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Published: August 10th 2007
After the peace and quiet of the backwaters it was straight back into the thick of things with a relatively short bus journey North to Cochin.
The buses were strangely not on time and we had to wait a while in the intense heat - then 3 came at once and typically everyone tried to get on the first one - there are just too many people in India!
We made it to Fort Cochin via a brief rickshaw ride and then our cheapest trip to date - 5 rupees for a ferry across to the peninsula.
Fort Cochin is a nice place with some real colonial history. The Portuguese started there then the Dutch came then the British took over and stayed until independence. Therefore Cochin has a distinct flavour and the architecture is as you would expect of a former colony - albeit a little run down.
We stayed in a nice place close to the Chinese fishing nets - they look like something out of Lord of the Rings when operated and you can buy fish straight from the nets and have it cooked! Tempting but twice the price of
a decent restaurant!
We took Leelu's Cooking Class for an evening and were looked after really well by Leelu and Roy (Roy & Leelu of Leeluhomestay- Fort Kochi) Leelu's Homestay
...... whilst frantically writing down recipes for delicious Keralan dishes. We then got to eat the food at the end which was a treat.
After supper we went out to meet the newly weds from Australia - Nick and Laura - on their honeymoon and heading to the Maldives! We went to a bar and were served beer in mugs from a tea pot. Apparently drinking is not allowed everywhere so we had to be discreet. Nick pointed out that all the umbrellas we were sitting under had advertising for a popular brand of beer and everyone was drinking tea! This place closed at 11:00pm so we decided to get some more booze and continue the party. I drove a tuc tuc to get the coke which was quite fun.
Nick and I polished off our boot legged brandy and boy did I suffer the next day! How many times have I said I will never drink again?
The next move was into the Western Ghats, a hill station called Munnar. After an early start, 3 Tea Pot Beer - Cochin rickshaws, a ferry, and a 5 hour bus ride we made it to Munnar - the relief was amazing, not just from the hangover but the climate too - it was a manageable temperature for a change.
Munnar is a typical Inidian town though quite small, the real appeal aer the tea plantations surrounding the town. The scenery is stunning and the tea estates well looked after and look like fields of grass.
We walked around, spent a day in a rickshaw driving around the area but what made Munnar fun and relaxing was the cool climate and the Bamboo Hut restuarant. The food was brilliant and really good value. We spent a couple of fun evenings there with Ragu, Neelu, and Edward our new Dutch friend.
This place will soon be the place to hang out in Munnar and will definately be in the next Lonely Planet for India - when it will lose all of its appeal, become expensive and the food will no longer be good!
After Munnar our initial plan was to head for another hill station, Ooty, but the time to get there meant travelling by train or bus for at least 6 hours so we decided against it and went straight to Bangalore via bus and train. The bus ride was stunning through more tea estates and the train ride interesting, passing through a massive electrical storm.
Bangalore is the technological capital of India, it is also where all those call centres are based from the UK. We have trouble talking to the locals face to face so by phone we now know why it is so frustraing!
We stayed in a pretty nasty hotel - looked like the perfect location for a murder film. Not far away was the shopping and bar scene in Bangalore. You can get most things there but strangely the electronic goods were more expensive than in the UK. I bought new zoom lens for the camera so hopefully will be posting some good shots soon.
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