The Night Bus
We booked a night bus to Kerala, a South Indian state on the Southwestern Malabar Coast, through a bus company called ‘Parveen’. Costing 700 INR (around £8), we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into and for the sake of missing the train (given the reviews of it), we were more than happy to take the risk. Previous experience of sleeper buses told me that the next 8 hours would be claustrophobic, smelly and sleepless. Surprisingly, we slept quite well. The first half of the journey seemed smooth and okayish; we didn’t encounter any body parts dangling from the upper bunks or repulsive bodily odours. The second half was less enduring; lots of potholes jolting us from any potential sleep and the sound of traffic and endless horns reminding us that we were in India- should we forget.
We eventually arrived in Kerala feeling happy at the thought of an early morning check-in; only to learn that we had another 8-hour car journey ahead of us. Looking at each-other partially in disbelief, partially in hope of someone else finding the funny side to a not so pleasant situation, we got into the vehicle thinking of ways to entertain ourselves with yet another half a day without Wi-Fi .
Snacks, awkward sleeping positions, switching digital devices; we soon arrived the Alleppey Backwater Boathouse somewhat surprised. Our first impression of a boathouse on our itinerary lead us to envisage an image of a small, yellow stained tin-ish boat with limited resources and dated interior, but we were pleasantly surprised when we saw what was on offer. A large, wooden boat with 2 bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, lounge, and upper deck area. It was called the Bamboo Green.
Feeling proud of our boat, we took the time to take a few ‘Instagram-worthy’ shots of the boat (and of us posing leisurely in the boat) that would soon be uploaded to the boat’s Wi-Fi. Only there was none, bringing us to yet another (involuntary) Wi-Fi free experience; forcing us to (yet again) resort back to childhood entertainment antics. With no board games or alcohol, we slept for most of the day and spoke to each other for lengths of time that we usually wouldn’t and about topics that would never cross our minds. Still we saw it as a great opportunity to enjoy life away from the connected world, instead appreciating what we had in-front of us; ‘living in the moment’ so to say. A peaceful notion shared amongst many travelers today. Myself, Nick and David; expecting to ‘find ourselves’ (should we have lost ourselves) during our time here.
The afternoon was bliss. I slept under sun on the upper deck with a family a mosquitos parading above me, reassured that the half a bottle of mosquito repellent that I had previously slapped on both legs, would shield me from any danger. David, reclined on the main sofa reading some book, and David sat next to me instead awake and observing the landscape.
The views from the upper deck were incredible. The boat followed the route of the canal, with palm trees either side, communities watching the boats float by and small huts selling things like confectionery snacks and oil for passers by. There were also fishing communities in the middle of the lake with, you guess, fish stalls and coconuts. On the outskirts of the lake were fields. It was beautiful.
Dinner-time was my favourite time. Every meal was a feast. Plates of food arranged in front of us, all hand- cooked by our very own chefs! The owners of the boat were wonderful. Each dish was explained to us; the name, where it came from, how they cooked it etc. It was a real dining experience.
However, our dining experience was to take an unexpected return. Walking back from the dinner table to the upper deck, we found that our Hobnobs had been devoured, demolished (no, massacred) by gang of crows. With a trail of crumbs arranged on the table and deck floor, a shredded box (that seemed to resemble the Hobnob’s packaging prior to the event) and a black feather beside it, we could hardly blame the kitchen staff.
At 5 pm, we pulled up to a local fishing village and picked out our fish of choice to eat for the evening; King prawns costing a hefty £12 each (tourist prices and we knew it). However, with our India budget on the higher end of the spectrum (being the first few days of the vacation) we were happy to pay it.
Shifting through a few pages of my book, sleep and prompting Nick with a few controversial questions, because (well we had the time to) had built an appetite for a walk.
We walked along the riverside and took the chance to take some photos.
In the evening we had our last meal; king prawns followed by half a dozen other dishes that were, by no means, gone to waste.
Our meal was then followed by a few beers on the upper-deck, resulting in a few heated topics of debate following a need (my need) to stir things up. “Nick, which is worse, Trump or Brexit?” Yes, topics of conversation that we wouldn’t ask in our normal day to day lives; topics of conversation usually negated by the distraction of 21st-century technology inventions such as Wi-Fi.
A full hour of Nick ranting, myself amused at how little effort it took, beers flowing nicely; the wonderful wildlife of India coming out in full-force; cockroaches sprinting on the sofa’s from our side-vision, lizards climbing up the walls, and mosquitos going in for the kill, (and for my legs specifically) it was time for us to hit the hay.