Our flight from Siem Reap via Bangkok arrived into Kochi (Cochin) quite late. It was after 0100 by the time we reached Indian immigration. We met an Australian girl while waiting and agreed to share a taxi to the Fort Kochi area. For an experienced traveler Katie wasn’t well prepared for finding her guesthouse. The driver seemed confused and at various points both Chelle & I were wandering nondescript alleyways…finally after significant issues we located her place. By the time we found our spot – the Four Seasons (the much less famous hotel) it was closer to 0300. After knocking on doors and making a phone call a weary young chap emerged from the guesthouse and it was time for bed.
On our second day in Kochi we had a splendid experience on a backwater tour of Kerala. There of course was the typical (for us) inadvertent adventure when the driver had accidentally picked up the wrong couple at a different guesthouse which was not discovered until after we were headed out of the city. At one point I think the poor driver did two successive 180° turns trying to figure out how to resolve the situation, but more on that in another post. What added to the enjoyment of the boat trip was the other travelers.
In our riverboat were two solo guys; Paul from Taiwan, and Karl from Germany. Paul spoke excellent English (Chelle discovered later in the day that he had attended university in Canada) and was on the tail end of two months in India; mostly in the south. Karl had just arrived for a two week holiday. It was fun to spent a day just chatting about where we had all been, or where we were headed. A French couple talked about their previous adventures in Malaysia. Paul instructed Karl and Chelle on some neat tricks for our Indian phones.
Karl’s trip was a blank slate with only one stop arranged and we didn’t have firm plans for anything beyond Cochin. A real treat to compare notes with those who had visited areas we were interested in checking out. In conversations over lunch Paul had some solid suggestions about cave temples that Chelle had been talking about. The French couple had suggested Hampi and Mumbai. Through our chats we started to hone in on an itinerary. Over dinner we mulled, researched, questioned, poured over maps and guidebooks. By bedtime we had arrived at the plan for our final excursions in India. The start of our trek would be a rail trip to Gokarna, or so we thought.
At the travel agency the following morning we discovered the train didn’t have any availability for three days and there wasn’t an airport near our destination. More pondering ensued before devising a new game plan. Grabbing a local bus – I was a reluctant participant. Through no fault of our own we got on the wrong bus. The ticket taker made a couple of calls and gave us directions to a tuk tuk station and the method to meet up with the long haul shuttle. A sleeper bus (10 hours) to Mangalore followed by a rail trip (5 hours) to Kumta. A reasonably short walk to the bus station and finally a Goan (state government) operated bus to Gokarna (1.5 hours). Explore for two days and a flight to Mumbai. It seemed like such a good idea at the time.
When all was said and done we had arrived in Gokarna. What we thought would be a short walk to the beach became a four mile walk through town and up a considerable hill, across a flat stretch and down to Kudle beach. A rugged, hilly area with bamboo framed restaurants and hut type lodging. No air conditioning, with hard beds and mosquito nets. The beach was inhabited by a mix of hippies, yogis and yogi wannabe’s. After one night we had aspirations of snorkeling and set off the next morning for Karwar by way of Ankola…again by bus as I was becoming a pro.
This would be the first bus trip with a transfer involved. There was a lovely beach area in Karwar but not much else. We recharged (purchased more data, talk time) our India phone and Chelle made a call to the outfitter for snorkeling. The problem with intermittent internet service that not only negatively impacts blogging, also affected is verification of prospective destinations. The outfitter was about an hour south of Karwar near the area we had traveled from. We regrouped and headed for Palolem Beach, yet another bus ride but one of the most romantic beaches in Goa, perfect for a honeymoon.