As soon as we found out about my husband Alok' conference in Kerala, scheduled for December, we decided that my 9-year-old son, Nishant, and I will also accompany Alok and make it a work plus leisure trip. We planned to extend the stay to 5 days, out of which one day would be reserved for my husband's conference (we could still do some sightseeing in Kochi though) and the rest of the days could be used to explore Kerala a little. I wished we could extend it further, but both my and my husband's jobs don't allow us to take so many leaves. This is one of the disadvantages of being doctors.
We reached Kochi early morning on December 4, 2016 and checked into Le Meridien, where the conference was to be held. Since my husband's lecture was scheduled for the next day, we decided to utilize the day and take a day tour on a houseboat through the backwaters. We boarded the houseboat from Alleppey and relaxed as the boat navigated the still waters. We sailed through paddy fields, quaint villages, mesmerizing skylines, and stunning landscapes. The houseboat was almost like a floating house. It had a bedroom, a dining room, a dock, and a clean western style washroom. Apart from the person who was steering the boat, there was a cook too and he cooked delicious Kerala food for us as we travelled. It was pure luxury, sitting on the dock and being served hot, aromatic curry.
Before we boarded the houseboat, we were worried that it might get boring for our son, all that sitting around doing nothing. But we were wrong. He enjoyed himself thoroughly and busied himself with photography.
After our tour ended at 5pm, we rushed and headed straight for Allepey beach. As we reached there, it started raining, but we were too excited to go back to the hotel so soon. My husband and I have stayed near the sea for several years, but our son was seeing it for the first time. And his reaction didn't disappoint me. I had hoped that he will be overwhelmed and excited, and there he was jumping through the water, running to meet the waves. I was happy to see the sea, but I was happier because of my son's reaction to it. He did not get enough of the beach that day so the next day, before Alok's lecture, we went to Fort Kochi beach for a little while during the day so that we could be back in time for his lecture in the evening. Kochi is like any other city. We stayed away from the tourist spots, but explored markets, streets, and eateries. After the lecture we had dinner at the hotel and turned in early because we had to check out and leave for Thekkady the next day. We had booked the KTDC guest house inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary for the next night, and we were very excited about it. We had stayed inside a wildlife sanctuary once - Ghairal guest house inside Corbett Tiger Reserve - and our experience was wonderful even though the guest house was only equipped with very basic facilities. There was no electricity at night and it was pitch dark, but we had enjoyed sitting outside our room and watching fireflies. The guest house inside Periyar was much better equipped, and even had a television. So we thought that the experience will be better. But this is where we were wrong.
After this brief stop, we headed straight for Periyar, because as per our information the gates of the sanctuary were only open till 5pm. We hadn't been able to grab lunch, and we reached the sanctuary at an awkward time, at 3 pm. Our hotel wasn't able to provide us anything to eat so we rushed out again to grab whatever was available in the eateries right outside the sanctuary. The food we had so far in Kerala had been excellent, but this was just sort of disappointing. But we didn't really mind because we were excited about our stay inside the sanctuary and our early morning boat ride the next day. Little did we know that the excitement that was in store for us at both the places wasn't the kind that we had anticipated.
As soon as we settled inside our room, we discovered that the place was infested with monkeys. We were forbidden from opening the balcony door and we could see why. Monkeys were everywhere. They were hanging onto our window rails in great numbers. Monkeys are not my favorite animals, but my husband and son had a gala time throwing towels and pillows at them. Only because they were sure that the monkeys couldn't get in through the windows. The food was okay but the television only had Malayalam channels set up. We played around with the settings till we could get some Hindi and English channels too. Because of the monkeys, there was no question of sitting outside and watching the fireflies. But we slept well because we still had huge hopes from our boat ride.
Those who have been to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary would know that Periyar lake is a huge water body inside the Periyar wildlife sanctuary. It is supposed to be a good place to watch wildlife, such as elephants, buffaloes, bison, and boars, from a distance. But we didn't see a thing, even though we booked the first safari in the morning, which we were told is a good time to spot wildlife. Moreover, as we had already done a day tour in the backwaters, the lake ride was very dull in comparison. To add to that, two leeches attached themselves to my legs and had their fill before we spotted them. So you can see that it wasn't fun. In fact, I wouldn't recommend Periyar to anyone who wants to see wildlife.
However, in the evening we were back in Kochi and did some local shopping. We stayed in the Fort Queen hotel and left early morning to catch our flight back to Delhi. On the whole, it was an exciting trip and given a chance we would love to spend more time in all the places that we enjoyed .