Have not updated for a few days so will most likely jump backwards and forwards a bit...you know my mind...hope I paint the right picture though...
Am using internet at the little Inn, called Vintage, where I am staying at in Fort Cochin at the moment . Its a small little town, old streets and old buildings. I am staying 1 min walk from Santa Cruz Basilica. It has an old Dutch Palace and the St Francis Church where Vasco Da Gama was originally buried. Have not been there yet...but have seen everything else...LOL (had to go take a nap)...you will get the story behind that one later.
I have just come back from dinner at Dhal Roti. I had a vegetable Kati roll. The owner a tall dark man with grey hair and grey beard wearing his long white shirt was the entertainment. Running his ever so popular little restaurant. Busy with foreign tourists and north Indian tourist. If I am right the Indian holiday is almost over so there will probably be less tourist from north India here in Kerela next week or so. Cochin is one of the biggest attraction points of Kerela, the province I have been in from the start. It is apparently nothing like the rest of India...The signs post all have a little extra sign on them here in Fort Cochin, or spelled Kochin, God's Own Country. So the Kati roll. Every bite you take is different. You taste a different vegetable and a different spice with every bite. Spice is Kerela's strong point...In Munnar someone would use 3 spoons of spice, in Kerela 1 spoon. The kati roll tasted a bit like a massive vegetable atchar roll. This also reminds me of the vegetable Briyani I had in Kovalam, the first town I stayed in. Also had that quality. The every bite is different quality. You burn from a chili and then you seem to bite on a cinnamon stick which takes the burn away.
I am only now starting to recognise and take in the smaller detail.. Has been quite a journey getting here but I had to do that to experience the back waters of Kerala and arrive here from where my trip should be more relaxed...hahahaha...Cant seem to fond a flight out of here :) don’t believe the travel agent...will look online myself...have gone through that before...will try to explain if I have enough time...
So how did I get here to Fort Cochin:
After my 10 hours in Mumbai airport I flew down to Trivandrum and stayed 2 nights in Kovalam to recover and acclimatise...best thing I could have decided to do. And glad that I didn't stay in Mumbai the first few days...I would probably have been back in SA by the second day. Have met a Swedish couple on the bus here yesterday and they are thinking of flying home from here and avoid Mumbai all together cause they just don’t see themselves being able to cope there….I can understand...am ignoring those thoughts at the moment.
From Kovalam I took a rickshaw to Trivandrum. From Trivandrum a train to Kollam...Stayed there the night at a horrible hotel...the one with the dingy bar. It had aircon, tv, room service etc...I didn't wash!!!!..... Didn't want to use the bathroom. 3 star! twee star! s!@%t star! Asked the reception to book me a boat ride for the next morning to Alleppey. The guy they phoned told me there are no boats going out till the next day...Not enough people...Thats when I freaked out....Another day here! This was my first city experience. The noise does not stop...Really, the hooting goes on all the time 24/7... And the dirt! Even in this gorgeous little town where I am now and all along the backwaters...Its something you just do not understand...You simply drop your rubbish anywhere. Now that I a little more experienced...I will say that India feels like one huge dirty camp ground….At night the fires start burning more and you hear people and cars all the time. Everyone is walking about and doing his or her thing. Throughout the night. So its safe to wonder late at night...Even the darkest alleys, but if you don’t know that gosh...Like the walking from Lemon dew Guest house in Alleppey:
After I got to Alleppey after a 8 hour boat ride through the most beautiful scenery ( and rubbish behind it) and backwaters...( oh ya, went to the jetty and simply bought a ticket for the next day. Its a government run boat which runs every day, thank to the info in the Rough Guide to India...) Rs 300, 80 km at +/- 10km per hour.
The big moustache running the boat came to chat to me...then you know they want to sell you something. So after a while it comes out his friend runs a guesthouse with about 4 little houses and he gets them people and his friend get people for the boat rides...Fare trade no secrets about it. I say I will go take a look. When we get there me and the Israeli pot smoking gang ( they were on the boat with me) also came to look at the place. It wasn't clean, but at a quarter of the price I paid the day before and the bathroom looked shower able and the toilet was clean...so why not! I go sit outside for a while...Go inside to get a book and the La Cockarachi is looking at me...I walk out. My Israeli neighbour looks at me and I say...I don’t know about this place.. .He kills the huge animal. And says dont tell my girlfriend...she will freak out...Story does get out and we laugh a while about there previous place which had spider problems...So move on...Out here I am sure a cockroach can move trough every now and then...But then the spider...That’s it I am out of here and looking for another place...The guys running the place where really cool and I really wanted to go out on the town with them and hang...They killed the spider and I say ok...Its very late no point running around in a strange very dark part of the city looking for a place to stay....I go and find a restaurant...Sanil the owner gave me a ride closer to town on his bike...there were three of us on the bike...not an uncommon scene...have seen a whole family of 4 on a two wheeler before. I get back, I kill another spider...Now I am getting pissed off and then in the clean bathroom ....Cockroach has moved in with his whole family...A passing through roach doesn't know where to hide when you turn on the light...The one that have moved in., scatter immediately to a hiding spot...I saw 5 running....I packed my bag and walked to a 3 star ( a real 3 star ) hotel I saw on my way to eat dinner...
