Port Day in Cochin, India - Roberts 40th Birthday

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Asia » India » Kerala » Kochi
May 20th 2012
Published: June 18th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

As mentioned on the previous day, this Port day apparently was nothing like what most cruisers had ever experienced in terms of getting off for the day. We were all allocated the numbers the previous night before being invited to go in and get our passports checked and approved for getting off the boat. This was to all start from 7am with docking time at 8am. It was only later when we had returned to the boat that we discovered that the last person to have their passport checked was at 10:30am … If I was that person I wouldn’t have been too happy! Thankfully Roberta tipped some man and was re-allocated 1stchecking tickets … a lot nicer than our number 16 tickets, and others in our groups’ number 23’s!!!

It was a 6am wake up for me today, we get to go to India again. Actually I woke just before 6am, and delighted in watching the ship approach the shore. It was very humid standing out on the balcony, and wasn’t the best for taking photos as the lense would fog (again) within a second or two of taking the lense cap off! Initially I thought we were getting isolated showers, until I realized it was very localized to the side of the ship. Upon looking up, I realized that it was someone on the top deck washing it! …. That being said, the clouds did look very ominous.

Deciding on what to wear for the day was a limited option considering I had washed my two pairs of light pants the previous day and they were still wet. I ended up just picking a dress for the day. Eventually got the husband up and went upstairs to get some breakfast. It was the day of his 40th Birthday and being the nasty woman I am, there really was no time to sleep in or relax, we were getting off the boat again, and I was excited. Now in all the excitement I didn’t actually eat too much, as I didn’t think there was that much time with all the things we had to do. It ended up we had all the time in the world, but hey hindsight is a delightful thing. I did grab a spare box of fruit loops before leaving, as this would be my “lunch”. By the sounds of it we wouldn’t be stopping at any real places for a proper meal.

We made our way to the main dining room around 6:45am, thinking we might as well line up to be cleared. Now the silly thing is, I’m not sure what time they actually opened, but we walked straight through. I think they should have announced as soon as they were open to start processing visas so there wasn’t that huge delay for the last people leaving the ship. We then made sure we had everything ready, including our water bottle which we filled at the pool deck then made our way to deck four to watch the activity involved in docking the ship. It was definitely a different port from Goa. Floating into Cochin, I couldn’t help but notice how pretty it was, especially with its Chinese fishing nets along the water ways. It looked cleaner than Goa, but I guess you can’t really comment on this as yet, as we weren’t off the ship, and in Goa we docked in the industrial area …

The activity off the ship was funny. It looked like a couple of people were struggling to get up a welcome sign. It was only when we got off the ship we discovered it was actually a money exchange tent! We made our way to the Champagne lounge to wait for Roberta for our 8:00am meeting. I thought it was really funny, that she arrived at 8am. Everyone else was already there; however when we went to then depart it seemed everyone decided they had a couple of last minute things they wanted to do, so it wasn’t a case of ok, let’s go. Actually it was while waiting, we looked out the window and noticed that it was mini bucketing down with rain! I laughed at the husband as I had warned him he might need his own umbrella! We were so blessed by the time we I don’t know, is it called de-boarded? Or departed the ship, it had stopped raining and we didn’t get any further rain. The umbrella did come in handy later though for me at any rate.

Before long we were on the little bus and leaving the Port. Outside the Port gates there were a bunch of tuk tuks waiting for those that might venture out to explore the city on their own. Our guide told us there were 30 million people that lived in the area. That still has me wondering what that means. I mean Adelaide has all of a million, so I wonder if he meant the actual state? From what I saw from the day, the area didn’t look that heavily populated. It was funny listening to the others on the bus commenting on the fact their airport had barbed wire surrounding it, as well as the port with all the guards with guns etc wondering why they are so protective of keeping people out of their country … I’m not sure, maybe it’s a protective measure to keep them in? Guess it works both ways? Also the airports at home have the same if not more effective style of fencing so its just interesting listening to their perspectives of what they were seeing.

It wasn’t too far down the road that our vehicle suddenly stopped. There was a wedding, or at least a bride about to depart for her wedding. We were invited out of the vehicle to take photos. This just seemed so odd for me. The people were waving and taking photos of us as well, and seemed so friendly, and the bride did look beautiful, however I sat on the bus, as did a lot of others in our group. We did get photos out of the bus though, and yes, she was gorgeous!

Our very first official call was in a little area where we were to walk to a Synagogue. The streets were just dirty, the drainage system interesting, and at times you just had to hold your breath because the smell was literally breath taking. We made our way down the streets to what was a little entrance to a Synagogue. I think it’s now used as a pet store. There were budgies at the front gate in large cages, and when you made your way into the first room there was a fish store set up, or kind of fish store set up. It was when entering the back area that you had the 800 year old Synagogue with about 400 years collection of dust. It choked me up completely and before long I had to exit the building just to breath. Inside, it was nothing like I would have imagined a Synagogue to be. Actually thinking about it, I guess I had no idea as to what a Synagogue might look like. The lighting really confused me. They had the oddest collection of hanging light fixtures. I’m not sure if they all started out being the same and across time as they broke they just replaced them with whatever they found. I guess I really should investigate what a Synagogue should look like, considering I’ve only ever looked inside churches before.

