Our trip from Margao to Cochin didn’t get off the best start, our train was delayed for 3 hours! While waiting we met a nice guy called Josinio who was a seaman, Sharlie’s first thought was that he was a fisherman before he mentioned he’d been to Brazil and New York on his travels – bit far on a little fishing boat! He was really nice and bought us a coke and some Goan sweets we hadn’t tried before, they tasted like a cross between candy floss and crunchie – delicious!
The train eventually arrived and it was a big step up from sleeper to AC2, it was the first overnight train we’d caught so we were glad to have semi comfy places to sleep. The train journey uneventful, I slept while Sharlie tried but, surprisingly, we made it to Cochin on time. A quick tuk tuk later and we arrived at our little room at Mothertree, place we’d booked online. The room was small but the bed was the most comfortable we’d slept in for a long time.
One thing we noticed about Kerala was that it was a LOT hotter than Goa, almost too hot to do anything in the day, although we did venture out for a wander, to be honest we realised that there wasn’t too much for us to do there, we originally thought we’d stay for 2 nights but after cramming in some sightseeing (or, as Sharlie eloquently put it, “doing the **** out of it”, we decided to head to Allepey, backwater central in the morning.
On our day in Cochin we walked to see traditional Chinese fishing nets, which were impressive and while enjoying a juice on the shore we saw dolphins! We then refused every tuk tuk offer (stupidly) and walked to the Dutch Palace in the intense Keralan heat, passing the spice markets along the way, we walked along quite a freshly laid road so we arrived with tarmac melted into our flip flops.
The Dutch Palace is more of a museum which gives a good insight into the history and heritage of Keralan culture and royalty, it wasn’t really our cup of tea but we took the opportunity to fan ourselves while in there, it was only 15 rps too.
In the evening I dragged Sharlie along to a Kathakali show which is a traditional theatre art in the area, the stories are told using facial expressions, movement and dance, it was really interesting , we both enjoyed it however Sharlie nearly fell asleep half way through though, think the travelling was catching up with us! The final thing we did in Cochin was head out for a meal hoping to find some delicious sea food as we’d seen lots across the ports, we finally decided to eat at a little outdoor food court which looked ok however looks can be deceptive. I ordered crab massala and when they arrived were tiny little crabs that had virtually no meat in them plus I had to try and crack em with my knife and fork while Sharlie’s prawns wee not too bad but the garlic parotta she ordered was more garlic than bread and virtually inedible, to add to our woes Sharlie spilt the only alcoholic drink we’d been able to get (rum and coke) then we saw the biggest rat we’d ever seen running around across the road!
We left the next morning, bright and early to beat the heat, and after some initial confusion at the bus station we made it onto a bus to Allepey where we’d decided we weren’t going to splash out on a houseboat but take a backwater cruise for 4 hours instead as this meant we could see the sunset on the water without having to deal with the mozzies.
We checked into our homestay, Ashtamudi, and they arranged a cruise for us at half the cost of what the touts were asking for. Our room was quit big, had a tv but was hot as hell. The scenery on the cruise was beautiful but we did get boat envy seeing some of the luxurious houseboats steaming passed us. It was really relaxing floating down some of the quieter canals among the wildlife and villagers going about their business, so relaxing that I dozed off! 4 hours was probably an hour too long though and we were glad when we pulled up at the end, there’s no loo on the little boats!
Our whistle stop tour of Kerala then took us to Trivandrum, the local capital, before getting to Kovalam and the beach once more!
We found a decent hotel just off the beach, Hotel Sea Front, after being shown 2 hovels by the tuk tuk driver, the room was pretty big and had a small balcony with a tiny bit of sea view. Kovalam is unlike anywhere else we’d been, it had a promenade like somewhere you’d find in Britain and it was a lot more developed than we were expecting.
It was still really hot when we got to Kovalam but the next day was more bearable so we headed to the beach, the waves were amazing and it was great fun being thrown around by the bigger ones, the sea is quite dangerous there though but there were always lifeguards keeping an eye on everyone.
In Kovalam we finally found the sea food we’d been hoping to find, in the evening the local restaurants display the catch fo the day and we saw some huge fish including blue marlin, sea salmon, barracuda and seal fish and we ate a bit of most of them over the next few nights too! Our best meal would have to be the seafood platter we had, between us we had a lobster, huge tiger prawns, calamari, fried mussels and seal fish steak – it was all cooked to perfection and was delicious – as luck would have it it was the one evening I forgot to take the camera out and couldn’t be bothered to go get it. We were also extremely happy and relieved to see Kingfisher once more readily available although it was always noted on the bill as “pop” or “special cola”.
Tans topped up we had yet another early start as we’d arranged to fly to Mumbai for a stopover before heading to Bangkok on 1st March, this time we’d booked a hotel and despite there being no one to collect us as arranged we did eventually make it to our room. We have AC and big tv with movie channels which will keep us occupied until we check out – at 3.15am – Bangkok here we come!