Sorry it's been a while but we been moving around a fair bit recently. Jon last wrote the day we arrived in Fort Cochin which was our last stop in Kerala. We spent 3 nights in Fort Cochin and managed to meet up with several people from earlier places. The first night there we joined Shaun, our dorm-mate from Alleppey, and a french guy for dinner followed by a traditional music performance at the Kerala Kathakali Centre. Was really good, but would have been better if i hadn't been quite so tired! It was really interesting to watch the violin player because instead of holding it as we do in the uk, he sat holding the strings away from him towards his feet. Its hard to describe!! We also spent a morning with our friend Julius (from Sweden and was our dorm-mate in Varkala and was randomly in the same hotel in Fort Cochin!!) exploring Jew Town. We spent ages looking for the synagogue only when we got there the 2 boys weren't allowed in because they were wearing "short trousers"! We spent our last day in Kochi in Ernakulam city - the mainland section of Kochi. We spent hours walking around waiting for our 11:35pm train to Mangalore.
We arrived in Mangalore very early the next day and made our way to the hotel. Mangalore is very untouristy, extremely clean, and actually pretty dull (probably not helped by the fact most things close on sundays; the day we happened to arrive). Fortunately we were only staying the one night. We visited a temple and a church, but had far more fun on our 2 visits to the local cinema. We saw both "Om Shanti Om" and "Aaja Nachl". Each time actors came on the stage everyone in the audience cheered and clapped! The films were full of the mandatory bollywood dancing and singing, and were made even more fun by the fact they were in hindi without subtitles and so we had to guess the what was actually going on. Most of the time this was easy enough but until we looked up the plots on the internet afterwards we didnt realise we had missed some of the smaller and sometimes important details.
We had another overnight train to Goa and then a taxi ride to Palolem - a beach in South Goa. The beach itself was nice but neither of us were particularly fussed about the village. It was the most touristy place we have been in india and touts hassled us every other step and thats not an exaggeration. They were very persistant and if we didnt want to buy whatever they were offering (using a taxi, rickshaw, boat trip or some item of clothing) then that was ok because they would let us arrange to buy it tommorow! If we didnt want it then why would we want it the next day??? On the plus side, Palolem did have some brilliant western food! For the first time in India i had a jacket potato (at an english owned pub) and it was amazing.
After 3 nights we had had enough and swiftly left for Margao, the biggest town in South Goa. It was even more boring so we got an auto rickshaw to take us half an hour away to a nearby beach. It was once again very touristy but at least there were less touts. We only stayed one night and then headed to panaji which is where we are now and it's the first place in Goa we have actually liked. Panaji is the capital city of Goa and has a very Portuguese feel to it and the buildings. We tried to visit a nearby night bazaar last night only to arrive and find out that the goverment no longer approves of it and has shut it down, so we ended up with eating a rather expensive but very yummy meal. Today we visited Old Goa. It is quite picturesque and full of churches, some of which are quite impressive although i thought the insides were generally much more interesting than the outsides.
Sorry that was such a brief blog but you are now upto date with what we have been upto and the internet cafe closes any minute so i have to go! Hope everyone is well and as im home in about 10 days then im sure i'll see you all soon.
love fran xx