After a 6 hour train trip, we arrived at Allepey about 11/2 hrs late - pretty standard for the trains but at least it is more comfortable than the bus (and air conditioned).
Allepey is a sleepy little place on Kerala's backwaters and is the stopping off point to visit them.The backwaters are a series of canals and lakes that go for about 300 miles up and down the coast from here.
We were staying in an old Keralan house run by a friendly man named Joseph.He was a mine of information and helped us book the cruises for the next few days.
Next day we set off in this little boat with Jaani as guide and paddler.He proudly announced he was no. 5 man in the Allepey snake boat - a famous race that is held every year where 100 rowers are in a long thin (snake) boat and do 1km in 4 mins.Unfortunately the race is in August.He took us all through the small canals and delighted in showing us every aspect of life in the backwaters - how they grow the rice, flowers, kingfishers - even the local catholic mission.Lunch was a stop on the canal where we had fish curry on a banana leaf..It was eaten in the local tody shop (tody is the local brew from coconut) - we declined the offer of some as it was of uncertain purity!He got me rowing for part of it although he didn't seem tired after 8 hours of paddling.
Next day it was off in a houseboat - designed along the lines of an old rice barge.The one we had was 2 bedroomed and with an upstairs deck for sunbathing.It had a crew of three and we had it to ourselves.Fran took to it - felt like she could take the life of a yacht owner in the Med!The cruise was overnight and went mainly through the lake and some larger canals.We stopped and got some fresh water crawfish for dinner. (see photo).
All in all it was a very relaxing 24 hours.