After a final delicious breakfast at Palmleaves Beach resort we paid up and left in a taxi with a German couple from Frankfurt, Eva and Marco. On the crazy journey (the driver overtook absolutely everything) Eva gave us some great tips and ideas for travel in Vietnam and Cambodia where she had spent quite a lot of time working. We parted on arrival at Varkala beach (they were staying somewhere recommended in their guide book, ‘Johnny Cool’s’ if I remember correctly) and all of us decided a tip was not appropriate for this particular journey.
We went to the tourist information booth and changed some money (travellers cheques – very good rate) and asked for a suitable hotel. We were escorted to one very close by on the edge of the beach and shown to a nice room, given the wifi password and all seemed rosy until we came to go out. There were several hefty bolts on the door and a massive padlock from the outside but the windows were accessible with a simple slide of the hand. The large, low windows were on the shared balcony and easy for anyone in the hotel to climb through and help themselves to whatever they wanted. We checked out and headed into the scorching afternoon sun, wandered for a few minutes and were then approached by a rickshaw driver who said he knew somewhere with wifi and he could take us there. Moments later we were in a lovely small hotel which had only been opened for a week, was clean and tidy and secure and had wifi!
We gratefully flopped and enjoyed the air conditioning for a while before heading out to explore and find somewhere to eat. The beachside part of Varkala shows many signs of development, buildings are going up all over the place and most seemed geared towards tourism. They have not got any street lighting yet though and it was a good job Henry had his phone because without any light it would have been impossible to even walk along the beach in the dark.
After sitting for a little while in the garden of our safe new accommodation we were introduced to the game of Carrom by the hotel manager. We enjoyed trying to play but we were soon distracted by his stories and photographs of some of the festivals he has attended and taken an active part in as a Hindu in this area. Most of the festivals require some sort of fasting for weeks beforehand (fasting being either following a vegetarian or vegan diet) and then going into an 8hr trance and having sticks pierced through your tounge and mouth! He enjoyed telling us about it and showing us photos where even children were being pierced.