From Port Blair in the Andaman Islands we flew to Chennai. Since our train wasn’t until 9pm, we had the whole day to wait around. We found an air-conditioned Subway sandwich shop that just so happened to have free WiFi and planted ourselves at one of the tables. In the evening we boarded a train to Ernakulum Junction Railway Station, in the sea-side town of Kochi (Fort Cochin). We arrived in Kochi, in the state of Kerala, on the 19th of April. If you arrive at Ernakulum Junction you still have to take a short ferry ride over to Kochi, located on a peninsula.
Once in Kochi, we started walking to find some of the guesthouse mentioned in the guidebook. Not far from the ferry dock we saw the Fort Inn Guesthouse, which looked quite nice from the outside, and decided to take a peak. The rooms we were shown were quite nice, but 1100 rupees ($24.44) per night was much more expensive than the guesthouse to which we were headed. We told the lady we were sorry but we couldn’t afford the room, and she dropped the price to 800. As we walked out of the guesthouse she lowered the price again to 600, and finally 500 rupees ($11.11). At that point we figured, why not, it’s a super nice room and even though it was more than we had planned to pay, it was a bargain for what we got! Not only did the room have towels/soap/toilet paper, it also had a TV, mini-fridge, and crown molding! Aw, what luxury! The whole guest house was nicely decorated and had an old-time charm to it. (The picture doesn’t do the room justice, but it was beautiful.)
We walked around town a bit and saw the Chinese fishing nets that Kochi is famous for. They are massive!
That evening we went to see a Kathakali performance- traditional Indian performing art where the actors’ faces are painted elaborately in bright colors and they use facial expressions to communicate. You can arrive at 5pm (an hour before the show) to watch the actors apply their makeup. Then there was a short demonstration of different facial expressions and eye movements, before the play began. Quite amazing!
The next day we took a one-day boat ride in Kochi, part in an open canoe and part in a bigger boat. We opted against the overnight houseboat tour on the backwaters of neighboring Alleppey, after reading reviews about nightmarish cockroach infestations on some of the boats. We enjoyed our boat cruise and felt that one day was plenty. Coconut filled Kerala is one of the most relaxing states in India. We even fell asleep on the bigger boat after lunch!
We stopped at a couple places along the bank for mini tours. At one place we saw how the various parts of coconuts are used. These coconuts are drying in the sun in order to collect oil from them.
After the open canoe part of the outing we stopped for a traditional Keralan lunch. Yummy, but spicy!
Then it was time to make our way through a lake between the mainland and the peninsula on a larger boat.
As the boat made its way through the lake we were lulled to sleep…