Kerala is an Indian state that stands apart form its neighbours.
It’s the state with the highest rate of literacy in India and life expectancy that rivals many developed countries. Kerala is strikingly green. The vegetation is lush and thick.
See post for a photo gallery.
Not one among the dozens of beach-facing restaurants in Varkala have beer and cocktails in their menus.
But ask a waiter for alcohol and he’ll produce a tattered home-printed sheet from his pocket listing Tom Collins, mojitos, Cosmopolitans, all the classic mixes. Order a beer and an ice-cold Kingfisher bottle will appear in seconds.
The restaurants aren’t allowed to sell alcohol. But like anywhere else, in Varkala, the rules are negotiable if the price is right.
Around 2 pm – shortly after breakfast – the first flyers are delivered by pretty Finnish girls with hangover sunglasses. Tonight’s specials are the same as last night’s: 25-cent beers from 9:00 to 10:00, then free vodka “buckets” from 10:00 to 10:30.
It’s monsoon season, so the many bars in Sihanoukville have to compete for few customers. If one is feeling bold, it will begin its free drinking period 10 minutes before the other one.
In one of the least-traveled islands of Papua New Guinea, you can find virginal beaches, expert-grade diving and surfing, back-flip into an emerald river, and feed a class of friendly eels.
Two hours into the sailing trip, Dave, the divemaster, brought out the pedophile jokes.
He had already riled the Irish on board (“Your body is 80 percent water, except for the Irish, which are 30 percent alcohol”) but was still several hours from touching on race (“Why is Stevie Wonder always smiling? He doesn’t know he’s black”).
It was, to be sure, an alarming start to a three-day cruise around the Whitsunday Islands.
It doesn’t take long to see that the eastern Australian backpacking trail, which stretches form Sydney to Cairns, is geared for the sub-30 set. Hundreds of young’uns, mostly European, flock to the Gold an Sunshine Coasts chasing sunny beaches, bountiful alcohol, and beach-beautiful bodies.
Nothing wrong with this, but it’s not for everyone. Which is the reason that travellers 30 and above are a rare sight: it’s easy for them to feel they have outgrown this kind of budget-minded tripping.
When they can’t be bothered with sound discipline, it’s customary for parents to scare their children with fantastic lies.
In Brazil, for example, children are told that if they play with fire they will wet their beds, or that cockroaches will lick their mouths at night if they neglect to brush their teeth.
And there’s the mammoth childhood lie, one that crosses many cultures and is so ridiculous that its survival is nothing less than a miracle: that a fat old man in the North Pole is monitoring every child and delivers obedience rewards on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.
They say that those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. “They” are morons, because the same could be said for chemistry, math, or French.
Yet learning something is no guarantee that one won’t make the same stupid mistakes later. I, for one, know the legend of King Canute, and I still tried to stop the sea from washing away my hot tub.
A little background:
There were no naked people at Vancouver’s Wreck Beach, but there was a greying hippie feeding seagulls and a friendly bearded fella named Cloud.
This would have to suffice as a taste of this naturist mecca, where in the summer, thousands gather wearing nothing but a smile.
We happened on this notorious beach by chance: the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia was charging $14 a person, a few notches above the limits of reason for budget travelers.
The grey sand at Monterrico slopes dramatically between the town and the sea, so that when you walk along the surf, all you see above the sandbank are the straw rooves of the hotels, scores of them, as far as the eye can see.