I wasn’t sure if that first flush of excitement would wear off and my India love come crashing down but so far so good. Still enjoying it.
We stayed in Fort Kochi for a few days to get our bearings then headed down to Allepuzha. Our mission at this stage was to find a place to stop and sit still for a month while we get ourselves a bit sorted out and from all we’d read we thought that Allepuzha could be it. Turns out not so much. Nice enough town with some lovely country around it but just not a place I could hang for a whole month.
While we were there we hired a scooter and hit the road to check out the area. It was so lovely. There are waterways everywhere you turn. It is one of the main drawcards for the Allepuzha area. Literally hundreds (1000+) houseboats service the waterways with tourists paying heavily for the trip. That said, the houseboats we saw were pretty darned impressive. They looked more luxurious than a lot of the hotels and guest houses we have stayed in 🙂 and they ranged in size from intimate little couples retreats to party boats that would easily hold 8-10 people.
While riding down one of the many random backroads we came across a team of men who were bagging some sort of concrete/cement mixture and with much excitement one of the guys beckoned us in for a closer look. There were 2 pits with huge mounds of lime, shell and gravel which were mixed and bagged for transport to a building site somewhere. The bagging was an amazing production line of dust and sweat with men working a continuous process that was both impressive and slightly mind boggling. They were so proud to show us their work and I was certainly humbled by their age, fitness and hard work.
From Allepuzha we caught a tourist ferry through the backwaters down the coast to Kollam where we were hoping to buy the Enfield motorbike through the largest dealer in the area. The ferry ride was brilliant. Instead of paying INR(Indian rupee)2500 ($50) each for an overnight on a tiny houseboat we paid INR600 ($12) each and had a fantastic full day passing by small creekside villages full of waving kids and finishing it off in a bustling town with an interesting vibe.
Normally when we are arriving into a strange town we will book the first nights accommodation and sort out any further nights later. This time though we didn’t. According to the guide book there were hotels all along the main street so it shouldn’t have been a problem. What we couldn’t have forseen was that the biggest hotel was on strike (!!!!) and that there was a crossdressing convention in town that had taken a lot of the other rooms. Yes – you read that right. At every turn we were met by large Indian men dressed in very elaborate saris and drag queen styled makeup! Quite the surprise I can assure you!!! There is a special temple just outside of town where for a week they have a festival devoted to gay, crossdressing and transvestite men. It was rather amusing once we worked out what was going on. In India open homosexuality is not something we have come across at all so this was certainly unexpected.
What was also another surprise was that the man in the Enfield shop basically crossed his arms and told us no, as non-residents we could not buy an Enfield and that he could not and would not help us 🙁 Not happy about that. Of course there are ways around this and we have found an alternative but it was quite the slap in the face from this bloke in the dealership. I guess he just has to abide by the rules in the strictest way and that’s that. We have decided to wait until we start moving again before we get the bike so no big rush at the moment.
So we are now in Varkala and will be here for a good while yet. It is gorgeous and that is all I will say on the matter today. Don’t want to bore you with how divine it is. I’ll save that for the next post 😉