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Old 20th November 2008, 13:06   #16
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wow! dish/sky tv on kingfisher flights and now in house boats!

next step would be wi-fi on the boat

gr8 pics there!
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Old 20th November 2008, 13:23   #17
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SB, superb pictures and nice travelogue. Btw, what are the typical damages for stay on such houseboats in Kerala?

I heard its pretty expensive. Would help if you can outline the cost of stay and food etc. Thanks!

I been to Cochin twice and once i just took a cruise in the boat in the backwaters where they offer you fresh coconuts as refreshments and also provide lunch little later on. I think i paid some 1200 bucks for that.
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Old 20th November 2008, 13:27   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
SB, superb pictures and nice travelogue. Btw, what are the typical damages for stay on such houseboats in Kerala?

I heard its pretty expensive. Would help if you can outline the cost of stay and food etc. Thanks!

I been to Cochin twice and once i just took a cruise in the boat in the backwaters where they offer you fresh coconuts as refreshments and also provide lunch little later on. I think i paid some 1200 bucks for that.
During peak season the house boat could cost you around INR 25K per day, otherwise you could rent one for around 6-8K, ie: off peak season.

Last edited by jango : 20th November 2008 at 13:28.
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Old 20th November 2008, 13:33   #19
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Default So what is the whole houseboat experience like ? Schedule, cost, food etc...

What exactly forms this houseboat package ? What all comes as part of it and what is not? What do you do for the close to 24 hours that you spend on the boat. This post attempts to put down all the little details of the houseboat trip.

We (a group of 8 adults, 2 kids & 2 infants) boarded the boat at 11:30AM and were immediately welcomed with a welcome drink of tender coconut water. The coconuts being the special and rare red/orange variety like below. A nice way to start off, for sure.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc00940.jpg


They just slice off the top, put a straw in and hand it over to you. Believe me, there is no man made drink in this world that can beat tender coconut water in taste, nourishment or healthiness. Instant rejuvenation.

We went around the boat to see 2 bath-attached bedrooms, a well-equipped kitchen (usually at the tail of all boats) + another small room for the crew. The boat had a crew of 3 men, of whom 2 would take turns at captaining the boat, while the remaining 2 would handle the cooking and housekeeping. See this view from the window of the bedroom. A good view to wake up to in the morning.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc00995.jpg


Once we were done checking out the boat. we all settled down in the living room area, which has soft cushioned sofas lined along the boats sides, apart from a dining table with 4 chairs & some 3-4 cane chairs. They also have a few foam sheets that you could put on the floor and lie down on if you so wish.

The captain (Sraanku) seated in his chair before the wheel & getting ready to reverse the boat to start off the journey. Not a mean task reversing this giant, especially because of all the boats parked so close to each other.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc00977.jpg


The boat chugs along the waterways, offering insights into the life of the locals, with the only constants being water (all around) and greenery (everywhere). Some pics of what all you can expect to see.

You can see a houseboat being built, while on the left a guy tries his hand at fishing using a net. I hear they cost around 5 million Rupees for getting a 2-bedroom boat ready.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01011.jpg


A group of western women enjoy the view and the ride.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01006.jpg


See the waterway crowded with houseboats, while a small boat ferries people to the other side.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc00999.jpg


All along the water route, you see innumerable house boats. We would have easily spotted more than 200 houseboats there.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc00997.jpg


A guy rowing his boat/canoe in the placid waters.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc00968.jpg


A house with a small banana plantation.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01031.jpg


A houseboat anchored along the shore for lunch.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01028.jpg


A random nature shot.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01016.jpg


Locals on their sleek canoes.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01014.jpg


A couple of women rowing their small boat deftly.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01012.jpg


A favourite snap of mine, with rows of houseboats moored for lunch. See the breeze swaying the coconut palms. Reminds me - there is always this cool breeze blowing which keeps you cool.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01059.jpg


A kid helping his granddad in rowing the boat.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01071.jpg


A couple having their lunch on their boat itself, after a half day of hard work.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01049.jpg


The kids settle down on the foam sheets on the floor. My son in the middle with his cousins on either side. The kids really enjoyed the trip.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01043.jpg


A banana plant ready for harvesting, along the shore.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01068.jpg


I have many more pictures - took some 200-odd snaps. Will post the best among them in subsequent posts.

