I am now back from a week cruising around the Kerala Backwaters in Southern India, my first comment would be that the scenery is absolutely stunning and peaceful.
Sadly, the river houseboat we were due to board was not ready, that is a whole different story.
I started with a 2 night stay in Cochin, a lovely hotel very near to where the main cruise ships would dock, nothing to see there in walking distance but a very nice stay to begin with, The Taj Malabar Resort, if i was to suggest a hotel I would probably opt for the Hotel Brunton Boatyard – nice and central, had lunch there and would recommend this one.
A great sight was the ‘Pink Police’, there solely for women and a wonderful idea, happy to have their photo taken too.
The Chinese fishing nets were something that I was asked about by quite a few of you before I left and I have to say, the way they work is quite impressive, we took a boat trip from the Hotel before heading off down the river and saw them at sunset.
We did board a replacement and the scenery started almost straight away, the sun did shine on us most days but the monsoon weather appeared to be dragging on, we did have really heavy rain and some amazing storms throughout the week, very unusual apparently but I do enjoy a good storm so I was not put off by it at all.
While cruising the rivers, the houseboats can pretty much stop where and when they like, often with just a board on to the river bank, needless to say a very casual affair. Throughout the week we were able to walk in to the local village, we even were invited in to a school one morning and the children made a huge fuss, I am sure you couldn’t do that in the UK, we spent some time with them as they were preparing for an arts & crafts competition – one was even coming up with items recycling all kinds of materials.
I did find that the rivers in certain areas were showing signs of plastic which I found very sad indeed but they are in the process of making changes, this effort was noticeable in Cochin with recycling bins although it seems they are not being used in any great amount, a comment that will stay with me that was made after the monsoon season ‘ nature threw it out and we just threw it back’ – very disheartening, occasionally there would be plastic bottles etc pop up in the river – that is a bug bear of mine and something I will leave for another time, obviously as a western tourist we are very mindful of this situation and will not add to it.
As the boats are unable to sail after 6, to not affect the fishing in the region, we did have time to pause and enjoy the sunsets.
Regionally, they have a boat race in one of these huge boats, the teams in each one can be between 80 and 100 people – all on board at the same time – Snake Boat racing, many of the villages have their community boat and all take part in the race and the up keep.
I will fill you in with more of what we got up to next time but here are a couple of the views of the river side