Tag Archives: cooking school

India’s Kerala

Our initial plan was to spend 2 months in India, covering both North and South. However, our visas were granted for 1 month only which forced us to leave India at the end of 30 days in the country. Good thing so many travelers had suggested a visit to Sri Lanka, as it made for a convenient stop before our re-entry to Kerala, in South India.

We began our trip in Fort Cochin, a slow paced cute area protected by water. We had a wonderful hotel, Fort Abode, with 2 spacious rooms and pleasant service. The staff helped arrange additional places to visit in Kerala. We took a car to Munnar, which is the tea region of Kerala, with cooler temperatures and tea plantations covering the hills. We wanted to have a homestay experience and booked 2 rooms at the Rose Gardens Homestay. To our surprise and, considering there were so few hiccups during our previous 8 months of traveling, the Rose Gardens we booked was not the same one that we were dropped off in Munnar. Yep, same homestay name, but different town. The “new” Rose Gardens homestay was booked up and also a lot more expensive than the one we (thought) booked. Not a good start in Munnar…Our driver then took us to another homestay that we did not like and it was getting late with pouring rain. Everyone was exhausted from the winding drive and unfortunate accommodations but we finally found a hotel in town for the night; not great but 2 beds to rest and a good meal.

Munnar is cute and we enjoyed the Tea Museum despite the crowd of tourists. We also managed to reserve another homestay where we stayed for 2 nights with a nice family and cute 3-month old puppy that the kids loved. We ate all of our meals with them – delicious local food, very tasty, and home cooked!

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Tea Plantations of Munnar

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From Munnar we went to Thekkady and stayed at the Beaumont Plantation Retreat. It was indeed a retreat, such a relaxing place that we certainly did not want to leave. Ironically, this stay was unexpected on our part and thanks to the staff at Fort Abode for putting it together. Between hikes, eating, sleeping and eating more, we did not do much other than enjoy the views and tranquility. Louisa and I had a culinary demonstration and learned how to make some of the yummy dishes we ate. The hotel was also on the boarder of Tamil Nadu state, with wonderful views.

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Tamil Nadu in the background

 

Our next stop was Alleppey, where we stayed for 2 nights in a forgettable place – it was bad and it was cheap. We went to the beach but did not go in the ocean as there are strong currents. Nobody was swimming either and the beach was packed of fully dressed Indians – we were the only foreigners. After 2 days in Alleppey, we started our Backwaters trip in a Houseboat, which is one of the main attractions in Kerala. Our Houseboat was quite comfortable with 2 bedrooms and a nice living area where we lounged for hours just watching the beautiful scenery. The most amazing part was also the South India food that the staff cooked for us on the boat – plenty of delicious meals for the 4 of us. We wished we had stayed one more night!

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Alleppey beach

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Our houseboat

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Backwaters of Kerala

 

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Houseboat Banquet

Our trip was coming to an end and we headed back to the same place in Fort Cochin. Chris had these wonderful healing Ayurvedic massages during the 1st stay which really helped the tightness on his shoulder. Amazing how a good natural massage can heal your body. We had our Farewell dinner at a great Indian restaurant that we found while walking around Fort Cochin – “51”, at the Xandari  Harbour Hotel.

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Ayurvedic massage

On our last day in India we went to an Amusement Park – WonderLa – at the recommendation of our Australian friends. I will let the kids do a separate blog on WonderLa as it was a very unique experience for us to be in a “Disneyland” type of place with hundreds of Indians and the only foreigners being our family. We had to stop every 30min or so to take group pictures with the locals, so fun. We all loved our day, it was the perfect way to finish our stay in India.

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Farewell to India at WonderLa

 

 

 

Koh Lanta ⎮ Beach, Eat, Beach, Sleep, Beach!

To begin with, we all LOVED Koh Lanta!!! The beachy weekend vacation time went by WAY too fast for 5 days! For this time, we had two other guest backpackers staying with us for 10 days -my aunt, Sarah, and her friend, Amanda, from San Francisco – We all had a great time in Koh Lanta! Some day, I hope to come back!

