Sunday, February 20, 2005


I arrived in Kollam, passing Allapuzha, and opted for the ambitously named Hotel Shine. Still it was fairly clean in my 'semi-deluxe' room. The 'ordinary' rooms had a few too many ants for my liking!

I bought a ticket for the eight hour cruise down the backwaters from the hotel, my main objective in Kerala. As I boarded the ferry the next day, a guy took my ticket and looked at it suspicously. I was a bit wary of buying the ticket from the hotel rather than direct from the jetty. I went to take the ticket back and he rather tetchily waved me away on to the boat. As I was sitting on the boat I was wondering why he had taken the tickets for the people in front of me. I was wondering if I was getting ripped off and would have to buy another ticket.
I saw the ticket collector give somebody back their ticket and then when he came round to me he looked at me, recognised my face and then went back and took the ticket off the original guy and asked if I was Mr. Colin. Yep, so all was fine. But sometimes you get a bit paranoid when you don't know what is going on!

Unforutnately I had buried my camera at the bottom of my bag, so no pictures from this boatride. In retrospect I should of probably dug it out as the scenery was excellent. We rode pass fancy houseboats, some costs the same as five-star hotels. Although they are brilliantly constructed. The cruise I was on is just a public ferry. The houseboats in contrast, have their own private chefs, dining tables etc. I even rode past one with somebody reclining on on a huge bed in the sun, on the fore of the boat.

We stopped for lunch at a riverside hotel where we got a thali. Then back to cruising down the water, I think the top speed is around 12km/hour, so not exactly flying along. Later on we stopped again for a snack, as long as you like your food fried. I opted for a fried banana in batter, which was tasty, along with the obligatory chai.

As you sail along all the children shout out "One pen! Gimme one pen!", well except for one excitable young girl who danced about and flashed her knickers, much to the amusement of the people on the boat.

We proceeded along past more chines fishing nets and the occasional canoe. Then as we approached Aluppuzha through more narrow canals and eventually to the jetty. Overall a very enjoyable ride and a good way to spend a relaxing day.

I had arranged with a guy at the chai stop to stay at his hotel
, so I got a free pickup and drop off. The touts aren't all bad!

At the hotel they had two large fish tanks, one with a large sturgeon fish in with what seemed to be a diminishing number of minnows. The other tanks had two giant shrimps who lazily snapped at large cichlids.

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