The backwaters of Alleppey hosted many houseboats. The Backwaters also hosts ferries and small fishing boats. We booked a houseboat through the owner of our previous hotel (Green Palace) and spent the day of Jan 1, as well as the morning of Jan 2 on the water. The jetty was packed with houseboats docked to pick up passengers and/or supplies.
The waterways are thin, more like a river than a lake. We did pass through one lake, but mostly we traversed through interconnected lagoons. The number of houseboats around us became more sparse, the farther we cruised from the jetty. The shores were lined with palm trees houses and stores. We passed under one large bridge with many cars and trucks, but the majority of the time we were surrounded by small lines of homes on the shore and behind those were fields and rice paddies. The waterways often isolate small pieces of land, where the only way to reach them was by boat. The state provides subsidised transportation – a water taxi system.
There were three crew members on our boat. A captain, a skip and a cook. The lunch, dinner and breakfast we had were cooked fresh on the boat and were delicious. In the afternoon we stopped at a waterside store, to buy fresh prawns (shrimp) that our chef cooked for dinner with an amazing spice rub. I use the term store loosely – what I mean is a small hut that has drinks and snacks. The fresh catch is stored in an ice box outside with a troff of live crabs next to it. The store purchases these from fishermen who row over after making the catch. These stores mainly make their money off the tourism created by the houseboats.
The jetty was even more busy when we returned this morning, at the end of our houseboat experience. The houseboats were three deep; we had to climb onto and walk through three houseboats to get to shore. Then we jumped on a rickshaw and headed to the train station. We knew the train to the airport was at 12:50 so we arrived as we had planned, one hour before its departure to purchase tickets.
The train was packed with people. We had bought a ticket for the sleeper car but there was no room for sleeping. Some people had taken over the top bunks and were napping but most of the bunks, especially the lower bunks, had three people sitting on them. We managed to find space on a higher bunk for the first little while, and after the first stop we took over the seat along the window, once people got off. There was fresh air coming in through the windows and views were amazing. Two hours later we were in Kochi, and we took a rickshaw to a hotel near the airport.
Our flight back to Pune is in the morning. We can’t believe our trip south is over; we had a blast and have two days in Pune and a day in Mumbai before our early flight to Dubai.