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The now 6 of us arrived from Bangkok and were pumped to get some beach time in! The last time we had beach was in Indonesia back in late December/early January! After a quick AirAsia flight from Bangkok to Krabi, we hopped into the van to take us to the Chaw Ka Cher hotel and it took a lot longer than we had hoped. We had to take two ferries but when we were finally there, it was nice, really nice! I think we were all very impressed with the hotel – good food, service, pool, & rooms- and enjoyed it very much. We were all pretty tired that evening so we stayed at the hotel to eat. The food was great and we finished off the evening with a good game of hearts!

The next morning, we had a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel and went to the closest beach from where we were – Relax Bay. I think this beach was the best beach. It was very peaceful and calm with plenty of little food restaurants around. Sarah got a massage there and the rest of us read and swam and just plain chillaxed. We got back to the hotel later in the afternoon and chilled more by the pool. For dinner, we went out to a place called Thai Cat. Overall, it wasn’t bad but we’ve definitely had better!

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The Scouts!

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GoPro-ing fun!

 

The following morning came and went and we found ourselves in another beach, Klong Dao. The second beach had more people, shops, restaurants and was a lot bigger than the one before. We found a nice spot in the shade and did our beach chillaxing thing again! Sarah got another massage there but not as good as her first with the real strong old lady at the first beach. We had a good lunch where Sebastian ordered a pineapple fried rice. It’s probably the opposite of what you’re thinking though, with pieces of pineapple in the rice. It was more like a real pineapple cut in the inside with fried rice in it! It was delicious! After lunch, Amanda, Sebastian, and I rented two paddle boards and went on a little adventure. Brother and sister shared a board while Amanda got her own. We took several GoPro selfies and photos. Our adventure was a lot of fun! (just out and in to a little beach next to the big one) We relaxed a bit longer and then went back to the hotel. After chilling at the hotel, we got ready to go to our cooking class! (Sarah, Amanda, Mama, Sebastian, & me) The truck picked us up and took us to the Cooking School, Lanta Thai Cookery School. All the other students were women so Sebastian was the only boy and together we were the only kids! As a group, all the students had to choose 4 dishes to make and eat after. We all ended up deciding on the papaya salad as an appetizer, fried spring rolls, pad thai, and red curry. We all received a cookbook and certificate at the end of the class to try out the other recipes like mango with sticky rice! The food turned out great and it was so much fun to make. It was definitely worth it and we will certainly try them again when we get home to Florida!

The next day, we rented 3 scooters for the 6 of us. Sarah and Amanda rode together, Mom and Sebastian, and Dad and I. Our destination was Bamboo Bay beach. We swam all morning and had a great lunch at the Baan Phu Lae guesthouse. As we were leaving to go to Kantiang Bay beach to watch the sunset, two men on a scooter came by. We had all stopped to wait for each other to catch up when the man driving the scooter turned pushing the gas, and accidentally rammed straight into Sarah and Amanda’s scooter. Amanda did a kind of flip roll off the scooter and Sarah was leaning to the side about to fall over with all the weight of the scooter on her. Luckily, there was a small pole in between the two of them so it was pushing against the scooter and it did not fall but the impact broke the mirror of Sarah’s scooter. The two men from the other scooter rushed over to see if everyone was okay, and good thing everyone was okay! In the end, Dad and I rode back to the hotel with the guys and they had to pay for the broken rearview mirror and gave us some money for Amanda’s ripped skirt! Gladly, it was just a scare and the girls and Sebastian were waiting for us at Kantiang Bay sipping cocktails and waiting for the sunset over the Andaman Sea.

Our last beach day was spent in Kantiang Bay again in the morning and Relax Bay again in the afternoon. We all got massages at Relax Bay and they were REALLY nice! This time I got to drive the scooter to the different beaches and it was SUPER fun!! To wrap up our time in Koh Lanta, we went to an excellent 5 star restaurant, Yang Garden. This was a FANTASTIC farewell dinner and ALL of us enjoyed it very much! For dessert, we had a Thai Creme Brulee and a Chocolate Truffle. Yum!

This wonderful beach relaxing time got us all prepared for Laos! Farewell, Koh Lanta! We will return…;)

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The Girls

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