15 hour train journey from Karmali (Goa) to Ernakulam Junction, Kochi was a hell of a lot of fun! (note sarcasm). We both decided that this was going to be our final night train, we have plenty of time to spare so we don’t need to travel during the evening/night, it messes up the following day. Plus, we’re no longer the kids who went six days without a wash at Glastonbury (how I miss those hippy days!).
A very peculiar scenario occurred shortly after arriving at Karmali station. After plonking our bags down I was being treated like a celebrity by around 15-20 local women, all varying in age, some wanted photos with me. They were fascinated at the contents of my bags, where I was going etc. The strange thing is they didn’t really acknowledge Steve, only shook my hand, and only spoke to me. Which after spending a lot of time being ignored by Indian men was nice! I wish I could have spoken a little bit of Hindi just to gather what they were doing and where they were going. They sat with us for a good hour or so. Steve said afterwards he was a little bit cautious as he didn’t know what they were after. There was something ‘off’ about them, whether or not they were ‘ladies of the night’ or something a bit more sinister we’re not sure, but a surreal and unforgettable moment nonetheless.
Arrived at our homestay in Kochi which is a few miles away from the tourist district of Fort Kochi, and my God is it touristy! It seems to be a hub for backpackers, which we’re quite surprised at, bearing in mind Kerala is a state where booze is rare (they are even considering prohibition here). Also, its hot, and I mean really hot, (well duh, you are in the tropics!), I thought that there would be some sort of breeze from the sea, but there isn’t a whisper of air! Undertook a 3-hour walk exploring the area, which was utter stupidity. On average the temperature is 25C by 9am, rising to 34C by midday, and then falling to 28C by 9pm, which doesn’t seem that bad, but when you have a constant humidity of around 70-90% it’s a bit tough.
I was looking forward to coming to Kochi, not just because it’s the capital of Kerala (known as ‘Gods own Country’), but because my Grandad came here during WW2 with the British Navy. Also, Steve’s Great Grandad and Great Great Grandad were both born in Kerala, so a nice little connection to it. Luckily, we are here in Kochi while an art festival is going on, so looking forward to a bit of culture. Oh and the Keralan food… I’ve had a little bit of a ‘dicky’ stomach the last couple of days and only just getting my appetite back, I still want prawns even though it was the little buggers that made me ill.
Seagull Restaurant – bloody awful, I suppose it didn’t help that I wasn’t feeling that great but my Daal Fry looked like baby food, and was so bland. Don’t go here, staff were naff too.
Rose Garden – meant for the tourists, no locals (sometimes I wonder if they exist in Fort Kochi), mucked up our order, but in the end it was surprisingly good. They had birds of prey in their garden too, which was a unique sight.
Kathakali Centre – this is a tourist must if you travel to Kochi/Kerala. It’s their traditional dance form, its core meaning is Katha, which means ‘Story’, and Kali, which means ‘Play’, the stories acted out, or mimed are usually from the Hindu mythology. An incredible art form, and the performers have to go through four years of training.
Kerala Folklore Museum – loved this place, full of wonderful South Indian artefacts. I’ve attached a whole bunch of pictures to the blog for you to see, probably the first museum I’ve ever been to where you had to take your shoes off to walk round.
Oy’s Café – down a lovely quiet ‘hip’ street near the Santacruz Basillica Cathedral, after approximately 7 weeks on the road we treated ourselves to a Lavazza coffee, Hallelujah! It was like being back in Italianissimo café in Romford (just missing the pastry).
PS: the title of the blog is inspired by a favourite song of ours which we heard in a cab back in Mumbai, officially our soundtrack to the trip 🙂 enjoy!