the pathway to the jetty
Back from vacation….i don’t think I can put words to describe the last week…..lets just say that it was the best time we’d had in a while and that is saying a lot…… its been four days that I’ve been back…but haven’t recovered from the hangover…. So be warned….this is going to be a really long post…….. J
Cochin was the first part of our trip…. We had to leave later in the day than planned and that set us back by some hours because K had to catch up on work….anyways by dusk we reached kochi and the one remarkable change in the landscape is that the billboards advertising real estate have far outnumbered the one with gold and jeweler…that’s quite some change!! Evening was spent with my college friend D and family….next morning we were back again for a fabulous spread of typical Mallu breakfast…..i was almost dizzy with excitement…so pardon the fact that I didn’t take any pictures….plus the family isn’t really used to rowdy food blogger picture taking mania…and I wasn’t about to give them a crash course, so I abstained….but I will tell you what we had (from what I can remember)……..puttu, payar, carmelised pazham (banana), sambhar-vada, egg roast and chakka Kozhukatta ……….we didn’t need lunch till 3.30 p.m…that says a lot!!
I met up with A and her lovely family and a passing remark a few days earlier that “our respective better halves share the same name and come from the same region so we may be related for all you know!!” turned out bizzarely true!! Not only do they hail from the same ancestral village, and have the same family name….we’re some 5-6th removed cousins!! we had such a ball talking about all of this… and with all of us (A has a delightful young daughter and 5 people in the room!!) we hardly spoke about food blogging…..i received a very gracious and totally smacking gift of home made chocolate brownie muffins…what we couldn’t polish off after they left were quickly demolished in Maldives…..
We flew to trivandrum on Sunday night and could hardly sleep…whatever sleep I managed were filled with aquamarine dreams of Maldives…that’s the exotic destination K booked for us as a belated valentine celebration for us…..the plane trip takes about an hour from Trivandrum and thanks to an ancient Air india aircraft with foggy windows, I couldn’t see much of the blue waters when we landed…..maldives is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean….it is a very popular tourist destination and has some of the best coral reefs around it….for more on Maldives, look here.
The first thing that strikes you when you come out of the airport is the heat!! It was 2.00 p.m and really hot…tropical island after all!! It was a minute’s walk to the boat jetty and a speed boat ride of about 40 mins took us to our island resort…..you hardly notice the time….and I was amazed at what I saw….water in three shades of blue…everywhere you turn…..brilliant aquamarine, a little darker than aqua and inky blue…..and every now and then we passed other island resorts……we reached eriyadu, checked in and got our breath back from the Maldivian assault of beauty….the island we stayed on is a really small one…you can walk around circling it in about 20 mins….there were beach bungalows all around the island…small little chalet type of ones, with a pretty comfortably furnished room……pretty….the bathrooms were cute…a tub with a shower, sink, toilet and another open air shower place….another door leading directly out from the bathroom and outside to the side a thoughtfully provided tap with a wash area so you can rinse your feet and gear without spreading sand in the room….
every time you turn you want to take a picture
We walked up to the jetty and watched the crystal clear waters…..i can’t believe there were fish in water as shallow as 6 inches!! We met a couple from Singapore and struck up a friendship with them….watched them snorkel and looked on in wonder….I’ve never swum in anything other than a pool…..K doesn’t swim and is water phobic…..all our beach vacations are to indulge me….. with more than a little encouragement from this couple, we picked up snorkeling gear and decided to try it out in the shallower waters near our bungalow…..
these feet belong to K…..
I cannot even describe what it is like….firstly, the waters are so clear you can see almost the whole ocean underwater….fish come into water as shallow as 6 inches….. and eriyadu is supposed to have the best house reef in all of Maldives….which means that if you were to stand about 3 feet of water, there are live corals all around and hundreds of fish……all you need to do is float on the water and breath through the pipe that you put in your mouth which is attached to your snorkeling mask…..pretty simple….but scary….for me who needs to know that I can touch the bottom of the pool…wearing flippers and standing in the ocean was very intimidating….i was scared out of my wits….plus the bad part of having a house reef in such shallow waters means that theres hardly anywhere you can stand without seriously injuring yourself on those “very pretty to look at, but will royally cut you” corals……..it took a while to get rid of that fear, by which time it was sunset and you cant see much in the waters with no light…..
the diving centre at sunset
The next morning, our friends from Singapore decided to give me moral support and said they’d snorkel alongside me….near enough for me to grab them if I needed help…..i will be forever indebted to S and V for this…..it is a whole different world under the water….i swam over corals of so many colours, white, pink, orange….some of them have tips that are almost fluorescent….imagine a white coral with purple tips that glow…..different sizes and shapes….and spread all over the bottom of the ocean….and nestled between these corals…were fish of more colours, shapes and sizes than I had ever imagined…..i saw about a gazillion fish …………triangular zebra striped fish, yellow with purple, yellow with blue stripes, sword fish in white, black and some shades of brown…their swords longer than their bodies, clown fish that looked like nemo, orange coloured fish, round ones, flat ones, long ones, sting rays, blues, greys, purples, greens…there was one called a parrot fish which was parrot green and its mouth, fins and tail were crimson!! I can go on and on….but I wont….because I simply wont be able to describe what I saw, and will bore you with my mindlessly exciting memories….lets just say that when I was snorkeling, I forgot that I was actually looking under the water…..its a different world, with as many shapes and colours and flora and fauna as the one above the earth…..it makes you lust to see more and before I knew it I was in water that was about 20 metres deep!! It’s like you calmly float in shallow water and suddenly the temperature of the water changes to really cool….and you are looking down an underwater valley of about 20-30 metres of steep drop…….I had to really will myself to keep calm…and tell myself that I can float back to the shore…..it just doesn’t let you have enough…..so each morning before and after breakfast for a couple of hours and then late afternoon till sunset, K and I would snorkel…sometimes on our own and sometimes with S and V….. every day you see something different…..on the second day, V and I went very close to a beautiful fish we saw at the bottom of the ocean….we were in waters about 4-5 meters deep…it was so beautiful….we noticed another snorkeler violently gesticulating at us…..we came to the surface and she warned us that it was an extremely dangerous fish…we’d just been about 4 feet away from a Scorpion fish.
While all the fish in the ocean are beautiful…the smaller fish are in schools of a few thousands….some of them look like fish curtains….and if you hold out bread (which we did to make them come closer) they’ll even allow you to touch them in a flash….. two most remarkable things that I saw were a sea turtle ambling along…..and an oyster opening and shutting…… it was a white scalloped one about the size of my palm with some furry trimming on the edges.…..
Our four day vacation was over too soon!! The food was pretty good….a mix of continental and Maldivian….good spread for both vegetarians and meat eaters…..we met some pretty amazing people…..there’s a diving school run on the resort which is run by an Ex- german mariner (hot looking guy with naturally streaked hair!! 22 years on the beach….)…we met enthusiasts who have been coming to the Maldives and this island in particular for between 5-18 years!! people who have done scuba diving about a few thousand times…..oh the stories they can tell and the pictures they can show you…..one guy captured shots of a manta ray (a really huge ray fish) on the second day we were there……..there was a nice beach bar with good food, cocktails and music where we’d relax after sundown and before dinner……
We got back to Hyderabad via Trivandrum, spending one night there to catch up with some friends of mine and I managed to do some shopping for traditional Kerala lamps. Whats a vacation without shopping for a girl??
As I sit here typing this out…..i am thinking two things……what a fabulous experience it has been….K and I want to definitely go back….and what a long post this is!! If you are still here…thanks for reading through!!