Sunday, November 15, 2009

India Day 12 Part 1 Breakfast on the Houseboat

The night on the Houseboat was not quite as idyllic as the day.  The room was as hot as a sauna and I tried to sleep but after going to bed at around 9pm I woke at midnight covered in sweat.  My room did not seem to have any lights either – and the bathroom light had fallen of the wall and was daggling on its cables after I had barely touched it earlier (honest). A good job I had my trusty torch/flashlight.

The fishing takes place at night, they go out in their canoes by torchlight/flashlight – I find it difficult enough to work out where I was going in the daytime it must be really difficulty at night.

The room did have a large fan though – the choice was to either have a noisy fan blasting away or have a sauna – in the end I did a little of both.  It was not the best nights sleep I have ever had.  As Ben said it would have been much nicer to sleep up on deck with a mosquito net.

After a quick wash – I tend not to shower before a hot sweaty cycle ride there is no point. I went out to sit on deck and watch the world go by in my non-cycling clothes. I was not sure quite what the plan was but it was way too nice to be sitting on deck in Lycra.

As you can see the sun had just come up – see doesn’t the sun look bigger when it is nearer the horizon? The water was wonderfully calm.


As I was sitting on the deck I was offered tea or coffee – I opted for black coffee –  he double-checked – and that is what I got – no over-riding my requests today. It tasted good up on deck with the sun coming up and the village coming to life.

The early morning calm was interrupted by a fast and noisy ferry – the wake rocked all the houseboats moored up – but once it had moved on peace came back to the village. Nothing must slow the early-morning workers on their way.


With no-one else around I  sat in different areas to best capture the village waking up.


Breakfast arrived, before Ben – omelette and toast and fruit. Ben turned up a short while later and had his breakfast as well.  He also found it more restful on deck than in his cabin.

As we had our breakfast so did various villagers around us. Children cried and I did have on old lady ask for “pen” which I think means money.  Although it is not a rich life the villagers do seem to get a reasonable nutrition from the fish.

Raj was telling us that there are strict regulations on the Houseboats. They are not allowed to discharge effluents into the water – however with 2,400 houseboats it is probably tricky to police, especially in an area of 3,000 square kilometres. If they don’t though the villagers will really suffer – both in terms of their own supply of food and their sale of fish.

The lagoon is central to village life as well as supplying food and tourist income it is used to clean pots and pans, to wash in and to drink.  We also saw people brushing their teeth whilst standing in the lagoon. They would sometimes clean their teeth using reeds as a form of floss.

Either they have hot food for breakfast – of they live a student life and wait to wash the dishes until they run out of utensils. I assume they will normally have rice – which is grown around the lagoon.


A coupe of chaps performing their ablutions in the gap left by an early departing Houseboat. There must have been quite a tide as the water weeds were rushing down stream.


The canoe was the mainstay for general transport – cheap, versatile and non-polluting. This chap pulled in along his journey to chat to people washing in the “river”


An early morning delivery of rice. Electricity runs out to these villagers, but a lot of life will still run to a natural rhythm. Get up when it’s light, work in the cooler morning and go to bed when it gets dark.


I guess tourism has also brought jobs to the area – and they have a different timetable – which is why the ferry boats rush around.  I realise I was there as a tourist as well. It was also time for us to leave – I hoped the journey would be as restful as the previous day.


I was trying to take a picture of the paddy fields on the other side of the village. I could not avoid getting the electricity poles in as well though.


This guy has salvaged a large piece of weathered timber – for building rather than burning I would imagine. These guys use a canoe as naturally the land-based rural villagers use bicycles. (of course the canoe came first)


Signs of life in one of our other Houseboats – Jim and Mary enjoying the view.


I took this one because you have the chap on the back doing all the work as they transport quite a load of rice down the river. The guy on the front is busy chatting on his mobile phone. It provides an interesting contrast of technologies.


On of the Houseboats making an early break amongst the water weeds. A ferry boat has gone by – you can see the wake in the water.


A chap and his son being ferried along in  canoe – they were hit by the wake of the ferry but it did not seem to phase them.


Our great leader – Bob taking pictures with Graham in the other window having a cup of tea.


Three birds having a rest on some random poles sticking up out of the water. When they fly they seem to skim along the water – using the ground effect to provide extra lift I presume. I was never quick enough to catch a picture of the birds that skimmed near to us though.


These villagers seems to be very sociable – one chatting to another taking his morning wash. I don't think any of the cycling group washed in the lagoon, we all used the Houseboat facilities. (Cold water again on our boat!)


One thing about washing in the lagoon is you can also do a bit of splashing as well.


This lady managed to switch into serious mode before I had time to take the picture. She was waiting for the ferry and passing the time by chatting on her mobile phone. The POTS system has passed these villagers by, they have gone straight to cellular telephony. (POTS – Plain Old Telephony – an acronym invented by the Wireless guys presumably. It is easier to roll out cellular than string loads of cables around the place.


This chap is delivering firewood for cooking. The canoe is pretty low in the water at the back – I hope we don’t get a fast ferry rush by too close to him.


Ben spotted this bridge – it has to avoid blocking the rivers for the boats. It makes for a steep bridge though. (We rode up and down these sorts of bridges last year when cycling along the Mekong Delta – i.e. Mary, Jim and me)


You see – these villagers are very sociable – the lady on the left did not have time to put on a serious face – I am getting better at taking a quick picture.


You see the same effect here – I have been spotted by one lady who has a serious look on her face the rest are smiling though. The posters look a bit creepy with the staring eyes, I assume that they were local election posters.


Typical of men around the world – sit back and have a cup of coffee whilst the women do the work!


As we approached our mooring point we passed this rather swish hotel. Tourism is moving up-market – I only hope that it benefits the local fishing villages as well.


Another attempt at showing the paddy fields beyond the lagoon. Apparently this is the large area of land, after Holland, under sea level. We have a bit of low-lying land in the Fens of East Anglia as well.


This chap is fixing the coconut tree – or rather he is collecting coconuts. They provide a staple part of the diet and the husk makes fibre which is used for matting.


The journey was soon over – not as long as the time on the boat yesterday – but we had to cycle 30Km/20miles to Raj’s island for lunch. We reached the mooring point at about 8.30 and dived into our cycle gear – only to be told that we would rest on the boats until 9.00am. Then at 9.00am it was come on – let’s go. I think they were waiting for the Support team to get together and once they were ready then we needed to get going to get to the island for lunch.


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