Kollam

We were up at 6.45am this morning – nice weather!! Unfortunately the ground was a bit wet and slippery to go for a walk, so we went off to explore in a canoe instead.

We made our way slowly down the main waterway. It was wide, the odd houseboat passing by, louder boats carrying rocks, locals in their small canoes. We passed locals at the tea shop drinking chai. Women out washing clothes. Children on bikes. Men having a bath. People going about their water-based lives. As we headed down into the small, narrow waterways, the water was so still the palms were reflected on the surface – it was so pretty.

The two local men rowing the boat began to sing local rice field-worker songs! And bright blue kingfishers overhead were chirping away. The water is completely surrounded by palms and banana trees. It’s so green and so pretty everywhere. We spent nearly 2 hours slowly rowing around. It was really beautiful. A complete world away from the rest of India.

Breakfast was a traditional keralan breakfast – idli (rice flour cakes) with an onion and lentil curry that I couldn’t eat. Plus coconut chutney – I love this stuff! And banana fritters – yum.

We were in a bit of a rush, we were late for the ferry, so we had to quickly grab our stuff and jump on a small boat to cross the river. From here, we were picked up by tuk tuks to take us into the city and to the boat stop. A couple of minutes away from the river we were transported into a different world – roads, buses, cars, tuk tuks and trucks, shops and stalls, people and goats.

It took about half an hour to reach the boat stop, right in the centre of the busy town. The biggest Jackfruit I’ve ever seen, bananas everywhere, you could smell the spice stalls before you saw them and roads packed with tuk tuks.

The boat left at 10.30pm. A small ferry. We got some (uncomfortable) seats on the top deck and sat back and watched as the green, Palm-lined world went by.

This is the only place in India where farming takes place below sea level. Fields and fields of flooded rice paddies. Water buffalo grazing around the edges. We went by small villages, some people and miles and miles of nothing but Palm trees. I’ve never seen so many Palm trees.

We headed down some narrow waterways, trees hitting the sides of the boat and the water completely full of floating hycinths. The propellor got full of them, so we had to stop for a while whilst they were all removed.

At 1.30pm we stopped off at a small restaurant for lunch. A keralan thali – Keralan White fluffy rice (they are literally huge rice pieces!!!), lentil dhal, a potato curry, a cucumber curry, a coconut and plantain curry, a cabbage curry and a popadom. All really delicious!!

And then we carried on again. Hours and hours of slowly moving past palms.

We finally reached the city of Kollam at just after 6pm. 7 hours sat on the boat!! It continued to be pretty throughout the whole journey, but I did get bored and uncomfortable. Into tuk tuks to the hotel, it was only 5 minutes away, through the crazy streets. We nearly crashed several times – the driving is crazy, minimal regard for which side of the road you should be on and overtaking on. We had dinner at 7.30. Yes, all I do is eat. But I couldn’t eat anything at dinner tonight, it was all just onion. Onion pakora, onion salad, onion rice and chicken curry. Great…. So I had some raw carrots, raw peppers and raw cabbage and went to bed.

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