Tea Fields and Backwaters: Kerala in Photos

In 2012, National Geographic’s Traveller magazine named Kerala as one of the “ten paradises of the world”, and “50 must see destinations of a lifetime”.

And yet, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who’s been there.

So, when my best friend Kat told me she was going for a few days (it’s a little closer to her in Dubai than it is to me in New York), I did a bit of research and I fell in love with the place.

I wanted to see tea growing on the hillside. Smell the cardamom and spices. Wake at dawn on a houseboat in the backwaters.

So I did.

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It takes a few hours to get away from the bustle of the city of Kochi. But when you do, it’s breathtaking.

Valleys sink away from the road, and the whole hillside glows a luscious green you don’t quite see anywhere else in India, under a thick blanket of tea.

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When I asked our driver if all the tea is picked by hand, he was really confused.

I think he took it for granted.

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Another teacher from Kat’s school in Dubai, Jon, organized the Kerala trip. There were meant to be seven of us but a series of unfortunate events prevented the other four from joining the adventure. This translated to more legroom in the car for us, so no complaints.

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Our most adventurous day involved an off-road jeep trip from the town of Munnar. The low roof, rough terrain, and lack of seatbelts, padding or handles meant we were tossed around like dice in a casino.

But the spectacular scenery made up for it.

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Although, some of the wildlife took my breath away in the wrong kind of way.

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We couldn’t resist recreating some of the photos from the tourist brochure.

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A dam provides hydroelectric power to the region, and creates a pretty awesome lake.

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Local operators offer speedboat trips.

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The road to Alleppey from Munnar has a few things worth stopping for too.

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The highlight of most trips to the Kerala region is definitely staying on a houseboat in the backwaters of Alleppey. The only thing I’ve ever seen like it is the Amazon region in Peru.

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The people watching was legendary.

And the sunset. I can’t even.

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Props to this guy for staying in place like a statue for an hour. And also to the two birds that are creepily in the exact same spot.

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After our night on the houseboat, we returned to Kochi for the final few hours of our time together.

The Portuguese influence has led to some interesting architecture.

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And for some reason, I loved the peeling paint in the Jewish Quarter. Also, the coffee.

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India’s answer to Banksy has left his mark on the area too.

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I said goodbye to Kat at the airport, and then waited for my flight to Delhi.

I’m glad I asked for a window seat.

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