We had booked a car for 09:30 at the hotel’s suggestion which was a little too early as N & G had to change some money first and the bureau de change wasn’t quite ready for them. Eventually we left around 10:00, much to the annoyance of our driver who had been ready and raring to go at quarter past nine! Three quarters of an hour later we pulled up promptly at Ernakulam Town Station and thankfully by then our driver seemed to be in a better mood.
Train: Indian Railways Train 16308 Alleppey Express ERN – ALLP
Depart: Ernakulam Town (North) 11:10
Arrive: Alleppey 13:00
Seats: Coach C1, Seats 66 & 67 (CC Class)
The train information boards at Ernakulam Town Station were hand written and they directed us off and over the bridge to platform 2 for our train to Alleppey. I watched two trains come and go before I eventually decided to come up with a plan. Learning from the fiasco of our last journey and having some extra time to kill as our train was running a little late, I asked at the information desk where we needed to wait on the platform to find our carriage. Amazingly it turned out that our carriage was right next to N & G’s who were in D1. For once we were in luck as after the unfortunate mad dash down the platform at Coimbatore a few days prior it turned out we were waiting at just the right spot for our assigned carriages.
At the first station, Ernakulam Junction we bumped into the Australian couple we had met back on the steam train from Ooty and they were sat in the group of four seats next to ours. After exchanging pleasantries we all retreated to our books, window watching and me writing up notes for this travel tale. As we approached Alleppey the scenery became more vibrant with brown fields giving way to lush green palms, flowing rivers and flooded rice fields; this was our first sight of the typical Keralan scene we had been looking forward to.
We waved good bye to the nice Australians, took our things and found N & G on the platform. We then hauled our cases over the footbridge in search of the exit.
Before we could find the way out, our hotel booked driver found us and asked right away if I was Mr Halsey and if we were going to Our Land. I said yes to both and asked if he had space for our friends! Thankfully this time it took little convincing for N & G to top up their adventurers budget and agree to join us. One quick phone call and they agreed to let N & G come with us. We were on our way to Our Land!
Hotel: Our Land
Room: Deluxe Double
They say in life that true luxury is the simple things done well. If that is genuinely the case then the next few days were luxury in its purest form. No bowing and scraping, no expensive suites with marble bathrooms, just a basic bed in a simple white cottage, the most amazing fresh cooked food, generous service all whilst being surrounded by beautiful nature. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, but honestly Our Land was one of the highlights of our Indian Adventure. Read on and hopefully you will see the beauty just like we did.
We drove out of town through some back roads, eventually turning off on to a narrow, raised dirt track that led through lush green paddy fields until we reached the Pamba River. A phone call was made and soon an older man in an even older looking rickety rowing boat came to meet us. Whilst he was motioning to greet us, we wondered how on earth we’d get ourselves and our luggage the across the river in one piece.
We sat outside for a bit before being called over for food and welcome formalities.
As we took our seats at the main house for lunch some lovely plates of South Indian food turned up to greet us.
The food was out of this world, spicy without being overpowering even though we later found out that the heat had been toned down a touch for us. I thought the gourd curry and potato curry were particularly tasty. We completed our check in formalities and returned to our rooms for a much needed shower and rest.
Around 17:30 after the temperature had dropped we took a short ride in a traditional canoe with the two other resort guests, a couple from Denmark.
We moved almost silently through the water, with a stealth the noisy rice barges were incapable of. Moving so quietly our guide was able to point out various kinds of birds that were undeterred by our presence as well as numerous types of plants.
After 45 minutes we turned back and enjoyed a magnificent sunset over the river. What a way to end our boat ride.
We agreed to meet for dinner an hour later and at 19:30 we returned to the lodge for our evening meal.
We had an insightful talk with out host after dinner where he told us more about South India and the species of birds we would likely encounter on our nature tour the following day.
Anne-So and N were over the moon as they saw two barn owls swoop over their heads, after hearing them call out to one another.
It was a perfect end to the day as we headed back to our rooms to rest knowing we had an early start the following day. Thankfully the gentle calls of the wild lulled us to sleep.
Our guide met us and we took a short boat ride from our island to begin our walk.
Thankfully that morning Anne-So decided to climb in carefully rather than jump on to the boat.
We passed people’s homes, boats and animals with the occasional school child waving us on our way.
The birds we had come to watch were quite shy and regularly flew off when we got too close. Despite this we made some good sightings with just the naked eye, though some required aid from the provided binoculars. Unfortunately our cameras weren’t quite up to the task to fully capture the birds in all their glory and this was definitely the one time on the trip we could have done with the 55-200mm zoom lens we tried to buy before this trip.
We saw the following birds on our two hour walk: Indian Pond Heron, Indian Cormorant, Blue Tailed Bee Eater, Barn Owl (back at the hotel), White Throated Kingfisher, Kingfisher, Oriental Magpie Robin, Black Drongo and Black Hooded Oriole. How may did you spot in the photos?
We also saw some henna plants, coconuts, papayas and a root vegetable popular in the local cuisine. We had worked up quite an appetite by the end of the walk and thankfully it was soon time for breakfast.
We arrived back at the resort for 10:00 where we sat for a late breakfast. It was yet another memorable meal at Our Land.
There was also an omelette which seemed to escape the evil-eye of my camera.
I have searched high and low for that pineapple jam since we returned from India and six years later I’ve never found it anywhere. If you know somewhere that sells the stuff please let me know!
You start off with a scary pose and the best poser has the right to the first slap.
We had lunch at 13:00 and it was another delicious treat of a meal.
Every single bite of this meal was fantastic and as someone who doesn’t really eat fish or courgettes that is a big compliment. I think the only disappointments during our stay was that there was no Our Land cook book to take home with us and that I didn’t get the chance to have a closer look in the kitchen. Apparently Our Land do offer you the chance to cook the local cuisine but it wasn’t something that was offered to us during our stay.
Around 16:30 when it had cooled down a notch we decided to explore the local area on our own.
It was nice to watch the world go by in no hurry at all, from the cows and goats to the man up a tree preparing the branch for collecting sap and the annoying ‘put-put-put’ of the noisy rice barges.
For our last dinner at Our Land they had once again spoiled us rotten.
Other than trying to remove the chicken from the bones this was another excellent meal and the food at Our Land left a lasting memory that makes me yearn for those dishes every single time I look at the photos or reminisce with Anne-So or N & G. As sad as we would be to leave this all behind, we also couldn’t wait to see what Our Land would serve up for our final breakfast the next morning.
We spent the rest of that evening arguing and laughing over a deck of cards, playing a game that I took a while to understand.
We started our final morning at Our Land around with a leisurely breakfast at 10:00.
Once more we ate until we could take no more, we knew we were going to miss this place and the food when we moved on!
After breakfast we relaxed for an hour or so playing catch with a fallen coconut. I went to top up our water bottle and whilst at the water cooler, I said hello to two of the newest hotel guests. Like the previous people we spoke to, they were also from Denmark and it turned out the lady had done quite a bit of travelling herself and she was particularly keen to hear about N & G’s adventures on the tandem bike. Unfortunately our conversation was disappointingly interrupted as it was time for us to leave for the airport.
Sadly we would part ways with N & G for the next two legs of our journey though we promised to meet up for one last spectacular day in Mumbai. What more can I say, the memories of that food, those glorious sunsets and the simple luxury of living the quiet life will stay with us a lifetime but somehow I feel that as tempting as it would be to go back, retreading those steps will never be quite the same.