Tag Archives: Kerala

Kerala Backwaters

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Kerala Backwaters

After our disaster on booking a nice houseboat in Halong Bay Vietnam last year we decided that this time we were going to go to the view the boats first hand, so we took a a car to Alleppy where most of the boats leave from to view the boats with our own eyes, unlike Vietnam where we booked through a travel agent who showed us a wonderful boat but when we arrived at the dockside it was a different matter “the camera does lie”.
After looking through quite a few boats and not finding anything that we liked, we were getting somewhat dejected, but the last boat we viewed at the end of the dock was perfect, the boat was operated by a company called Swan Tours and was just great, really quite upmarket, nice crew all in uniform, bedrooms were very spacious, kitchen wimage image image image image image image imageas very clean just perfect. Initially the captain wanted 140000 INR but our cab driver said always take off 6000 INR, so I offered 80000 INR and we settled on 100000 INR which we were happy to pay. We booked the trip for the following day and duly arrived at around 10:30am for our trip through the idyllic backwaters of Kerala. After around an hour and a half of cruising we docked at a fish market which initially was puzzling as the price we negotiated included all meals, but it was explained that if we wanted too we could purchase so thing else in addition to the fish supplied on the boat like some lobster or some crabs or prawns, so I opted to buy some prawns, well I say prawns the ones that I bought were amazing and I can honestly say that I did not realise that prawns grew that big as they were like small lobsters and at approx £9 for two they were an absolute bargain as I’m sure back in the UK if you could get them they would be three times that. So back on the boat and some more cruising we docked for the night and was treated to a feast, so many different dishes the prawns that we bought were delicious by the way we were totally stuffed. In the morning we were treated to an equally good breakfast then set off back to the dock at Alleppy. I would certainly recommend booking a tour Swan Tours as the boat and crew are top class.
Top Tip if you want some beers or wine on your trip then purchase them before hand in a local government shop as nearly all the boats do not supply alcohol due to religion and supply only soft drinks, but they are happy enough for you to bring your own.

Fort Cochin

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Fort Cochin

After our three hour flight from Delhi we arrived in Kerala, on leaving the aircraft the change in temperature instantly hit you, it was about another 10 to 12 degrees hotter than Delhi and let me tell you Delhi wasn’t cold. We had arranged a pick up from the airport to our home stay Maison Casero and the journey was, let’s say mad, our driver was I think bidding to be the next Indian Lewis Hamilton, but thankfully we arrived in one piece albeit slightly shook up. We were warmly greeted by Priya and her husband Jason and I cannot speak more highly of Maison Casero it was just as the reviews described excellent, “read my full review on Trip Advisor”.
Our aim whilst in Cochin was to relax after a hectic first part of our trip, and whilst in Fort Cochin our plan was to stay on a houseboat for one night, and also to spend two nights in Munnar up in the hills at a tea plantation.
Our first full day in Fort Cochin was spent, walking down to the sea and to visit the famed Chinese fishing nets, they are a must see in all the guide books, but this turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, as if you google the attraction and search on images the nets look like they are set in an idyllic location, especially the images with the sun setting behind them, but in reality it is nothing like this, as they are surrounded by litter street hawkers, the odd goat and cow and stray dog, and the backdrop from our viewpoint was an oil refinery and a container port a case of “what’s wrong with this photo I think”. It’s surprising what you can do with Photoshop. We wandered through more small streets of nice little town, slowly I might add as getting used to the extra heat and humidity was a little tiring. The whole place itself is very nice indeed there are a few shops and restaurants dotted here and there, it really had a nice relaxed feel about the it.
When we were in Delhi I was chatting to a Indian chap from Bangalore who recommended a restaurant called 51 that we should visit, it’s in Mattancherry which is about 10 minute Tuk Tuk ride from Fort Cochin. The restaurant is very nice indeed with views over the river, the fish dishes are a must, and at 899 INR for a three course meal it was well worth it, well done to my Indian friend in Delhi for the recommendation. There are two other restaurants that I must also recommend and these are Oceanos and Malabar Junction. Oceanos was recommended by another western traveller we met just out walking, it’s a simple but very nice restaurant with amazing food and very cheap prices a must if you are in town. Next is Malabar Junction which is also a hotel, we learnt about this place on watching a TV series in the UK when Rick Stein the fish chief toured India looking for the perfect curry. Once again the food was fantastic slightly more pricey than Oceanos but well worth the visit just the same.

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Malabar Junction

Malabar Junction