There were two house boats waiting on the jetty.. We assumed ours would be the smaller one as a group of eight were also waiting with bags to embark on a back water experience.
Wrong, were were invited by the captain aboard the most magnificent houseboat, a revamped rice boat. We were greeted by our waiter with a large coconut drink and our private chef. The captain gave us a brief safety instruction and showed us our individual double cabins complete with en-suite toilet and shower rooms. each with aircon.
The boat left the jetty and Mum and I sat in our plush armchairs waving like queens to the the people on the lake side. Mum doing her impression of the queen of sheba.
We sat just watching the world of Lake Vembanad. Many birds flying, cormorants and snake birds. We have never seen so many kingfishers in one day and a large fishing eagle with bright orange feathers on the underside of its massive wings and the most enormous talons hanging off its legs.
1:30pm lunch was served. we sat at the table as both the waiter and chef served us Pearl spot, a local fresh water fish that had been caught in the lake, accompanied by vegetable samber, rice, spicy potato curry and a tomato yogurt. Yummy…. followed by fresh fruit salad.
After lunch we drank beer and carried on watching the world go by and dozing and relaxing in comfort. Children from the waters edge waving and shouting out their names to us.
The water was busy with boat traffic, whole families enjoying a sunday treat out. Some boats with drums and loud music full of only men, others with just women and children laughing, dancing and singing.
The houses on the lakeside reminding us of small Portuguese cottages, painted in all colours from bright reds to Greek blues.
We stopped at 4 ish and met up with four other boats, where all 10 people transferred into a long ‘snake. boat’ for a trip along the narrow back water canals.
This gave us an insight of the life of the lake people. Children fishing, being helped by the fathers. Ladies washing the clothes on the rivers edge, chickens pecking about on the banks, rickety handmade bridges.
These people making a living from the lake and the surrounding paddy fields. A life so diverse from my life. The people so friendly and happy and prosperous in their world. So used to us nosy westerners that they don’t even bother to look up as we pass by.
After our trip and the fun watching mum trying to climb out of the small boat back up to our houseboat, we set off again along the lake. We dropped off the Captain outside his house and then after traveling along for a bit more moored up at the side of the lake bank as the sun started to set.
We had another boat in front of us about 50ft away, but due to the angle of the he boat we were not able to see any movement ahead.
The sun set and the lake fishermen started to appear, setting their nets across the lake, paddling silently through the water. Bats flitting around and the last bird calls ringing around before they settled down for the night. We just sat there on our boat listening to the gentle sounds of the lake at night.
7:30 our chef and waiter re appeared from the back of the boat with dinner. Chicken curry, herb rice, parathas, boiled vegetables and a lentil curry. Magical food in a magical world.
We spent the evening drinking cold beer, played no soft music and just relishing the beauty of the moment. Yes we both spent time thinking about our husbands and wishing they could be with us, but we never allowed this to detract from the joy of just being there ourselves. Very few Mums and daughters would ever get to have such an experience like this together. We realise how blessed we are.
There was a gentle breeze washing over the front of the boat keeping away any biting insects and as this died down and the air got too warm we retreated to our spacious rooms for the night.
I was woken at 6:30 by the noise of the chef preparing breakfast, and chopping vegetables ready for the next occupants meals later in the day.
We ate breakfast at 8 whilst on the move again, collected the Captain and made our way to the house boast company office and mooring station. By 9:30 we were disembarking, both wishing we could stay in this life of tranquility for a few more days.
But alas our new driver was there already collecting our cases and ushering us into his car.
4 hours of travelling, our driver telling us where the local supermarket was and where we can buy beer and wine etc as well as how to get to the restaurants and shops near the hotel.
We have now arrived at our final destination for the next 6 nights.
The Leela Palace Hotel. Kovalam.