>Travel Pictures


Kerala - Ferry Ride

Fort Kochi - Kathakali dance - Backwaters - Alleppey - Ferry Ride - Varkala - Kovalam - Fishermen - Trivandrum

To travel from Alleppey to Kollam (our jumping-off point  to Varkala), we planned on taking an all-day ferry. We decided to forgo the 'houseboat' experience and instead check out the water highways that are so important to this part of India. So, 10:30 on the nose, our big boat pulled out from the riverfront port and headed south into Kerala.
We'd not even left the town itself when we began to get a taste of what lay in store for us. As we slowly chugged our way out, we passed a family bathing their daughter in the same water than all the city sewers emptied out into. 

As we oohed and ahhed, and all the cameras clicked, we rounded a corner and came across a very similar scene with a slightly older family. We soon realized that this was the way to get 'clean' along the water way, and that we would be seeing a lot more of similar scenes.

Once we did get out of Alleppey, we saw the big houseboats that Kerala is famous for. Lined up, ready for business, these woven covered ships were resting at the end of a busy tourist season. We were not going to take advantage of their comforts and charms, but most people who visit the state do.

Life on the water was certainly filled with sights for us to enjoy during the day. Instead of roads, the back waters are used as the highways around the area. We saw boats carrying everything from people to rice...

 to newspapers (must be the local postman!)...

to coconuts and coconut fiber like we'd seen made on our earlier tour.

There were even 'bus stops' for the ferries that people use to take them from place to place.

The people we saw on the river banks were pleasant as we cruised through their back yards. We saw families out for a bath...

Kids just out having a look

Fishing from under the bridge.

Working in the family field with dad.

Plowing the rice paddies, old school style.

As our captain blissfully steered us through the water highways, our heads craned from one side of the boat to the other, watching all the action around us. 

Old men by the side of the road

Helping mom wash the clothes.

A duck migration (above) and a man poling his way through the overgrown canals (left)

Of course, we had to find things to do on the boat as well. After all, I guess one can only be entranced by the scenery for so long, right?

When Alea was not enjoying a 'shore lunch' of rice served on a banana leaf, she and Breck split their time between reading and watching a movie on the computer (a bit of high tech for our low tech meanderings). We all sat in the sun from time to time, closed our eyes every now and again, and just enjoyed the pleasant weather and gentle rocking motion of the boat.

Breck perched up on the counter top that serves as a bar during the high season trips for his reading corner!!

Just as in Fort Kochi, there were many "Chinese" fishing nets, but the ones we saw this far south were all in various states of disrepair. It was obvious that they were not being used, and were simply rotting away in the wind and water. The reason for this was the greater commercial viability of large boats and even larger nets.

Of course, one of the main ways people make their living along the water is by fishing, and we spent our fair share of time gliding past people doing just that.

(In fact, we saw so many fishermen in Kerala as a whole that we made a page dedicated only to them!)

The boats we saw were mostly tied up at shore, but we could see the huge, commercial sized nets waiting to be used. We loved the fact that there were 'eyes' painted on quite a number of the ships (I guess to ensure that they would always be able to see their way home)
Still, going past all the shells of the abandoned nets was sad in a way: the passing of an age, the ending of an era, etc, etc. At least some of them had been rigged up with lights, probably to attract fish at night and still earn a bit of a living for the fishermen along the banks.

We made a couple of stops, one for lunch and one for 'tea,' and were greeted enthusiastically at both places. The baby at right is a boy being held by his grandmother, and the old man above was across the muddy, rutted path from them. Their biggest thrill was seeing themselves on the camera screen. We asked if they wanted a printed copy, but they were just happy to have the picture taken.

As we got closer to Kollam and the journey neared its end, we got into an industrial zone that almost wrecked our feeling of peacefulness and beauty... but not quite. We slipped back into one final big bay, and as we watched the trees 'bend' underwater, we talked about how glad we had been to enjoy a slow paced day.
We had seen a lot of beauty and seen a lot of life on the shores of the water. For whatever faults it has, India sure shared a piece of its calm serenity (and the occasional wild swing over the river!) on our ferry ride through the Kerala backwaters.

Fort Kochi - Kathakali dance - Backwaters - Alleppey - Ferry Ride - Varkala - Kovalam - Fishermen - Trivandrum

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