Alappuzha as it is known by locals or Alleppey by non natives lies about 80 Kms north of Kovalam and can be reached easily in a couple of hours by numerous buses and trains that run through the day, but that would not be any fun. Setting the alarm for 4.30 am I had booked a Tuk Tuk for 5 am for the 400 Rupee ride to Trivandrum railway station and thanks to a phone call from Surya my hotel host who had got up to see me off he only arrived 15 minutes late. The train was on time and I settled in to my comfy seat in an a/c car as the train pulled out at 6.30.
Two hours later standing outside Kollom station haggling over the cost of a Tuk Tuk ride I was fortunate to be joined by a young lady who had heard where I was going and asked to share the cost, ever the knight in rusty armour and never turning down the company of a good looking woman I of course agreed and off we went.
Where I hear you ask? well the answer is, to the Boat Dock to catch a ferry for an 8 hour river cruise through the famous Kerala backwaters right into Alleppey for an incredible 400 Rupee.
The lady whose name was Dev and was German was / is a lawyer who worked up until recently in the financial services sector in Switzerland and was a person you immediately felt at ease with and we spent the whole journey chatting ( and no, I didn't monopolise all the conversation).
I would recommend this way to travel to any who come after me, there is a good toilet on board and we stopped for lunch and an afternoon coffee on the way.
Separating at the jetty on arrival in Alappuzha to our respective hotels we arranged to meet again later for dinner and my Tuk Tuk cost 90 Rupee to the homestay which was staffed by two nice guys and after I booked in they gave me info regarding overnight houseboat cruises which is the main reason for being in this area and even recommend a good place for dinner.
"Casamia Bridge street Restaurant" was an open air restaurant run by a friend of the owners of my homestay and the chef came out to take the order and even gave me time to go up the road to get some take away beers as they had no licence. The two homestay guys came to make sure we were being looked after ok and Dev even met up with two German girls who spoke English and joined us. Good company, good food and a Tuk Tuk ride home brought an end to a very long but enjoyable day.
Today started with a well deserved lie in and I awoke to the sore throat and almost a loss of speech that had started the day before but feeling ok otherwise. Text from Dev she would be exploring alleppy today but she was up for sharing the cost of a houseboat the day after so booked it with homestay for 4th - watch this blog for pictures.
Checked out where the railway station was for my trip to Cochin on 5/1 on my way to alleppy Beach where I found a spot with almost all the beach to myself and a coffee shop with toilets and was set for the afternoon.
Spent a really enjoyable afternoon on the beach and then made my way back to the homestay for a shower and change of clothes and went walkabout for the evening checking out stalls and shops and eventually found an Halal restaurant called Halala where a very friendly waitress with perfect English managed to secure me a green salad with a chicken curry that didn't take the top of my head off and pakora after which I retraced my steps and arrived back by 10.30 pm in time to field some Skype type calls before a shower and bed.
The next day when Dev arrived and deposited her rucksack to my room for safekeeping whilst we were on the overnight boat she also came bearing gifts of fruits and goodies for the day. Hmmmmmmm.
The short ride to the Houseboat was also broken up by a quick beer stop at a government store where Kingfisher cost 140 Rupee and we made sure of a good supply for the cruise.
Once aboard the boat, the beers and fruits, stored in the cool box we settled back to be spoilt.
An overnight stay on a Kerala Houseboat will cost anything between 7,000 and 12,000 Rupee and the one we booked cost 9,000 and we were assured it would be 5* and we were promised fishing, swimming stop, assist with cooking if we wanted and an evening visit to a village.
We were waited on by three members of crew which was a bit of an overkill but apart from the cook they were very nice. There was no offer of fishing but they found an idiotic spot for us to have a swim and Dev busied herself in the kitchen supervising the the cook and stipulating what things she had bought needed to included in the evening meal.
The ride through the backwaters are tranquil and although there are many boats there are adequate waterways for privacy.
Where we docked for the night gave no opportunity to visit the local village but the homestay we docked next to had a film crew there filming a Bollywood film and this provided the evening entertainment whilst eating our prepared dinner, although we had to be quiet during filming.
After a good nights sleep we ate a hearty breakfast on the way back to our start point where we were met and transported back to my hotel. It didn't take long and after packing, Dev, who had decided to accompany me to Cochin and I caught the lunchtime train and settled back to take in the scenery on the 60 minute journey.