Kochi ( Cochin )

Hello Everyone

I hope that this finds you all fit and well.

Well the last week and a bit here in Kochi has been spent exploring the town of Kochi itself and a little bit of the city of Ernakulam.

There are quite a few sites to visit here in Kochi and I’ve covered a lot of them on foot since arriving here on the 1st of November.

Kochi or Cochin originally got it’s name when the Chinese arrived here in the 14th century and it literally means ” like China” as it reminded them of home. One thing they did leave behind though that still exists to this day are the Chinese fishing nets that work on a cantilever principal and are lowered and raised manually into the water. These seem to be the most photographed attraction here in Kochi.

A visit to the Dutch Palace here gives a good history of Kochi’s colonial past with the arrival of Vasco da Gama and the Portuguese in the early 15th century, then the Dutch 150 years later before the British arrived at the end of the 17th century until India’s independence in 1947.

Vasco da Gama visited Kochi 3 times and died here in 1524. His remains were returned to Lisbon 14 years later but his tomb is still marked in the Church of St Francis here in Kochi.

There are quite a few religious sites around Kochi for a fairly small area, another being the Santa Cruz Basilica and there was also a large Jewish quarter dating back to the 15th century which contained the oldest active synagogue in the commonwealth but when Israel was formed in 1948 nearly all of them left Kochi.

I did visit a Hindu temple here in Kochi during the week whilst one of their festival’s was going on but admittance for strictly for Hindu’s although I was made to feel welcome as I observed the festivities from outside.

One the the highlights of the last week was attending a traditional Kerala play. It started with the 3 actors on stage applying their elaborate and very colourful make up which takes about 45 mins then there is an explanation of the play and demonstration of how the actors communicate with facial expressions and mudras ( hand gestures) as there is no verbal communication, it was good trying to work out the gestures during the play and try to follow what was happening, luckily we were also provided with a written explanation of the premise of the play. I would say that’s a must see here and plan to go again after checking that it will be a different play next time.

Another highlight has been trying out the different restaurants here in Kochi, because it is a popular tourist area there are a vast number of different restaurants many specialising in seafood that is abundant here, and although there are a lot that I haven’t tried yet I already find myself returning to favourites. I can honestly say the food is amazing and I haven’t had a bad meal yet in India not just in Kochi.

The most popular attractions here by far seems to be Vasco da Gama square and that bit of sea front were the Chinese fishing nets are, that area gets very busy with tourists, locals with families and vendors selling everything from seafood ( in amazing abundance and variety) to snake charming instruments ( one guy followed me playing one for about a minute trying to sell me one ) it gets popular in the evening as it cools down and the Sun sets and seems a popular area to fly kites because of the constant breeze off the sea.

I also made use of the ferry’s here to have a look around Ernakulam a couple of times just to see what was there. Ernakulam itself is a fairly large and busy city compared to what I’ve seen so far here in India. I used the trip over which takes about 20 mins from Kochi and only costs a few rupees to work out what the best way to get to Mysore would be, thinking it would probably be by train but found out there is no direct train there and bus will be the easiest way to get there at the end of the month. ( I even thought briefly about flying as it it easy and fairly cheap but quickly ruled it out as I feel I would miss a lot of the experience of seeing India and I’ve got lots of time)

Ernakulam was the first place that I’ve seen here that had people out shopping and air conditioned malls but although nice to walk around in the cool wasn’t what I went over for but plan to go back over to see some of the sites there in the coming weeks here.

I also took the ferry over to Vypeen from Kochi which only takes about 5 minutes and is a lot quieter, I was able to walk along the coast and watch the fisherman operating the Chinese fishing nets although they didn’t seem to be catching anything at the time. I initially thought that Vypeen was just a small island with a lighthouse with a bridge connecting it to Ernakulam but as I walked north intending to walk to the top of the “island” the traffic was building up and I realised that it was also connected to the mainland via bridges at the top so turned round after about 30 mins and headed back to the ferry. That made me think that I’ve finally acclimated to the heat as even the locals avoid the heat of the day and use an umbrella to provide shade. Some were surprised to see a westerner out walking around in the heat.

As far as tourists here go, the majority this week have come from a cruise ship that is in port as this seems to be a popular destination for them and coach loads come for a quick organised tour of Kochi but I’ve have also met a few other tourists here whilst doing yoga every other morning and then running the other mornings before it gets to busy with traffic as then it hard enough to walk around. The traffic here should keep to the left but you would have trouble trying to work it out by watching it as they tend to spend just as much time on the other side of the road and constantly sound their horns, it’s no wonder you don’t see many people other than locals walking on the roads but I think I’ve just about got used to it now.

So as far as Kochi is concerned I think I’ve seen a great deal in the last week and feel settled but when planning to come to India it was Kerala that attracted me and Kochi was chosen more as a base so I’m planning doing some tours starting next week and seeing a bit more , probably some of the waterways by houseboat first and then some trips inland.

Well I think that has just about covered most of what’s happened this week briefly and I’m looking forward to exploring more of this wonderful country and it’s people.

Before I go I’d just like to say Happy Birthday Jake ğŸŽ‚ğŸŽ‚ ! Have a great day

And everyone take care until next time

Regards Chris

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