The Enlightened Eight Go to the Lakes

After a 10-hour sleeper train from Madurai, we arrive in one of the world's most beautiful and tranquil destinations: India's answer to the Lake District, the much more impressive Kerala.

Surrounded by the most incredible scenery I've ever seen in what's known around here as "God's own country", it turns out Kerala is one of the longest-running communist states in the world. The hammer and sickle image can be seen frequently out and about graffitied on walls etc, although I’m reliably informed it’s a more democratic kind of communism (not the hardcore Russian / Chinese kind), but I’m not pretending to understand it.

It’s also widely credited as having the highest literacy rates in the sub-continent, hovering at an impressive 96.2% - putting them on a par with Turkey, and above Brazil, Columbia and Saudi Arabia in the international rankings.

During this visit we're in the privileged position of staying on a houseboat tonight, and we’re all treated to an exclusive, and very special, debut duet from Nicole (vocals) & Andrew (guitar) aka Nandrew!

Surrounded by more luscious greenery and vegetation than we've ever witnessed before we jump on a more manoeuvrable canoe and head towards the narrow man-made canals. With birds of every colour in all directions, we meander on our mission. That mission still very much undefined.

With the legendary 'good Doctor' Thomas at the helm, we steer under a bridge just a few feet above water level. Luckily being extra nimble since dabbling in the ancient art of yoga we fold our bodies in half to squeeze through the tiny gaps.

Typically, I forgot to bring something rather crucial on this trip - a toothbrush! To my surprise, our guide tells me we can find one here in the wilderness - and points towards the deepening jungle.

We moor up and jump off to explore. Coming across a hut with sweets, drinks and chocolate on display I'm amazed to find not only a brand-new Colgate toothbrush but also little jewellery souvenirs for a very special lady.

On our return to the canoe, we spot some locals struggling to pull down a tree. A local – by the name of Lenin of all things – hacks away at the bark, while rope is tied to the top and bottom parts of the tree that will be removed. Thomas and I decide they look like they desperately need us to flex our minute muscles… we join them, making all the difference - at least in our own minds - and together we rip down this huge, towering, palm tree like we're flossing our teeth.

Sure, they couldn't have done it without us. They may have survived for millennia in these parts without any significant foreign intervention, but on this very day we will go down in history as the random white guys who slayed a gigantic monster in the jungle.

More ramblings still to come on this adventure weekend of a lifetime… keep it locked people.

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