Varkala Bus Dancer


Energetic … Infectious … Brilliant!

I wanted to go to a beach a few miles from where I was staying in Varkala, Kerala (India) and as I was waiting at the bus stop, a bus full of students stopped and told me to get on. I though it was a public bus, but they were apparently on a school trip to a beach farther north up the coast.

As the bus started down the road, the music went on and the kids started dancing and singing. They all wanted to take a photo with me as we neared my destination and as I got off the bus I asked who I should pay and how much. They told me “don’t worry” as they drove off into the Kerala sunset waving goodbye as they continued singing. 

Enjoy “Varkala Bus Dancer”! 

— Varkala Beach, Kerala, India


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Title: Varkala Bus Dancer

Key Words: Varkala Bus Dancer, Varkala, bus, dancer, dancing, dances, dance, music, video, Kerala, India, student, trip, road, beach, travel, value, TravelValue

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India Jones and the Temple of Gloom


Coffee Temple
Varkala Cliff
Varkala, Kerala, India
I had heard that this place was “the best” and being #4 of 59 restaurants in Varkala on TripAdvisor I would have thought it was a sure bet, but nothing is for sure except the grim reaper and the taxman.
 
To be fair, I made several visits at various times of the day and I have to say the service was dismal nearly every time. On at least three occasions I sat at my table for 15 minutes or more and was totally ignored (I many times purposely do not make a fuss to see how long it will actually take), having ultimately had to either get up and ask for or retrieve my own menu. On one occasion one of the servers, who I will call “India Jones” because of his long hair, unkempt beard, tattered shirts, and “local” Kerala dress (he wears a sarong as a skirt even though he is obviously a westerner), moped around, conserving energy I assume, and lumbered past me at least ten times, never asking me if I needed a menu or wanted to order. I sometimes believe that I am invisible here because employees constantly walk by without even acknowledging my existence. 
 
Chicken Salad Sandwich – 230 Rupees
The coffee and teas are good, coming in large (10 ounce) mugs, but are a tad overpriced by Indian standards.  The food looked good from what I saw others order, but is also a bit more expensive than most places. I have to admit that the only things I tried were the the toast, three large, thick pieces of brown bread with butter and jam (80 rupees/$1.30 – I had to provide my own peanut butter even though the menu claims they make a crepe with it), a large bowl of fruit muesli (100 rupees/$1.60 and not so large) which was not bad and a fair deal, and their chicken salad sandwich (230 rupees/$3.75 with cheese), a huge disappointment.  The bread, a small baguette (see photo above) with sesame seeds on top was the highlight, but what little chicken salad there was oddly enough was served warm, the chicken mostly dark meat and full of gristle, and the mayonnaise had a rather disgusting sweet taste like Miracle Whip, which I loathe. Disappointingly small and lonely on the plate with no garnish, it was one of the worst meals and values I had at any restaurant in my nearly four months in India.
 
The place has potential with its incredible view and open air feel, but the servers need to do something about their simultaneously apathetic and arrogant attitudes and start acting like customers are important.  As far as the food was concerned, I was not impressed, but the coffee and masala chai were pretty good. The only reason I am giving them 5 bombs and not 4 is because they are about the only place on the cliff that consistently opens early (6:30), so if you are an early riser like me, not always by choice, you can at least get a coffee or breakfast with a sea view no less.
 
CombatCritic Gives Coffee Temple 5 Out of 10 Bombs … More Bombs Are Better!
 
 
 
 
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Title: India Jones and the Temple of Gloom
 
Key Words: Coffee Temple, coffee, temple, Varkala, cliff, beach, Kerala, India, restaurant, cafe, food, menu, tea, sandwich, breakfast, view, sea, CombatCritic, TravelValue, TripAdvisor

Chinese Fishing Nets Are Worth A Visit, But Some Fishermen Are Con Artists


Chinese Fishing Nets (Fort Kochi, Kerala, India): Well worth a visit. This fishing technique apparently goes back centuries and I assume originated in China, hence the name. You can stroll along the seashore from the ferry terminal headed south/southwest past the numerous street vendors until you see the nets on your right.


It is really quite impressive to watch the fishermen pulling the huge nets out of the water with their bounty, dropping them back in a few minutes later. They only leave them in the water 5-10 minutes before hoisting them using the ropes and the weight of the massive boulders used as a counterweight.


WARNING: Be careful if the fishermen call you over and want to show you how they work first hand. I was approached by a man named Joseph who is apparently a 4th generation fisherman. He seemed nice enough, but wary of the “nice” people that approach you throughout India to separate you from your money, I approached with caution, knowing that he likely had another motive. He showed me how they worked, asked me if I wanted him to take a photo (indication

#1 that he was after my money because I have found that people that offer to take your photo for you are expecting a tip), and then asked me if I wanted to pull the ropes (while telling me how poor the fishermen are at that some tourists offer to pay 500 to 1000 rupees for the “experience”). At that point I said “thank you very much” and offered him 100 rupees ($1.60), which I was planning on offering anyway for his time and attention. But when he started whining about how little 100 rupees is and how poor the fishermen are, I put the money back in my pocket and said “if you want to be greedy Joseph, you get nothing” and walked away. Another man blocked my path insisting on a contribution, but I simply went around him and proceeded down the boardwalk.


LESSON LEARNED: If anybody approaches you in India and offers a “free” service, unsolicited information, a tour, or a flower to make a religious offering … REFUSE … they see Westerners as walking cash registers and only want your money, as much as they can get.


CombatCritic Gives Chinese Fishing Nets (Fort Kochi) 5 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Good!

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Key Words: Chinese Fishing Nets, Chinese, fishing, nets, fish, fishermen, con, artist, scam, Fort Kochi, Kochi, Cochin, Kerala, India, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value