For my first trip to India I was rostered a layover in Cochin, Kerala. It’s a short flight from Dubai at around 3 hours, but due to the departure time in the middle of the night we were lucky enough to get a layover.
We arrived in the hotel early morning, and a few of us who’d never explored Cochin before decided to hire a driver to take us to the Kerala Backwaters for a boat ride.
The network of backwaters includes 5 large lakes, which are connected by canals, rivers and inlets, and make up more than 900km of waterways.
It was around a 2 hour drive from our hotel near the airport, and despite the crazy drivers and near-death experiences on the Indian roads, all of us soon fell asleep in the car, having been awake all night!
Once we arrived at the canal, our driver arranged a private boat for us and we negotiated a price for a 2-hour cruise.
We glided through the water at a very relaxed pace, and got to stretch our legs out on the sun-beds on the boat.
As soon as you escape the hustle and bustle of the city, the backwaters are the most peaceful and serene place to spend time.
We also spotted plenty of houseboats, which you can rent out for a holiday, and which obviously some people live in. We saw plenty of locals going about their daily lives, including doing the laundry in the river.
There were plenty of beautiful palm trees lining the banks, and we all admired the greenery. We also spotted some of the “snake boats”, which are very thin, wooden boats that the locals use to get around the backwaters. They also have annual snake boat races!
After cruising for a while, our driver asked if we wanted to stop for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants along the riverbank.
We all chose a fish to be grilled for us, and it was served on a banana leaf with a selection of curries, chutneys, poppadoms and rice. Interestingly the rice was unlike any I’d seen before – huge, fat grains. I attempted to eat it with just my hands, as the locals do, but it didn’t go very well!
After our lunch it was time to hop back on the boat and head back towards the roads, where our driver was waiting for us.
We stopped off for a fresh mango juice at a cafe nearby, before making the long journey back to the hotel. Once again all 4 of us fell asleep in the car!
Eventually we made it back to the hotel, where I had an early night ready for the flight the next morning.