16 September, India – ‘All Over The Place – Asia’
More exploring of Kerala today, and this time we were up at the crack of dawn and boarding another traditional Keralan boat, this one a bit smaller. We were on our way to the backwaters.
I’ve heard a lot about the Keralan backwaters from people who have been on holiday here and said they’re wonderful, but for some reason I was never that bothered about checking them out (maybe because I have no time at all for mosquitos, and where there’s water, there’s usual tonnes of them). How silly of me. They’re lovely.
It took us about three quarters of an hour to cross the lake, with occasional moments of drama as the speed boat engine cut out and our pilot went at the engine like an angry dad falling out with a lawnmower. But once we started to make our way up one of the canals things started to go more smoothly and we set about filming Inel and I reacting to the area’s beauty. Oh, and I was dressed as a pirate. I didn’t mention that did I?
It was a classic ‘All Over The Place’ ruse to liven up what would otherwise be in danger of tipping into being an item resembling a Channel 4 travel programme, and I enjoyed waving at locals as they washed their clothes in the river and tourists as they passed by in their boats, watching their confused faces as they wondered why Captain Jack Sparrow was hoisting a skull and crossbones on an Indian pleasure boat.
Today we’re also in the middle of the 3 day Onam festival, the most important day in the Keralan calendar, so we got to meet a parade of locals walking down the bank all dressed in yellow, on their way to the temple. Filming was all done by the time we were making our way back across the lake, so we got to chill out on the boat and pretend we were on holiday – which doesn’t happen very often on this show I hasten to add!
After a late lunch we said goodbye to our much loved hotel by the lake and set off on a 4 hour bus journey to Thrissur, stopping along the way for a coffee break in a shop by the motorway, picking our way through the rubbish and dodgy smelling things, bringing back memories of our first trip out to India in May.
Once we arrived at our next hotel in a block next to a main road in Thrissur the lake seemed a long way away. India really is a country of great extremes. One minute you can be in what some people might describe as paradise, and a few metres from you can be utter deprivation and destitution. It’s obviously normal for you when you live here, but I find it hard to get my head around sometimes.