Backwater Cruise

Trip Start Nov 02, 2009
Trip End Nov 27, 2009

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Flag of India  , Kerala,
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We left the beautiful setting of the Lemon Tree Hotel for a drive across the Vembanad Lake to the city of Kottayam.  The Lemon Tree is located on the west side of the lake - Kottayam is on the east.  The lake is a long body of water that stretches between Alleppey and Cochin (Kochi).  Several canals and back waterways surround the lake.  The canals were originally constructed to carry coir to the port.  Coir is coconut fiber used to make rope and many other things including mattress stuffing.

The hotel arranged a car and driver and a backwater tour on a small boat. After going over a bridge we stopped at a small waterway where our boat was waiting.  We felt like we were on the African Queen winding our way through the jungle.  We passed coconut groves, banana groves, rice paddies and several small neighborhoods.  Our boatman turned  from the larger canal into a small waterway - maybe only 12 feet across.  There we saw people going about their daily lives, uninterested and unbothered by us.  Some were bathing or sitting out in their yards enjoying the day.   Women were at the waterside pounding their laundry against large rocks.

Along the way we saw several canoes and a few houseboats carrying tourists.  Hundreds of egrets were watching for fish in the canals and rice paddies.  Some of the small side channels were brimming with Water Lillis with pretty pink flowers.  We also saw a lot of birds - cormorants, a pond heron and ducks.  The most interesting was a snakebird.  It is a  swimming, fish-catching bird with a very long, very skinny neck.

The cruise was over way too soon and we were back in the car for the drive to Kottayam.  Along the way we passed through the area that was the setting for Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things.”  It was really a pretty spot with a lot of nice houses.  (no sign of the orange drink/lemon drink man)

Our stop for the night was Kottayam - a busy town that is not on the tourist list.  We checked in at the Arcadia hotel which was advertised as the tallest building in town with 14 floors.  It is a good business hotel that features a roof-top pool, a decent restaurant and a bar.

We went out in search of Thali - a classic lunch made up of several small dishes.  We took an auto rickshaw to a place the hotel recommended, but they didn’t have it.  After wandering around for a few minutes in blasting heat we gave up and went back to the hotel and ended up in a restaurant next door.  By then Kip was so hot she had lost her appetite and went to the room.  

After lunch Kip wanted to go swimming, but couldn’t find her suit.  Apparently it was left in the trunk of the taxi.  Kerry took her out shopping to find a new one.  Indian women don’t typically wear western type swim suits.  They either go in the water fully clothed or wear a special “bathing costume”  The store they went to was like a mini-Macy’s and carried clothes the more wealthy residents might buy.  Kip tried on a bathing costume which was a one-piece suit with legs down to her knees and ruffles around the scoop neck.  It was blue with bright pink, yellow and orange daisy’s.  Kerry said her laughter from the dressing room was heard throughout the store.  She came back with a Jockey camisole and some shorts which made the perfect bathing costume.

After the swim we went to the hotel bar called Fahrenheit.  It was hot - but not because of the action.  It was empty when we walked in and the lonely server sprang up to turn on some lights and the giant TV.  We tried a beer called Royal Challenge.  Very light but pretty good.  Concert videos started playing on the screen - Phil Collins followed by the Eagles.  The videos started a discussion about how bad music was in the late 70s - one topic that Kip and I actually knew more about than Kerry.  

We didn’t want a repeat of the unsuccessful lunch outing, so we went back to the good restaurant next door and called it a day.

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Jan on

Oh please - go back to that store and get a photo of the bathing costume! You can photoshop it into the xmas card with the umbrella hat!

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