From Periyar, it was a long and windy five hour drive to our next accommodation in Kumarakom. Upon arrival, our driver parked at a small boat dock. It seemed like he was just stopping for a break, but it turned out the only way to enter the property was by boat, so here we were at the hotel entrance.. technically. We lugged our luggage onto a small boat and waved goodbye to our driver, Sudesh. The boat slowly floated along the quiet backwaters, passing by locals doing laundry in the river. Within about 10 minutes, the boat turned to enter a gated property. Once parked, we exited the boat to be instantly met by a beautiful Indian woman giving tea and bindi dots to all new guests. She kindly escorted us to the check-in counter.
Coconut Lagoon was a magical resort that took our breath away. Spread among 30 acres looking over Vembanad lake, with canals criss-crossing throughout the property. It is completely removed from the city, allowing visitors to truly embrace their getaway and allow relaxation to take over.
That evening we joined their complimentary sunset cruise. The small boat was packed with other tourists, mostly from France and Germany. A local musician sat at the back of the boat chanting and playing instruments to enhance the setting. The sunset was indeed spectacular. While this trip wasn’t ever considered a “vacation”, as hotel inspections were scheduled throughout and the itinerary had us constantly moving, we actually felt relaxed and on vacation for the first time.
The stunning sunset continued after we docked back at the resort. The buffet dinner to follow was fantastic. We were given a two-story bungalow made completely from teak wood with an outdoor bathroom. It definitely felt like we were in the lap of luxury.
The next morning we rose early to meet our driver to head to our scheduled backwaters day cruise, but were told at checkout that a strike was happening in town. Our driver called and advised that due to some violence, no one was allowed to drive and all shops were closed. We were to remain at the resort until told otherwise… The strike was said to end around 4pm. Here it was only 8am, so the staff graciously gave us a smaller room to hang around in until we could depart. I can’t lie, I was quite bummed as it was my actual birthday that day. What could we possibly do while waiting around that would compare to a backwaters experience? Houseboats in the backwaters were the highlight of Kerala! Michal on the other hand was somewhat excited to simply relax by the pool. I still hadn’t grasped the cultural standards in regards to bathing suits, particularly for woman. Other hotels we had been to had locals literally swimming in their street clothes. Our guide in Cochin had advised women who swim in the ocean often attract men taking pictures to send to their friends, implying it’s a rare sight to see a woman in a bathing suit. While we were at a western resort, I personally didn’t feel completely comfortable flaunting my bathing suit. I read for bit, all the while pouting about being stuck at a remote resort while in India.
Before getting the call that we could finally leave the resort grounds around 3pm, we had watched a movie in the room, had lunch (maybe twice), and wandered the property, even coming across a komodo lizard just minding its business.
When reunited with Sudesh, he updated us on what a weird day he had in town. Apparently someone involved in the strike broke a car window, which caused the town to shut down, to avoid any further violence. The strike was apart of an ongoing political battle happening between local parties, so it wasn’t unusual or even unexpected. However, no one expected the entire town to be forced to take the day off. Poor Sudesh couldn’t leave the dock parking area, nor could he even get food because everywhere was closed! He was overly gracious about his awful day and continued onward to take us to our next night’s stay in Mararikulam.
We arrived to the Marari Beach Resort right before sunset, so we quickly checked-in and made our way to the grey, slightly drizzling beach. It soon started raining, so we ventured to the small bar for a celebratory birthday glass of wine. No matter how much time Michal and I spend together, the topics we find to chat about are endless. It was a serene setting, drinking our wine under a straw hut roof that was only lit by faint candlelight, while the heavy rain poured a few feet away from us.
At dinner our waiter surprised us by turning off the restaurant lights and bringing out a birthday cake with candles. He claimed tradition was to stuff the cake into the birthday goer’s face… He was nice enough to just shove it in my mouth, not all over my face. In that silly moment, it felt like my birthday, thanks to our waiter and the hotel staff. We learned later that our driver Sudesh tipped them off. They all made my day. In the end, a relaxing day wasn’t all so bad.