Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kerela in a Week: Allepey, the backwaters

THROUGH THE BACKWATERS

Allepey or Alappuzha as the area is now known, is a town with backwaters and canals. Marco Polo described it as the “Venice of the East” and I now know why.

Thekaddy to Allepey is about 180-200 km and takes a little over 5 hours. The last few days had been packed and we dozed on-off in the first half of our drive. Mid-day saw us out of tea and spice plantations and back among palm and coconut trees – sure sign that we were back around the coasts. When we reached, much of Allepey roads were in water due to the rains and the backwaters had risen above their usual level. We crossed into town and checked into our own houseboat around 2 in the afternoon.
ALLEPEY BEACH

DOCKED FOR THE NIGHT



Our houseboat was much like what we had seen in pictures and travel websites of Kerela. Made of wood, bamboo and cane from the outside, it looked nice and rustic. We had booked a one room A/C houseboat. So our houseboat essentially had a room with an attached modern bath, a kitchen (very well equipped), a corridor with a basin etc. and a decent sized deck to sit and enjoy the breeze and view! There were 3 staff onboard- the captain, his helper and a cook.

As we changed and plonked ourselves on the comfy deck chairs, the cook announced lunch. Laid before us was quite a spread- of traditional south Indian food- yam in gravy, banana’s with beans, sambhar, fish, along with salad, curd and papad. Both Sanjay and me enjoy spicy food but this spread beat us hands down. We had to spoon curd onto almost every bite to tone it down. But, all in all it was a great meal.


TRAFFIC JAM?
 We spent the rest of the evening looking out into the backwaters and simply relaxing. The houseboats are large and can cannot get into narrow streams- they operate on what I would call the “highway of backwaters”. There were a number of islands around with one or two homes on each. Each home had a canoe moored to their side- obviously their means of commute in the area.

HONK! HONK! HONK! That was our houseboat, I realized warning a smaller boat coming from the opposite direction! Loud enough to match a truck, I will admit, it quite surprised me. As we went further into the lake and backwaters, it turned out to be a traffic jam even here! The houseboat was anchored at around 6 in the evening until 8 in the morning the next day. This is because the fishermen put out their nets at night and it is not safe for the boats. So with not much to do we read and listened to music, had dinner and slept.

I woke up early next morning. Post shower it was time to head back. We enjoyed a light breakfast on our way back. By 9 am we were docked and checking out. All refreshed, I realized how great it feels at times to simply do nothing- just relax, enjoy great food, feel the breeze and look out at green fields and the wave after wave of water.


BREAFKAST


I smiled to that- knowing the next 3 days in Goa were going to be more of this.

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