Tuesday, February 22, 2005


The next day I left Alappuzha to go on another boat ride to Kotayam.
This time only two and a half hours. More fancy houseboats and some distant and close canoes. But this time the ferry was used by local people unlike the Kollam-Alappuzha cruise which was entirely tourists. After all why go on a ride that takes eight hours on a boat when the bus takes less than a couple of hours, if you're not a tourist?

Also passed a massive bundle of hay, underneath which a boat peeped out. This ferry made many stops where people alighted and joined. We cruised over a large lake which felt like you were almost at sea. Passed a man with a great white moustache, somebody skinning up a coconut tree, people taking it easy and lots of ducks being herded by a man in a canoe! Also saw a few other birds, perhaps comorants and the brilliant blue of the kingfisher (which eluded my camera). As we neared Kotayam we went through more narrow canals again, some were completely covered in green plants, looking like solid ground.

Another tourist on the boat, Barbara, had told me where they were staying and so I tagged along with them, it sounded like a good place and it was. Despite the offers from the rickshaw drivers about his great hotel! After agreeing twenty rupees he now wanted fifty as he realised he was getting any hotel commisions from us.
If you agree twenty that's what you get!

George was the friendly owner of the homestay, set in a village backing onto farmland. Unforturnately I had just missed a festival where the others had gone last night. However the next day Barbara, George and I went to a temple. I'm sure I would never of got there myself as the bus have only Malayalam script for the destinations. However before we got there, after crossing a dodgy bridge, we had a look at George's boat, inscripted in Malayalam, which is used for the Keralan snake boat race. It must be an amazing spectacle to see. The boat is giant! I expected a modest sized rowing boat, but this is a 30-35m boat housed in a large open barn!

Upto thirty boats each with upto a hundred rowers cram onto the canals and race. Unfortunately it takes place in August not Feburary.

Later on we saw another similar boat, but with a garland of flowers handing from the bow. Housed in a concrete building, besides some jackfruit trees, with a copper carving and painted murals adorning the walls. The boats are coated in fish oil to keep them from rotting, or maybe to keep them smelly?

Back at the temple. the walls are covered with innumerable candle holders. It must look great at night, with all the candles lit around the four sides of the temple. There was also a tall golden pillar with small figurines at the base, and intricately carved wooden statues atop tall veritcal poles.

The ground was also very hot as even through my socks I could feel it. Barbara had no socks and was running from shade to shade. There was also some mirrors not made from glass but metal alloys. If you put a pen against it then there would be no gap as in a mirror. This reminded me of something else but I forget.

Tried to take a photo of the moon, but it looks very small!

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