Alleppey is most known for its close proximity to the Kerala backwaters, so that was the only reason we came here. We opted not to book an overnight houseboat because prices triple over high season, which meant we were looking at about $300-400 per night. Plus the houseboats are too big for the narrower, quieter canals, so they are all packed together in the bigger areas. So with that, our first day was to get our bearings and book a one-day tour in a smaller Shikara boat. We booked the tour through our guesthouse and when he said the price was 1000 INR, I was suspicious as that is only $20 for an entire day and having done a ton of research, I was expecting to pay around $100. I even said to Beth that I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t question our guesthouse any further.
We headed down to Alleppey beach for food and like homing pigeons we narrowed in on the only restaurant advertising beer and wine. Kerala is a dry state, so finding alcohol is extremely challenging. We walked into the usual sausage party that frequents these “restaurants” and promptly left after getting the smarmy eyeball from the room full of drunken men. We were invited next door to the way nicer real restaurant where Beth was still able to have her beer and where we enjoyed the second best meal of India. Unfortunately there is a huge bypass being built right next to Alleppey beach so it isn’t that nice to hang out on. Although better for the traffic issues, the businesses along the beach are really suffering.
We also wanted to do a sunset cruise but the weather was a bit overcast and threatening to downpour so we opted for an Ayurvedic foot massage (an authentic one) and hired the hotel’s driver (Sheffie) to take us to the “secret” beach (Marari beach) for the sunset. The beach was beautiful and clean and not that busy – I wished I had worn my swimmers. Sheffie, a very good looking 32 year old proceeded to tell us about how much he loves single life and partying, which we thought was great because most men his age are already in an arranged marriage.
The 670 year old guesthouse I chose was pretty cool and its proximity to the beach was ideal, but it was in a non-touristy Muslim area of town, which made finding food and feeling safe walking down the dark streets a challenge. The one tourist restaurant, Mushroom, was so busy that after an hour of not being served, we got up and left. I would have preferred somewhere more local, but again, it was all men. We assume the woman in these religious towns just stay home and look after children? Who knows. Anyway, we opted for a local sweets and chips dinner instead.
Our cruise day was long and not what I expected at all. We were told that there would be 4 of us on our boat, which made sense since the Shikara boats can seat 4-8 people depending on the size. I saw plenty of them where our huge group of tourists were standing but instead we were all shuffled onto the public ferry and taken to our breakfast spot – 10am and I finally get my coffee! Thankfully Beth had been busy chatting up the English couple that we’d be sharing a boat with, so I could just be quiet. And in talking to them, we found out that Sheffie is married with 2 children- naughty liar!
I knew I should have listened to my gut and questioned further when told the “Shikara” cruise was only 1000 rupees. What we ended up on was a small/tippy human-powered canoe. This would have been fine if we went straight into the narrow canals, but because of the speed we were going at, we spent the better part of the day in the lake and large canal. That said, once we did make it into the narrow canal, it was breathtaking and a wonderful experience. 2 cliche’d lessons learned: always listen to your gut and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Oh well, it was still a good day. We enjoyed our last night together at a restaurant that lost our order (haha) and then went to bed.
I now finally start the solo part of my travels. As a highly sensitive introvert with anxiety, being around me is just as tough as being me sometimes. At least when I’m by myself, only one of us has to suffer. Actually Beth and I travelled very well together, but when traveling with anyone, there will always be compromise. Traveling alone gives you the freedom to do what you want, when you want. Wish me luck! Next stop: Varkala.