on our way out of cochin, we stopped in old town again to do some shopping. i got great photos of the police's complaint box and some street puppies.
next stop was kumarakom, an area national geographic named one of the 15 most beautiful spots in the world. we drove through what seemed like hours of jungle to get to our hotel, but i surprisingly had good mobile coverage the whole way.
i was completely shocked when we arrived at the kumarakom lake resort, our hotel on lake vembanad. it was a true tropical paradise, reminiscent of thailand, i was told by others who'd been.
my room felt like a palace with a beautiful, traditional kerala door opening onto the most comfortable bed of my trip to india. my bathroom was pretty much the size of my apartment in LA, with a full jacuzzi and views of the gardens.
as if just being there hadn't been lush enough, we then went to the ayurvedic spa (photo below) for a traditional indian massage with natural oils and a cleansing scrub. i haven't had very many massages in my life, but i have especially enjoyed those i've gotten outside of the united states. foreign masseuses don't seem to have all the hesitation of american massage therapists who are afraid to touch your knee lest they get sued.
after my massage, i wandered around the gardens a bit more. the building we stayed in (photo below) was beautiful and surrounded by these vibrant red ti plants.
after a relaxing day at the resort, we saw a live demonstration of kalarippayat, the native martial art of kerala which is (i'm told) the mother of all martial arts. very inspired by yoga, it was a really interesting art to see live.
before dinner, one of my fellow tour mates, TEDster and film producer jake eberts, did a live screening of a few rough-cut trailers for the group. i missed his mini talk on the TED India main stage (one of only two i missed during the entire conference!), so i was fortunate to see a replay. he's been working with disney on nature-inspired films to release on earth day 2009 and 2010. the 2009 film, oceans, was all filmed in HD with great vantage points to see the mysteries of the sea. i'm especially excited for the 2010 release of "hidden beauty" which will focus on the world's pollinators (bees, butterflies, and bats). big thanks to jake (and his always-lovely wife, fiona) for hosting us in their room for this special show-and-tell.