It was goodbye to Fort Bridge Homestay and their friendly and helpful staff and time to move on to our next adventure. Much to the puzzlement of the Fort Bridge Homestay owner we informed him we wanted the taxi booked for 8.30 to take us to Ernakulam Junction where yes we would be taking the train to Alappuzha. Our taxi arrived only a few minutes late, not bad for Indian timekeeping, and he got us to the train station in 30 minutes. Yet another experience of Indian drivers complete disregard for junctions and roundabouts and any concept of give way!
We bought our tickets to Alappuzha for the grand cost of 30IR (36p) and told to go to platform 2 where our train would leave at 10am. Mr L lugged the luggage up the stairs and over the overpass and down the other side.
A train arrived at about 9.20 and sat there. We asked if this was our train and told no so we waited……and waited. At 9.45 the train was still there and we asked 2 other people who said yes this was the train. We had little other option but to go for it. We got on and the carriage was very empty but also somewhat smelly as it was just by the toilet facility. We moved into the next carriage of the windowless train – bars instead of windows – and fans that didn’t work. A good breeze though once the train set off late at 10.10. Mr L had told me the journey would only take 30 minutes so after an hour and still no sign of Alappuzha l was beginning to wonder if we were indeed on the correct train. I should not have doubted the superior qualities of Mr L and his tour guide abilities as sure enough at 11.30 we arrived in Alappuzha. We were quickly ensconced in a rickshaw that could accommodate us and our luggage and we were on our way to meet our houseboat. Taking the Indian Railways train was definitely an experience I can tick off but can’t say I am in a rush to repeat the experience any time soon.
Hashim met us at the designated meeting spot of the Lake Garden Resort and took us to the houseboat and introduced us to our captain, Sunil, and cook, Arron, who would be looking after us for the next three days and two nights. The houseboat is amazing. The initial journey onto the backwaters of Kerala was a bit of a tourist jam of houseboats – all journeys in this mega tourist business start off at 12 midday – but slowly houseboat numbers became fewer as the backwaters disappeared off in different directions.
We moored up for lunch which was fish for Mr L and veg for me, all served with enough rice for 6 people and 2 side dishes. Good food but simply too much to eat. The afternoon was spent sitting and dozing on the upper deck watching the simple and slow life of the backwaters pass us by. A combination of a bit of jet lag which had caught up with us and just sitting and relaxing. At around 17.30 we moored up for the night, luckily there was only one another boat near us.
We have basic shower facilities, no hot water but the cold is lukewarm and okay, sink and normal loo with flush so living like kings! Obviously no wifi so a rare opportunity to be unconnected at all times. We have air conditioning in our bedroom which was turned on once we were moored and connected to an electricity supply on the bank. Showered and changed we came back through to the main deck central area which had been screened off with mosquito nets and dinner was served to the background sounds of the crickets and chanting, and the sound of prayers in the distance – wonderful! Dinner was again a feast for at least 4 people……such a shame to waste the food but impossible to eat it all.