Time for a tour of the backwaters. Although we were up in time, our hotel hadn’t actually booked the rickshaw we asked for at 7:30, so we were a bit late for our pickup , this meant that after quite a long wait in the warming day, we were treated to a breakneck ride through the backstreets of Cochin to meet up with the rest of the tour in a bus on the side of the road. There were two seats left for us in the minibus – full of sweaty europeans of varying origin.
Another hour of driving and the first stop was our boat for the next 3 hours. It was a houseboat/rice boat with about 20 seats out on deck for us all. A nice cup of Chai and off we set… Our tour guide was quite entertaining, he was a local and told us a few stories along the way…
We had a slow cruise along the river whilst our tour guide explained the ways of some Keralan fishermen, how they fish etc; Including the three men we spotted, in the river with a massive bamboo pole digging up mussels (more like clams) from the bottom, with a net and no boat. Pretty impressive.
We also stopped on one of the islands to see some village people go about their business, including collecting fermented sap from the top of a coconut tree.
We paid a few Rupees each along with some other passengers and got some to try. A frothy white concoction in an old water bottle. “Shake it well” said the guide – so we did and tentatively tried some, needless to say it was quite nice.
We moved on to see a local garden and Emma had some cooked mussels, quite nice!
We returned to the pickup spot for some lunch, said goodbye to our guide. Jumped back on the bus for a short ride to another part of the backwaters and boarded canoes.
We travelled down the little canals which run all amongst the houses, like streets. For a great many people, the canal is the not only the drinking water source, but also the place to wash, brush your teeth, and do your washing. As well as spotting one dead snake in the reeds and one alive swim under our canoe, watch your step!
As we drifted along we saw many people going about there daily business and stopped to watch a woman weaving twine and then rope from coconut husk – a bit like spinning wool.
There are many religions and variants in India and we passed a strange ceremony involving a lot of crazy dancing a people getting water poured over them – we were later told they were a sect which worships a snake god – Naga I think.