Published: February 15th 2012February 15th 2012
I would like to start today’s entry with some information completely unrelated to Cochin but nonetheless of great importance. I would like to let all of you (yes all 2 of you that read my blog) know that today is my one month in India anniversary and I’m happy to say that the relationship is still going strong. So strong infact that I still haven’t had even the faintest sign of Delhi Belly and I’m still eating and LOVING Indian food on a daily basis (maybe there is a correlation between the two?). I’ve never lasted this long on local food only in any other country, I can happily now announce that Indian food is officially my favourite cuisine in the world. Sorry Thailand.
We left for Cochin very early knowing it would be a long drive. Almost immediately we hit a road block, apparently the road we were travelling on was being opened that day and we had to wait for a minister to turn up for an opening of the road ceremony. This meant we would have to wait for about an hour before we could continue on our way, this didn’t go down well as we knew
we had a long day ahead of us and had got up very early specifically to make sure we didn’t arrive into Cochin too late. Fortunately Jenny and Martin our tour leaders are wily beasts and managed after a little persuasion to convince the authorities that we had a sick passenger on board and needed to get them to the hospital in Cochin and as such needed to pass through immediately. So in the end what had initially looked like a massive pain in the ass turned out to be a blessing as we got to drive on a nice new road without any traffic, good work Jenny and Martin.
We dropped about 1000m from the Wayanad hills onto the hot and humid coastal plains. Even with the windows fully open and travelling at speed the air still felt hot and whenever we stopped at traffic lights the heat and humidity became claustrophobic. Outside of the sprawling coastal towns, the scenery was fantastic; particularly beautiful were the palm tree and paddy field lined waterways which litter the Keralan coast.
The Rough Guide really bigs Cochin (now known as Kochi) up describing it as a “venerable city” and “Kerala’s
prime tourist attraction”. I question whether the author has actually visited Cochin, as it is pretty damn lame. I wonder if the author perhaps got Mumbai and Cochin confused? Cochin is by no means a terrible place, but at the same time it really isn’t anything special. The ‘beautiful’ colonial architecture in the old fort is to my eyes decidedly average (at best). The Chinese fishing nets are interesting, but I suspect their use is reserved solely for tourism purposes as the water they fish in is filthy and they pull up more rubbish than fish. For me the biggest disappointment was the coastline, I’m not sure what I was expecting but it was not the hellish industrial landscape that I saw. Another issue I have with Cochin is that it is largely a dry town i.e. they don’t sell alcohol. I’ve been to other dry towns in India, Pushkar for example, but I’ve always been able to get beer, even if it is given to you in a teapot! However in Cochin it proved nearly impossible to get beer, something I’m sure which didn’t help sell the town to me! However not all is bad in Cochin, number one
they have KFC. Number two they have a fantastic restaurant at the Fort House hotel which serves excellent Keralan cuisine. We ate lunch here, I had a fish (white of some local variety) Paal curry, Keralan red rice and a fresh lime and ginger soda to wash it all down. The Paal curry was in a fairly thin but very rich and strong flavoured gravy, I could taste lots of fresh ginger and turmeric which helped give the dish a wonderful aromatic and fresh edge. The curry was topped with some crispy sweet onions which contrasted nicely against the sweet fish flesh and rich gravy. The red streaked Keralan rice was large and fluffy and soaked up the coconut gravy perfectly. If you ever find yourself stranded in Cochin I highly recommend you get yourself to the Fort House hotel restaurant, don’t count on getting a beer there though.......
Next stop Allepey and the backwaters of Kerala..................
There are more photos below