• Day4

    3: Boathouse (Kerala)

    December 10, 2018 in India ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    I tend to like things less than other people. Outside of cult television shows, where my passion defect is generally inverted to such an excessive that I'll follow creators like celebrities, stack my shelves with merchandise and sign petition demanding restoration of those cancelled before their time, on average I tend to find more to criticise than praise as regards virtually everything. I don't know if I have unrealistic expectations, ego-driven acceptability requirements or if everyone else is stupidly blind to the crippling imperfections that infect every facet of our existence, but where most folk might mark an 'A' I struggle to contemplate higher than a 'B-', must try harder. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I helped save Brooklyn Nine-Nine and exactly none of you have thanked me yet.

    As such, my experience of the Sleeper Bus was relatively excellent. I mean, I really didn't like it ; there was too much light seeping through the thin curtains, the pillow was too small, my usb charger ports didn't work and it was way to bumpy a ride to achieve consistent sleep. But, given those with comparative knowledge of both described the sleeper bus as significantly preferable to the train we had originally booked, if we apply my general-distaste delta-drag factor to the experience we ended up having I can only imagine what a fucking nightmare the sleeper carriage would have been.

    Charlotte and David thought the bus was fine.

    The bus eventually, only a couple of hours past the scheduled arrival time, dropped us off at not the scheduled arrival stop. Apparently the bus doesn't actually go where the ticket said it did. No reason or excuse was given for this.

    Fortunately where the bus was supposed to go to, where our car was waiting for us, wasn't too far away. Even for India, where the relative vastness of the landmass might see 'not far' interpreted as a couple hundred miles. We flagged-down/were coaxed into three of the ten-or-so waiting tuk-tuks and in five minutes were where we should have been five minutes earlier. Of the unanticipated deviations from plan so far, and there's been a few, this was my favourite as it meant we got to ride in tuk-tuks!

    We then met Moses, our driver, and the car, our car, which we proceeded to load-up with the luggage, our luggage. We then went on what I was going to describe as a long drive through Kerala, but it's already tomorrow when I'm writing this so, spolier-alert, my perception of what constitutes a long drive has shifted quite significantly.

    After what now amounts to a 'lengthy while', we arrived at a really fancy-looking houseboat company with a swanky office and the word 'luxury' on the signage. We unpacked the car as directed and entered the office to be told they had no record of our booking. After a few frenetic back-and-forths with our travel agent, piggybacking on the 'luxury' complimentary Wi-Fi, it transpired we'd been brought to the wrong place and instead should have gone to the place over the road; a vague, office-less patch of ground near the shanty snack-shack beneath the bridge.

    However any momentary concerns as to the luxury, or lack thereof, were allayed once our bags had been collected and we had tottered down the bank to our boat. The vessel appeared perfectly seaworthy from the exterior, an over-qualification for a purely river-bound excursion, and within aptly conveyed suitability for habitation. There were beds, for we'd be staying the night, a kitchen and dining-room, for we'd be eating, and a furnished upper-deck, for we'd be lounging around all afternoon, taking in the views, drifting in and out of sleep and working our way through a pack of HobNob biscuits.

    This demanding afternoon schedule was briefly interrupted by the boat staff (sailors?) who surprised us with an unexpected, and delectable, late lunch. Fortunately we had little helpers on hand to continue in our stead; we returned to our lazing after lunch to find that crows had devoured the remaining half-packet of HobNobs, leaving only sweet, oaty remnants in their wake.

    The boat passed (sailed?) through the twisting 'river', I didn't catch it's name and had no data to load my location on Google Maps, past gorgeous greenery scenery and the occasional pocket of civilisation. We stopped at one of these small settlements and were advised to go ashore and pick what we wanted for dinner from the local fisherpeople's (presuming 'fisherman' is no longer PC) daily catch. We liked the look of the massive tiger-prawns on offer. Well, that's slightly inaccurate; the look of them was grotesque from a purely aesthetic perspective, with spindly tendrils and antennae-like protrusions spouting from every partition of its gangly form.

    After expressing our interest we were quoted a price that implied we'd inadvertently selected special, potentially famous tiger-prawns whose custodian would need handsomely compensating for their loss. After a mild but stern balking on our part, there was instant and significant price deflation on the fisherpeople's part. Following some savy, yet coincidentally true, conveyance from ourselves that we were low on cash the price dropped even further, from insulting to merely extortionate, before I determined an acceptable strike cost on the condition of a quantity increase. I mean, this is clearly one of those things where the stall-traders are in business with the boat-people and they bring you to an isolated place and hold sustainance to ransom and share the mark-up. I wouldn't go as far as 'scam', but 'racket' possibly. 'Scheme', most certainly.

    Tiger-prawns in hand, though thankfully not literally, we returned to the boat. Perhaps in appreciation for our seafood purchase the crew brought us deep-fried bananas, though presumably out of anger for our deep haggle they added onions and curry-spices to the mixture, rendering them awful.

    We then docked/moored/stopped for the day and went for a walk down the bank whilst the chef prepared our dinner and one of the other staff trekked off to a shop someplace far away on the instruction of purchasing as much beer as was possible with twenty of my finest English pounds (my local currency having been exchanged into tiger-prawns). The sun was setting by this point and the incoming moonlight cast upon the gentle ripples of the flowing river produced an environmental serenity resonating peace and tranquillity, in which David and Charlotte took plenty of great snaps to 'gram.

    Darkness fell and we returned to our boat, devouring our delicious if damn-well-should-be-for-the-price-of-those-prawns evening meal. Concurrently our booze arrived and we latterly retired to the upper deck for some drinks where Charlotte performed her party trick of asking my views on a controversial topic so as to bask in my lengthy and passionately-recited point of view. Brexit came up, so that occupied most of the evening.
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