Forgot to say re ticket clipping, divide by 33 and multiply by 44, that is 33 rupees to the dollar and it happened most of our 44 days away!
To the boat…we left Thekaddy at 8.30 after I had really graciously tossed the extra money at John Cleese look alike. A hard drive up hill and down dale for 4 hours and we arrived at Alleppy for our boat trip.
The trip down was very attractive, coming down from 1500 metres to sea level and over several passes, lots of tooting and hairraising passing on blind corners, barely raises a squeak from nowadays and i sit right behind the driver! He is tall so pushes his seat back, T pushes the other seat forward and everyone is happy. No, wrong! T was not happy he was an interesting shade of green. Often see cars pulled over and people heaving on the side of these hilly roads. The buses are all liberally splattered along thier sides too.
Gradually drove out of tea plantations and high mountain valleys to rubber plantations underplanted with pineapples. Towns became more frequent and less charming. Saw a cattle sale, pretty skinny looking things but massive horns. Thay are quite calm about being packed into high trucks with low sides lined with straw! Not sure if it was for them to eat or to stop them being bruised. Best cattle we saw were ones off for the chop, driver said they would be killed and eaten this weekend simply because the weekend is whn most people eat meat, after a trip to the temple on Friday to cleanse themselves from the previous weekends carnivorousness.
Stopped for tea, 60 rupees, driver said Indians would have paid 30 rupees- oh well…
So we finally reach the famous backwaters, and they are attractive. Imagine palm fringed lakes interconnected with canals. People live on the canals and all life revolves around them, washing;themselves, their clothes their cooking utensils- see you cannot use hot water.
There is actually a large expanse of water, hard to see the the perimeter at times it is so large but quite shallow. Fish, mussels and prawns are caught here, some are dived for, some netted and some just die. Think the prawns we had for dinner had died of old age….
So, the boat, well these boats were originally to to carry freight;rice etc on the backwaters then someone had the bright idea of tarting them up and getting people to stay out overnight on them, became a thriving business with many canal living families owning thier own ‘ricce boat’. They are lined with a mix of palm leaves and bamboo interspersed with plastic which is carefully hidden so as not to spoil the image. We had a bedroom with ensuite- no hot water of course, there was akitchen at the back and a large living area in the front/pointy end. All eating was done here and it was quite a nice place to sit and watch the lake life around you. Two large planters chairs designed for giants were placed at the pointy part with a dining table behind that. I fell of the chair, far too big so spent most of my time at the dining table, T gave up on the giant chairs too…Nice idea just faulty execution.
Crews Englisg was not very good but they quickly learnt when Maam wanted something. Crew of three, driver- at pointy end, sat on a dining chair, cook and a gofer who the driver and cook both shouted at. Food was Ok, typical Indian, three or four curries plus rotis.
We bought the aforementioned prawns at a tourist trap stop for the hordes of rice boats with foreigners aboard!!!
The first lot the fisherman tried to sell us were so old they damn near rotten. T snorted, and we started poking and checking eyes…… The crew were hopeful we would buy heaps so either kick back for them or parawns for them, we bought two! They were the large blue clawd ones so not as mean as it sounds.
We tottered off to bed to the cheery sound of generators from all the other moored rice boats with couples and groups having an ‘authentic’ adventure. Our dinner on the fore deck was also enjoyed to the whir of mozzies and generators.
First soft bed we have had and felt odd after the hard ones of previous nights.
An interesting experience but glad we were not there for a week which was what i had originally intended.
Returned to Fort Cochin where absolutely essential purchases of clunky jewellery were made, amazing what bargaing power you have whn you throw the money down at the end of negotations, well near to the end, and say’ that is all I have, take it or leave it’. They took it and even the driver commented on how happy maam seemed.
A couple of bondas for luch then a dash to the airport, Cochin to bangalore, thenBangalore to KL. Awful flight to KL, Business but the it was a small pointy plane with an aisle down the middle, two abreast. We were really glad to get to Kl and the hotel. Slept away this am and watched movies this pm- Poring with rain in KL!!! So no swimming.
So, India, how do we feel? We have had difficulty coming to terms with the whole experience but I think T hit when he said ‘it is like the Rohan Mistry book, a fine balance’. The balance being between fabulous and awe inspiring and downright grotty and foul and you never know from minute to minute what it will be.
Glad we came , interesting meeting up with a couple of kiwis at Bangalore airport who had done a nearly identical trip, bit younger than us , they both loved and hated it and I guess that is what India does, causes you to respond.
Funny being back in Asia, the shuffle scuff walk is so ditinctive, Indians walk quite differently. India without the saris would be a dull place and they were an endless source of pleasure. Down south the men wear logyis, and flick them up from floor lenth to just to thier knees with a very quick flick, I averted my eyes!!!!
Sorry no photos have appeared yet but we have taken hundreds so sometime they will go on plus I will clean up the spelling when I learn to use spell check on this system- well you cannot learn it all at once!!!
Next adventure is Bougainville!