What a Day!
This would have to be one of the best days we have had on the trip so far. Who would have thought the back waters of Alleppey (Alappuzha) were so good. We arranged a canoe tour via our homestay (I have to write it in so we remember for next time Allapat homestay as I think we will be back). Our tour guide picked us up at 0745 as requested and we were taken to the local ferry for a trip into the back waters. It was gold getting on the 0800 ferry with the locals, carrying out there business on this busted old ferry. It took a while for me to figure out why the bells keep sounding as there are a lot of stops along the way, I thought it might have been for people getting off. No, these were the signals from the skipper to the engineer or throttle man for engine revs and direction forward or astern. This was overkill for a boat only about 50ft long. It wouldn’t happen back home we would just run some cable up to the wheel house for throttle control and be done with the one skipper.
Anyway the back waters are massive and I didn’t realise how big until we cruised along. Many locals were having their morning wash in the waterways and a lot of businesses are run along the ferry route. We then had to transfer ferries to go further into the back water to the tour guides village. As the waterways got smaller we got closer to the shore and were able to see up close people cleaning dishes, food prep, bathing and clothes washing. It was really amazing to be able to see how people live on the canals in this part of the world.
When we got off at our second stop Summer and I looked at each other and said we are happy we can go back now and not even see anymore because we felt honoured to have seen as much as we did. It was now 1000 we were all hungry and after a short walk through a village, we arrived at the guides house. It was a tiny place ‘built by his father’ his adult son tells us. We meet his wife also and found both to be very nice people. The son spoke a lot and did the introductions as his English was good. He is actually a professional stand up paddle boarder and represents India all around the world and has just returned home from Brazil. His mum reminded the girls of grandma back home. We were then feed an authentic Kerala breakfast, idiyappam and matta curry which is very similar to Sri Lankan string hoppers and curry egg but better because the idiyappam was filled with fresh coarsely chopped coconut.
Our guides son told us the story of his fathers business; he was a farmer only 12 years ago and was in town selling his produce when an Englishman approached him and asked if he could go into the back water. After he arrived the Englishman asked to stay in his house and after three days he paid the family good money and left. The father thought that was easy money and set up a tour business and began to seek out foreign customers in town ever since and now the town are about to award him a special prize for starting village tours on the canals.
After breakfast we boarded a four seat canoe and paddled around the back water canals, really cool up close and personal with the locals. We canoed for 2.5 hours and it was hard work through the water plants they really bogged us down. Truly amazing stopped off at 2 x islands, 1 for a break and the other for some natural coconut beer. It only comes in 1 litre bottle, hot and totally disgusting. I couldn’t drink it at all and gave it to our guide.
After our final leg of the trip and some hard slog through all the water plants, we arrived back at his house. His wife had prepared a traditional Kerala lunch called sadya, it consists of multiple curry’s served with warm rice on a banana leaf, accompanied by mango chutney and crispy papadam. It was beautiful, not too spicy and the kids had a real good go at it. We finished the day off with some chia and made our way to the ferry. We were really grateful for the experience and thanked our guide and his wife, she gave Autumn and Spring a big hug and kiss on the cheek. You could see she was a tough old lady but genuinely happy to have met us and that we had come to her place today. Ferry took 1.5 hours and we arrived back in town.