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Destinations · Asia · india · Kerala · Where to sleep ·

Vanilla County Homestay

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Vanilla County Homestay

Vanilla County Homestay is a good place to get an insider's view of India. This property, built over than 60 years ago and surrounded by spice and rubber plantations, has always been under the same family ownership. 15 years ago when the rubber price plunged to only 20 rupee for a rubber sheet, its owners, Baby Mathew and his wife Rani, decided to open a homestay in their house. Three rooms were given to guests, offering them a chance to immerse themselves in an authentic south India environment, to enjoy warm hospitality and to learn more about local customs and traditions. Today the rubber price has gone up again, reaching a record-high level of 200 rupee per rubber sheet. Rani laughs that rubber trees have turned into "trees of gold" now. People are ready to pay up to 250 rupee for a rubber tree plant that will give its first harvest only after seven years. Anyone with a tiny bit of land is eager to plant some rubber trees on it. Yet the homestay has become an integral part of the family's lifestyle and they don't even think of giving it up.

Foto: Vanilla County Homestay

Vanilla County is located in a remote rural area of Kerala, near Vagamon village and about 2-hour ride from Kochi international airport. The homestay offers modest, no-frills guest rooms, yet clean and spacious enough. Most furniture is made of timber obtained right on their property. A top-floor Vanilla room even has a small terrace overlooking the garden. Since they are using a solar water heating system, the hottest water is available around noon. But if the weather is cloudy, one can get only a refreshing cold shower. As it's more a family home than a hotel, rooms are not cleaned every day either. Moreover, linen is ironed with a charcoal iron, and towels and sheets give off a slight whiff of smoke and tobacco. The ground floor room at the same time boasts wireless internet access of an impeccable speed.
Rani is a good cook and makes traditional Kerala dishes with a slight European touch, and all the meals are served at the big family table. The hosts love to have a pleasant, unobtrusive chat with their guests and take good care that everyone feels at home there.

Foto: Vanilla County HomestayFoto: Vanilla County HomestayFoto: Vanilla County HomestayFoto: Vanilla County Homestay

Even though Vanlila County is a great place for just lounging in a hammock and reading a book, there is a lot more to see and explore. For example, you can learn about rubber obtaining, starting from latex tapping to producing of hand-pressed rubber sheets. Later, fused with synthetic rubber, they turn into car tires. The entire process of getting natural latex sheets takes place right in the plantation, using manual work and decades-old technologies. Coffee growing is another source of income, and Rani's spice and herb garden is spreading near the house, too. There are also medical plants for almost all possible ailments and troubles, e.g., turmeric to mitigate cough, a special herb for snake bites, a plant boosting insulin level, etc.

Foto: Vanilla County HomestayFoto: Vanilla County Homestay

A great alternative for a lazy aimless day is also a 1.5-hour hike to a natural rock formation pool in a nearby river. A trail leading there is quite a steep at times, too! For guests' convenience there is even a small dressing booth set up near the swimming place. Another similar "swimming pool" is situated even closer - just a 5-minutes ride from the homestay. If you are travelling with children, perhaps you would fancy an elephant ride? There is a very good-natured, 40 years old elephant living close by in the village. This black giant is in great demand for temple festivals of the entire neighborhood as well.
Ayyampara black granite cliffs are among the most beautiful attractions of the area. Fantastic peace and tranquility enfolds the place with only voices of birds to be heard and mountaintops visible in the distance. There is a small Hindu temple on one side of the road, but a Christian church on the other. The best time for going there is around sunset to spend an hour or so and to savor the silence.
Mavady Estate, Teekoy-686580
Kottayam, Kerala, India
Mobile: 91 (0) 9048624648, +91(0) 9744183835
www.vanillacounty.in

01/2013

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