Kerala Backwater Tour

One of the highlights of traveling to South India is the Kerala Backwater Tour. Arrange a half-day casual tour, a luxury boat or romantic overnight ride. There is a customized tour for any type of traveler. Your hotel can arrange the Backwater Tour for you.

Making Friends During my Backwater tour

On the way to the boat, we picked up another traveler. Oh how lovely life works out, especially when you are on the road. We picked up Bhav, a new friend I would spend the next 24 hours together. Bhav is a 29 year old girl born and raised in Lester, England with roots from Gujarat, India. Her grandparents migrated to Africa where her parents were born. Very sophisticated, friendly, worldy, insightful, a good heart and good sense of humor. I felt the trust & friendship within a minute of talking to her. We would spend the next 24 hours together. Bhav is a social worker in England for an orphanage and was lucky enough to take 3 months off to travel India, which is her 4th time. She volunteered near Bangalore in Puttiparti when she first arrived 2/1, been in Kerala for a week and is meeting her mother in Bombay Monday.. She will be here til April. We talk about everything and anything on the way there, and in our houseboat.

4 English people are in the boat with us as well. an elderly woman, a retired couple, and a middle age man; we all got along well in that relaxed 3 hour boat ride. I love the Brits!

Village Island Hopping

The backwater took us through various villages as we learned each island’s craft. One of my favorite stops were watching 2 ladies hand-weave straw rugs. At another village, I bought some Tapioca Chips at one of the villages which have become my snack of choice (similar to potato chips but healthier).

The boat is run by a driver who uses his feet to back paddle with a tour guide who introduces us all there is to know about Kerala. After the boat ride, our taxi takes us back to hotel and I promise Bhav we will be in contact throughout the day. I get back to my hotel and Sheba comes again to my rescue to take me touring through Cochin with her brother who is absolutely the smartest, most polite gentlemen at age 15.

Touring Fort Cochin

We tour the small town in Fort Cochin which are made of a windy street with various craftsmen selling souvenirs. Kerala is the most diverse state in India with the highest literacy rate and the most diverse in religion. It is also the most tolerable between various religions living amongst each other. “Jewish street” is a popular attraction, a street filled with vendors of Jewish influence. A Synagogue still stands proud.

Stop by the Dutch Palace (Kerala has Dutch and Portugese influence).

The Chinese fishing net is another popular sight to see while in Fort Cochin.

I really appreciate Sheba’s warmth and showing me the city.. since she was born and raised here, and waiting to go to US.. We get back about 7 pm and check in to the YWCA women’s hostel that Sheba’s mom connected me through. Typically it is only for Indian women who are working in the area.. So it was a great pleasure to be able to live there. I check in, 550 rupees (14$) and drop my bag, and they take me to Bhav’s hotel. I am then informed that women are not allowed to leave after 8:45 and that I had to be back soon. That gave me about 40 minutes to have dinner w/Bhav. Well not only the time constraint.. I started feelin suffocated and panic’d.. which really is no ones fault, except my ‘spoiled by America’s freedom’ ordeal.. I decide I cant stay there. Bhav welcomes me to stay with her since she has a double bed. We go back there, I take my bags and dont bother asking for the money back and leave. I ask the guard there to make sure my money goes to good use, like that ‘destitute fund bottle’ sitting on the desk. He assured me it won’t. Well what can i do.

We go back to Bhavs hotel by 8:30.. pay the supplement fee of me staying with her, about 22$.. It’s pretty much a 4-5 star hotel, called the Atrium hotel. We have dinner at the cafe in front.. We had initially planned to take a walk and find a local restaurant.. but Sheba informed me that women dont go out passed 6 or 7 here.. that “rape happens like peanuts” here.. I did not know that. I dont hear about a lot of rape cases here.. and travelers have said its the safest place. I then thought about what I learned.. That there are billions of unreported rape cases out there, especially in third world countries.. There is more shame put on the girl and her family than for the guy.. that men wont marry them after they are tainted.. So i can imagine it happening but not reported.. Perhaps that is good for travelers because they know what the US embassy could do to the criminals.. or it could be bad for travelers because if they are kidnapped, they may never be found.

Regardless, we settle for the Westernized Cafe. I order a Chicken Sandwich, Bhav has vegetarian food. We discuss travel plans, love life, family life and more.

Go back to her place and start emulating Bollywood videos. Only 3 days in and we know the ins & outs of the Bollywood film makeup. Its pretty much a man and woman battling back and forth, on the beach, or in a warehouse.. or it could be accompanied with a group of males in back of the main guy, and group of females in back of the main girl, a big dancing rumble.. Or it could be a group of girls hiding behind something… one hand up, one hand down.. it was kind of fun, we recorded our dancing..

We laughed about how ridiculous life is, that i had just met her early in the day, and am now staying with her.. I’ve become the Indian Foreign Fugitive, running away 2 nights .. back to something more familiar and comfortable. Many will debate whether choice is a good thing or not.. In countries ruled by religion.. women are behaved a lot better. but are not treated equal.. I myself wont say which is ‘better’ but as for me, I’ve been raised with a voice and choice, and it is too late to adjust otherwise.. I enjoy running loose on the street at 3 am if I so choose (no sexual connotation). I named my hotel stay with her a “one night stand”.. perhaps I will never see her again.. maybe we’ll write.. maybe i’ll see her years down the line when i visit england, or she visits US.

Well, Thank you Bhav for the fun and I will send you photos when I’m back. See you soon my friend.

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