With only a thirty day evisa for India we decided to focus this trip on the South. We flew into Cochin airport which only took fifty minutes from Colombo, and caught a bus to Fort Cochin where we were stayed for one night. We jumped off the bus in the nick of time before the heavens opened in their full glory. The biggest thunderstorm I’ve ever heard lit up the sky and we could actually feel the crack of the thunder in our chests. As a ‘welcome to India’ gesture, myself and Ellie’s bodies decided to keep us up all night puking, but luckily it was only a short one-day stint.
We were pretty much in and out of Cochin. We stayed for one day but you could see it in a few hours. We walked along the promenade and quickly found ourselves at the old Chinese fishing nets helping to pull them up. Hard graft! The fishermen pull them up every 2-3 minutes so their hands must be made of strong stuff. We had a nosey down the streets, ate lunch then left for Alleppey.
Staying on a houseboat was something we all wanted to do while in India, and we landed a pretty sweet deal through our guesthouse. In total we paid 14,000 rupees for two nights and three days with all meals provided. The price also includes a driver and chef, who were so lovely! Our boat had two bedrooms, a kitchen, a lounge area and a small upstairs area where you can catch a few rays.
The tour started in the morning. We crossed a large stretch of water into the backwaters where we would cover 40km over the next few days. It was a lovely, lazy day listening to music, drinking chai, reading and chatting. The boat travels very slowly and the water is so calm. Looking along the canal you can see the local Keralan people going about their normal day, washing and bathing in the river and cycling along the canals. It’s easy to see how important the water is to the people who live here. Watching people do laundry in the river and repeatedly slapping huge cloths on the bank in midday heat made me really appreciate washing machines!
The whole journey was so green! The narrower canals are the prettiest as you’re enveloped with tall, leafy palm trees. The houseboats are too big for the tiny canals but you can get a small wooden canoe to take you. We also had fun driving the boat…
The chef cooked delicious food everyday, we ate like queens! The best meal was a Kerelan lunch served on a banana leaf. Great for the chef as it saves washing up! He also made a mean chai and banana fritters.
The houseboat experience was amazing but we did have a very scary experience on the first night. Actually it was the scariest experience of my life if I’m going to be honest. To put it simply, a man came onto our boat and tried to break into mine and Libby’s room. As soon as we screamed the girls names he scarpered and the girls, driver and chef came running straight to the door wondering what the hell was going on. I count my blessings for that night and I hope to God that the intentions of whoever it was weren’t seriously bad. Being aware of and respecting cultural differences is mandatory wherever you go, but particularly in India. However, some things are beyond your control and we were just unlucky.
I’m writing this nearing the end of my first trip to India and I can confidently say that it didn’t tarnish my overall experience. Nine times out of ten the people we met were lovely which reiterates the importance of not painting everyone with the same brush. If anything it heightened my awareness, and this is never a bad thing. Although the chances of this happening are so low, it’s crucial to raise and spread awareness for others.
Overall, I’d highly recommend staying on a houseboat in Kerala. Floating the days away on some of India’s most beautiful backwaters is an experience not to be missed.