Community Greenpalm Homes is a wonderful Kerala homestay located on the peaceful backwater island of Chennamkary, near Alleppey. In Part 1 of my review I gave the reasons why this is my favourite homestay in India, including the beautiful, peaceful location, the fantastic host Thomas, the chance to meet local people, the range of activities on offer, the chance to relax, and the amazing home-cooked food.
During our stay at the homestay we had the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities, and still have plenty of time to relax and soak up the atmosphere. In Part 2 of the Community Greenpalm Homes review I’ll be talking more about the wonderful activities on offer.
We took many walks around the village accompanied by Thomas and they were always a fascinating insight into village life.
The backwaters are flat so the walking is easy, and Thomas usually took us out in the early morning or evening to avoid the heat. Walks ranged from 1-3 hours, but Thomas is really flexible depending on your needs and interests.
On each walk we always saw something new and interesting – bright pink hibiscus bushes; purple banana flowers; the rare Asian Paradise Flycatcher bird; paper stars outside homes lit up for Christmas (even by Hindu families); wooden canoes overflowing with coconuts; women in colourful saris irrigating the rice paddy fields or washing clothes in the river.
It was always a pleasure to walk along the dirt paths under the green palms, next to narrow canals and rivers, and through the paddy fields.
A highlight was the local people we met along the way. Thomas knows everyone in the village, so walks were a leisurely affair punctuated with chats with elderly men in lungis (sarongs) or giggling, smiling children. Frequent stops were made at chai shacks for spicy sweet tea at bargain prices.
Our bike trip was another highlight and a great way to explore. By bike you can reach further afield to areas that rarely see tourists, and are very friendly when they do. The old Indian bikes aren’t the easiest to pedal on, but it’s definitely worth the effort, and at least there are no hills. You do have to carry them across the bridges though!
Our most magical experience at Greenpalm Homes was the canoe trip we took with Thomas, Jason (another guest at the homestay) and Thomas’s two Keralan friends celebrating their second anniversary. We set out at sunset gliding peacefully through the backwaters before making our way to the local toddy shop.
This insalubrious-looking building is more like a prison with separate cubicles, bars on the windows and painted brick walls. We had a wonderful time though, sampling the local brew toddy, made from fermented coconut flower sap. The murky drink smells awful, but doesn’t taste too bad, especially when accompanied by the bar snack of choice- chilli omelette.
The night just got better as we made our way back to the homestay under a star lit sky accompanied by the beautiful voices of Thomas and our two oarsmen singing traditional folk songs. A perfect end to an amazing evening.
Other activities on offer include motorboat trips, or visits to local Christian Churches (Thomas’s family is Syrian Christian). Thomas is very accommodating and will help you make the most of your visit, whatever your interests.
In the next Kerala India Travel post the final part of my favourite Kerala homestay review focuses on the practical details of costs and how to get there. In the meantime, if you’d like to book a stay you can email Thomas at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.