Waiting outside while some of the American’s tried to haggle down the price of a history book of the Jewish community in the area, it was evident how humid this place actually was. I felt like I was swimming. Another lady from Florida mentioned that she was struggling, and it didn’t look like I was sweating at all … um yeh I was … I don’t understand how I could possibly be hiding it! I was thinking a shower would be delightful already.

I ended up having to use my umbrella to shield myself from the sun. It was glaring down on us. Some of the shops were starting to open by the time we headed back to the bus. I really had no idea as to where we were going next. I think it was that type of tour, and I loved that about it.

Along the way everyone got all excited thinking that there was a Hindu wedding so the van stopped. It ended up being a temple dedication but it was still interesting. All the locals invited us in to have a look around. I was kind of too embarrassed and didn’t want to impose, however the people ended up bringing out for us food and drink to try which was above and over the call of duty! I couldn’t get over how friendly everyone was. Several of our group took the opportunity to have a wander around and see what was going on inside. I guess I’m just too quite or something, that or I just have a thing against taking off my shoes …

Our next stop was the St Thomas Kottakkavu Forane Church, and when we arrived, it was noticed there was a wedding to be held here as well. While some of our group went off to the toilet the guests were so excited to see us visitors. The children ran up asking what each of our names were and where we were from. There was also a down syndrome boy there who excitedly went around shaking everyone’s hands. The little girls were beautiful and posed for photos. Eventually we were asked by the priest who was showing us around to follow him through to a baptismal pool where St Thomas apparently came and after initially being rejected and a bad wind came up and raised a storm, the people called for him back and as soon as he baptized everyone the wind ceased. I don’t really know quite what was happening but I did think it was a touch rude as our guide wanted to get us all around to listen, but as he talked a lot of people just wandered away. I’m not sure why, I mean it was hot and everything, but even so we were guests. We then were invited into the back part of the church to have a look around, however one of our group raised the alarm that the bride was in attendance, so a lot ran off for that. I was curious, but by the time I got there, she was entering the church.

It was so cute, the priest invited us inside, however seeing everyone took their shoes off to enter, I really didn’t want to impose on this private ceremony. However I was shoved in by the priest, who insisted. It was just the oddest thing, not only were we in a church, but also a wedding, and we kept being told to walk down the front of the building, albeit along the side to get a better view of the bride and take our pictures! I sat back, but Robert went down the front and got some photos. Before long we were heralded back to the bus and I welcomed the air-conditioning. When sitting on the bus a young man came up and tapped on the window specifically wanting to speak to me. When I managed to open the window he was excited to tell me that he lived in Australia, and from Melbourne. He was over for the wedding. I thought it was very cute. It did make me feel a touch odd though. It was as though we were all such a novelty to them, whereas everything to us was a huge novelty as well. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much attention being a tourist before.

From the temple we then headed over to another really old Synagogue. This one was in a lot better condition from the previous one we visited, but once again the light fixtures intrigued me. It was funny that when we arrived, a bunch of young teenagers were out the front and set off a bunch of fire crackers. Oh teenage boys, they are the same everywhere!

After this stop we made our way to a boat and had an hour cruise on the back waters. It was so peaceful and relaxing on these waters. If I hadn’t fallen in love with the region the waters made me fall in love. There were Chinese fishing next scattered along the water ways and coconut trees galore. You could really see why it’s called the land of the coconut. We were all eating our lunch on the boat as we sailed away. Some of the people slept, but I didn’t blame them. We ended up docking at the most gorgeous little resort. I had to laugh at Jeff, I stated how beautiful I thought it all was, and he still didn’t see it. I don’t think India was exactly his cup of tea. He was a funny man. I think he had me laughing the majority of the trip when listening to his point of view. The little resort had the most gorgeous little huts. The wood carvings were divine, and I was in a heaven. Robert brought a Pepsi for 20Dhs which is the equivalent of 37 cents Australian! Should have bought a case of it!

We didn’t really know where we were headed next letting the guide have the run of us. Along the way back to where ever we were going he stopped and brought back a bag of spicy cashew nuts grown in the area. He shared these around the bus. Oh they were to die for. A little bit down the road, we then stopped and the bus back tracked. We were all invited out to see an elephant as part of a temple. It was such a pretty elephant, as far as elephants go and all. A few people were horrified that it was chained up, but I don’t know, it really didn’t bother me. I was in a completely different culture and that’s just what happens there. It wasn’t like the elephant was mistreated. He looked well looked after.

