I enjoyed just wandering around the pathways away from the beach..plenty of local life to see. Met quite a few local children and women, who were happy to chat or just smile and said hello.
I wandered up the road that leads from Hawa beach and came across a book shop. I bought a Keralan recipe book, (the owner is quite happy to find and order any books you might want) , a cd shop, where I purchased a couple of local recordings, again the owner was interested in the sort of music I was looking for, and said he could get anything that I wanted.
Ended up at Sumadra Beach, in time to hear the call to prayer from the mosque, which is near to a Hindu temple.
Nearby is a coconut grove, where I spent nearly an hour watching a man shimmying up the trees only aided by thin strips of ?leaves, to collect the coconuts. These were then gathered up by 2 other men, and moved to another area where another 2 men were employed in stripping the nut from the husk - done by forcing the coconut onto a blade buried in the ground, then by a series of twists and turns separating the 2!
I eventually plucked up courage to ask if I could take a photo - ok, but they demanded a tip.
Got a tuk tuk back to my hotel. There was a transport strike that day, but some drivers were still working. Aain, I saw a different view of Kovalam as we winded up and down narrow roads...a great day out!
We stopped off on the way back from Allepy to the Elephant sanctuary where Elephants are trained for festival use. The village was about 45 minutes away from Trivandrum but I can't be certain on this. Package deals from the hotel to see the elephants were £35, our cost was 250 Rupees which is about £3. The cost of travelling was nothing as it was on route however I would gues that even if you hired a taxi for a day at 1000 rupees £12, so based on a party of only 2 that £9 which is a significant saving and you wouldnt need a taxi for a whole day anyway. It was a superb experience and one that will remembered forever.
I Visited this temple as part of a Sunset Backwaters cruise. (see Kerala and/or Kovalam must do tips)
Although most Hindu temples forbid non Hindus to enter, Kerala has some temples that allow this.
We arrived by punt, and walked up some steps to the outer courtyard. We removed our shoes, before entering the inner sanctum.
Our guide then asked if we'd like to make an offering. We paid a small amount, then our guide returned with a parcel made from a banana leaf containing flower petals and a light coloured paste, which he dipped a finger into before placing a small amount onto our foreheads, and arms.
I must admit that I felt a bit awkward about this, being a western tourist "playing at being a Hindu", but one of our party explained that it was a way of "protecting" the Hindu devotees from us!
Again, I don't feel comfortable, wandering around, while people are praying at their shrines, particularly as one woman appeared to be in a trance like state as she went from one deity to another.
However, it was an opportunity to see inside a Hindu temple, which I found fascinating, and as our guide was a local, it must have been ok.
Afetr spending the whole day in water, when ur left with little or no energy, find a secluded spot and just watch the sun go down into the sea.
Then take a bath, have dinner and laze around on the beach again listening to what the waves have to tell you. Hmmmmmm
It's worth your time to walk around and explore the less visible parts of the town behind the larger buildings that line the beach. It's a swampy area with paddy fields crisscrossed by a network of raised paths on berms. You'll find some interesting sights back there, along with some unique shops too, such as tailors who will measure you and custom-make all sorts of clothes for you within just a few hours.
We hired our usual taxi for a trip to a tea plantation high up in the hills approx 50 KL from Kovalam. Whilst at the peak it was an anti climax of a small cafe serving tea at 2 RP, the journey and sights along the winding upwards roads were an experience not to forget. We bought fresh tea & coffee to take back to the UK.
Kovalam is still very much a fishing town and every night boats leave for the sea bringing the nights catch early next morning. Also used on these beaches are nets dropped by boats every night into the sea and pulled in full of catch the next morning. If your up to it you can help pull the nets in (takes around 50 - 70 people to pull in a single big net). It's quite an experience with the fisherman signing their local songs as you pull away. You can feel yourself truly morphing into the local culture and getting a strong taste of their daily life.