Normally, the only place I’ve been able to find a beer in India is at a large hotel with a bar. We found a hotel called the Bristow Hotel, which had a sign outside offering Kingfisher Beer. We popped in for a couple and sat out back overlooking a beach.
By the time I was tucking into my second bottle, a couple of British guys walked in called Roy and Chris. They were father and son and were travelling around India for a month. We got chatting about our travels and exchanged information about the things we had seen and learnt.
They were good guys and we eventually got together around the same table and spent a few hours drinking with them.
I’d had a skinfull and can’t remember what time we said our goodbyes. I tend to walk everywhere, so I decided to brave the unfamiliar streets, asking directions along the way, until I finally made it home.
Backwater Boat Ride
The next day I was awoken by Sunny knocking on my door saying, “Come on Paul, we’ve got our backwater tour today.” Really not in the mood, I quickly got up and had a quick shower. The driver was getting a little annoyed with me because I was in the bathroom too long, and there was a minibus full of people waiting for us.
It was a long drive to where we picked up the boat. I was feeling rough from the previous nights drinking and was slowly wilting in the heat of the day. We got on to the boat that was powered by a couple of guys with long bamboo rods; one guy at the front and one at the back.
Had I been as fresh as a daisy, it probably would have been quite a peaceful cruise through the backwaters, but I was in a bad way. It was hot and uncomfortable and my seat was a little old and tatty, and I feared it may give way! .
It was deadly silent on the river when, out of the blue, a song was belted out over some loud speakers, filling the air with an almighty racket. There was no music but just a man singing. It seemed like such a bizarre thing. I don’t know if it was religious in nature, or someone just playing some music at 11am in the morning. It was such an unexpected thing to happen; I couldn’t contain my laughter. Sitting on this boat, still rough from the night before, when what seemed like a number from the Lion King came on. It lasted around 3 minutes with large gaps between the lyrics. Just when you thought it was all over, he’d come out with another line – I waited for the chorus but it never came.
We meandered our way through some small canals, stopping for a coconut drink. We also stopped off at what can only be described as a scene from the movie Blow, with huge piles of Calcium Dioxide or something like that, but really it looked like a big drug factory hidden in the jungle. The guys explained to us its uses, with it mostly being used during construction.
Further up the river, we stopped at a house based on the water’s edge. It seemed to be a family business that makes rope, using strands from the husks of coconuts. Again our guide explained the many uses, and where they sell their products locally etc.
We were met by another tour group and were taken to a small hut across the river for lunch. By now I was hanging badly, and the hut was stifling hot. We were served a banana leaf meal which was pretty good, though I wasn’t really in the mood for spicy foods.
We then exchanged boats with the guys that had joined us for lunch, which was on a much smaller boat. We were taken through some more canals that passed by lots of houses, while watching the local people going about their business. On our journey we were disturbed by an Iguana that made us all jump, as it was spooked by our presence. We also saw a wild snake sat by the edge of the water.
We stopped off at a spice plantation and were shown around lots of different plants and trees growing ginger, cloves, kaffir lime leafs, cinnamon, nutmeg and many more.
It was an interesting day but was spoilt by the way I was feeling, but I manned up and got on with it. To be honest my biggest worry during the whole day was, ‘what if I suddenly need to go to the toilet?’ We weren’t given any opportunities to go throughout the entire day. There was a toilet on the big boat in the morning, but that was out of the question!
After we made it back, we grabbed a quick curry and called it a night.