Saturday, July 12, 2008

Backwaters of Kerala

Again, all I have are excuses. This time it's for completely skipping blog coverage for two weeks of my trip -- definitely some of the best weeks -- when I stayed with a friend at her yoga ashram. Among other things we learned yoga for the body, mind, and general energy.

But I digress. This post is about our post-ashram experience in the state of Kerala, India. We came to a small town of Alleppey (Alappuzha). This is one of many of the towns along the rail line where you can catch a houseboat and do a cruise up the backwaters -- the town's nickname is the "Venice of the East!" In addition to getting awesome Keralan food and a clean boat to ourselves we got something that you can hardly buy here in India -- peace and quiet. It seems to be a rare commodity in this country! This was our boat:
We had rented the boat for 24 hours, and sailed at 11am. After cruising some bigger canals and stopping for lunch, we made our way into smaller ones, which I fell in love with. I loved the idea that only our smaller size boat (single, with one bedroom, as opposed to the massive 3 bedroom boats [~30 meters long]) could navigate these. The palm trees arched over us, and the canal was formed by two manmade walls which held in rice paddies. The walls were between 3 feet wide and 20 feet wide, and small houses dotted the landscape.



When we stopped for lunch, a goat that was wandering on the sliver of land between the canal and rice paddies decided to join us -- he got away with two of our lady finger bananas!

The peace and quiet was seldom disturbed, and even then, always in a mild manner -- a quiet fisherman traveling home after work, school kids waiting for the school boat (no school buses here!), or some workers fixing a canal wall.



It was by far my most expensive night in India thus far, but as trusty Lonely Planet travel guide predicted, it was worth every rupee.

Excellent aerial shot from the Kerala Tourism group:  http://greatbackwaters.com/