While we take in the sights, the crew is busy making lunch and by around 2 PM we drop anchor along the shore to have lunch. Lunch is rice, sambar, curd, some veggies and karimeen fry. Karimeen is mallu speak for the famed Pearlspot fish which is very tasty.

Lunch done, everyone settles on the sofas. Some take a small nap. I am taking in the sights and clicking snaps. The boat moves on taking us through the various small villages - Kainakari, Nedumudi etc. Around 4:30PM or so tea/coffee is served with snacks [what else but banana fry aka Pazhampori :-)] and then they again drop anchor at the shore around 6PM.

Some of us get out to stretch our legs and to take a walk, exploring the neighborhood, which consists of some 10 homes. By the time we return to the boat, it is getting dark. There is now another boat alongside ours which will be the residence for 2 of the familes in the group for the night, while the other 2 families stay on in this boat.

While some of us watch a DVD, others take a bath. The crew is getting dinner ready. Around 8:30 PM a dinner of rice + roti + chicken fry etc is served. While a few of us resume watching the movie after dinner, the rest retire to their rooms.

Since there is water everywhere, there are mosquitos also which can be a pain. The crew lights and places mosquito repellants at a few corners of the living area. We sit around and talk for an hour or so and by 10PM everyone is ready to hit the bed.

Due to the mosquitos, we had to keep the windows closed which is sad because it stops the wonderful breeze from entering the room. It also makes it warm inside and with the humidity, it is kind of uncomfortable, even with the ceiling fans spinning at high speed. After an hour or
so, we decide it is better to open the windows (the mosquitos be damned) and thereafter it is a lot better to sleep. Due to some wierd reason the mosquitos did not really trouble us inspite of keeping the windows open.

Around 7AM everyone wakes up and are ready after a refreshing bath by 8AM. The crew has prepared a nice breakfast of idli & sambar and after the table is cleared, the boat takes off again, tracing the journey back, but via a different route. Again lots more to see on the way. But somehow everyone is kind of silent due to the trip coming to an end. But then all good things have to come to an end. Around 9:30AM we berth at the same place from where we took off ending a spectacular 22 hours on water.

And all this cost me just Rs.8000 (200 USD) for the whole group. Plus a few hundreds as tips for the crew. For a group comprising of one or 2 families, one boat would be enough and would cost only half the amount. Ofcourse, this is off-season tariffs and during season, the prices can be double and more.

An awesome deal any which way you look at it.

P.S. : I am glad I decided to do this travelogue. I am re-living the experience as I post.

To continue...

Last edited by supremeBaleno : 20th November 2008 at 13:40.
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Old 20th November 2008, 13:38   #20
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Wow ! So that's the backwater cruise and Biju nice pics there. The satellite dish part was nice and cute making the boathouse in a league of its own.
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Old 20th November 2008, 13:53   #21
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4k is pretty good, but i was expecting some mouth watering marine delicacies to be served.
Guess the AC boats would be a better option.
Nice travelogue biju, great pictures to go with them too.
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Old 20th November 2008, 14:16   #22
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@mobike, the cost is as Jango mentioned. Varies with season and demand. We got 2 boats for 8K. But then it was off-season and also the owner was my BIL's relative - so maybe we got a discounted price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjstyles69
Biju excellent pics man, especially the 1st one . Can I call it the teaser pic ?
Thanks, Riju. Though definitely nowhere even remotely near the magic of the SLR-wielding gurus of tbhp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VJ_MAVRICK
The satellite dish part was nice and cute making the boathouse in a league of its own.
Well, there is more technology on these boats than we could think of. Coming ahead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by esteem_lover
but i was expecting some mouth watering marine delicacies to be served. Guess the AC boats would be a better option.
Nice travelogue biju, great pictures to go with them too.
Thanks, John. I am not a foodie - so didn't really concentrate on that angle.

