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Published: February 9th 2007
Punting - Just Like Uni Days...
...except none of the "man over board" antics
I'm not going to be soft on the city of Kollam - it's a bit of a dump with few redeeming features and nothing architecturally interesting. But we didn't come to Kollam for the city we came to use it as an embarkation point to explore the beautiful rural backwaters.
With our trusty LP's help we chose Kollam, the southern gateway to the Keralan backwaters, as the starting point for a cruise. Most people head tro Alleppey further north but LP advised to avoid most people for a more serene and less congested waterway experience. Of course, what they failed to point out was Kollam's lack of boast! Having less demand under basic market principles requires only a small supply of vessels and so when we arrived, nothing was available (for a week)! We "should have gone to Alleppey" we were told, where it's "flooded with boat options". Damn you LP!
Anyway, mistake made we rolled with it and had to make do with a day trip in a Kettuvallam (rice barge) through the narrow waterways and rural villages. We feel it deserves a very positive review though despite our initial misgivings. Sure it wasn't two days of serene
Kollam House Boats
What could have been.
boating with a personal chef to whip up Keralan delights but nonetheless it was a great experience. We saw plenty of birdlife, village traditions (such as coir making) and local friendly faces along the way.
We originally intended to stay atthe "Janakanthi Panchakarma Centre" and indulge in ayurvedic treatment but on discovering it was more like a hospital (with wards) than a health farm, we quickly did a U-turn. We did, however, return for a 1-hour rejuvenation package and were treated by the Ashtamudi lake with an Ayurvedic oil massage and herbal steam bath. "Almost" all areas of the body were treated and certainly any modesty was straight out of the window as the experts got to work. After being greased up like a Christmas turkey, I wanted to do a sliding dive across the lino floor but thought better of it. After degreasing in the shower as best I could we were done and ready to leave, feeling reinvigorated. It was a very relaxing experience but left us a bit greasey and smelling very oily, even after a second soapy shower.
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