From Lucknow we took an overnight train back to Delhi, where we met up with friends Nicole and Jordan for lunch before taking a metro to the local airport. (Check out Nicole’s website here – she is a great photographer!) Annoyingly, the metro doesn’t go all the way to the airport, so we had to take a mini bus shuttle to the actual airport. We flew down to the bottom of India and landed in Kochi, where we took a bus from the airport into the main bus station. Here we figured out that the buses that were arriving packed to the brim with people were the sort we had to take to Alleppey…so we pushed and shoved our way into one where we couldn’t move at all. Needless to say, we stood for most of the trip and were very happy to make it to Alleppey (also known as Allapuzha) after six different types of transport in 24 hours!
We had set aside the next day for sleeping and finding a houseboat which was helpful when Reuben woke with a splitting headache. We managed to make it out by mid afternoon and found our way down to the docks, where we inspected about fifteen different houseboats, searching for the perfect one (we found this article really helpful). We settled on “My Home”, a slightly less fancy houseboat that agreed to take the two of us out for two nights, with a chef, a driver, cruising, all meals, fruit and mineral water included for 8500 rupees (about 80 NZD a night). We were really happy that our boat had a top deck with couch, table, chairs and mattress in the sun – this was perfect for sunbathing and relaxing, although the ones without were a little more traditional looking. We had two bedrooms on board, each with its own bathroom with cold water and western style toilet, as well as a downstairs deck with dining room table, chairs and tv (we didn’t watch any tv but did pump out our music – nothing like Brooke Fraser playing as you cruise!)
Our journey started the next day with an 11am check in, and then we were off sailing! We headed up a canal to a lake, then stopped for lunch in a small canal. Lunch was cooked for us by our chef – all we had to do was come down from the upper deck where we had been hiding from the rain and enjoy delicious fresh fish, rice, pappadums, veges and chutneys. We then sailed again from 2-5pm, stopping alongside other boats for the night (with banana fritters and coffee on the way in case we were hungry).
We decided to go for a walk – this turned quite freaky when I saw a long black snake on the path and screamed and ran backwards…the snake then took off towards Reuben instead. A local man told us it wasn’t poisonous and drove beside me on his scooter as I walked past it – but I was pretty jittery for the rest of the walk back and nearly wet myself when a frog jumped across the path in front of us. By the time we got back and sat down and I realised that what was flying on and off the boat at top speed was in fact a bat I was not feeling kindly towards the wildlife! A round of Settlers and some delicious dinner cheered me up a bit.
The next morning started around 9 with traditional South Indian breakfast – we then cruised until lunchtime and sunbathed on the top deck before another delicious lunch.
After breaking for lunch we stopped to see one of the old churches in Kerala (there is a history that St Thomas travelled to and was martyred in India).
Then it was time for another journey to the lake where we spent the night – we got to watch a storm come in before dinner!
The next morning saw us back in Alleppey after breakfast, where we spent a pleasant day napping in the boat terminal (me) /working (Reuben) before heading to the beach for lunch and hang out time prior to catching our night train. We absolutely loved the tranquillity and peace of the backwaters, the delicious food, the stunning scenery and the luxury of being waited on – this is a must do in this part of India!