She arrived to a bustling Trivandrum train station, all of this now a part of her world. With two travel pillows and the adventure almost coming to an end she searched out someone in need. She handed her neck pillow to the frail man in tattered clothes sitting on the floor, he looked quizzically at the horse shoe shape but smiled when feeling the soft cushion inside and lifted his bum just enough to stick it beneath him. She smiled back, considered explaining it was a neck pillow but then thought better of it.
Good deed done, she turns and spots her partner in crime. The usual rickshaw fare challenge already in motion; Lee was bartering away with the confidence of someone who has been doing this for months. Their backpacks are being lifted into the back, ready for another hair-raising journey as she makes her way over.
The rickshaw stops at the end of a vast stretch of beach, palm trees and lashing waves visible between the colourful buildings. After many a city adventure she sees this as a needed break from the chaos. Sand between her toes, she lugs her heavy backpack in search of their pre-booked guesthouse.
Bags dumped in their upstairs sea view room and they are back out ready to explore. After introducing themselves to the local fluffy dog they are off wandering along the picturesque beachfront. Within minutes they are drawn onto the hectic but friendly atmosphere of the beach. Everyone is smiling, big cheek to cheek smiles and laughing, lots of beautiful laughter. People are talking to them, interested in their travels introducing them to family members. He is invited into football games and swimming ventures; she takes the opportunity to stroll along the beach photographing these super happy people.
Later that day when it is just the two of them again, they look at each other bewildered. She says ‘where are we? Is this the happiest place in India?’
The need to know bits
Approx 16m from Trivandrum, Kovalam, meaning a grove of coconut trees, was the perfect place for a few days relaxing during our fast paced backpacking adventure. There is a beautiful lighthouse at the end of the aptly named Lighthouse Beach that is painted in red and white stripes. The lighthouse is open for a few hours a day at which time you can climb 118 feet up the stairs (I lost count of the actual amount of steps) and enjoy a panoramic view of the beach and the ragged mountainous backdrop.
It was more expensive here for eating out but the restaurants where of a higher class catering to more holiday makers than backpackers with a hint of a hippy vibe thrown into the mix. From a holiday point of view the prices were reasonable and it was also popular with Indian tourists and day trippers. Fish was the main thing on the menu but there were ample veggie options and typical Indian cuisine.
I thought of it like a high class Goa, it felt like I had been whisked off to an exclusive but cute laid back resort and there is plenty opportunity to indulge in yoga and ayurvedic treatments if you wish as well as a few quirky little shops to spend your pennies in.
Kovalam was the friendliest place we visited on our India tour and I truly managed to let my guard down and worried about nothing more than food and flip flops. Backpacking is incredible but it can be stressful at times so it was good to feel like we were on holiday, for just a few days. I was sad to leave this magical place and would happily go back anytime.
Fancy a trip to Kovalam anyone?
Enjoyed this post, why not read more about Kerala here https://lisalovesunlife.com/2016/05/31/the-chinese-fishing-nets-of-kochi-kerala/