Chinese Fishing Nets Catch a Tiddler

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November 10th 2006
Published: December 17th 2006
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Fishing By NightFishing By NightFishing By Night

The water flows quickly as these fishermen dip their Chinese fishing nets into the water.
The first thing that I noticed when I arrived in Fort Cochin was the European influence on the buildings and architecture. The Dutch, Portuguese and the British have all ruled here over the centuries. Grand buildings and large churches give the island a home like feel.

There are many home-stays in Cochin and along with 3 other friends we found a particularly nice one not far from the town center. It's similar to staying in a guest house or hotel except ours was more like an apartment with our own lounge and we received warm friendly hospitality from our hosts living downstairs. Some will even invite you to have your meals with them.

The Chinese fishing nets are the hallmark of Fort Cochin. They sit neatly in rows on the banks of a fast flowing estuary fed by the enormous expanse of what is known as the backwaters. The nets are quite large and supported by a cantilever system of wooden structures what dip into the water close to the bank, settle for a few minutes and then rise again in the hope of catching something! I saw one of the nets in operation in the early evening but
Chinese Fishing NetsChinese Fishing NetsChinese Fishing Nets

These nets look impressive lined up along the banks of Fort Cochin.
it was only catching a handful of fish and is probably intended more for the tourist's benefit than the hungry locals. Fishing around this area is big business and at sunset all the boats come back with their catches. I found two fish markets in full swing and it was really interesting to see how quickly and efficiently fish are brought ashore and auctioned off to punters with shouting, jostling and bidding going on in what seems to be a frenzy of activity but actually is quite systematic.

There are several islands nearby and they are all linked by a fast and efficient ferry service making access to transport connections and shopping in the main city of Ernakulam on the main land a piece of cake. I managed to track down a shop selling professional art materials which is no small feat. Whether or not I can use them is something else entirely.

The star attraction in the state of Kerala has to be the backwaters. These low lying flats are flooded with water fed from rivers coming down the hills inland and eventually flow out into the sea. Masses of green kelp grow in the backwaters and
Santa Cruz BasilicaSanta Cruz BasilicaSanta Cruz Basilica

This beautiful church recently celebrated being 500 years old.
slowly drift out towards the sea eventually killed as it mixes with sea water. Hundreds of small long boats scoot around just about anywhere using simple Venice style wooden poles for propulsion. The water ways are a way of life here and you can see boats fishing, ferrying food or materials around, work boats with guys diving down and digging up the river beds, ferries carting locals around the millions of small backwater villages and fancy house boats cruising about for the benefit of tourists not to mention the birds and wildlife such as kingfishers and water snakes.
Unfortunately an increasing number of these boats have noisy polluting outboard engines awkwardly stuck on the side that spoil the tranquil and peaceful atmosphere that can be had floating around large expanses of perfectly flat water banked by dense forests of colourful palm trees. The tint that is giving many of these trees a wonderful graded spectrum of greens and yellows is apparently a virus that is attacking and killing many of them which is a shame because it actually adds to the spender of the whole place.

If you intend to visit the backwaters of Kerala I can recommend taking
Cochin School ChildrenCochin School ChildrenCochin School Children

Fort Cochin has some large schools full of seemingly very well behaved children in many colourful uniforms.
a leap of faith and simply jumping on a local ferry without really knowing where it is going. I visited Alleppey which is a typically hectic, busy, noisy and dusty town. But what I love is when I find myself floating down a busy town canal not knowing where it's going or what to except and it has in store this wonderful surprise as it suddenly opens up into this spacious, peaceful and amazingly pretty place.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Fishing BoatsFishing Boats
Fishing Boats

Hundreds of boats like these ones line the many harbours dotted around the islands.
Cable GuyCable Guy
Cable Guy

A very nice Indian guy is hauling oily cable about the place presumably a routine boat maintenance task.
Fish MarketFish Market
Fish Market

These fish are being auctioned and then packed into crates and boxes for transport with their new owners.
Market By NightMarket By Night
Market By Night

This market in Fort Cochin is relatively quiet.
Backwater BoatsBackwater Boats
Backwater Boats

Lots of little boats like these ones can be found around the backwaters.
The King Of FishersThe King Of Fishers
The King Of Fishers

Nobody can beat this little fella in the fishing stakes. My first sighting of the colourful Kingfisher.
Calcium FactoryCalcium Factory
Calcium Factory

This guy shovels shells in and out of the furnace before they are broken down into Calcium with the help of a little water.
All New Water-BikeAll New Water-Bike
All New Water-Bike

These two kids are having fun in a narrow man made canal I was taken down as part of a backwater tour.
Coconut MilkCoconut Milk
Coconut Milk

Coconuts can be harvested before they have fully matured but the milk actually tastes pretty awful.
Local FerryLocal Ferry
Local Ferry

These local ferries are pulled up at a small village ferry station and if you want the ferry furthest away it's no problem for you to jump from boat to boat.
Palm TreesPalm Trees
Palm Trees

With blue skies and almost perfectly flat water the reflection of these lush green palm trees against the sky is pretty stunning.
House BoatsHouse Boats
House Boats

House boats are nice looking but ridiculously expensive unless your with a big group.

If there is one thing you do in Kerala see the sun setting over the backwaters it's really amazing.
More SunsetMore Sunset
More Sunset

I had hundreds of good sunset photos but I won't upload them all.

19th December 2006

Fingers smith
Hey, dude hows it going, have to say your adventures look pretty sweet so far! making me think back to my time travelling around, but i have to say your doing it real, and just doing what every one recommends which is the best way! loving all of your sunset pics there amazin, i hope you up date us again soon, want to hear from you before christmas but if i dont enjoy it, and think of me cooking a turkey in our new house, not know what actualy to do!!!!!! laters O Man
19th December 2006

pissed :-)
dearest of dear steve,how could u have written the coconut milk tastes awfull ?its one of the best thing we have in kerala...might be that u had something in ur mouth before drinking it . and i tell u that is not the way of drinking it(with the straw)u got to to press down ur lips to the hole and gulp it down at one go !! and u got it dead right when u wrote " If you intend to visit the backwaters of Kerala I can recommend taking .a leap of faith and simply jumping on a local ferry without really knowing where it is going" hope u would come back and then we can have a bucket full of coconut milk...lovelly snaps and the writting itself was accurate and precise.
3rd January 2007

HEy MR C ... good to see you are enjoying the trip and by the looks of it seeing some "one off things" and places . Makes me wonder what im still doing in this dull boring country as travelling looks much more fun ... cheers Sy

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