Calm. Silence. Birds singing and dancing in the sky. A cow. Music from the temple. The soft come-and-go of the water. The wind on my face. Munroe island is a hidden pearl in the backwaters. My friends told me about it and it was the first place I visited after leaving from Trivandrum. So far, one of the most beautiful places I have seen and one of my best experiences.
Munroe island is near Kollam, and it is actually composed by 8 islands, separated by small water channels and lakes. A few years ago there were no roads, and all transport was done by boat. Nowadays, there is a main road and a few secondary roads, with some cars, buses and motorcycles around, but its number is still low.
The population of the island is 10000, but I could not have guessed, it seems much less. Maybe because the houses are far from each other, maybe because there is a lot of nature. It is not crowded, it is clean, it is calm.
Every day, fishermen take the boats and go fishing in the river in the morning and evening. Others dive the water to collect sand, or sea food. Some women make ropes from coconut fiber. Other people work the land. 21 school buses come every morning to the island to take the kids to school. I go around and see a man and his children taking a bath in the river. A bit further, people sitting, talking or just watching. The life in the island is quiet, no stress.
One day I was walking along the main road, searching an ATM. One young woman came out from a house, signaled me to approach her, pointed my hand and gave me some sweets. ‘From the temple’, she told me. There was a festival going on those days in the temple, I had heard the music very early in the morning (at 5 am!). She gave me the sweets from the festival, she smiled, did not expect anything in return. I smiled, I thanked her. I was touched.
The island is beautiful and I loved the relaxed atmosphere, but what made my stay even more special was the people I met there. I stayed in a home stay and the family running it are wonderful, and so were the other guests.
The first day we did a boat tour. It was not a motor boat but a traditional canoe (much better!). It is a silent mode of transport so it does not break the magic sounds of the island. We could hear the birds, the cows, the music from the temples, the silence. We could see the green coconut palms and their reflexion. We could touch the old wood of the boat and the water. We could feel the smell of water and humid forest. We learnt about some plants, tried to climb a coconut tree and passed by the fish farms. We enjoyed the view of the sunset over a lake. We came back to the home stay in the night, its darkness only broken by the candles of the temple and the stars.
The second day we did a walking tour. We visited several sub islands, left the main road to take small paths and walk directly in the nature. We saw coconut trees, papaya, pepper, cinnamon, and much more whose names I cannot remember. Our guide from the home stay knew them all. We learnt that the most poisonous fruit in the world looks very similar to a mango (so take care! it is called suicide fruit – you get the idea). We drank water from a coconut, ate the interior part, and tasted a kind of “giant grape fruit”. We watched the sunset over the lake.
More than all that, we talked, we laughed, we spent time together, we became friends. In that home stay, in that island, I felt at home, I felt like being with old friends. If I had not organized the next days in advance, booked transport and accommodation, I would have stayed longer. So far, it is one of the most beautiful places I have seen and one of the best experiences I keep in my memory.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Where to stay: Munroe Homestay with Vijeesh & family (very nice and clean, and very good food!)
- How to get there: there are one or two daily trains from/to Allepey and Kollam (if you decide to stay in the home stay, they will explain in detail how to get there)
- What to do: canoe boat tour! It is also possible to book it without staying in the home stay
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