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Houseboating the Keralan Backwaters (around Alleppey, Kerala)

Written on: Friday May 8th, 2009

A journal entry from: In the spiced Indian air....

We just knocked one off Lonely Planet's top ten things to do before you die.  Wow.  Paradise! 

There are around 900 kms of waterways that snake around the state of Kerala, both natural and man-made.  We explored about 60 kms of these over a two day trip aboard a houseboat built like a traditional rice barge.  The scenery is absolutely stunning, and the trip played to every single sense. I can't even begin to describe it, so you'll have to look at the pictures.

We were given a two man crew who were beyond amazing, cooking us 3 incredible Keralan meals daily along with coffee, tea and snacks.  Breakfast was boiled eggs in curry with chopped onions and cabbage and served with rice noodles topped with shredded coconut! Lunch was amazing: Lake Fish topped with a sweet pineapple coconut sauce, 2 veggie dishes (cooked shredded cabbage/onions and cooked green beans/lady fingers a la india), Keralan rice (boiled rice that looks fat haha just like us after this trip), Chapathi (kind of like torillas but different). Dinner was chicken curry one day with 5 side dishes (one was shredded coconut and carrots yummy), and fried chicken another day with another 5 side dishes! Also had King Fish from the ocean...  Amazing...we really enjoyed the food. 

On the boat we mostly read (I finished Catcher in the Rye and Twilight!), journaling, and of course watching the scenery float by. 

I was uncomfortable going through some of the smaller canals, we were so close to people washing dishes, bathing, doing laundry, and otherwise going about their daily lives. I don't have many pictures of that stuff even though it was definitely some of the most interesting things to see. I know they didn't ask for the equivalent of tourist buses driving by with cameras hanging out snapping pictures of them....

Anyway on our second night we had the enormous pleasure of a monsoon thunder and lightning storm!!!  It was one of my top experiences of LIFE. We turned our chairs and watched the lightning eluminate the waterways and it's palm tree shores. The thunder grew louder and louder until we were right in the middle of the wind and rain.  I was sooo thankful for the wind, it was very cool and I actually got goosebumps from being too cold for the first time in weeks! When we went to bed the wind continued and we both had the best sleep of our trip thus far.

It's times like this that I just stand here stunned and cannot believe I have chosen this life... these experiences are beyond comprehension even while they occur.  Such beauty in this country and so much to more for me to see.   These are the best times of my life... by. far.

Our return to Alleppey saw us aimlessly wandering around town and finally experiencing an Ayurvedic Massage that is so popular here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayurvedic). All I can say is never get the rejuvenation massage. I was put into a loin-cloth contraption and subsequently beaten, vigorously rubbed everywhere and to top it off had my hair messed up so badly it was in matts after. The girl was friendly enough but the whole time, but it was everything I could do to not start laughing at what was being done to me. One weird thing was how women are so modest and cover up all the time, but if you enter an Ayurvedic centre, be prepared to have no secrets from your masseuse afterwards!!! Oh yeah, and after the 'massage' I was put in a cupboard with a headhole in it and given a steambath. Not like I needed to sweat anymore than I have already been the last 3 weeks.  All in all, Nelle and I felt a little violated and of course had a good laugh about it.

Ps: Little factoid for ya - Kerala was the first democracy to elect a communist government in 1957

Pps: Jennelle's blog is at www.footstops.com/nelly_anderson

Now, off to Kochi!



From Dad on May 8th, 2009

Wow! Do I envey you two! My view is the top of the ERCB building and a bunch of trees still missing their leaves.

From Norene on May 16th, 2009

Simply incredible. I must go there before my hair turns gray. Oops. Too late.