|Our captain steers us down the Kerala backwaters|
To try to get a better deal on the boat we teamed up with our friends Will and Lucy and headed to the jetty at Alleppey to directly negotiate a houseboat for two nights. We inspected the boats and checked for air conditioning in the bedrooms and an icebox to keep beer cold before agreeing on a price and crew of three.
|Breakfast on the house boat|
So far so good, until our house boat set off from its moorings and promptly crashed into another houseboat, snapping off its stern. None of our crew seemed particularly worried “It’s fine, we are all friends”, they explained, but we were left with a certain lack of confidence in the sailing ability of our captain.
|The beautiful Kerala backwaters – between showers. Those are the house boats moored by the side.|
We set sail again and almost instantaneously the rain came, monsoon style, and stayed for the rest of the two days. No sunbathing for us, instead the crew hung tarpoulins from the sides of the boat to keep us dry as the wind whipped up sending the driving rain sideways into our dining area. To top off the travel nightmare, I was not impressed to see a cockroach scuttling into our bathroom.
|Eating banana leaf style on the house boat|
On the assumption (which I am sticking with) that the cockroach stayed in the bathroom and did not venture into the kitchen area, the food on board the house boat was top notch. We had our own chef who prepared traditional Keralan home style meals. Breakfast was an sponge like idli with a spicy samba and lunch was a thali feast.
There was beetroot raita, fried fish with a thick, spicy rub and served up on freshly picked banana leaves. The food was some of the fieriest we had eaten in India, the sort which leaves you with tears rolling down your cheeks and a streaming nose, which makes me think it was true home style cooking rather than tempered for Western tastes as seems to be the case in a lot of Indian restaurants.
|Fried fish on the house boat|
So we ate the fantastic food, drank our (unecessarily) chilled beer, tried not to think about the cockroach, played a lot of cards and finally as we moored the boat on our last day the sun came out. Typical.
Details: Vaishak runs Green Berg Cruise, Alappuzha (Ph 09847506974) firstname.lastname@example.org
Damage: Pricey. The boat cost 11,000 a day for four people including meals, non alcoholic drinks, a canoe trip and air conditioning.
|Our bedroom on the boat, complete with a towel swan|
Gourmet Travel Tips
- Kingfisher flies from London to Delhi for £500 return. A flight with Indigo from Delhi to Cochin costs Rs 6,000 and takes just under three hours.
- We caught a cab from Cochin to Alleppey and it was about an hours journey.
- If you are looking for where to stay or what to do in Cochin I haver written a post all about it already.