed in were at least as basic as in Cochin. Unfortunately we had timed our visit badly and the owner of the house, Crispin, was distracted by his responsibilities at a local Christian facilities and ended up not providing us with certain promised services such as a guide, rickshaws and on our final morning, breakfast!!
After a couple of days we made our way to Munnar, which is the nearest Kerala has to a hill station. As we climbed up the hills the air became cooler – it dropped to around 26 – and the scenery stunning. Here we stayed well out of town at the Green Valley Vista – which turned out to be the best of all out accommodation. We all had large clean rooms with floor to ceiling windows and balcony overlooking a stunning view. No a/c here but not needed as it was refreshingly cooler. We were due to stay here for three nights, but unfortunately during the second night we were here we all (apart from Louise) became ill with the dreaded Delhi belly. Louise was despatched with the driver to the local pharmacy to bring back probiotics and rehydration salts while the rest of us were confined all day to our rooms, close to our bathrooms. I must admit I actually enjoyed the day as although like the others the bathroom visits left me drained and tired I slept and dozed with my curtains open giving me plenty of time to enjoy the lovely scenery.
Fortunately the following day we had all sufficiently recovered to be driven back – as planned – to Cochin and the lovely Gopan. The following morning Dave flew back to the UK and our now group of four made our way south to the Kerala beaches. The average room cost for these first 9 nights was about £21p/n. For those that had shared rooms the accommodation cost was of course, lower.