The Backwaters of Kerala

There is something inherently peaceful to me about water. Be it rain, ocean, river, lake, or otherwise, being near water almost immediately soothes me.

I remember when I was younger and the summer thunderstorms would come in, and my dad and I would sit on our screened-in back porch in Raleigh and wait for the rains to come. We’d count the seconds between lightning and thunder and guess how far away the storm was. And when the clouds finally broke loose over us, there was something beautiful about the rain pounding on the roof, pooling around us, while we were watching from safety.

I felt the same comfort waking up every morning to the strait between Yeosu peninsula and the small island where I lived with my Korean homestay family in my early 20s, watching the water lap at the banks and the fishing boats puttering by. I would breathe in and out and feel inexplicably comforted.

This was no different when Boyeon and I went to Kerala. When we got there (after a long, arduous journey), with Boyeon’s friend Roshan as our guide, we went immediately to the water, where we stayed at a lakeside resort that looked out at the sunset moving swiftly across the waves and the boats criss-crossing their way to their finishing places.


When given the chance, we also decided to take a houseboat on the Keralan backwaters. For that, we have Roshan to thank. After his friends and friends of friends said that they were all booked up (Roshan’s social network is amazing), he managed to find a boat in Alleppey that had space for us for an overnight cruise.

Keralan Houseboat.jpg

It was just us, the two crew members, and the intricate waterways that weave back and forth through that part of Kerala. We drank chai as the sun set, and even got the chance to steer the boat. We listened to Adele—again (Roshan’s choice—not ours!)—but also the songs being broadcast from local Hindu temples and Christian prayers chanted in houses by the water and Indian music blasting from the boats we passed along the way.

Photo by Boyeon Han
Photo by Boyeon Han

We ate fresh seafood in the open air and fell asleep on the couches on the second level. There was something beautiful about the peace we had there, and the depth of our conversations as darkness fell. And the next day, we woke to the sounds of lapping water and the motor firing up and everything beginning again.

Boyeon looking pensive….

After hours and hours of driving, it was just what we needed to relax and retreat from the busyness and noise of the India. The sounds of the water, the reflection of the rising sun, the bright green of the trees as we slowly meandered by. And us, new friends and old, drinking our morning coffee, staring into the rippling waves, watching the shore, waving at the Indian families on other houseboats as they passed us by.

Keralan Backwaters Sunset.jpg

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