Hey Peeps! How is the onset of summer treating you? I had recently been to Alleppey, Kerala with my gals. The initial plan was to visit Goa but you know how collective plans go; after a week of deliberations, we settled on an Alleppey houseboat vacation.
All of us had been to Goa multiple times and in fact, you could read my reviews here and here. For this trip, we wanted a fresh place. The best part of our Kerala trip was that none of us had experienced Alleppey or lazying around in houseboats till then. We went on a 3 days and 2 nights trip to Alleppey. In this relatively short duration, we did manage to fit in an exotic heritage resort, overnight stay in a boathouse, backwaters tour, a diesel boat tour and lots more. Not bad for the limited time and budget!
Once, I was back from this wonderful experience I realised the inhibitions that were stopping me from visiting Kerala on a girl’s trip were unfounded. Frankly, we were a bit hesitant before the trip for the language barrier – none of us girls spoke Malayalam.
Moreover, it’s hot and humid over there; could we pull off short summer attire without being leched upon or hassled?Thankfully, the trip went smoother than we had thought about. Sill to avert any risks, we had booked everything in advance.
How to reach Alleppey from Bangalore?
The moment we decided to travel Alleppey ( the anglicised term for Alappuzha), we had distributed the tasks so that no one gets overburdened. We were a group of 5 girls, all on the lookout for good clean fun.
We booked seats from Bangalore to Alleppey through the Redbus app and got a premium sleeper bus with Kallada Travels. The bus was supposed to start at 10.45 p.m. from Madiwala bus stop and reach by 9 a.m next morning. Sadly, our departure was delayed and we reached late by 3 hours, a bit over noon.
As we wanted to experience both the forms of travel, for the return, we booked our tickets in the Alleppey Bangalore Express. Luckily the train was on time and we reached Bangalore by mid-morning.
Bangalore to Alleppey Bus fare: Rs 1,864 with taxes.
Alleppey to Bangalore Train fare: Rs 1,000
If you ask me, I prefer the train over the bus (even a sleeper one). The train journey wasn’t marred by any delays and was more comfortable.
Experiencing an Alleppey Houseboat
We had booked a two bedroom houseboat for the five of us. The boathouse was something of a dream since last few years. Seriously, even with breathtaking beaches and overall superior facilities, I did miss a houseboat experience in my Thailand trips.
I have always been impatient and had my dessert first. So, we just had to experience the boathouse before dipping feet in Kerala backwaters or Alappuzha tourist places. You know, we had reached Alleppey later than the estimated time, we had kept our contact person posted about the delay. Since we had booked our personal houseboat, they were patiently waiting for us.
On arrival, our hosts served us a nimbu pani as the welcome drink. I know, it sounds pretty lame now, but, after the travel and in that majestic setting, it did feel special! After freshening up, they served us lunch by 1.30 p.m.
The lunch served was a mix of delectable local fare. I loved the fish starter and sambhar served. By the way, one of our friends was having veg food due to personal reason. In case you are a vegetarian or travel with vegetarians, do not worry about the food. Those who feel you can’t get veg food in Kerala, let me clear this – it’s a myth. I tried both veg and non-veg food. Being a foodie, I loved everything about it.
Yes, you can get vegetarian food in Kerala or a houseboat in particular. No, everything is not cooked in coconut oil. The cooking medium is your choice and you need to make it clear in advance.
I am open to any kind of food taste so food cooked in coconut oil was not a big deal for me. But my friends preferred the ubiquitous refined oil, so as a group, we settled for the latter. The Boathouse contact person was informed in advance about our food behaviour and they took proper care of it.
After having lunch, our girl gang was energised to enjoy the stay and make it an unforgettable trip. The backwaters stretching out till infinity, the serene view of lush flora and pleasant sail in the houseboat in Alleppey were a perfect recipe to get lost in its magical world.
We clicked lots of pictures of each other but struggled to get a nice group pic as the Captain was at the steering wheel other staff was busy preparing evening snacks. Doesn’t it feel great to be pampered?
If you want an authentic freshwater fish buying experience, the boathouse Captain would be glad to take you to the local market as well. They can also stop the boat during the afternoon and you can take a small boat to travel through the backwaters and join the Alleppey houseboat. We did not want to do that because our 3rd day of the trip was planned for backwaters.
