March 6, 2013

Back Those Waters Up (Kumarakom, Kerala, India)

You might remember that we did a canoe trip on the backwaters of Alleppey, Kerala, back when we first got to India (see here). On that trip, we saw a lot of the gorgeous house boats made of teak and palm and were looking forward to sharing the experience with Emily and Anna for months. After we met up with them in Mumbai (see Steph's post here), we flew down to Kochin and had a taxi drive us two hours south. For Steph and I, it was good to be back into southern India, with the warm weather, palm trees, coconut curries and smiley people.

Kerala was the first place we visited in India, so we didn't really appreciate how "easy" it is compared to other parts of the country. But, after 3 months in Incredible India, we were thankful for a few peaceful days in Kerala (called "God's Own Country" in the region's marketing materials). Because Steph and I had already been to Alleppey and because we were going inland to a spice plantation after a night on the houseboat (stay tuned), we decided to go to Kumarakom (a couple hours east of Kochin) for our house boat experience. When we arrived in Kumarakom, we spent the afternoon walking around our guesthouse's neighborhood in a little village located by the lake we would be on the following day, and dropped into a fancy resort to have a beer and some horrible food ( was awful). 

Anna and Steph - riding in a rickshaw
Emily and Steph - still in the rickshaw
Steph and I realized it felt strangely normal to be hanging out with our friends in India. We both expected it to feel weird and I think we hoped we would be CRAZY EXCITED and Steph thought she might hyperventilate, but I think that our "normal" has changed drastically in recent months. We are so used to being in a foreign country and "on the road" that it the only difference was that our friends were there to share it with us, which was really great. Seeing Emily and Anna just felt very normal and comfortable.

This is Anna, Steph and Emily being "normal"
After picking up some snacks and a bunch of beer (a must when on the water), we arrived at the boat and spent the rest of the day hanging out on the front of the boat watching life go by, eating great food (cooked by the staff of 3 young Indian men - see the full album for pics of the food) and chatting with our friends. It was very relaxing and just nice to be out on a boat. But, having done a canoe on the backwaters and a boat in the lake we much preferred the experience of the canoe - both because of the access to a network of smaller canals where we got to see the quiet backwater life (and had the opportunity to hop off the canoe and walk around the villages that were tucked back off the canals...where I stepped in poop) and because we think Alleppey's backwaters might be more beautiful than Kumarakom's lake. Having heard so much about the houseboat experience in Kerala we had to do it, and were glad we got to do it with our friends. It was a nice night. But, our advice if you find yourself in the neighborhood:  Do a houseboat out of Alleppey and hire one with an attached canoe so that you can access the region's smaller canals.

Also - Steph and my's room on the houseboat smelled like a port-a-potty. So there's that.

Check out all our Kumarakom pics here. A few more of our favorites are below.

Me and the fellas

I don't always drink fresh young coconuts, but when I do, I stand like this.
Check out all our Kumarakom pics here.

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