We left Cherrai beach at 10am for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Alleppey to board our houseboat for the 2night backwater cruise.  Our Captain Cyrus and chef Vijesh couldn’t do enough for us and Vijesh served up many delicious dishes for lunch and dinner and fried bananas for a snack in between.  So much for trying to lose weight!

They told us that there are more than 1000 houseboats plying south Indias largest waterway “Vembenade lake” and all the backwaters in Kerala.  The water stretches for as far as you can see in all directions.  There was a lot of succulent river weed with purple flowers in the lake.  When we started off at 1pm we saw many other houseboats, day trippers, and local ferries.  We tied up for lunch and then made our way down many of the larger backwater canals.  It was a beautiful day with a lovely breeze blowing and we passed many householders doing their ablutions, washing their clothes and dishes all in the backwater canals.

We stopped at the local market where they sold enormous scampi which you could buy and have the chef serve them up for dinner.  As we left the market Maurice went up the plank and the boat started to move away and I could see him falling in the canal  which would have made a good photo but he was quick thinking and stepped back off the plank.

There is a lot of birdlife along the canals and other than the birds you can hear the women beating clothes on the riverbanks.  Maurice noticed that his jeans were much softer – no wonder with all the thrashing they do to them.

It was so relaxing sitting back in our armchairs watching the locals repairing their boats,fishing, herding their ducks into the river for a swim, tending their bright green rice crops and dredging the silt from the river.  Most were very friendly and waved as we went by or gave a little nod.

When we tied up for dinner I noticed a cute little white cat bounding up and down the river bank.  I remembered that I still had a tin of salmon in my bag so I took the top of it and left it on the riverbank.  The cat did a couple of sweeps of the area before heading for the tin of salmon and the label was nearly licked off by the morning.  Maurice suggested that it was probably the best meal it would get in it’s lifetime.

The captain has been teaching me some Malayalam, the local language here in Kerala.  We asked them what happens if they go north to somewhere like Mumbai and they said that they then have to speak English (which they are all taught at school) as most of them don’t speak Hindi or other Indian languages of which there are many.

We were given a large fruitbowl with lovely little bananas,pineapple, what they call oranges but seem a cross between an orange and a mandarin (but not a tangerine) and some little black grapes.  When we tasted the grapes they tasted very familiar and they were the same variety as we had at home.  This was the first time we came across them anywhere in our travels.

Our second day was just as relaxing and more tranquil as we saw only one other houseboat as we ventured down the smaller canals where we could just about step into someone’s house. The locals didn’t seem perturbed by boats floating by and continued with their daily routines. There was water everywhere and rice paddies  as far as the eye could see.

We tied up for lunch and dinner and captain Cyrus always positioned us so that we could see the sunrise or the sunset.

There were again lots of christian churches and shrines along the backwaters and we were told that some villages are 99% Christian and all of Kerala is made up of at least 40% Christian and  of the other population most is made up  Hindu and some Muslim.  Thomas the apostle came to India in 45AD so Christianity has been around a long time.  It is well demonstrated in the hundreds of churches that we saw in our 4weeks in Kerala.  There were still others under construction.

The smoking laws in Kerala are very strict and  it is forbidden to smoke anywhere in public and can only be done in one’s home or garden.  We also asked him about the few “Toddy” shops that we saw along the way.  Toddy is a liquor made from the flower of the coconut tree and can be quite potent.

We landed at Kumarakom, Rainbow cruises other port also on the backwater and were picked up for the 4hour drive to Munnar.

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