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Allepey and the backwaters homestay

INDIA | Sunday, 1 March 2009 | Views [1863]

After a sticky dusty bus journey we arrived at the Kottayam ferry “terminal”, that actually was more like a tuc-tuc graveyard with a “toilet”. The water was obscured by a mass of green water weeds so thick that we wonder if they was any water in the canal and how the ferry is going to move. Jacquie, the scientist, tried an intricate experiment and threw a rock in the canal to see if it would sink, because many other objects failed this test and plenty of birds were happily walking around. We find out we just missed the ferry by 5 minutes and with some time to kill we hung out with the locals for 1 and a half hours. Waiting more and more people was coming to take the ferry. Finally the ferry arrived with the usual IST (the Indian Stretch Time) approximately half an hour late. When leaving the quay to get out of the weed the boat made 20 point turn, when we started to move the weed was moving like green icebergs. Once under way the boat appeared to be motoring through green lawn. The trip to Allepey was really tranquil, beautiful, passing through villages, rice paddies and wetlands. On the bank of the canal we could see coconut palms kissing the people washing there clothes, fishing, bathing and washing they pots and pans. Birds were flying around the boat trying to catch insects coming out o the water weed. At one point during the trip the boat made a longer stop, the driver find out that the propeller was clogged, and he had take of his clothe and put on his lungy (white male sarong for swimming) to go under the boat and clean the propeller. After that we could continue our trip to Allepey with the sun going down over the water.

When we arrived in Allepey it was dark and we found our way to cheat lodge for the night, were you get what you pay for. Having a shower Jacquie was making some distressed noise from the bath room, SHE HAD FOUND A TICK ON HERE LEG! Marc with his bountiful experience of tick removal from his dog came to the rescue and took off the offending animal from Jacquie. After that we went to bed and Marc just crashed out, but Jacquie was woken up multiple times by babies crying, guy knocking on doors and the phone ringing in reception.

The next day a much more pleasant experience was awaiting us. We took the boat at the terminal ferry at Allepey and ended up in a lovely homestay in the backwater, it was called Green Palm Homestay. When Disembarking 4 other tourists also got off, we were all going to the same place, arriving at the home 2 more tourists were staying there already and one more arrived later. In the end we totalled 9. We were a bit disappointed to be surrounded by so many tourists, but we still had a really good time. “Mister Thomas” organised a tour in the backwater on a boat, but instead we decided to have a bike trip along the maze of canals. We were given a pair of rusty old bikes and a hand drawn map and we set of into the late afternoon. It was quite amazing to ride around snaking through small villages and rice paddies as we followed the canal. Scores of children ran outside to say the only few words they knew in English (“Hi!”, “How are you?” and for those with advanced English “Do you have a pen?”) to the funny looking foreigners on bicycles. The adults also seemed to enjoy joining in, and the men were particularly interested in being in Marc’s photographs. Dusk was falling so in order to arrive back in one piece we set off back across the rice paddy fields to a mellow golden setting sun. Soon after we returned, the six thirty Kerela power cut took place. Suddenly the night was dark with only a few scattered golden orbs of light that were emanating from various candles on boats and in peoples houses. After dinner we went for a little romantic walk in the dark along the canal to the sound of various animals.

An early start the next morning shook us awake for a rustic trek around the backwater villages with a very friendly guide showing us numerous trees and plants that are used in daily Kerelan life. He astonished us with several neat tricks and games such as the leaf from which you can blow bubbles, the little trumpet you can make and a flower that you can make into a necklace. After a huge but delicious traditional breakfast we tried a little of the local alcohol (and yes, it was still before 10am in the morning!).This drink is called ‘Toddy’ and is made from fermented coconut palm juice. It was pretty disgusting :P

After this little trek in the Backwater the time came for us to leave this idyllic spot and to make our way to Cochin.

Backwater is a really beautiful place, with a rich wild life and local customs. But sadly it is becoming like many places in India, more and more polluted. Rubbish floating on the water, motor boat (especially house boat) and over growing weed.


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