Jessica and I didn’t go anywhere this year so we were very sad that the year was about to come to an end. On 12th December she surprised me with tickets to Kollam so I packed my bags for the weekend trip.
The next day we had our bus at 7pm from Kalasipalya bus stand. I reached the place by metro and asked Jessica for the exact location. She contacted the travel agent and got a GPS location. It was a 15 min walk from the metro station so I didn’t book an auto. By the time I reached the given location, it was already 7:10pm and the location was not correct. Jessica had reached the same place a few minutes back and informed me so I started following her location. After a lot of back and forth, I reached the correct place which was actually in the opposite direction from the location given to us.
By the time we reached this place, it was 7:30pm and when we contacted the bus driver he said that he had already left Kalasipalya stop at 7pm. He also warned us that he would leave us if we did not reach the next stop by 8pm. We were in panic mode now! We took an auto to Madiwala which was the next stop and the estimated time on GPS showed that we would reach by 8:15pm so we were almost certain that we would miss the bus. When we almost reached the Madiwala stop, auto bhaiya accidentally took a wrong turn but he saw our bus coming in that direction, so he stopped the bus for us and we were finally in the bus. Jessica then told me that we were going to stay at her cousin Lijo’s house.
Day 1 – 14th December 2019
We reached Kollam at 9:30am and Lijo picked us up and took us to his house. His house was on the beach so we could see the sea from our room. He bought Dosa for breakfast for us. We then hung around in the balcony while he provided us toiletries. By the time, we took a bath and got ready, his grandmom cooked fish curry and fish fry along with rice. We ate outside with the view of the ocean. While eating we spotted dolphins in the ocean but our hands were dirty and the dolphins were quite far, so we couldn’t take any pictures. After having a delicious lunch, I was so full that I slept for 30 min while Jessica saw Lijo’s artwork. When I woke up I joined her and admired some of his drawing books. We were waiting for his friend to pick us up.
When Eabin came, we started our trip to Varkala Beach. Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasham Beach is a cliff beach in the Varkala municipality of Trivandrum. The word Papanasham means “to wash away sins”. It is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. These cliffs are of tertiary sedimentary formation and named by geologists as Varkala Formation. They are a geological monument as recorded by the Geological Survey of India. Water spouts and spas occur on the sides of these cliffs. When we reached the beach we clicked pictures from the cliff then went down the stairs to the beach. The beach was clean but a little crowded. We kept our sandals in the sand and went to soak our feet in the ocean waves. The sky was cloudy so we couldn’t see the sunset. When the sun went down we started heading back but got stuck in the rain. There are plenty of restaurants along the clifftop walk so we went in one of them and had momos and spring rolls for dinner. After having dinner we decided to run to our car when the rain was less intense.
After returning home, we sat on the terrace and talked for a while. The sky was still cloudy so we couldn’t see all the stars but we spotted Orion.
Day 2 – 15th December 2019
When Jessica went to attend Sunday mass, I got ready for the day. Grandma had cooked Prawn Curry and Karikku Dosa for breakfast. The food was amazing and I over-ate again.
After breakfast, we started for Munroe Island with Lijo and his friends Eabin and Steffin. Munroe Island– Mitali or Mundrothuruthu is an inland island group located at the confluence of Ashtamudi Lake and the Kallada River, in Kollam district. It is a group of eight small islets comprising a total area of about 13.4 sq km. The place is named in honour of Resident Colonel John Munro of the former Princely State of Travancore. He is said to have integrated several backwater regions by digging canals. We crossed the river by ferry which transported our car too. We then got down near the backwaters and booked a canoe ride. The tour started from a small canal and we passed under many bridges where we had to lay low to pass through the bridge. The canal is surrounded by many lush green trees with a variety of bird species. We enjoyed the canoe ride for more than an hour. It was a calm and serene experience. When the canoe ride was over we walked around for a bit and clicked pictures.
We then returned back home to have lunch. Crab curry & rice was prepared & kept for us by grandma. It was already 4pm and we had to reach the lighthouse before 5:30pm to visit inside, so we ate as fast as we could.
We then rushed to Tangasseri Lighthouse or Thangassery Lighthouse which is situated at Tangasseri in Kollam. In operation since 1902, the cylindrical lighthouse tower painted with white and red oblique bands has a height of 41 metres (135 ft), making it the second tallest lighthouse in Kerala coast. A lift is available to take us close to the top, from where there are two flights of stairs to reach the balcony of the lighthouse. The lighthouse and premises are well kept and we need to keep our footwear outside. The view from the top was marvellous. After enjoying the view we decided to go to the harbour nearby to watch the sunset, but it was closed so we went back home.
Just like the previous day, we sat on the terrace and talked for a while. The sky was clear so we could see so many stars. We ended up spotting Orion again and also saw Cassiopeia and parts of Taurus and Pegasus.
Day 3 – 16th December 2019
We had our train in the evening so we got ready and clicked pictures around the house. Jessica had doodled something on her sketchbook the previous night which she coloured later in the day.
Lijo bought Kappa Meen Curry & Meen Fry for breakfast. It is a Keralan fish curry recipe in which kingfish is cooked in a tamarind and shallot based sauce and served with mashed tapioca flavoured with coconut. The food was delicious and unique.
Jessica wanted to visit 8 Point Art Cafe which is an art gallery and cafe so we went there with Lijo & Steffin. It is established in a renovated heritage building, ‘Parambarya,’ inside the Asramam Picnic Village campus. The art gallery was undergoing renovations so it was closed. There was a huge swing tied to the tree. Jessica & I unleashed our inner child and enjoyed the swing to the fullest. We ordered a chocolate muffin, a pastry & Fruit Shots which consisted of 4 fresh fruit juices (orange, watermelon, pineapple & pomegranate) served in shot glasses.
We bought a few snacks which are famous in Kerala. After our little outing, we went back home, packed our bags and got ready to leave.
We stopped near the private beach which was used only by the colony people. It was walking distance from Lijo’s house and I was just fascinated by this. We wanted to go near the water but Lijo & Steffin stopped us because a few elders were using the beach as a toilet. So we clicked pictures of the beach from far.
Next, we went to visit Lijo’s grandma who had fed us tasty food for the past 2 days. We clicked pictures with her and then she tied my hair.
Then we went to have lunch at a local restaurant where we ordered Appam and chicken curry for me and Pazham Pori and beef curry for others.
We still had a lot of time so Steffin offered to take us by the coastal road. When we passing by Kollam beach I asked if we had time to stop there for a while. We had 30min before we had to be at the railway station so we went in to dip our feet in the sea before leaving. Kollam Beach is also known as Mahatma Gandhi Beach. The beach also features a park of international standard, the Mahatma Gandhi Park, which was inaugurated on 1 January 1961 by the then Vice President of India, Zakir Hussain. We did not go inside the park. Kollam beach is one among the few beaches in Kerala with a lifeguard outpost. It is a wide stretch of beach, shallow in parts. Lots of people were flying kites at the beach. The beach was clean and wonderful. I was so excited to be at the beach that I jumped around the waves a lot. I was wearing Kurta for my train journey and I was being careful not to get wet but the last wave before leaving drenched me totally so I had to change my clothes on the train later.
After our little detour, we finally reached Kollam railway station and boarded the train. This trip was definitely unique because the locals were our guide!