We went to stay in the hill country in Kerala (South India) for a week in Spring Break. We stayed at a friend’s place called Ela Blooms and the following post is basically an advert for why this is the perfect spot to introduce kids to the marvels of India without getting too hectic….we went with our next-door neighbours and their two girls who are about the same age as the boys. This made the holiday exponentially louder (4 kids make 10 times more noise than 2 kids, why is that?), BUT it also meant that that kids had loads of great adventures together and the parents got to take the piss out of each other’s bushcraft skills.
Before I forget the worst thing about the holiday was getting the visa. The UK and India have a tit-for-tat let’s be as awkward as possible to each other visa policy and we paid more for the visa than the flights. If you’re not from the UK though it’s all sweet.
From the Gulf, Kerala is only a few short hours away and certainly from the UAE there are plenty of budget airlines that fly there and indeed Air India is a good deal. This meant that with the great rates that Isaac and Peter gave us, a week set us back what a couple of nights in a soulless chain hotel in the Gulf would have cost. And when you do arrive in the airport Ela Blooms will send a car to pick you up for the two hour drive to the farm, so it really couldn’t be easier.
You can click on the link above for a more ordered description of Ela Blooms but essentially it is some pretty basic but comfortable huts/houses (something in the middle) up a mountain in Kerala
There is also a dining room in the farm for communal meals and sits out on the veranda for night watching a fire pit where we congregated at night to swap lies.
As well at the buildings, the farm has lots of plants (green ones), a tire swing (lots of use), cave house (didn’t really use it), pond (nothing biting) and lots of tracks to walk. Mind you they call it a farm, think less big agro-business and more ‘of those jungle plants that look completely random are actually cardamom are they?” It certainly took me a couple of days to realise this although I kept that to myself.
Stuff to do
We did a lot in the week we were there, and the great thing was for much of it we didn’t leave the farm. Walking featured heavily, there was a lot of turn taking among the adults to take the kids to ‘the pond’ or the ‘cave’. Walking involved spotting elephant poo (though no elephants), trying to spot monkeys (typically I saw them on the last day as we were leaving) and collecting leaves and sticks to make “art”. There were lots of longer walks available but not for the kids, at least the smallest ones, but if you do have older kids then ask about these.
Also on the farm our hosts arranged for some drummers to come and do a ‘show’ for us. This was great, we did it around the campfire and all had a go at bashing the skins at the end. Again the drummers were as curious about us as we were about them and only their limited English and our non-existent Malayalam, kept us from chatting into the night!
We also went down to the stream at the bottom of the farm for a swim, the resulting photos aren’t for the faint hearted I’m afraid, Tarzan we ain’t. Again this was trip about doing simple stuff that kids enjoy and this was a great example of that, why go to a water park when you’ve got a leech infested Indian stream? (Only kidding it wasn’t leach season).
Off farm we went to the local town for supplies. Meppadi town in the Wayanad district is less a one horse town, more a one cow town, but it does give you the chance to see what a one cow town looks like. When the gringo parade rolled into town we were the equivalent of the circus, but the stares were friendly and people were keen to engage with us which was cool. You can nip into the bakery for a roll or a coffee and you can have a crack at chewing beetle nut, but beyond that entertainment options are fairly limited.
We also went to visit another farm that belonged to some friends of our hosts. This was one of our most action packed days, we went rafting on a semi-submerged home made raft, did some tea picking, and practiced our bow and arrow skills. We were looked after by the farm owners and a local tribesman who showed us the bow and arrow stuff.
We also had some food outside before we headed back to Ela Blooms.The only complaint from the day was it was a long drive for the kids, and although it was worth it, we should have taken something to keep them entertained on the way.
We couldn’t have been better looked after if we had stayed in the Emirates Palace. There was Peter one of the farm owners who drove over from Banagalore to look after and hang out with us. Then there were another 4 staff members, a boss, a cook, a driver and cleaner. When we had a small medical emergency with one of the kids the driver took us down to the local hospital helped us do the needful as they say in this part of the world and bring us back. When we said we wanted to have something different to eat that was OK as long as we got into the kitchen to show cook how to prepare it, And when we wanted a break from the kids there was somebody to kick a football around with them.
Their attentiveness was genuine and they helped us feel really at home, again the highlight of another trip.
I am a soldier. I had a chrej hunt i got eesdeegs
Translation = I am a soldier, I had a treasure hunt, I got Easter Eggs
Vacaciones en Kerala.
Cuando decidimos ir a Kerala pensé que sería una zona muy poblada, como las demás ciudades de la India, pero fue lo contrario porque Ella Blooms estaba en las montañas, en una finca de cardamomo, el viaje fue muy tranquilo, el fuerte olor a frescura y el paso por grandes bosques me impresiono mucho, incluso había animales como monos, aves a los lados de la carretera. El viaje de 15 minutos desde la carretera principal al hostal fue en jeep, por una carretera empedrada y con muchos huecos; me trajo muchos recuerdos ya que en el pueblo donde crecí varias veces viajamos por carreteras de las mismas condiciones, fue divertido. Hicimos dos o tres caminatas en la finca, una de ellas fue a la visita de la casa cueva en una piedra gigante natural. Siempre estábamos acompañados de alguien ya que había tigres, elefantes por la zona. Tuvimos un poco de miedo y nos dejamos a los chicos que fueran solos a ningún lado., aunque el hostal tenia un patio grande para jugar, carpas para acampar, un columpio y muchos palos para jugar. El hostal era muy básico y la comida típica de la zona fue muy deliciosa, picante y fresca. El desayuno también era curry y la verdad no podíamos comerlo era muy temprano para picante pero igual lo comimos. Por suerte lleve cosas para picar para los chicos, ya que no comieron mucho solo arroz, fruta y pan.
Visitamos una plantación de té y cosechamos un poco, el propietario había construido una barca y nos dio un paseo por el rio, luego tuvimos un delicioso almuerzo en el patio de su casa, y para terminar una practica con lanzas y flechas, cosa que los chicos disfrutaron mucho. Una corta visita a un pueblo en donde compramos frutas, leche, etc. Al ser los únicos turistas llamamos mucho la atención por las calles, estas estaban llenas de tuc tus, carros, camiones, buses, vacas y muchas personas.
Disfrutamos mucho de estas vacaciones llena de naturaleza, y el personal del hostal fue muy amable en hacernos sentir a gusto.