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Cochin, India

Before I start on Kochi, I forgot to tell you guys about our taxi ride to the airport in the last blog.

We gave ourselves an hour to get to the airport in Kolkata. Turns out this was a little tight. Luckily, taxi drivers (well, all drivers really) in India are fearless. We asked him to go fast, and fast he did. He drove on the kerb, the sidewalk, and when he saw a 1km traffic jam on the 3 lane motorway ahead (officially two lanes, but nobody pays attention to road markings here), he crossed onto the wrong side of the road and drove down the far shoulder of the road... at high speed. Very cool! Kids, don't try this at home! It's something that only works in India.

Now, onto Kochi

We took an overnight bus from Madurai to Kochi, which dropped us off at 5.30am. Glen finds it hard to sleep on the bus unless he's lying right down. I can't sleep lying down on the bus or I end up with my head out the window. But I usually manage to doze in and out and get a reasonable amount of sleep all in all. We dumped our bags at the hotel, and went for a dawn walk along the waterfront. Rows of fishermen were already hard at work with these massive nets that dip in and out of the water on a wooden crane. They waved at us and invited us over to watch, but we declined. Experience has taught us that when every person along a street is inviting you to watch them work, they'll probably end up extracting money out of you. We were too tired to deal with this, and watching quietly from the rocks was a far more appealing idea.

We found breakfast once things started opening, and headed to explore the town for the day. There were a few bazaars and a mosque on the far side of town, which was a nice 3km walk away, so we headed that way. Kochi is a pretty touristy place, but clean, nice, and scenic. Heading back I headed into the backstreets and saw a bit more of the local area, which wasn't so clean, but equally scenic and a fantastic walk.

That night I took a cooking class with a group of others, and feasted on the proceeds. I made sure I got all the recipes, including an amazing recipe for garam masala which is miles better than anything you get in NZ. I'm, thinking another Indian feast is in order once I get back to NZ. Any takers?!

I came to India with good intentions for dressing conservatively. But those of you who know me well, know I don't deal with heat well. I die in anything which nears 30 degrees. Today it was 36 degrees, and right now (at 9pm) it's 29. That's sweltering for me. After two days of heat I gave in and bought myself a couple of summer dresses here, as do many tourists by the looks of things. So much better to get a bit of air flow going on. And the people here really don't mind. The women smile wholeheartedly when I smile at them, and the men don't pay much more attention to me than they already do. I still wear a dupatta/shawl across my chest and shoulders whenever I head away from the tourist centres. I'm ok with that decision, and I think the locals are too.

The next day we decided to head out to a beach an hour's trip north of Kochi. We ferried over to the northern island, and took a local bus from there, through tropical villiages and townships. The beach was then a short rickshaw drive away. Cherai beach is a largely undeveloped beach, with a few restaurants and things along the beachfront to grab that all important Kingfisher beer in the sun (Oh, the Kingfishers here are 600ml bottles. We've decided that two NZ beers is the perfect one!). We sat around on the beach for a few hours, and chatted to an aussie guy and two sweedish girls I'd met at the cooking class. We headed back after a swim in the bath-warm water.

That night we had a fish curry for dinner. We've decided that as long as we are on the coast and are eating at a nice place, we can trust the seafood. Oh my god, it was amazing! If we weren't convinced before we had the meal, after we had locked ourselves into this deal. South India will be seafood heaven for us! I'm particularly excited to try fish Moli, which is a curry made with coconut milk, ginger, coriander and the like. Light and delicious. Afterward, we played the tourist and went to a Katakali show - A Keralan dance-theatre performance which tells a story. Ours was about a demon who disguised herself as a beautiful woman to seduce a hero but - predicatably - fails. It culminates in his threatening to cut off her breasts. Hmmm...

The next day we headed in to the backwaters to take a cruise. I'll let the pictures of this do the talking!

Glen spent our last (half) day relaxing on the balcony of our hotel, reading, while I attempted to head into the city to try and find something to swim in. In preparation for our day at Cherai Beach, I realised I'd forgotten to bring a bikini - a fatal flaw when travelling the beaches of South India. While I managed to swim in my dress, this wasn't at all practical. Trouble is, finding a bikini in India isn't easy. My attempt failed, so I bought a couple of t-shirts from a street vendor and hand sewed one. Yep, I am now the proud owner of a Superman bikini, which says "Man of Steel" across the crotch. I think it's awesome!

We then took a local bus down to Varkarla, 4hrs south. We're spending a few days just hanging out in this very touristy, old hippy beach town, drinking beer and lying in the sun.

Thinking of all you suckers who are now (or are shortly) heading back to work. I'll have a beer for you all


You're Cool
permalink written by  Capto on February 1, 2010 from Cochin, India
from the travel blog: Two months in Limbo
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