The traffic from this point on was getting very heavy. It was the delightful chaos of horns and vehicles going everywhere out our windows and at times it was slow travelling. I really didn’t care, I was loving life Indian style and just soaked in as much as I could as to what was going on outside the windows. Mr Jeff was in a bit of a panic, but I was fairly certain from the direction we had been travelling in during the day that we were back on course and not too far away from the ship. I don’t think he believed me, but before too long, we did see our ship in the distance. I guess the only problem was there was a big waterway in between us. This was when it did get a touch fun. We were informed that were in the traffic jam from hell just waiting to board a ferry. You guessed it, that little one I thought looked completely un-ferry worthy as we sailed into port. It was a long wait in a line that never seemed to move. Our tour guide, jumped off to go see what was happening.

We were informed that everything was still on track and the ferries were working but we had about 5 minutes if we wanted to jump off the bus to go and look at the Chinese nets up close if we wanted to. Jeff completely cracked me up, and I think he wanted to stab me when I jumped off the bus, but hey, Roberta and Ed did as well, so I was in good company. I mean if you take the tour guide as well as the person that organized the tour, it’s not like the bus can exactly leave without you … they would just have to wait. It was lovely to be off the stuffy bus and walking around. Ok, so we were still a bit of a novelty in the area. There were cars everywhere as well as people and bikes. It was definitely my type of fun. We walked a little distance over to the water’s edge then out of sight of the bus. We walked along a raised pathway, which probably was also a water barrier potentially if the seas rose. A little way along there was a net being raised by three or four men. It was kind of funny seeing all the birds fly in to sit on the edge of the net to get some easy pickings. Sadly to say, they hadn’t exactly caught much, so the net was lowered back into the water. Along the water’s edge I noticed a crab on one of the rocks which I thought was pretty funny.

Getting back to the bus I don’t know if they seriously did miss a turn crossing the water because we weren’t around or not, but that was the impression I gathered. Oh well, tough luck I guess, another boat will come. Unfortunately before long it did arrive. Scarier still our bus backed onto the ferry and I had to note that if the boat went down, there was no space on either side of the vehicle to open any doors, so I assessed the hard to open window to see if I could fit out with my camera bag. I’m such a possitmist! The vehicle besides us was a minivan, and had a million people all crowded into it. We were a huge novelty to them. I wave quite a bit when they looked at all, trying to get our attention. It did make me somewhat self conscious after a while though. Did we all look that odd or different that we were gaining so much attention?

We safely made it across the river and were taken off to a shop that we could enter and purchase items of the touristy nature. Now I had some Indian Rupees that I wanted to get rid of, so it seemed a fun thing to do. Little did I realize that before long, I would be attached with an Indian Sales assistant that just refused to leave me alone. Then I noted that everyone had left us alone in the shop. Whatever happened to the support your other fellow tourists and get them out of the death trap of salesmen? In the end I did purchase some bracelets for my daughter, my husband bought an elephant that I don’t think he wanted and I got to scarves as well. We probably paid too much for them all, and the whole bargaining thing went out the window and we just paid what they requested. Yes, we did kind of suck a bit.

If only we had known that our next stop was just by the most gorgeous little markets. I can’t even remember where it was. It may have been something about Jewish markets? We drove past it all first, and noticed that there were several Royal Caribbean buses by the markets, so we wouldn’t be by any means last on the boat! That I think calmed some people down. The bus did a loop then went and parked. Now I really wish I had have gotten off the bus and gone and taken photos along the streets, because they had so many beautiful things, but the fact I had just spent all the remaining money, and would be a touch nasty to see better things, I just quietly sat on the bus thinking they weren’t going to take too long looking at whatever it was they went to see. It was possibly a fifteen to twenty minute stop, and by the time we drove past all the little shops again, they were all closing for the night.

Once again it was so nice to see our home which at the present time was the Voyager of the Seas. There is something quite lovely about getting off the ship for the day, and then returning to that familiar face. Getting on the boat wasn’t any issues at all. It was again a case of try and beat each other to the shower, and then relax and watch outside the activity of everyone making their way back onboard.

Now being the husband’s birthday, we decided to eat in at the Main Dining Room. It really was a touch underwhelming. I had been told that he would be given a special desert and all and they would acknowledge that it was his birthday, as we had booked it for that reason, but nothing was done about it. I mean I wasn’t about to say in front of him and remind them of the fact, it should have already have been noted. The company we sat with was also a bit different from the other ventures into this dining experience. Instead of all leaving the dining room at the same time, it was a staggered event where people would just up and leave. It was also one where no one introduced themselves by name because apparently, it wouldn’t matter as no one would care to remember anyway. So for a birthday dining experience, I think we probably should have just eaten either in the Windjammer by ourselves or gone to one of the specialty restaurants. Company at the table makes a remarkable difference as I found out that night.

Again I didn’t bother going to the headliner entertainment for the night. It was titled Broadway Rhythm & Rhyme, and the slight heat stroke of the day, I lovingly fell into my ever welcoming bed. Tomorrow was another sea day.

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drain worksdrain works
drain works

the smell by this was horrendous

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