The houseboat sails only during the day. Post sunset, it is docked to a safe harbour. Start off early and make the most of your time.
The boat was docked to a harbour almost near sunset and we hated that. honestly, I wanted to experience the sunset from a houseboat in Alleppey which unfortunately we could not. We requested the captain to ride for additional 1 hour as we started at around 1 pm and the boat was stopped at 5 in the evening. We heard it from others of their experience and I was under the impression that the houseboat ride continues till 7 and then they give halt. Well, our request was turned down; not happy at all.
Instead of thinking about what could have happened we chose to live in the moment and we all sat together with soft music in the dining area. Our hosts we not so rude and strict, they came to us asking if we want something from the market, they could get us. Next, we wanted to try was local alcohol Toddy. We asked them to get that along with few chips and chocolates. I loved their gesture that they did not charge us anything extra on top of the actual cost.
Post sunset we decided to dance to peppy music (we had brought along our Bluetooth speakers, it helps!) and nobody objected to it. The dinner was served by 9 and we were asked to vacate the corridor post dinner so that boat crew could sleep there.
The Morning After
Sadly, the boathouse we sailed in Allepp had cockroaches, rats, insets etc. Despite being airconditioned, we could not sleep sound on account of rodents. The boat started again early morning the next day to take us back to the starting point. The breakfast was simple pan Indian fare of bread omelette and idli vada along with tea/coffee.
You have three options of the category of rooms in the houseboat. One, without any a/c. Second, with a/c turned on during your sleep hours from 8 pm to 6 am. Third, a luxurious but rather unnecessary use of a/c throughout your stay. We weren’t going to be holed up in our rooms in the day, so had chosen the second option.
Our overall experience of Alleppey Houseboat
Now, if you want to take my overall experience and suggestion, aside from the evening disappointment it was an overall breathtaking and relaxing experience.
Pros of Alleppey Houseboat
- You can have relaxed and peaceful time in lush environs of Kerala backwaters.
- It’s calmer than public or shared boats available in Alleppey.
- If you go in a big group, it’s economical as they have space to settle more people.
- Food quality was a decent setup of local fare. However, the options were limited.
- In case you want to change in oil like sunflower oil or refined, they cook food according to our preferences.
- They provide good food option to vegetarians as well.
Cons of Alleppey Houseboat
- You might find rodents and insect in Houseboats.
- If you start late and they stop early like in our case at 5 p.m., it might be a short trip for a considerable sum.
- If you want to try out local fish and dishes in evening as well, you need to buy it from the market and then give it to cook. They include fish only once in their meal.
- If you have taken a large houseboat, it might not pass through the big canal and you cannot get enough of backwaters view.
The pros and cons can be different in your case. I was disappointed that I did not get fish for dinner whereas my friends were happy to get the safest option, homemade chicken curry for dinner.
Things to keep in mind while having Houseboat ride in Alleppey
- Try to reach on time as they will stop the ride around sunset and you might feel shortchanged.
- Always carry your first aid box and generic medicines. The boat will be in mid of the water, in case of any medical emergency, it might take time to reach the city. Also, if you feel your stomach can’t take all kinds of food or you are prone to upset stomach, carry along your medicines.
- Carry Odomas or any other mosquito bite protection creme. Those winged devils could be a nagging issue.
- If you are going to a girls trip just like us, be little careful while enjoying the trip.
- You need to bargain with local taxi/auto drivers from the bus stop to the port. It’s a small city transportation cost is very low compared to the metro city.
- It’s always better to have an advance booking of houseboats rather than going there and looking out for one.
- If you are keen on houseboat experience in daytime only and want to enjoy the backwaters as well, you can take houseboat for a day trip only. You get lots of homestay for an overnight stay in a decent amount. We are regretting the stay during the night as we could not sleep peacefully.
- Carry a good sunscreen lotion even if you are going for covered houseboat ride. The sun is really harsh and even indirect heat effects our skin.
- Carry lightweight and breezy outfits for a carefree summer feel.
- Do try out local cuisine if you are a foodie. Their cooking style is completely unique and worth trying.
Penning my experience is not over yet and I just realised it’s going to be a long one. So, a second part is on the cards shortly.
Stay tuned with www.myclosetdiary.com for my next 2 days experience in a heritage resort and diesel boat backwaters ride.
Until the next time! Explore it if you dream for it. 🙂