Thursday, April 12, 2012

Malayolam Lake Homestay.

We have arrived!

Once in Allepey, we took a tuk tuk, also known as an auto rickshaw, to the homestay on the backwaters.
As this is our third visit, we were welcomed like long lost family by the owners Rosie and Thomas and their nephew Jose who is the only one who speaks any English.
To get to the resort the tuk tuk or the public bus can only go as far as a bridge over one of the little canals. From there you have to drag your luggage down the length of the canal heading for the backwaters and then you cut back through an Ayurverdic Heritage Resort and a second building till you reach our piece of heaven.
Since our last visit five years ago extensions have been done to the original building and a second floor has been added. We were delighted to move into the top left bedroom with super balcony overlooking the backwaters!! What a divine spot to chill.

One of the two outlooks where you can spend hours watching river life!

Before heading off to town to get supplies we were so fortunate in seeing the longest Snake boat in India on its way to the Temple. Our Homestay is very close to where the annual Nehru Snakeboat races begin.

The train Journey.

Arriving at a railway station in India is always quite an eye opener as people are everywhere, lying on the floor, sitting in groups, standing, walking and queuing.

A lovely stained glass window in the station lobby.
As we had our tickets we were able to head straight for the platform and our train was already in the station. Warren had told the driver to purchase a first class compartment for two with an a/c (air conditioner).
Jikes..on the way to the station the driver appologises and tells us there is no first class only second class. As this is a new experience for us being on an overnight train I started to worry.....what if?
No need...our compartment had four beds and across the passage there were two more. Vendors, passengers and staff walk up and down the passage and we got a lot of curious stares. However, the two fellow we were sharing with were most pleasant and after a lot of discussion about cricket..the best ice breaker in India they agreed to the two of us having the bottom bunks and they would use the top. Once we were ready to sleep a curtain is drawn so the four of us could be private.  I did go to sleep and four men, two total strangers sharing!!

There is a definite sense of achievement having made it through the night without any drama on a train in India and me having to go to the loo several times during the night!! No need for further details.
Before we knew it we were in Allepey, Kerala, our most favourite place in India.!! Let the fun begin.

Tuesday are for chilling. Wednesdays for leaving.

Cynthia and John were expecting their last container to arrive from the states and we were happy to chill and spend time with Bruce. Jennifer, Cynthia's friend came over and we had time to relax around the pool on the roof top.
Maybe we will lose some weight on this trip! Cheers!!


Our last day in Bangalore and we needed to have time to play with Bruce, pack and get ready for out overnight train trip to Allepey.
We went to a favourite restaurant of Cynthia's and Jennifer met us there and surprise, was selling South African White wine! Lekker!
Shakar the drive had got our tickets and we were all set for the next part of our journey.
Thank you to the lovely Specht family for the fun, friendship and wonderful hospitality.


It was good to wake up and know that we are in India although being hosted by the Specht's meant that we did not really feel the pressures of this wonderful country. Their home is in a suburb called Whitefields and is near to the Shell offices where John works.
It was also good to wake up after sleeping under this beautiful quilt made by John's Mom back in the states.
Bruce was great company and spent many hours keeping us amused with his imaginary games. He has so much freedom to play in the garden, ride his bike in the street or go to the park. Bruce took no time in adopting us as his Granny and Grampa Wawwen!!
 Visit to the wineries.
What fun! Cynthia had organised a bus and invited any interested ladies from the Overseas Visitors Club to join us in a bus ride to the local wineries. We had no idea that India produced its own wine!
After a longish trip we arrived at Grover Wineries on the outskirts of Bangalore. One of the difficulties of living in a city in India is getting from point A to point B even if it is a short distance away it takes ages as the roads are so congested.
As the actual tour of the winefields only going when the sun was reaching its zenith the tour guide  had to keep it all very brief as the ladies had one thing on their minds......guess what that was!

We got through the sorting process back at the base and must confess it is very Hands On! We were amused as we were requested not to take pics and wondered what secrets were being kept. tasting time. Grover Wineries were most generous and we got to taste lots of reds and whites preferring the whites as they were all chilled and delicious!
I got to chat to some of the women form the OVC and they come from Singapore, Malaysia, the States, Japan, Sweden etc. and thier husbands work for Microsoft, Sony, Shell IBM et al. Their experiences and comments about living in India were positive and complimentary and several ladies regretted the fact that their contracts were coming to an end.
Let us not forget that the definition of heaven for a women is "Being an expat wife in Asia."

A lovely day was had by all. A huge thank you to Cynthia for her organisation and generosity.

How lovely seeing the Spechts after a whole year, even four year old Bruce was waiting up for us. Their home which took a lot of searching for, is lovely.  The roof top has been converted into a garden with a jacuzzi and a sauna. A perfect spot to relax and entertain.
The view from the rooftop is amazing as there is evidence of building and development where ever one looks!
Bangalore or as it prefers to be called Bengaluri, is India's fastest growing city, the IT and research capital, with public sector units in electronics, aeronautical industry, space research and aircraft design. It is well known for it's excellence in medical care. Shell has its main offices there...thus the reason for the Spechts living in India.!!
The city originated from a mud hut and four watchtowers built in 1537 and it gained it's name from a phrase 'Brenda kaliu" or 'boiling bean' in reference to a meal fed to a lost prince by an old peasant woman who took the prince in.

 The "Bangi " quilt made specially for the Spechts.


March 18th. Happy Toothbrush, happy us!

With excitement brewing, we packed, got organized and were off to the airport. Once arriving in Bangalore, we headed to customs to discover that we only had a phone number for our hosts. We never worried about details as the driver was picking us up. This was insufficient for the officials and eventually a friendly official called Cynthia to verify that we were in actual fact going to stay with them!! That is a first for us.

When collecting our luggage we noticed a bid X marked on our suitcase.....this means trouble. Warren did his duty free shopping and then we proceeded through the green light only to be called back and to have our case x rayed. We had a few bottles inside the suitcase and with the duty free purchases just made, the official objected and said we had more than we were permitted. After a little "discussion" and the fact that we had paid duties in K.L. we were waved through. Relief.

It was good to see the Specht's driver with his Yellow board alerting us. When loading our suitcase into his boot Shankar said he could hear a buzzing...oh dear what now? On opening the suitcase Warren found it to be his electric toothbrush...the switch had been knocked and it was buzzing away merrily...happy to be in India, just like us!!