Kerala: backwaters

There are a few memories that will stay in "Kerala drawer" in my head forever: lush greenery of tea fields, smell of spices straight from the tree, noise of streets, taste of a coconut. But my favorite memory is water.

I mentioned backwaters before when I spoke about getting to the hotel. Well, that was just the beginning.

We cruised the cannals often during those first days, mostly to get to and from hotels, but finally, in Kollam area we went on a cruise being far more than just a way of transport. Cruise was organized for us by Raviz hotel so it was quite fancy - delicious lunch, snacks, coffee, tea, and even beer and local wine!

We cruised Ashtamudi Lake for a few hours so I had some time to relax, enjoy the water and green shores as  much as possible and make some new friends, like for example Daniel, journalist, writer and traveler from Brasil. We chatted about coffee places, slideshows and, of course, traveling. He told me about slideluck which is a really cool idea, maybe we'll do something like that in our coffee place, and we made a deal that when he comes to Poland he'll do the slideshow from one of the countries he visited at Cafe 8 Stóp - and he's got lots to chose from, he's been all over the world!

We also talked about ideas for how to earn living traveling. Daniel worked and still works for different travel magazines, he used to be contracted journalist, now he's a freelancer, published a few books and guidebooks, but still, he says, it's not a way to make a fortune. But at least he gets to travel a lot, Kerala trip was not the first time, he gets invited to different places to write about them a lot.

Traffic on the water was quite heavy - anything from large boats through motorboats to tiny rickety boats. We watched the snake boat race - long, narrow boats, with couple dozen oarsmen, the leader and a guy pounding the rhythm on each boat.

Usually snake boat race takes place in September, this one was organized for us by the hotel, but it was still pretty amazing, not only for us and the crews but also for the cheering crowds.

This was nice. But my favorite Kerala memory will be another one: boathouse. For years the boats were used to transport rice. In the 90s the crisis came and somebody came up with the idea to use the boats as tourist attraction. There were just a few of them in the early 90s, now there are more than 800.

We were divided into groups of 4, 3 and 2 people, according to number of rooms on the boats. I got to share a double room boat with Shawn. I have to admit I'm usually nervous about situations like this - both the groups that are too big as well as being "stuck" with one person I don't know well make me feel uncomfortable. As far as I can just withdraw from the crowd, the one on one situations can be ackward.

Luckily this time there was nothing to worry about. Shawn, who by the way is just as introvert as I am and feels the same about crowd, and I were a perfect match.

We talked all afternoon about travelling (few years back he traveled the world for 18 months with his wife and son, and last year they made it to our part of Europe), but also about life, the Universe and everything.

Boat was rocking us gently as we were resting on the bow enjoying Kerala sun, taking pics every now and then - of a rickety boat passing by, of rice fields, of a church built by the Portuguese, of aguy herding ducks, of boats filled up with sacks full of rice...

In the evening we moored by the shore, we watched another amazing Kerala sunset, we invited our neighbors Nelson and Prasad from the boat next door and we talked some more. Nelson is from Portugal but lives in Germany, he writes about food and traveling and he is a winner of European Blogger Award 2013, and Prasad comes from India and is a very talented photographer with a sharp sense of humor. It's hard to get bored in such an excellent company, it was a great evening.

Next morning we went back to Alappuzha (a.k.a. Alleppey), from where we headed East, saying goodbye to water for a while.

PS. Just to put faces to names of guys I wrote about in this post, here they are. Those pics were taken some other times - I was too lazy to take pictures while chatting over wine or talking about best movies ever on a houseboat.

From left: Nelson, Justin (he wasn't in this post
 but he'll sure make it to some other one), Daniel and Shawn


Happy in Kerala!

While waiting for a new post from India you can see a short video from our trip featuring happy bloggers and beautiful Kerala! I'm in it for just a few seconds at the very end. Enjoy!