Breakfast at the hotel was a bit rubbish – I ordered fruit, and ended up with 2 slices of pineapple. That cost 60p! Expensive. So I headed outside and down the road instead. I found a fruit stall (wish I had come down here yesterday!) and bought a tonne of (well 20) bananas for 40p. Nice and cheap! The guy was really nice and even let me try them – he had so many different types!
I met the rest of the group that I’m travelling with for the next few days – 8 other English girls. And then we set off in a really old, tatty Indian bus. There was no door as such, you had to climb out over the front seat! We headed out towards a different part of the city – Mattencherry.
On the way there, we stopped off at a washing area. Different people have a numbered area where they wash. There were men wading around in water washing clothes and hotel sheets by hand. They collect clothes from nearby houses as well as hotels and wash them here. There was a large drying section, with the clothes hanging from coconut fibre rope – no pegs, the clothes are held in place by the twists in the rope!
And there was an ironing area – old women with old irons which are not electric, instead they have a small fire inside them, burning coconut husk!
Next stop, the Dutch Palace. This was originally a gift from the Portuguese in 1555, but the Dutch renovated it later in 1663, so is now named after them! Inside, many of the walls were covered in intricate murals depicting Hindu gods – largely Ramanaya.
There were a few other decorative large wooden objects around too. We made our way through a few streets of touristy shops, all selling the same clothes, pillow cases and table runners, and ended up at the Synagogue. This was originally built in 1568, apparently there are now only 7 Jewish people living nearby. The floor is covered in elaborate, hand painted White and blue tiles from China. And hanging from the ceiling were large glass chandeliers which burn coconut oil. Some made in Belgium and the large central one coming from Murano, in Venice.
Then back onto the bus for the drive to Allepey. We drove mostly along a dual carriageway – there isn’t much rules to the road, instead everyone just drives anywhere. Everywhere is so green and full of Palm trees. We stopped off enroute at a coconut fibre rope making place. Coconuts have a shiny outer coating, once you remove that, underneath is lots of fibre. These are dried, then pulled off, layed out and then hand pulled into ropes.
Women strap the fibres to the front of themselves in a large pouch, attach a fibre end to a stick, then walk backwards, pulling fibres out and magically it turns into a rope! They make 2 strands this way, then a turning instrument winds them into a rope. So clever! There was another section for dying the ropes. Other men were working on huge looms, weaving the ropes into carpets. And some were just being wound onto large reels. Apparently much of it is sent abroad. It was cool!
Then the final drive to Allepey. It took just over 2 hours in total. And it was so hot. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so hot, ever.
Every part of me was sweating. I did begin to feel a bit ill.
But then we were driving through the backwaters, large open rivers and lakes, totally surrounded by palms and large houseboats tied up around the edges. So pretty.
We stopped off at a river bank and watched as several large houseboats went by. These are old traditional rice boats. Then we went in a canoe, across to the other riverbank – to a large island. We’re staying here, with a local family. They have rooms in their house. It was large and actually a lot nicer than I had expected! And finally at 1.45pm, lunchtime. I was so hungry!!
We were served rice (a weird type of rice – massive pieces, which were really soft), spiced potatoes, a coconut curry sauce, spiced green beans and a popadom. It was really delicious.
After lunch, we had some time to do nothing. All this heat is making me so tired. I just feel like doing nothing!!
Kerala has 900km of waterways, which spread out across the luscious green fields of palms. Many of these canals and islands are only accessible by boat. It’s a world away from chaotic, busy india. We were supposed to be going for a walk around the village. But the rain had other plans. It poured down. For hours. And hours. All afternoon and all evening. Rubbish.
So confined to the house. Dinner wasn’t as good as lunch. There was a cauliflower curry which was nice and paratha which are ok, like an oily chapati though (would rather without all the oil). Plus a raw onion salad which I can’t eat. And a buffalo curry, which I don’t eat. So it was a bit dull. Still raining. So still doing nothing. So bed time then!