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Wednesday 30 Mar 2011
Kochi, India

Backwater trip

Men gathering sand for...
Gathering sand for cement

Had breakfast at 7am before getting picked up at 7.30am along with a group of 7 others for our backwater trip. I was under the impression that trips around Kochi were close to the main fort area, and thus a less "authentic" backwater experience than down in Alleypey, but I was happy to see that we headed south for about 40km (Alleypey being only another 20km or so further on) before we boarded our boat.

Tourist boat on Kerala...
Tourist boat on Keralan waterways

The trip was to consist of two parts: a tour of the larger waterways, then we'd take a canoe to explore some of the small canals that ran between the villages.

The large boat that we boarded for the first part of the trip across the large waterways had a small room with a double bed that could be rented out for overnight stays. This was something I was thinking of doing originally, but I didn't have time so I've put it back on my "must do" list, as it was a lovely relaxing way to enjoy India away from the smoggy streets. The gang on the boat consisted of Germans, Dutch and a Swede; a cool bunch to share the trip with.

Mussel gathering...
Mussel gatherers

The waterways were busy with fishermen gathering muscles with long poles, or digging up sand for the many cement factories hidden away on the islands. We got a large helping of freshly cooked spiced muscles served to us on banana leaves! Absolutely delicious, and surprisingly filling. A brief stop-off on one of the islands led us to sample some local moonshine: freshly made "Palm wine" (extracted using a process called "Toddy-tapping"). The version we got to taste was only at a 5% alcohol level, but it can rapidly ferment to a much higher level. It tasted very sweet, rather like cider, and you wouldn't think you were drinking alcohol (always a dangerous combination)! To say the least we got nicely toasted.

Kerala Backwater trip
Kerala Backwater trip

After lunch we went on the "more authentic backwater section" of the canals in a canoe. All of these palm-fringed canals were manmade from reclaimed land about 800 years ago and have been maintained despite the constant threat of erosion.

Coir rope made from...
Rope made from coconuts!

We stopped off at a village where the local women were making coir rope from the husk of coconuts. A fascinating process dating back centuries.

In the evening, I watched the sunset over the Kochi harbour while sacred cows lazed on the beach. A truer picture of India has ne'er been seen!

Later hung out with the Dutch couple from the boat where we had a delicious fish curry (Kochi is famous for its culinary talents) before heading off to a local bar to have HUGE bottles of beer whilst watching the India v Pakistan cricket match and pretending we had the first idea of what was happening (the Dutchies were surprised to find that there was a Netherlands team in the Cricket World Cup, much the same reaction I had on first hearing about Ireland!)

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In Search of the World's Hottest Chili

Travel blog by peterforan

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Photo Album

  • Men gathering...



    Men gathering sand for concrete
  • Kerala...



    Kerala Backwater trip
  • Gathering...



    Gathering coir from coconut husk
  • Making coir...



    Making coir rope