Ferry Through the Backwaters of Kerala, India

My second stop in India was in the far south, where I went to the state of Kerala and spent some time in Kochi and Alleppey. This area was so different from Delhi, there was greenery and palm trees covering every inch of the countryside and overall it felt more relaxed than the bustling New Delhi. I took my first train in India and ended up on the wrong train, but it actually worked out better in the end and I got to take a ferry through the scenic backwaters to see some of Kerala’s famous countryside.

At 5am I took a train from Kochi to Alleppey, where I was going to go to see the famed backwaters. It was almost completely empty, which is not what I had expected for a train in India, but I guess it was so early and not a very popular route. Nobody checked my ticket anywhere and I just stepped on what I thought was the train, and I ended up on the wrong train.

I frantically started searching online with my spotty 3G connection to figure out what train I was on and reroute myself before I ended up somewhere too far away. I got off in a small town called Kottayam because it looked like I could take a public ferry from there to Alleppey, where I had meant to go. I got to the ferry right as it was about to leave.

The view from the boat was incredible, we were headed down a misty river before sunrise.

As soon as the sun came up, the landscape lit up drastically and turned an almost complete white, it was beautiful!

As we went I saw people getting up from their houses along the river/lakes and begin their day fishing or farming.

There were palm trees lining every bit of land not covered by water.

The ferry I was on was mostly used by locals to get around between the patches of land. My boat quickly became packed with kids going to school. At each stop we'd pick up about 20 people, until the boat was completely packed to the brim. I was starting to worry about it capsizing under the weight.

Soon we entered the most touristy parts of the backwaters where most people come to rent houseboats and stay on the rivers for a day or two. We passed by a 'parking lot' full of these ranging from essentially floating mansions to basic houseboats. This area was nice and reminded me a lot of the bayous in New Orleans, but I thought it was less enchanting than the local areas the ferry first took us though.

Got off in Alleppey, the ferry was longer than I thought, I think about 3 hours, and since I had already seen so much of the backwaters (for only 20 rupees! as opposed to if I went for a tour which would've easily cost 20-50 times more!) I decided to walk around the city towards the beach. The streets here were slightly less crazy that Delhi, but still traffic laws were only followed 50% of the time, and it took me way too long to cross the street.

Got to Allapuzha Beach, and it reminded a lot of Huntington Beach back home. It was big and wide and pretty empty. There was a lot more trash and debris in the sand though compared to back home. Also spotted a long abandoned pier jutting out into the ocean like a rusty spine.

Walked along the beach a bit until I was soaking wet from sweat... It was REALLY hot and humid. Saw about a million crabs who would scurry out of holes in the sand and into the water as soon as they spotted you coming.

I figured it was time to go back because it was just too hot and I was not dressed for the weather, I was wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt (to protect against mosquito bites). Headed to the train station, had to cross some tracks to get back.

Managed to get a cheap ticket for 20 rupees (~$0.25USD) back to Kochi, nearly got on the wrong train again. I had asked a man if the train I stepped on was correct, he said yes but it seemed to be heading in the opposite direction as where I needed to go. I decided to trust my gut and get off the train right before it took off, then I heard the actual announcement for my train on a different platform, and I got on the right train finally.

Back to Kochi, where I was staying. The walk to my hotel was extremely run down. I had to walk through a lot of construction and everywhere looked like it had been hit by an earthquake. The sidewalks were all destroyed and in disrepair. I learned only after I left Kerala that it was due to a recent and terrible flood that hit this area and put large parts of it underwater.

Got some fish curry and biriyani for a late lunch before I went back to rest. It was extremely filling and flavorful.

I was in Kerala between November 27th, 2018 - November 29th, 2018