Ok yes, the thumbnail to my above video does say 'A great day ruined', we'll get to that..... Rest assured though cruising along the beautiful backwaters of Kerala is a great experience and one that should not be missed if you are in India.
In fact National Geographic even include the state of Kerala in their book 'Destinations of a Lifetime' If National Geographic are listing it as one of the World's most amazing places than you know it is worth visiting.
Kerala is most famous for it's backwaters. 900km of connected lakes, lagoons, canals, rivers and inlets, most of which you can cruise along. You can even stay overnight on the backwaters on one of the many houseboats, a very popular choice amongst tourists.
It can also be very expensive. There are a wide variety of different choices of boat and packages available and so prices will vary depending on the level of luxury and whether you opt for a single day cruise or a night or two on one of the houseboats. Prices therefore can range anything between £20 for a short kayaking ride upwards of several hundred pounds to stay on a more extravagant houseboat.
Another much cheaper option however is the public ferry. Ferries run along the backwaters, taking the local people from town to town, commuting them to school, for their shopping etc and tourists can take these ferries too.
As I was doing things on a budget and also liked the idea of doing things on my own schedule, rather than being stuck to someone else's schedule on a pre-planned tour, I decided to take one of these ferries from Alleppey to Kottayam.
Rather than spending £50, £100 or more on an expensive tourist cruise, this public ferry cost me less than 40 rupees for a return journey. That's less than 50 pence!
Yes some people might want luxury, somewhere to wine and dine as they cruise along, or a comfy bed to sleep in but if you just want the experience of seeing the backwaters, this is a far cheaper option and the views are just as spectacular.
Another great advantage to the ferry is you get a much more authentic experience as you immerse yourself with the local people going about their every day lives. This to me is a much better experience as one of the whole reasons why I travel is to experience different cultures and witness how different people live. This was one of the things I enjoyed about the ferry ride, sitting with local people and watching them go about their normal lives in this very remote but incredible and beautiful places. This is an experience I would not have got on an expensive cruise.
So if you're looking for an incredibly cheap and authentic experience I'd definitely recommend taking the public ferry.
Oh and if you're wondering why my day was later ruined, after the cruise, well you'll just have to watch the video at the top of this page to find out, where you'll also see :P