Kerala is everything the guidebooks say, and more. My 40 hour non-A/C ride was far more bearable than I thought it would be, due to the welcoming presence of several Marathis and Malayalis. I brought my own food, which proved only partly necessary, as food was abundant. It got quite warm the second day, but manageable, and never too crowded.
3 am arrival to Trivandrum, and straight to the lodge, which was conveniently next to the train station. Then we woke up early-ish, got ready and headed to the bus (also next door) for the bus to Kollam (A/C).
There, we met our host, who runs a small guesthouse right on the beach. We dropped off our bags, and headed back to town, to catch a ride to Ashtamudi Lake, and a lake islands tour. Not sure what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to see a long canoe/longboat, and a few other foreigners. We delicately boarded, and then our guide and canoe driver pushed off the banks with his pole and we proceeded on a lazy 3-hour trip through the backwaters, stopping for tea, fresh coconut water, and several inquisitive young children.
Tonight, on the beach. Tomorrow, we board a ferry for Amrithapuri, for some full body contact with Amma, then on to Alleppey.