A rickshaw ride, an overnight train to Bangalore, being stood up at the train station by someone who was going to meet us for breakfast and get us onto the bus to the airport, a 2.5 hour delay spent in the airport VIP lounge, a short flight, and another long bus ride equaled 24 hours of travel over Christmas. It sounds way worse than it was and I still have no regrets about making the excursion to Hampi.
I had no idea how big Kochi was, but riding through the city with its massive lit up signs made me grateful we chose to stay in Fort Cochin. We arrived during a festival, so the crowds and traffic were insane. Being Christmas, the number of tourists was also very high. It was late, so we treated ourselves to a fancy dinner and then went to bed.
Our 1st day started with a traditional Keralan breakfast, which was super spicy but delicious. We then went on the search for coffee – oddly, coffee shops and breakfast spots don’t open until close to 9am, so finding one that was open before that and that served the best iced cardamom coffee EVER was almost my favorite part of Fort Cochin. We spent the day wandering around the area, which has a heavy Portuguese/Dutch influence from the 16th and 17th centuries respectively. The Chinese fishing nets were kind of cool but I’m glad I had my prawns the night before seeing all the fish being pilfered from the sea and sold in stalls along the road in the heat- becoming full vegetarian has never been easier.
We went to a Kathakali performance in the evening which was very good and made us laugh so hard we cried, though this was not their intention I’m sure – Beth and I just have dirty minds. I’d have to say one of the worst parts of traveling is other tourists; during this performance we encountered the rudest tourists ever – standing in front of the stage to take photos & using flash (when there are signs everywhere saying not to), talking, changing seats, and then the mass exodus in the middle of the performance – my practice of patience went out the window.
In case I haven’t mentioned, I love animals and so far there has been no shortage of animals that just want to be loved. Goa has mostly dogs and cows, Hampi was cows and monkeys, and Kochi was cats and goats! I believe I told my travel vaccine clinic lady that I did not need a rabies vaccine because it was very expensive and not to worry because of course I wouldn’t pet the animals – well okay, how about I just not touch the monkeys, they’re mean anyway.
I’ve been in India for 2 weeks and I still haven’t attended a yoga class, which just seems wrong. So on our second day I got up and headed to a 6:30am yoga class. As I sat alone on the rooftop waiting for the teacher, I was getting eaten alive by mosquitos. I didn’t bring repellent and I also didn’t want to have a private lesson, so I left – yoga fail – I’ll try again once I get to Varkala.
On our way to breakfast we found a bunch of puppies on the side of the road, they were about 4 weeks old, so just starting to walk… right into the road! We could see the mum nearby but she was very skittish and more interested in finding her own food than caring for her pups. We followed her a bit and then noticed she had another pup under a car around the corner. A local had put the pup in a box and didn’t know about the others (there were 6 in total). We weren’t able to just walk away, so we collected up all the pups and put them in a park away from the road. The nice local got another box and some water for the mum and we went to get her some food. She had a good meal and was aware of her pups’ new spot, so we left them. Checking in on them later, the pups were all in their same spot & will hopefully be okay. Unfortunately there was not much else we could do as shelters will only take in injured animals.
We spent the afternoon checking out the super touristy areas of Matancherry and Jew town. We chose to come to Fort Cochin because of the arts and culture but it’s more a melting pot of religion and not-so-fascinating architecture, with a spattering of decent art. The Jewish Synagogue, which some people raved about, was the most disappointing 10 cents I’ve ever spent.
Beth and I continually looked at each other and remarked that we just didn’t get it. What the heck were the hoards of tourists here for? Are we missing something? We suspect it might be the shopping, which is kind of sad. At least our guest house was very nice, bright and air-conditioned which made for a nice respite from the midday heat.