When Brendan came to India 3 years ago, he became friends with a guy from Alleppey, who was working in Varkala at the time. Brendan told Jaijea that he was returning to India, and so they had been expecting to meet up ever since we got to Varkala. The fact that his girlfriend, an Italian girl who Brendan worked with in Madurai, was coming over at the same time, was also exciting for them all and we arranged to meet up with them while we were down south. Obviously, because we suddenly went up to Goa to meet Luke and Winnie, our plans changed, and sadly Brendan missed the chance to see his Italian friend. However, he told Jaijea when he was finally coming to Alleppey, and we found out he helps his friends run a nice little guesthouse near the backwaters (Lemon Dew), so he arranged to pick us all up from the train station.
When we arrived, he and his friend were waiting for us right outside the train station in a really nice silver car. We put our bags in the boot and jumped in the back – the aircon was amazing! Suddenly, from nowhere, all the rickshaw drivers stood around Jaijea, shouting and pointing, pushed him, slammed the car door shut, and obviously acquired a large audience. They were angry at the boys because they thought that they were picking up tourists. Brendan had to go to the office to explain that we were Jaijea’s friends, but it didn’t settle down. Jaijea even offered, very calmly, that we could go in their rickshaw (even though, after this spectacle, the last thing we wanted to do was give them our service!) I’m not really sure what happened, but the next thing we were taking our bags out of the boot, and sitting on the steps of the train station, the car driving away. We were told we had to wait for the police, which obviously sounded ridiculously dramatic, and Jaijea called his friends who soon turned up on motorbikes. Arguing continued, and suddenly, miraculously, it stopped. The car returned, the police didn’t come, our bags were going back into the boot, and we cautiously jumped into the back.
The boys turn around,
“Welcome to Alleppey!”
Apart from the initial drama at the station, which became a laughing topic, everything afterwards was absolutely PERFECT and we headed to Lemon Dew, which was awesome. We were given a room for 350Rs per night – clean spacious double with nice bathroom. There was also a laundry service. After we had showered, we went upstairs to the rooftop, where there was a kitchen area, hammocks, music, and lots of people singing and playing guitars. Brendan and Jaijea went and got food and returned with Chinese fried rice and cauliflower curry
The next day, the boys went and looked at the houseboats in the backwaters, and booked them for the next day. We went to look for some lunch, and found ourselves at Hot Kitchen which has a limited menu, mainly of thalis and dosas. – 30Rs. The majority of the day was spent chilling out, though we went to the beach (apparently hit by the 2004 tsunami. The beach welcomes you with it’s big Catholic cross in front of the image of paradise. When we swam in sea, I could feel how strong the currents were – it was really, really, really choppy with strong currents and we drifted so far so quickly. And we played Frisbee, briefly, until Brendan through it really hard into my arm, which then bled. (very dramatic).
Later, we agreed to cook with Niko, the French guy staying and helping out at Lemon Dew, who is also a chef. Verifying that all vegetarians were OK with squid, he went and bought the squid, and wrote us a list of all the vegetables we’d need, which we were to go and buy. we succeeded in purchasing everything except the red chillies, and our stomachs roared as we all helped to prepare the food. I mainly peeled and chopped and stirred, while Niko added the spices and gave out instructions, whereas Luke and poor Winnie had to remove ink from the squid, and chop out the eyes – I was not jealous of their job. The whole meal took approximately 2 hours to make including preparation, but it was totally worth the wait! It tasted amazing!
The next day, we headed to the boats at 11am. Everyone involved was really helpful. When my camera case and small rucksack fell out of the rickshaw, with none of us noticing, I was so grateful to the man who picked them up, and sped up to catch us on his motorbike! Once we got out of the rickshaw, a group of guys picked up our big bags, either taking them to the boat on their motorbikes, or putting them on their own backs!! Everyone’s just SO nice!!
As expected the boat was beautiful. It was one of the smaller ones, with 2 double bedrooms (with bathroom and fan), a sitting area upstairs and downstairs, and a kitchen area for the chef. Despite the frequent loss of power, which we rarely needed anyway, everything was PERFECT! And the 3 boat guys were absolutely lovely! One was the chef, who was so excited to bring us food and clearly very proud of what he made, another was the driver, and the other kept making sure we were happy and asking if we needed anything. Throughout the two days, we mostly chilled out upstairs where there were two sofas overlooking the view. As we listened to music, we sailed through the backwaters. The driver made an extra effort to go down the canals in which there were NO other boats. Not one. And we had the chance to see people going about their daily lives by the canals, waving to us as we sailed by.
Occasionally we made a couple of stops, for either beer, the option to choose some seafood for dinner, to look in some shops, stock up on snacks, or to merely walk around, mingle with the locals a little while, take in the view.
All the food one the boat, apart from the prawns we bought separately, was included in the price of the boat. The total price of the boat, for 2 days and nights, was 3000Rs each.
– Day one lunch was a fish each, in a slightly spicy sauce, some coconut rice, pineapple curry, and some vegetables. Really nice! Snacks between lunch and dinner were fried bananas. At 5.30pm we pulled up along the side of the canal, as the government has issued a law so that noone can sail the waters after this time. I got off the boat and went for a walk, taking lots of photos, watching the sun set behind the boat. At 7pm we had dinner – our tiger prawns, which we’d bought earlier, another fish each (which we didn’t buy), some more delicious fruity curries and vegetables. That night we cracked open the gin, the whisky, and the wine… and woke up the following morning with a pretty heavy hangover.
– Day 2 breakfast was a boiled egg and banana pancake, along with a pretty kicking coffee. As we nursed our heads upstairs, we enjoyed the tranquility of the journey. (Honestly, this place is beautiful! Maybe my favourite place?). Lunch was fish again in a mild sauce, and dinner was purely vegetarian followed by pineapple (Banana fried toast in between meals).
– Day 3 breakfast was omelette, toast and tea, and we departed the boat about 10 minutes after eating.
This trip was one of the best trips I’ve ever done, and definitely needs to be done by all Kerala visitors!
We made our way back to Lemon Dew by rickshaw, which the guy from the boat arranged for us. Brendan and I enjoyed a late lunch at Kream Korner on Mullackal Road, which was pretty nice and cheap! And for dinner, the four of us ate at a place whose name I forget YET AGAIN, which was awesome! I had an egg roast (boiled egg in caramelized onion sauce) for 12Rs. (Basically around 16pence). As this was to be our final night together, me, Brendan and luke chilled on the rooftop in hammocks… With a beer, obviously.