3/9/2008 to 3/14/2008 | India , Kerala

Varkala: Back to the Beach

An entry more out of completeness rather than anything really substantive to say about this beach resort filled with European beach vacationers and a sprinkling of backpackers like myself.  There are two metrics for how much I’ve enjoyed a place, how long I stay, and how many pictures I take.  Up until the final night when I visited a local temple performance of Katakali, I had taken a grand total of 3 pictures in the six days I spent a Varkala.  But then again maybe that’s why I stayed nearly a week when I had intended to stay only three days; it certainly was a pleasant place to take a vacation from my vacation.  The days go by quickly when filled with a little body surfing in the morning and afternoon, a couple of photo editing sessions and some internet browsing sandwiched in between, and capped off in the evenings with fresh fish at one of the cliff top restaurants over looking the ocean.  So did I like Varkala?  While there were a few too many high end tourists and the endless stream of souvenir shops that spring up wherever there is an easy rupee to be made, it suited its purpose as a place to relax and regroup from life on the Indian road.   As Indian beaches go, I preferred the more rustic look of Gorkarna, to the endless line of resorts, restaurants, Aryrovedic message centers, and souvenir stalls that line Varkala’s ocean front.  It was a place I enjoyed, although I think I would have liked it much better five years ago.  Such is the cycle of mass tourism these days, places get “discovered,” a first drawing the budget crowd that doesn’t require western style accommodation comforts.  Those that have been tell others, and more people come, and hotels get bigger and more upscale, built with money brought in by the original tourists.  With nicer accommodation available, lucrative package tourists start arriving who throw around money like its toilet paper and don’t care if they spend three times the price they should for a cup of coffee since it will be five times the inflated price when they go back home in three weeks.  I can’t complain about it since I’m a part of that cycle, and the locals certainly benefit financially from the increased revenue brought in by more and more tourist.  The unfortunate thing is I can’t visit a place without changing it a little, and with each person that visits changing it a little more, sometimes the things that drew people to that place to begin with get lost in the process.

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