Watching the sun melt one last time in India

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September 13th 2015
Published: December 19th 2015
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As our trip in India draws to a close, we begin to become more relaxed in our approach to a new place. We're practically winding down and preparing ourselves for our next journey (in a way). After enjoying some beach time in the beautiful Alleypey, Kochi is our next and last destination in India (althoug technically its Chennai as we fly from there). More of a city with a fishing port, many people have fell in love with Kochi and it's relaxed pace. Us falling in love with it would be going too far, but we've definitely had enough of India's big cities at this point. Thankfully most of the places we've visited in the south of India are a world away from areas such as Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Cows are few and far between, the roads aren't hectic, rickshaw drivers don't hassle you and tour touts don't follow you around. Kochi definitely has that southern charm about it.

There are many ways to get from Alleypey to Kochi, the train was fully booked so we decided to catch the public bus to Ernakalum (closest transport hub to fort kochi) and another bus to take us straight to fort kochi. It was all pretty straight forward and saved us a lot of money. Rickshaws and taxis fares can be extortionate if you don't haggle.

Kochi has a very popular beach/pier. It's a beach due to the fact there is sand but it's not the relaxing, sun worshipping type of beach we've visited in previous places. Saying that, we did witness one of the most perfect sunsets we've seen in the last 7 months. It was one of those sunsets that just melt into the sea, unobstructed by clouds or haze. It was truly amazing, despite the shipping liners and fishing boats passing by.
The pier is opposite a huge shipping yard and there's also a power plant in the distance, neither would make a decent post card picture. Lining a section of the pier itself, are the famous chinese fishing nets. We'd heard people mention them as a tourist attraction before we came and thought to ourselves "we've been China, surely we must have came across these already". As we reached the pier in the early evening it was evident we had never seen these nets before. They were huge. A wooden structure fixed on land with a large net hanging over the water, it is operated via a pulley system with ropes attached to rocks as weights. The method was introduced to this area about 500 years ago and has been used ever since. It takes quite a few men to work it though. Apparently because the work can be labour intensive, it is being overtaken by alternative fishing methods, so not many of these nets are left now.

As it was weekend, the pier and small areas of sand were full of locals, ice cream and souvenir vendors lined the path that ran parallel to the coast and fish sellers beckoned passers by with their daily catch.

Stopping at one of the fish monger stalls, P managed to haggle 0.5kg of king prawns for 200rupees. With her bag of prawns we headed to one of the many eateries nearby that offered to cook food bought from the fish market for 100rs. P managed to get some chips and salad thrown in for an extra 50rs. Chris not being a fan of seafood opted for the spicy Keralan chicken curry with rice and a paratha (indian bread). P's prawns were cooked to perfection and
she tucked into her meal as Chris waited patiently for his. It was only towards the end of P's meal when Chris was served 2 small boney pieces of chicken in sauce with his rice. The dish reminded us of the cheap chicken meals Chris ordered back in the Philippines, costing us around 70p - with rice. They were charging 250rps for this alone! We'd already asked for discount of 50rs before ordering but it still didn't look worth the 200rs. We even sent it back requesting more meat, they returned it back with an additional piece. To make matters worse they brought the paratha out at the end of his meal. We we're not happy at all. We complained about the meal and got a measly 20rs extra off. We don't know how they can get away with charging those prices for so little food.

The following day we walked the pier and treated ourselves to an ice cream as we sat on a bench watching the boats in the distance. We walked by the fishing nets, where the fishermen encouraged us to come closer and take a picture. They wouldn't tell us how much it should cost so we declined their offer for a close up shot. We like to know the exact price of anything before we agree to anything, so many times we've heard how people have been scammed in India this way.

Kochi seemed more of a Christian area than Hindu, this was evident in the amount of churches we passed and prayer beads hanging from inside car/bus windscreens. Kochi has a long history with the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, so the grand churches and colonial buildings stem from Kochi's dealings with the Europeans back in the 16th century. Surprisingly there is also a 400 year old synagogue on the other side of fort kochi in an area named 'Jew Town'. Unfortunately, it was too far out of the way for us to visit but we were intrigued as to how the Jewish settlement came to be.

Whilst here we really wanted an ayurvedic massage before we left India. Known for its healing powers through the use of various oils and massage techniques, we thought it'd be a nice end to this part of our trip. After shopping around for prices, we found one shop who could do us a discount. We went back to our hostel to grab our bags and print some bus tickets and returned to the shop only to be told we we're too late! No one was available to give us a massage. Maybe we'll seek one when we return to India...but that's another trip altogether.

As we had a train to catch, we hopped on the local bus to take us to the main train station. Our bus driver drove like he was Keanu Reeves in the film Speed. We clung to our seats and hoped we'd get to our destination before he ended up crashing into something. At one point he nearly hit a cyclist and shouted at the cyclist like it was their fault.

Making it to the station safely we caught our last train in India to Chennai to catch our flight. Getting from the train station to the airport required a ride on the suburban train line and a short walk from the station. On the suburban train, a group of young men all in black pants and white shirts began drumming on walls and seats and started singing in unison. We had no idea whether they were students or what, but it felt like a nice ending to our trip in India.
We will miss random moments like this, the ones that create a soundtrack and a feeling to such an intriguing country.

The fun, the stress the uniqueness and beauty of India. Till next time India.

Transport: Enakalum to Chennai 12.5 hr overnight AC3 sleeper 1082 rupees each.
Accommodation: Tantra homestay

India Overview

Favourite places: Alleypey, Hampi, Udaipur, Agra...too hard to list them all we really liked many places.

Favourite activity: Night in Jaisalmer and on the Houseboat.

What we liked: Sunsets, the colours, getting lost in the forts/palaces, the vibrancy of the country and the surprises around ever corner. The amazing sites and the fact that India is soo unique to every other country we have travelled.

What we disliked; sometimes the surprises around every corner. How close we always were to missing our train. The cows/dogs for P and the hassle in Rajastan.

Duration: 5 weeks
Average cost per day (together/ for 2 people). £33/3,300 Indian rupies.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 27


20th December 2015

Were you able to figure out what made south India...
so much calmer than northern India?
21st December 2015

calm in the south
No idea. Less people, traffic and hassle? It seemed to just function at a slower pace.
20th December 2015

Fabulously wow sunset!
Even though it's unfortunate that you missed out on your massage, it took me two very hot showers to get the herbal oil off my skin and out of my it's probably a good thing you didn't have one just before you travelled :) Looking forward to your next adventure! x
21st December 2015

Great Sunsets
Really? Thats one thing we really regret. Your right given what you say i'm happy we missed it at that particular time. Maybe next time. Unless another random opportunity pops ups :)
21st December 2015

A fond farewell to India
I'm glad you've experienced both the cities and the villages...and enjoyed some southern charm. I love seafood for this looks like a great place for me. Those are some amazing sunsets.
21st December 2015

A fond farewell to India
Thank you. Yes think we visited a good selection of towns, popular and less popular sites, villages, beaches, the desert here and the backwaters. Really made an amazing trip and certainly left us with so many inpressions and lots to talk about. Fascinating place.

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