After the absolute insanity that is Delhi, Kerala held some of my more relaxing experiences in India, albeit still full of surprises.
After haggling at the dock in Alleppey, we rented a private houseboat overnight on the backwaters with a crew of three. The two-story residence featured a dining area on the upper deck and striped cushions we aptly named the “tiger bed”. Lying there in the sun, isolated from the grind of the motor at the back of the boat, we floated tranquilly through the trees and out on to the lake (just check your head when you stand up, or you’ll get pole-axed by live electrical wires running the breadth of the river).
It was dubbed a “luxury” boat, but easter eggs included: the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in the bathroom, no toilet seat or paper, and a twin bed with a very generous tilt towards the edge of the boat. And the motor broke down.
Our cook went renegade too, demanding money, changing his mind that we couldn’t fish, said we weren’t allowed to watch TV after 8:30pm, and pushed again and again to drink our beer. When we docked and he demanded a tip, I shot my mouth off at him and the tour owner.
It did make the experience stressful, but that aside, as was often the contradiction in India, it was a very replenishing experience, largely because of the privacy of having our own boat, and not having to move bags around throughout the day. The food was spectacular (I just assumed the cook added his special sauce at some stage).
It was wonderful to wake up in the morning and watch people’s lives unfold around the river. Everything happens along its banks – washing clothes, brushing teeth, merchants selling food from boats, even hunting fish with a crossbow!
After our stay in Alleppey, we moved on to Verkala – a touristy beach town on India’s south-western coastline (we didn’t have time to make it north to Goa). The restaurants along its cliff walk were brimming with fresh fish each night at great prices.
I remember Verkala as the most relaxing place I traveled in India, so much so I don’t have any pictures to show you! So, instead take a look at life on the backwaters of Alleppey.