Thursday, 22 May 2008

Cruisin' the Kerala backwaters

Sorry it's been a while since we blogged, but we're actually having fun would you believe?!

Everyone tells you - if you go to Kerala, go to Alleppey. Cruising the backwaters on a houseboat designed like a traditional kettuvallam rice barge is it a bit of a rite of passage, and now we see why. It's really expensive for India (Rs 6000/ 100 EUR for 2 days) but worth every Rupee.

As soon as we arrived, we were accosted by people trying to put themselves between us and the boat owner for a hefty commission. It's a minefield of touts, and we almost gave up when 3 touts almost started a proper fist fight between themselves over us (our money) while we stood there waiting... idiots.

Thankfully, we binned the touts and went to the DTPC (government tourist office - not much better, to be honest) who hooked us up with Sunil and his ace little boat Bhagya Lakshmi.

The next two days were a soothing balm for our ravaged souls. Quiet! Blessed peace and quiet, just the occasional squawk of a bird or the drone of a tambour with a priest intoning the Mahabharat to lull us into a watery reverie.

It was a truly delightful experience, watching kingfishers (real live feathered ones) zoom around the waterways, drinking Kingfisher (cold, fizzy, alcoholic ones) on the sun deck, swimming in the surprisingly warm waters at the end of the day (although Debs now has a nasty cough as a result of an over-zealous jump), and generally just taking it easy.

Sunil's food was lovely, especially his sensational puri masala for breakfast (WOW). We enjoyed some enlightening chats with him about India in general, food, and why on earth all the kids along the banks of the canals kept yelling "give me one pen mister!". We've only got 3 pens, and 1 of them is mostly broken, so they had no luck with us.

Then we ripped up the coast to Fort Cochin - nice but dull - where we stayed in the house where Vasco da Gama lived and died, and attended a sweet little cookery course with Mrs Leelu Roy. We made sambar, thoran, chappatis and two other delicious curries whose names temporarily escape both of us. Lush! More quizzing by Debs, especially on the subject of beggars (never give to kids or able-bodied adults).

The most memorable event in Fort Cochin was when a cheeky teenage boy copped a feel of Deb's left boob by the sneaky method of a weird handshake. Mrs Roy was horrified when Debs told her, and recommended the following course of action if it were to happen again: "just grab him by his neck and take him to the police, yaar?"

Here we also met Karen again (an Icelandic horse trainer who we first met on the train to Alleppey), and Finn, a skater from London who knows Ben's friends from way back, Phraeza and Mark. Tiny world, innit?

And then we buggered off out of the heat and craziness to Munnar, up in the hills.

Debs and Ben


Charlotte said...

Hey guys,

Nice to hear you've finally hit India and that its affecting you in the way I would expect! Its hard sometimes and tests your patience. Pleased you found the serenity of Varkala, it is a beautiful spot.

You must try and go north if you can. Manali is excellent for a chill out and a bit of quiet, very under populated by comparison and the home of the beautiful charras. Also Leh in Ladakh if you can get there, we flew from Delhi. A little expensive but I think one of the most beautiful places we went in India, well worth it!

Well, apart from that we have settled back in, I have had job interviews and we expect to be in London within the next month. Hopefully we'll catch up sometime if you still want to move, you may want a bit more quiet than London in the aftermath of India!

Safe travelling.

Charlotte x

Anonymous said...

my god debs i'm sorry but i have to say i laughed my head off reading about your assult from the teenage boy. so did he do it again? and did u take him to the police? ha ha ha ha

Aileen x