The guide books recommend Allepey as a place to go on a houseboat. However this sounded far too touristy for us as there is at least 900 houseboats on the backwaters at the same time, most of them with motors. We decided we wanted a different experience of the backwaters of Kerala, and we certainly found it.
We chose a house boat that didn't go as far as others, but it had no motor, just an old guy punting at the front of the houseboat and we didn't see another tourist for the whole 2 days we were in the backwaters. It was fantastic. Definately the most tranquil experience we have had on our trip so far.
As soon as we arrived at our houseboat, we were served with freshly cut pineapple to start the journey off. It was just me, Matthew and 3 Indian men on the boat. A man to punt the boat, a chef and a cleaner. Only the chef could speak English so it was really just us. The views were amazing and so was the wildlife. Matthew became obsessed with trying to take photos of the fish eagles swooping for food as they did look stunning. He did finally catch one in the distace, but unfortunately our camera is not that great for distance shots. The food we had on the boat was lovely and we had plenty to go at, i think they cooked double once they saw the size of us!!
After lunch we went from the houseboat on a canoe to explore the backwaters even further and at a quicker pace. We were taken to a village and shown how useful coconuts really are! First we saw a lady spinning rope from the shells of coconuts. These had been soaked in water for 4 months until soft enough to tear up and then be spun into rope. Some of which was clearly used to build our boat. We were then shown to an old loom which used the rope that the lady spun to make door mats from. (there is a small video showing the weaver at work). We also visited a prawn farm and the chef told us that every 6 months they change from breeding prawns to growing rice in the same fields. This is where they decided to have an electricity cable in the middle of a paddy field. We found this quite disturbing, but the Indians have no fear!
The day after we spent at a farm house looking over the backwaters, just to get the most out of our experience. We didn't really do much here but sit, read, chat and admire the view and the wildlife as there were loads of kingfihers that were extremely bright in colour and looked amazing as they flew.
The pictures say it all.