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It is a plantation town, which is deeply attached to the plantation of natural rubber. It also has trade in spices such as pepper, ginger etc. Indeed, before rubber became common around the middle of 20th century, Palai was noted for its spices. A particular brand of pepper called Palai Pepper was then quoted in the London market.
People of Palai are largely dependent on agriculture, particularly rubber. The good price of natural rubber for nearly half a century has made the people here prosperous. Historically the people are hard-working and attached to land.
Palai can be visited throughout the year but the heavy monsoon months of June and July may be avoided, as roads are likely to be flooded. Also, the extreme summer months of March-May are quite warm and sultry. But like the rest of Kerala temperature rarely goes above 35C or below 22C at any time during the year.
The nearest airport is about 80 kilometres away at Kochi (Cochin) from where one can travel by road (a 2 hour drive). By rail one can get up to Kottayam, which is about 28 kilometres away by road (45 minutes drive). Taxis are available at both Kochi Cochin airport and Kottayam Railway Station. Buses are also available.
If you feel like walking, you can easily get around Palai on foot, as the town is only about 5 kilometres across. But an autorikshaw will save you from the heat and the humid weather. Due to the presence of thick vegetation the atmosphere is quite sultry. Local buses are there but not very frequent.
Fresh green pepper (and keep it in brine). Otherwise you can buy dried pepper, the king of spices. Remember, the Dutch East India Company sent a naval contingent from the Netherlands under Captain De Lannoy when they found that pepper supplies were not coming. What happened was that the English East India Company had reached here! That was all about three centuries ago.
Fresh sweet palm toddy is the best drink possible, but good quality can never be assured unless your host serves it right from the tree. Same is the case with alcoholic palm toddy, as spurious additives are not uncommon. Social drinking in public is frowned upon now, although at one time the place boasted of very high per capita consumption of toddy. Now it seems people think that things have gone too far as even school children started becoming addicts and family quarrels became common.
Home-stays are available but not many hotels.
Internet cafes are there. All telephone networks are also present. There are no formal tourist information facilities here, but you can get essential information from the man on the street. English is understood by most people, provided you speak it with an Indian accent.
From Palai you can make trips to some of the following destinations: