Jan
21
2013

India, Beautiful Kerala

We arrived in Kochi at 2:30am after 8 hours in the taxi. Having not booked anywhere to stay but expecting there to be at least 1 hotel or guest house with a 24hr reception, we were severely disappointed to find out it was like a ghost town! The driver felt sorry for us after dumping us on the corner of a street, so he insisted on driving us round for 30 minutes waking up various guest houses only to be told they were all full. He must have been to at least 5 or 6 places before he told us he had to really get going as he had an 8 hour return journey to make before he saw his bed!

We decided to wait in the park until morning as most places would open around 7am but just as he was driving off and I was preparing for 4 hours of mosquitoes killing mayhem, 2 police officers arrived on a moped that looked like it was from the 1940’s.

They weren’t happy to see we were just hanging around the streets and if it wasn’t for the driver coming back to explain to them, I don’t think they would have bought our 8 hour taxi ride story. Anyway, they told us to follow them back to the police station which was about 50 yards away and when we got there, we realised that they had decided to drop all policing responsibility for the town of Kochi and help find us somewhere to stay. After a few shouts over the radio, 3 more policemen turned up and Abby and I just sat there while 7 or 8 coppers started phoning all the guest houses they could get phone numbers for.

The mood lightened somewhat when they found out we were from England, at which point they took great pleasure in trying to tell me how India had given us a good stuffing in the cricket that day! The cricket that was being played about 10km away from Kochi and the reason why all the hotels and guest houses were fully booked! I jokingly asked the main bobby if we could just spend a night in the cells and look for a place in the morning, to which he replied we could but he was required to record our passport numbers in the book and it might give us trouble later on in other regions of India. Hmm...

At that point some guy with a massive afro turned up on a motorbike who was a mate of one of the coppers that they had just phoned to get him out of bed. He told me to jump on the back of the bike and we proceeded to roam the town waking up all guest houses that we found. We eventually found a room for the night and even though it had a massive ants nest in the corner, it had to do.

The next morning (within 5 minutes of leaving the nest) I found a place for us to stay a further 2 nights so we were all set! I don’t think we would have got that kind of service from GMP hey Lynne?

So what was Kochi like? Well it’s beautiful. Loads to see and do, the food in the south of India is probably the best in the country (a lot more spicy and tasty than the north and what we know back home).  The local fishermen use old school Chinese fishing nets (something the Chinese don’t use anymore) to catch all sorts of fresh loveliness which you can buy direct from them and then go over the street to get it cooked.  An old Dutch fort and the oldest European church in India are worth a visit too, and a walk around the massive spice markets are a must do.

While we were in Kochi we took part in another cooking course, in which we learnt how to cook some of the amazing food we had been eating over the last few days. We cooked four meals in total and also learnt how to make chapattis properly! There were two Canadian’s on the course as well who had done a lot of travelling in their time, so they gave us some good tips for Thailand.


Alleppey

So we left Kochi with a 15 minute ferry over to Ernakulam and then the train down to Alleppey as the next day we had booked to stay on a Houseboat and go on a day tour of the Backwaters.

Abby’s tolerance levels with the whole ‘India thing’ were dwindling by this point and I was hoping a nice day relaxing on the Backwaters would calm her down. She has been getting really snappy with everyone and everything (and I don’t blame her really) as she has had to put up with a lot of blokes staring at her and people trying to fuss over her (which she does not like). Also, those of you that know Abby will know she’s “Little Miss Recycling” at home, so it’s fair to say she’s not at all impressed with the rubbish and litter that covers India. In fact, she’s become so snappy, that I have started to call her Carrie (from the show “King of Queens”), as that woman is constantly angry!

Anyway, it got to a point while waiting for the train to Alleppey, that Abby spotted some bloke on the opposite platform get up from his seat, walk past the bin and heave his drinks bottle onto the rails. Enter Carrie!

I managed to restrain her but I wasn't quick enough as she had jumped up and started to hurl abuse at the guy! A lot of people were looking at us by this point so she sat in silence for the next five minutes as I didn’t feel she was quite ready for me to take my hand from over her mouth. By the time we reached Alleppey (1 hr later) she had calmed down!

I didn’t think Alleppey itself (as a town) was anything special compared to some of the other towns we had stopped in or passed through but its surroundings made it special. It’s located right on the edge of a massive labyrinth of canals (both small and large) referred to as the Backwaters.

We turned up at 11:30 at the main boat Jetty expecting to see 100 or so houseboats. How wrong were we! There was hundreds all moored up together, 3 deep in places and stretching for about a mile along the bank. It was an amazing sight!

Once we found our boat, we were greeted with fresh coconut milk (which Abby didn’t like) so I ended up drinking both to be polite. Our boat was massive with 2 bedrooms although we were the only occupants excluding the three crew. And even though so many boats were being boarded, it wasn’t crowded at all once we got out into the Backwaters. There were just so many different canals and passages to get around, each captain had their own scenic route that they liked to follow.

The journey itself was beautiful and relaxing but the meals were way too big. It’s as if they were still catering for 4 even though there were only us 2! Massive but yummy meals indeed! The meals did include a dish called “Fish Fry” which was exactly that!

At one point I spotted a snake in the water but it had disappeared before I could get the camera to hand. I did see this guy below that looked like he could do with a good meal. I named him bob!

Also, this was the local supermarket that provided much needed food to some of the locals that lived on the islands that weren’t accessible by road or ferry!

We can both definitely recommend a trip on a houseboat around Alleppey as it was one of the best things we have done so far in India. Thank you Vineeth for recommending the houseboat company we went with!

So that’s it for our Kerala trip as we spent not far off a week in total, so it’s time to get the overnight train up to Bangalore for a few days to see some friends before we head even further north.

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