Also, for those who want to try exotic stuff, there are these fishermen in small canoes that come to your boat with fresh catch - the biggest shrimp I ever saw. But you need to bargain hard.
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Old 20th November 2008, 14:18   #23
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SB, one biggest disadvantage posting such a wonderful eye catching pictures, was leaving the content behind and taking the full pics in one shot. Wow! you made Kerala look even better

Let me go throug the content
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Old 20th November 2008, 14:23   #24
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you write pretty well buddy. i'm too lazy to jot down even if i love that. bring on the rest. seems our pics are interlapping
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Old 20th November 2008, 14:24   #25
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Actually the driver showed us the place where the Tamil movie Autograph was shot. Those who saw the movie can vouch for the beauty of the place and the amazing way it was captured by the cameraman.

Infact he also showed the place where another Tamil movie "Kuselan" starring the one-and-only Super* was shot. And oh yes, Nayantara was also there.
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Old 20th November 2008, 14:28   #26
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Default While it is airports / railway stations / bus stops for us, it is boat-stops for them

Like most of us here, I have mainly used airports, railway stations and bus-stops / bus-stands all my life. Am yet to do a sea journey, though I don't really look forward to it - kinda afraid of the sea and also do not look forward to sea-sickness. But it was while cruising through the backwaters of Alappuzha on the houseboat, that we were exposed to another form of transportation - ferry boats - which are the lifeline for people residing in and around the waterways of Alappuzha.

And like I would wait at a bus stop for the next bus, here people wait for the next boat at the nearest boat-stop (I am not sure what the exact technical name for this is - a boat-jetty would be more like the boat-station I guess). Some pics of the boat-stops.

1) A lone passenger waiting for the next boat to arrive.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01115.jpg


2) A boat-stop near a church - catering exclusively to the religious ?
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01103.jpg


3) Another boat-stop. Ha, this seems to be a communist stronghold - can you see the red flag of the communist party in the pic ? Can faintly make out the hammer and sickle on the flag.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01088.jpg


4) A boat-stop with a billboard for a jewellery store. Very apt, given that Mallus like most Indians are crazy about the yellow metal.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01085.jpg


5) A boat-stand in one of the small waterways, off the main road oops main waterbody.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01134.jpg


6) People waiting impatiently for the next ferry. See another political flag here, but can't really place it as to which party it belongs to.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01150.jpg


And finally some pics of the ferry-boats themselves, that are public transportation for the people of the neighborhood.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01158.jpg


A boat docked at the stand for passengers to embark/disembark.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01127.jpg


Another of the ferries in action in the backwaters.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01126.jpg


BTW, if you did not already know, one of these ferry-boats plying in the Aleppey backwaters has an ATM on board - the only one of its kind of floating ATM in the world. This nice initiative by a Public Sector bank, keeps the people connected financially. While we city folk walk/drive to ATMs, the ATM comes to these people.

So, we have TV, DVD, DishTV, ATM etc on board. What next ?
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Old 20th November 2008, 14:40   #27
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Default A sneak preview of the 'mother of all boats'.

While Alappuzha is the venue and its backwaters the battleground for the awesome annual event of snake-boat racing (Nehru Trophy), held on the 2nd saturday of August every year, I was surprised to not see even one snake-boat during our cruise around the backwaters.

Ofcourse the snake-boats participating in the event come from various corners of Alappuzha and each belongs to a local community that shares the costs involved in maintaining the boat. But, still some of them would be from the neighborhood and so I was surprised to not see even one of them. The captain of our house-boat happened to be a regular rower for the local snake-boat team and he showed us the place where the races would be held next month.

