We enjoyed the relaxation on our houseboat cruising the backwaters of Kerala so much, we thought we’d see if we could squeeze in a day or two at a beach before heading to city life in Kochi. Off to our guide books we went to search what was in the vicinity, and what we found was Bekal, touted as an up-and-coming beach destination. What we discovered was that the “coming” was still very much in the future tense. Nonetheless, we indulged in one of their few hotels, one beyond our usual budget but was so beautiful with adorable large-ceilinged rooms we couldn’t resist.
Nirvana at Bekal is literally right between Fort Bekal and Bekal Beach. The 300-year-old fort is Kerela’s largest and an impressive site to behold. The beach was beautiful to look at, though hurt the feet to walk on. In the distance, we spotted large orange flags waving. From afar, it looked like areas of Goa that had beach bars and tourist stalls. Off we set to explore and hopefully find refreshment. Upon reaching the destination however, things were not as we had hoped.
We discovered the flags signalled a common meeting area for the fishermen to bring their boats. To say that there was an inviting air to their sun-soaked faces and glazed over eyes would be a complete lie. While the one of them who spoke English engaged us in conversation, informing us how they were of the very poor fishing caste, the rest started to surround us in a rather uncomfortable manner. The man speaking to us said that while they were very poor, they were all still very happy. Maybe he should have informed the rest of his cohorts as his words were not reflected in any of their faces. As the feeling that something was off snuck in and visions that the townsfolk could appear as an angry mob torches ablazing (ok, perhaps our nerves stirred up our dramatic side a little, but the comment that “this is how horror movies begin” was shared amongst our group), this destination quickly lost its charm and we made tracks very quickly away from these men who had encroached us on all sides.
Our initial thoughts to stay an extra night vanished instantly and alternative plans were made. We found a rickshaw to take us to Kanhangad so we could book an overnight bus to Kochi. From here things started looking up. We stumbled upon an unassuming vegetarian restaurant called Udupi Krishna Bhavan and had one of the most delicious meals to date. On the recommendation of our server we had gobi manchurian and some sort of butter paneer dish soaked up with buttery naan and chased down with lemon juice. Should you find yourself in or passing by Kanhangad for any reason, we highly recommend eating at this establishment.
In the midst of our meal, a parade marched right out side the restaurant. No one spoke any English so the most we could gather was they were making their way to a Hindu temple. Very lively and musical.
Post parade and satisfying meal, we tossed on our bags and started off on what was to be a 3km jaunt to our bus pick-up stop, a gas station. What we thought was halfway through, but turned out to be more like a quarter, a very nice man in a car pulled over and offered us a lift.
Then at the gas station we had such hospitality from the people working there as we waited four hours. Every now and then someone would pop by to say hi and practice their English – each one as pleasant as the last. And so as semi-sleeper bus pulled up and we snuggled into our surprisingly comfortable seats, we slumbered with the nice feeling one has after meeting many genuinely nice, warm, friendly, helpful people.