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November 3rd 2007
Published: December 9th 2007
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We arrived comfortably on our long flight Jaipur - Kochi, we touched down twice to load people off and put some new on before we finally arrived in Kochi. Flying is not really our favorite method of transport any more, but what can you do. From the airport we caught a prepaid taxi straight to Fort Cochi. There, we noticed that guesthouses have sprung up like mushrooms after the rain - they were literally everywhere. The weather was also very different from Rajasthan. Hot and wet rather than dry and bearable. We dropped off our bags and went for a walk - mainly with the goal to find some lunch, but soon we found it too humid and too hot and actually the search for some indian food was quite a challenge. All food served here seamed to be western?! But we want a Dosa!!! For those who can't live without it like us we recommend to catch an autorickshaw to Krishna Cafe. Food is very reasonable and real indian. We stayed in Fort Cochi for 3 nights - mainly getting lost in the little streets - on the second day there was a strike and apparently no buses were running that day anyway. In the evenings we went to little restaurants, where beer was served in tea pots to hide the fact that you were actually drinking alcohol. Naughty! But let me tell you that beer out of mugs just does not taste the same like out of a good old glass. It is beer all the same though which is a nice change from the mainly dry North. What struck us most since we left Rajasthan were the rickshaw drivers. We asked locals how much a ride would be to a place and the rickshaw driver gave us the same price - amazing! Unless they were doing some kind of a deal together 😊 In the end we made plans to go to the western ghats - a place where many people go to visit a national park and spot some animals - not us. Our main reason to go there was to visit some spice gardens and see spices grow in their natural habitat. So, after a quick bus journey to Ernakulam, a very brief rickshaw ride to the bus station, a two hour mental bus journey to Kotayam and finally a four hour bus ride to Kumily we were there 😊 Quite a mission, but actually not as bad as it sounds. There are so many buses going in India that we never had to wait for more than 15 minutes. We would say though, that the driving can leave a lot to be desired on the safety stakes. We would never travel at night after being on a bus during the day. They drive like complete maniacs, whenever they have the opportunity and on several occasions we wondered if we would make it off the bus alive. Luckily for us, we always did.

On the way to Kumily it was just amazing to see the weather change. From sunny, hot and humid to chilly, foggy and rainy. Kumily is quite a small place and for one thing that stuck out while approaching it was the strong presence of the CPIm party (The Communist Party of India). There were what looked like little party huts set up everywhere and comrades memorials. Apart from that, it is quite a quiet place. We found a great room for a bargain price and "settled down" - any place in which we stay for longer than a night counts into that category. So straight on the next day we made our way to Abraham's organic garden. At the first sight you tend to think, "Ow, I imagined it kind of bigger" - and soon you will be paying 100 rupees entry fee, not really a voluntary tip as mentioned in the Lonely Planet. However, after you entered you will be able to see quite a lot of different plants and find out interesting facts about them. We had our own personal guide too, who took us around all the plants individually and explained their uses and how they grow. She was actually very good and answered all of our questions. Did you know that "All spice" is not a spice mix but actually a single plant? Amazing! Well, for foodies like us so much worth the visit. As Josie actually called Abraham few times before our arrival, he was waiting for us and invited us to come inside. Here we met his great wife that happened to cook some delicious lunch using the great spices they grow around their house, and we were invited!!! Now that was special, Josie, the pickle addict was able to try many different types, including a very special 14 years old one. Very nice if not a little suspect as it was black and kinda rotten looking. Didn't taste it though, and we are here to tell the tale, so it must have been all good. As desert we received few fresh bananas, all from the garden of course. Abraham showed us his root carving collection which is beautiful and as our camera battery ran out we decided to come back next day. And so we did - carefully taking pictures of everything. We managed to find a great place to eat in Kumily, where literally every dish was a delight. This was reason enough to stay a bit longer. As the animal park as just around the corner we thought we really should go and visit it too. So one day we walked to the park entrance and saw the price - 25 rupees for indians, 300 rupees for foreigners. WHAT?!? That should be a reason not to go, but you feel this kind of pressure in these places. You know what we mean? Being there and OH MY GOD, not visiting the park?!? So we went and walked through the barrier to the
Abraham's wonderful kitchenAbraham's wonderful kitchenAbraham's wonderful kitchen

We would love to have one of those
lake. On the way we already spotted animals, deer and monkeys. With your tickets you did not even receive a map, and you know why? Because you were not allowed to go anywhere by yourself! When we arrived by the lake our options were - Waiting for a park walking tour - 100 rupees per person but at least 500 per tour OR a boat cruise - 45 rupees lower deck, 100 upper deck. So yes, you pay 300 rupees only to have the privilege to pay some more. Genius! We decided to go on a boat trip as there was nobody to join up for a walk and as we figured we already paid 300 rupees each, so we might as well do something. The boat trip was all right actually, we saw a herd of buffalos, many elephants and kingfishers. One thing that made it all the more special was the weather that day. When we had boarded the boat, it was clouding over a bit but we had no idea just what awaited us. As we got closer to the end of the lake towards the dam, fog seemed to be rolling in. It got so thick by the end that you could barely see anything. This was ok, as we stayed quite close to the banks of the lake, but as the boat turned to make its return trip, it all went a bit wrong. The boat seemed to go into a patch of open lake and all of a sudden everything around us disappeared. It was extremely spooky as we were surrounded by a blanket of white fog and seemingly nothing else. Now we figured this probably happened all the time, so the boatman knew his way around. This didn't seem to be the case though, as for a good 10/15 minutes, the boat seemed to be searching for some familiar land and the way home. Thankfully, they eventually figured it out and we headed back to the beginning, but we were getting worried for a while there. Back safely on dry land, and feeling a little let down by our trip to the park, we headed back to our place for a hard earned rest and some food.

Our final day in Kumily was shopping day!!! We decided that we couldn't leave before stocking up on some of the spices this area is so famous for, and which fragrance the air in the market of the town. Spice shopping here is pretty easy as every second shop is a spice market. You have to shop around a bit to get a good price and good quality but it is a fun experience. Just the smell of the shops gives your nose a wake-up call, bombarding it with fragrance and spice. It is a total foodie heaven, and we left it with a big bag of spice goodies to try and get back into the country.

Then it was all over, our time to leave was on us and once again we packed up our things and boarded another bus to another place. I think we really were starting to look forward to getting home (if not just a little) and it was finally dawning on us that the end was a reality now. Our way back would see us on busses for the next few days, stopping in Calicut for a night stop over before heading on again to Mangalore. The promise of beaches and sunshine further north was too much to resist, and we couldn't wait to get there.

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11th December 2007

For a moment I thought you hit the come back Spice Girls concert Lol Love to read your posts and this is one is particularly special for I loved the pictures :) Miss U ((((((( hugs )))))))

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