But we were finally rewarded with the spectacular sight of a snake-boat the next day when we were winding up our 24-hour houseboat stay. There she lay majestically, stretched along the shore, with a special canopy erected to give her some respite from the elements.

I tried to take a single snap covering her full length, but it somehow did not look good. So took these 2 snaps to capture her beauty in 2 parts.


The rear of the snake-boat. See the raised hood, resembling a snake, which led to the name.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01156.jpg


The front of the snake-boat, aerodynamically designed for speed.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01157.jpg


And then I attempted a hotch-potch amateur-ish stitch job, which looks like this.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-snakeboatjoined.jpg


Even the stiched snap fails to bring out even a fraction of the mind-boggling phenomena that a snake-boat is. Measuring anything between 100-140 feet, with close to 100 people on board of whom some 70 row the boat, sitting two in a row along the length of the boat, a snake-boat never fails to wow you.

Given below is a better picture of the snake-boats in action during the Aranmula boat race, in the Pampa river.
Name:  snakeboatAranmula.jpg
Views: 6438
Size:  40.4 KB

Last picture courtesy wikipedia (Chundan Vallam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

P.S. : @Mysticeyes, I think this is the same snakeboat that you also took a pic of.

Last edited by supremeBaleno : 20th November 2008 at 14:42.
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Old 20th November 2008, 14:58   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
And like I would wait at a bus stop for the next bus, here people wait for the next boat at the nearest boat-stop (I am not sure what the exact technical name for this is - a boat-jetty would be more like the boat-station I guess). Some pics of the boat-stops.

We have these all along the Buckingham canal in Madras, haven't you seen them ? But not lucky enough to have been around when they were in use.

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The rear of the snake-boat. See the raised hood, resembling a snake, which led to the name.

A spoiler ?
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Old 20th November 2008, 17:39   #29
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Default Harnessing the breeze - a free, eco-friendly and renewable source of energy.

While cruising around in the backwaters, we noticed that there was this strong breeze round-the-clock. While wind energy is being seriously harvested in Tamilnadu, I do not think Kerala has ever taken any serious steps in this direction. Since Kerala faces a power deficit, inspite of having hydel power projects, this would seem like a nice idea to pursue.

Anyway, while the policy makers ignore this idea, we came across some ingenious chaps in the backwaters who put wind energy to use. No oil to burn in powering their canoes using outboard motors, no worries about polluting the environment and best of all, no payments to be made for energy. Just sit back in your canoe and take care of only the steering part
with your paddle, while the wind takes you to your destination.

And with the DIY setup that these guys have on their canoes, there is almost nil initial investment also. Just a couple of bamboo poles used to make the frame for the sail and empty cement bags made of plastic stitched together to make the actual sail and they are ready to conquer the waters.

Check out for yourselves in the following pictures.
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01051.jpg

A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01052.jpg

Ingenious indeed. And environment-friendly too.
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Old 20th November 2008, 17:50   #30
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Default View from the top. Get your balcony seats and enjoy the ride.

After Goa, I guess Kerala comes a close second in terms of favourite destination, as far as western tourists are concerned. I like both Goa and Kerala and would find myself in a fix if I have to name which of these I like more. Both have their own charm and thus it is tough to say that one is better than the other.

And like any other tourist destination in Kerala, we saw many western tourists in the backwaters also. Almost all of them in bare minimum clothing, getting a tan or just enjoying the cool breeze and taking in the greenery all around. And what better seating option to get a ringside view than the upper deck in the houseboat ?
A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01093.jpg


A 24-hour cruise (houseboat) in the Alappuzha backwaters-dsc01094.jpg


A surely nice way to take in the landscape without any obstructions. It's a pity our boat did not have this option. The next time around, I should keep this in mind while booking the houseboat.
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