Next morning I get a rickshaw outside the hotel and ask him to take me to the boat jetty...Got recommended by a clerk at the local university who was traveling the 8 hour boat journey as well with his family. For Rs 10 I get a ride to Kotayam and from there bus or train to Cochin...Saves me more then Rs 1000 per taxi and get a journey out of it...This side we actually t see the rice fields and no dirt next to the back waters...much nicer then the previous day...well maybe not nicer, just very different.
Rickshaw driver with one funny eye drives the wrong direction...I say no, boat jetty not bus jetty...he goes yes yes yes...ok well maybe he is taking a different route....I was late and the boat was leaving in 15 min. We passed a elephant along the way, (felt like the amazing race) but that went so fast I could not take a picture....was one of those: Oh wow look elephant walking down the road moments...I really feel we are going to wrong way. I take out my map and show him boat jetty...he looks very confused and doesn’t understand the map…and keeps going....finally stops and point s to a shop...I say what?! Wild Cherry....No dude Boat Jetty...He drives to other rickshaw drivers I explain to them they explain to him...he still doesn't get it...eventually they say boat jetty and he goes Oh! WTF! They laugh at him and yea I paid him more...sucker...his acting was really good or he really didn't know what I was on about. I jump on the boat as it leaves the dock...must say they are really good about time here.. Even the guy that made my shirt in Kovalam came to look for me on the dot at 19h00 as promised.
All along the way when you travel you get smells…mostly diesel and smoke….all the time. Then suddenly you smell spice and coffee and a few minutes later you see a sign…spice shop or coffee…I wonder if the food smells this strong because you only smell smoke or diesel all the time and you have lost your smell and tastes buds already...
From Kotayam it was a bus ride to Cochin...Have you ever been in a bus doing an emergency stop because there was another bus in the way and no one even flinches...Seems the government busses get priority on the road...they just hoot and pass and everyone gets out the way...difference obviously if you have two of them heading for each other...and then we got a flat tire...That’s when I saw and met the Swedish couple also on the bus. We had to find another one to Cochin and then again another...I opted the last stretch for a rickshaw. They had someone picking them up.
As we arrive in Cochin I already get spotted and a biker starts chatting to the rickshaw driver while looking for Vintage...they have a sales/force pitch that make you come look at there guesthouse just in case you don’t like the other...This one really looked good but I don’t want to walk into someone house all the time....Vintage has 11 rooms and its purely rooms with ensuite and not a homestay which is big business here.
Last night I was going through my photos and when I got back all the way to the beginning to Cape Town airport....I looked up and jumped back to reality...I am in India!!!!
This morning I went to get a typical western breakfast...its very tourist orientated here in Cochin. After I walked out to go take a look at the St Francis church... Edwin offers a trip around town...names spots not on the tour books and for only Rs 100. OK why not...He took me to all the interesting spots...He really was the perfect tour guide until.... St Francis we left for last cause that is 5 min walk from my place. So we go to this up market art importers...I tell him I am not going to buy anything today....He says you don’t have to just look...Man I got dragged around this shop. Up the stairs, another room this room...look at this, maybe you want to buy that or this...then we went to the ginger factory and another art warehouse...I said NO! I don want to see another... He says its his neighbour and a lot cheaper (0 ok the stuff was good) still way to much. These guys import things for you to your own country if you want to.. The neighbour had honey dripping from his mouth...It took my every inch of self control to not buy something or punch him...I got out of there though...Tonight at Kathakali show a met a guy from Mauritius who spend over Rs 6000 because of the same thing in another town...The Indian sales pitch is incredible. Nothing like it...WOW really...
Edwin noticed I was upset and stop long the road later...said sorry...he gets Rs50 if he takes a foreigner to a shop...He really was a nice guy...So we hit another art shop,. I play the interested foreigner looking for gifts....I did the same for another rickshaw driver later...He asked me straight up...let me drive you to this shop, you walk in look around and I get 1liter of petrol...( this was a new government art shop that just opened). It there way of promoting themselves...Edwin should pick me up tomorrow to go to the local market where things are cheaper…where the local Cochin people do their shopping.
I was so tired after all that that I went to take a nap....Tonight I went to Kathakali...absolutely fantastic. The drumming session were 3 guys creating live trance music...No trance DJ will stand up to these guys...
Think it about time I take break...have to leave something for next time.
Ciao and till soon.
ps...its 23h00 and no permission to upload....will have to wait again for pictures :(