Terry's Indian Blogs

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Early in 2006 Anita Alberts got some contract work in Trivandrum teaching English as a foreign language. Terry decided to go with her for the experience and hoped to be able to help locals in some way with his mechanical expertise. He also decided to keep a blog of his experiences and these are published below

Now in India for the last 8 weeks and getting excited about coming back to Bolton .We recently revisited   places in Kerala that were near enough for a short  break. Anita's friend from her previous job came out to visit us and so we arranged a package including  a train ride north,  sailing on the Backwaters,  a one night stopover on the boat and  3 nights in Cochin. This a relaxing 4 day break which is not to expensive.

 fig iTypical Houseboat

The boats are very comfortable with air conditioning. This is essential as it gets very warm and the mosquitoes are quite hungry round the backwaters

Basically you sleep and eat on the boat and sail across the vast fresh water lagoons. It is a very relaxing 24 hours

fig 2Relaxing on deck in the dining area

 There are two ways of seeing the back waters. The most popular is as above. Another is staying in one of the many hotels. Some of the boats are new and luxurious and some are a bit older and more basic. It’s hard for a casual visitor to be lucky, that depends on who you book through in India.

The other way is to book an overnight stay in a hotel, there some basic and luxurious places to stay and then visit the back waters during the day. We fancy doing this the next time we visit. You can have a mixture of sailing up the canals through the villages and seeing more of the local life style than just sailing across the large lakes.  

fig 3

 

 fig 4Drinking water being delivered to the islands in the lagoon area

 You get what you pay for and prices vary depending on season time. The monsoon season is not suitable for this trip, the boats won’t go on the lake in heavy winds. We had to return due to a sudden heavy downpour.

fig 5Lakeside Christian Church

Allapuza  is about 2 hours train journey north from Trivandrum. Further 1.5 hrs north from here is the major sea port of Cochin (same train)

Cochin was ruled by the Portuguese from 1503 then Colonised by the Dutch in the 1600s There is a wealth of restored old colonial buildings to state

fig 6Delightful Home Stay 

 The Delight home stay is the latest to be painstakingly restored into a very nice hotel

  We stayed at the Fort Heritage Hotel. Very near here.

fig 7Fort Heritage Hotel 

This was built by the Dutch East India Company in 1668. The British took possession in 1796. Many British influences can be seen in the Fort Cohin area.

The Chinese Fishing Nets, perhaps being the most photographed of them all

fig 8Chinese fishing nets

 

fig 9Chinese Fishing nets

The fishing nets and the hotels are all very near the main Square which is surrounded by trees planted by the Brits many years ago for shade around what was once a parade ground. A special treat is to select you own fish at the Chinese nets and have them cooked in a local café. Special Tea (Beer) can be purchased from these unlicensed premises

And is served in teapots or jugs

fig 10Special Tea £1.20 a pint

   fig 111&1/4 kilo of prawns.. £10 !!      

fig 12Cooked in Lemon and Garlic and accompanied by Kingfisher beer - Priceless !!

FIG   13Cricket - the national obsession

 Then on to the train to Cochin . In Cochin the best place to stay is the Old Fort area. Although there is nothing left of the fort there is a wealth of colonial architecture, mostly in the form of renovated grand houses.

  Some have been  converted into small B&B hotels. A train ride from Trivandrum to Cochin is about 5 hrs and cost about 150 RS (£2) single. The hotel will be about £20 for the room. The best place to eat is the Dall Rotie which is also near the best home stays.

 fig 14The best place to eat in Cochin ‘Dal Roti’

 Indian Elections

The elections for Central government (Lock Sabar) were in full swing when we were there with candidated canvassing on a grand scale. This is the biggest democratic election in the world. We arrived in Cochine and what would have been a 20

fig 15Welcome to the prime minister

 minutes ride from the train station took far longer as all the roads passing the army camp were closed for 30 mins while the prime minister made his exit. Security is taken seriously in India. Prime ministers are very vulnerable out here. Manmohan Singh was re-elected as the Congress party prime minister,

Terry June 2009