Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kerala Backwaters

With raging hangovers and a vague memory of playing rugby with a coconut on the way home the previous night we caught the train then the auto then the boat ride to our next destination! Tonight we are staying at a 'homestay' in the backwater area in Kerala. The backwaters are a series of rivers that are below sea level. The people here live on the sides of these rivers which they use for washing just about everything and getting around. Very relaxing being on the boat. Its also popular spot for the very rich indians to holiday here in a houseboat.

The house i stayed in...swanky

Your Joe Maxi taxi..

Just having a bath! Bit rude i know taking pics like this but we were buzzing past on a boat!

You can call up the boat taxi if you want to go the Toddy bar. Even though we were all hungover and the swaying of the boat wasnt doing us any favours we were a little let down to here that Kerala is quite a religious and so a 'dry' state as in alchol-free. Our guide warned us not to mention drinking to the people we'd be staying with! Personally i would cope this night without alcohol! Then we found out about this alcohol that comes from inside the coconut tree, something like sap and its called Toddy. (the guys who extract it are called toddy-tappers!) When its freshly extracted its about 4% alcohol and after 24 hours it can rise to as much as 15%. Its a creamy white liquid. This area is also famous for its 'fat rice' the only place you can get it seemingly as theres not enough to sell its basically very fat rice grains!

We eventually arrived at the houses we were to be staying in. We were all exhausted...ok nobody to blame but ourselves! it was time to sit at this familys table for dinner. The wife of the house just kind of hid in the kitchen and peeped out to smile when she heard our exclimations of how delicous the food was, the kids were at school and the husbund just stood at the table staring at us eating. I was really so tired small talk was a struggle and he was standing right beside me just staring! All you could hear was the slopping noise of rice into the mouth and swallowing noise. Then he shoated EAT WITH RIGHT HAND!!!!!! Jeeeezus calm down if you werent staring at me Mr possibly i could concentrate on that!! So i slopped a bit more rice in (with right hand) then went for a quick shower before meeting up with the others.

Wow SUPER HUMID here!!! i have never experienced humidity like it, just the same as being in a steam room with added mosquitos! However this place was really stunning so the humidity was a small price to pay. The area was mostly rice fields, banana and coconut trees. One local said that during the monsoon it floods really bad and when he was a kid he used to try and catch the fish that were swimming around his house much to the frustration of his parents from their house being ruined!

looks dry....feels very wet and humid!

swampy areas...sun was just beginning to set ...beautiful or what!

We walked to the edge of the river and got into a small canoe and went on a very relaxing tour of the rivers. The guys pushed the canoe along with big sticks, the water dept can vary but it can be as deep as 10 metres in some parts. Unfortunately i wasnt allowed jump in for a swim! It was so lovely to sit back on the canoe considering our seriously hungover, tired condition, we drifted along for about an hour taking photos of just about everything that moved when one of the guys driving the boat broke into song! It was quite sudden but he had an amazing voice and it echoed all down the river. The other guys steering the boat banged their sticks on the boat to the beat of the song and joined in the choras. He told us it was some song the slaves would sing while they were working...i wondered was he trying to pass on a message to the local guys watching us go past on the canoe! The song was seriously catchy and after another 10 minutes or so chatting he suddenly burst into song again! I had this song in my head for the next few days...weeks...still there!

lady in the rice fields

We got dropped off at the houses we were staying in, played some card games with the kids, had dinner (the father not present this time!!) then a deep deep sleep! I had a quick walk around this guys garden before we headed off the next day...banana and coconut trees slightly different to back home! This was such a different place, ive never seen anything like it, not one thing similiar to life back in ireland and such a complete change to the chaotic indian cities!

I never got to try the Toddy in the end but some of the boys that stayed in another house did. By the look of thier faces when they were describing it im glad i didnt! I cant write down how they described it but even a few days later if someone mentioned the word Toddy they guys nearly wretched! Anyway, out of this lovely backwaters wonderland back to reality!

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