Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Backwaters

Clothing: Cover up if you head out around the local villages on foot

Shopping: None

Bring a book. I had finished reading mine too soon and didn't have another available once on board.

If, like us you enjoy a drink with your meal, try and pick up a beer before you depart for the boat.

After 3 nights in Fort Kochi we booked an overnight houseboat via our guest house, to take us around the backwaters from Alleppey. We paid 5500Rs between us, this included a double room with AC, all our meals/drinks, our own chef and a guide. The tour started at 1pm and finished at 9am the following day.

We arrived in Alleppey from Fort Kochi via a taxi for 1200Rs. We had originally negotiated a price of 1000Rs but when we were in the car the driver asked us if we wanted the AC on, which of course we said 'yes' to without thinking anything of it. However once we had arrived in Alleppey the driver added an extra 200Rs for the use of the AC and we were forced to pay extra!

Tip: Don't waste money on a taxi to Alleppey, take a bus instead which should cost roughly 50Rs.

The boat itself was a traditional rice boat which we both thought looked amazing. Our room was small, but not too cramped and the bathroom was basic. We even had our own private balcony area on the top deck, which for us was a huge perk as it gave us the best views and that extra privacy.

Our cabin

We slowly sailed down the very calm waters, enjoyed the beautiful scenery and watched the locals that lived on the river banks go about their daily chores.

The beautiful scenery and rice boats

Ian enjoying the tasty fish lunch

The locals going about their daily chores

The boat moored up at around 6pm and we asked if we could have a look around but we were directed with a vague finger point in one direction. We headed out along the bank but there wasn't an awful lot to look at and we didn't want to impose on the locals private land. I asked if there was a village we could get to but was again met with a vague response.


Dinner was served at 7:30pm and we asked if we could purchase a beer from somewhere. The guide informed us that he could go via a canoe boat and pick a couple up for 200Rs each but we decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

Darkness fell and we did feel ourselves getting a bit bored. There was a starry night sky above us but without a good book, not much else to do. Our room was boiling  hot (the AC had developed a fault) and it seemed stupid staying in their after we had paid a lot of money to enjoy the use of the boat.

After a very early night we awoke to a sunny morning and were served a delicious local breakfast that was so big we couldn't finish eating it all. We moored up at 9am and once our bags were unloaded, asked if we could have a partial refund due to the AC not working. We were initially promised this the day before, after the crew realised that it was faulty and tried to repair it. Having been unable to do so they informed their boss 'Salim' and we were told that a partial refund would be issued to us.

We ended up speaking to Salim ourselves but he kept telling us that the AC was in fact working and we would not be entitled to a partial refund. We continuously tried explaining that it had not worked at all and that the room had been very hot and stuffy. After a few more phone calls and a 'stale mate' we were eventually refunded 500Rs.

We both felt that this trip was overpriced and that the guide should have spoken better English and explained more about the villages and the history. There are probably better run boat trips on offer so do look around and gain as much information as possible before booking.
If you didn't want to fork out as much money as this then i would recommend a day trip, which also includes a canoe tour around some of the smaller canal areas that we did not experience.

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