The Backwaters of Kerala

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Need I say more?

99% of the reason why people travel all the way to Kerala is to take a cruise around the complex canal system otherwise known as the backwaters. I had to do it.

I take the train from Varsala to “Backwater Central” – Allepei. Allepei is referred to as the Venice of the East. When you first get there you will immediately ask yourself WHY? Its a busy city. Just like any other South Indian city. Insane. Somewhat organised chaos in the streets. Madness to put it bluntly. I get to my homestay there, rated highly on tripadvisor, my ONLY guide now (I ditched my lonely planet long-ago). My homestay, the Venice Castle.. is not much to write home about. It’s super clean though, has air conditioning (life-saving in the humidity here), located a stone’s throw from the back water banks,  and has PHENOMENAL staff. They will bend over backwards to make sure you get what you need. At $50/night, I wasn’t complaining. AT ALL. Only thing I’d say though is as much as their electrically-reinforced tennis racket is to play with, bring some strong mosquito repellant- they are a-plenty.

Allepei, once a key shipping city and water-gateway to the rest of the world, is now a big, bustling city. I did some touring, but in the heat, I simply couldn’t enjoy myself. I just wanted to get on the canals and do my own thing.

I had drinks with 3 lovely sisters I met at breakfast. Their names evade me, something that comes naturally when you have been on the constant trot. In their mid-60’s, with one living in California and two in Andalucia, they reunited to retrace their childhood in India, where they grew up with the mother and father, a civil engineer in Southern India. They came to find the house they grew up in and what an excellent adventure/story it has become with its very own twists and turns. Awesome story. We had beers and dinner on the beach and traded stories, though there’s I must say were naturally way cooler than mine!

It was the backwaters I wanted though, and for 300 rupees ($6 or about £4) an hour I had a private boat take me for my canal tour. This is where the venice bit comes into play, just take out all the beautiful buildings and replace with unrestricted, green, gorgeous nature. D.Attenborough, eat your heart out:


We were out for the whole day. We passed through many small villages. Running into friends of his. I took a decent portrait shot of my boat-driver. Fantastic guy. Didn’t speak much , which suited me perfect, I just wanted to enjoy it all in peace. And peace I got.

My boat-driver “Michael”:

Great man. Great driver.

We meandered through the canals, and saw some incredible things. I am no bird-watcher, but I was fascinated by the occasional  visits we got from the Darter bird. I was lucky enough to snap a shot of this fellow before he dived down to catch a fish. We also caught glimpses of Kingfishers but I was never fast enough to snap a worthy image.


As you go through the canals, the most memorable sound you will hear is of the slapping non-stop slapping noise you hear of village-women washing and drying their clothes along the river banks. They find themselves a good spot on the bank, rinse, wash and squeeze by hand followed by a whipping slap on a flat rock surface on the bank before hanging the clothes up to dry. As long as there is daylight, and you are passing through a village, expect to hear it. Quite rythmic, and incessant.


What people / couples usually do is rent a house boat and will either travel upriver or down river for 1-2 nights to get to another destination or major port. These houseboats are made out of rice-barges and range from super-basic to uber-luxurious, boasting satellite tv and wifi! They look like a lot of fun, and would be great in a group, but I’ve also been warned that travelling alone on one of these can be very boring. I would even say it would be a shame, to hire an entire house boat, which comes complete with captain and cook, and not have anyone to share the experience with. The food on these boats is renowned to be finger-likin’ good. Having travelled up the Keralan coast, and eaten in all kinds of places along the way, I am not surprised one bit. Heres a couple of shots for your pleasure (Check out the huge AC unit on the back!):


Before the long stretch home, we stop to have lunch at a restaurant on the river bank. Nothing new here, all very fresh and very delicious, cooked and prepared in much of the same way I’ve been describing throughout my journey.

Scenery is breathtaking throughout the ride back home:


……………….I leave you with my smile… Which I believe “Says it All”:


I bid you good day… Wherever you may be.

Am now, treading the beaches of Goa, with no regrets. A-tout.


  1. LaKlat says:

    lucky kheiry!!! :*

  2. Alex says:

    Hey Kheiry you look fat now… :p watch those calories.

  3. Jo says:

    Absolutely Stunning!!!!!!!

  4. Adel Sammakieh says:


    Enjoy it do not suffer

    I love you


  5. Bassel says:

    lovely experience!! lucky man! enjoy it to the max habboub…

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