Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: New Year in India (2016/17)

Cruising the Kerala Backwaters

Following breakfast at Mosaic, we quickly got ourselves organised and boarded our pre-arranged car for a transfer to Alappuzha (also known as Alleppey), around 52km to the south. A city of nearly 175,000 people, it was rated the cleanest town in India in 2016. Perhaps more importantly for us, it is also a key departure point for exploring the network of lakes, lagoons and canals known as the Kerala Backwaters. On arrival in town, we had no trouble securing an acceptable deal for a four-hour backwaters cruise in an attractive boat that we had to ourselves. Better still, we were able to get underway more or less immediately.

As we were soon discovering, the best part of using a smaller vessel was the ability to cruise the whole intricate network of narrower channels that were simply not accessible to larger boats. For example, we frequently found ourselves sailing along tranquil channels where the water was covered from side to side and as far ahead as we could see by water lilies. Such moments were absolutely beautiful, despite the possibility of fouling the boat's propeller in all the greenery. We also caught some fascinating glimpses of the everyday lives of local people, as they used the canal to bathe or to do their laundry.

I'm now going to let the photos do the rest of the talking about this memorable half-day trip.

Of course the pictures don't convey the repetitive slap - slap - slap of wet clothes being pounded against a rock as part of the laundry routine, or the earnest chatter of a small assembly of local men as they debate the best way to repair one of the boats, or the exchange of friendly waves as we pass another group of tourists. All in all, this was an excellent experience and a wonderfully relaxing way to spend half a day. The only low point was lunch at a local place that was dirt-cheap and truly dreadful. We both realised that in agreeing to go there, we had broken several of our normal rules for eating in India, and that it would have been better to decline this part of the itinerary. We both hoped that consequences would not follow!

Progress on the final stretch back into Alleppey was noticeably slow, as though the young boatman feared that we might withhold some of the agreed payment on the grounds that we had not been given the full four hours. It really didn't matter; no-one was in any rush. Our transfer back to the Crowne Plaza was again quite straightforward, and we spent the remainder of the afternoon at the smaller swimming pool adjacent to Mosaic restaurant.

For cocktails and dinner, we decided to ring the changes and used Uber to sample the offerings at Kochi's Radisson Blu hotel. Our time there was divided between the Ava Lounge and the rooftop High Bar.

Thursday 05 Jan

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