Cochin, Kerala - Gods own country, why I don't know but does have some connection to the fact Catholicism is the main religion in Kerala and Cochin has it's own Basilica recognised in 1984, not that we have been bothered to take a photo, I think it has to do with being spoilt by St.Peters in Rome. Cochin is tourist hub and is famous as a trading port particularly because the first European to land here was Vasco de Gama and he liked it so much that he eventually died here. The St Francis church was the first Catholic church in the whole of India. Katie we don't mind you using this material in future lessons, but beware it will cost you a few bottles of red and 2 packs of lamb chops in NZ. Anyway enough about history of the place.
After a short ferry crossing from Cochin mainland and a bit of a hunt for a place to stay, not to mention a bit of haggling along the way we got somewhere. I think we were lucky as it seemed very busy mainly due to the New Year coming up. After a little exploring we got roped into a bit of fishing. They are called chinese fishing nets as they oringate from China, good eh! They drop the net about every 3 mins and it takes six people to haul in the catch whether big or small. We had a go, it was hard work with not much reward. See the video section of our website to see me and Gems in action and look at the photos to see our meesly catch we brought in. Good fun although the fishermen expected a bigger tip than a 100 ruppees, i don't know, it was us doing all the work!
Coming upto New Year in Fort Cochin must be time to demonstrate there skills and we witnessed a few indian wrestling bouts again there is a short film on videos, apologies if you are offended it is wrestling we promise. The best part was seeing a fat bobby totally demolish a plastic chair when he sat on it and seeing 2 of his understudies trying desperately to keep straight faces. I laughed out loud as having this happen to me at 6am in the morning in Jaisalmer and Gems almost cracking up I was glad to get my own back. However it did'nt stop there and the following day there was motocross indian style which means no gloves, armour, boots, just a helmet will do thanks. Yes and because they were on sand a few accidents occured and no st.johns to be seen anywhere.
We had a few quiet days, and then took another ferry ride to Vypeen island on New Years eve to visit Cherai beach. We had seen a few brouchures around showing this place, but when we got there it really did'nt live upto our standards and Gems got a little fed up with the Indians trying to get a good eyeful, if you know what I mean. The weather was good though, but the beach was not a patch on Benaulim.
We have found Fort Cochin a little on the expensive side when it has come to eating so it sort of forced our hand into eating some street food. This has been the first time we have eaten this way in India for 2 reasons, one - most places are dirt cheap anyway and second - most of the others never look busy or clean enough to risk the trots. We have really enjoyed having Tandoor chicken and kebabs at just over a pound to feed both of us and believe me everytime we have been we have come away full. This experience was not for the faint hearted as the spice and chilly even on the tandoor chicken was enough to blow anyones cap off. Gems stuggled a wing the other night and then quickly saw the back of it in the bar afterwards, if you know what I mean. We are going here on our last official night in India, we have decided to discount Mumbai as we don't believe it belongs to the rest of the country.
Once we had downed our litres of water and had our 10 pence piece of cake we witnessed the new years parade which was quite a somber affair really. I could sense it was quite religious as everyone ere walking with candles in 2 semetrical lines. Yes there is a video of this too, impressed yet or what! The most striking part of this parade was how big it was. It seemed everyone local was part of it even some foreigners.
Everyone seemed to congregate at the main square near the fishing nets when new year approached. We went to the local bar for a few first and talked with a few drunken Indians which was alright, apart from one who was out of it and kept asking me whether "I am causing a disturbance to you" The first time was ok but he did get on my nerves a bit after 10 times, Shoggy recognise any of these symptoms. The square was packed with indians and the atmosphere was like most new years eves good, bad and bit silly. The strangest part was that on a small crackly PA system they were rattling out full on hardcore trance and it was'nt that sort of do, in fact just to make sure they got there money's worth out of the cd they continued pumping it out the day after at 3pm while kids played in the park, very strange. This was not the only part of the night that was strange, at the stroke of 12 they burned a big effergy of Santa in the sea, poor bloke, had Fort Cochin been missed of the list in 2007 or what? Apparently this is a tradition at new year and with fireworks ringing in our ears we tried to head back to our digs. This was'nt as easy as we thought. The mass of people did'nt help and Gems had her bum pinched a few times and had to start my new year off with a few cross words. I blame our media for this behaviour in the main it has created a picture to the rest of the world that all western women are easy, we know this is not the case, but is it not time Spears, Lohans and the hiltons of this world saw it from the worlds point of view. Rant over!
This is all we did in Fort Cochin this time around, oh yes we are coming back but only for 2 nights so we can catch our flight to Mumbai on 11th Jan 2008.