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Day 12 - Cochin

sunny 34 °C
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So first day in Cochin (Fort Kochi Area) and it's going to be quite a warm day today at 35 degrees not conducive for walking around to much but we are going to attempt to soldier on. Haven't had anywhere to wash clothes yet so running a little low on clothes and reluctant to get these too sweaty *sigh* but if we an hold out another couple of days we should be okay as Udaipur does washing and dry cleaning *relief*.

Anyway first port of call is the coast line - which is only a 500 metre walk from the hotel, which is in such a fantastic area for seeing the sites and access to shops and restaurants.

The beach looks a lot better that yesterday and we walk up and down the foot way for a few kilometres before we go to see some of the churches. The other thing on the agenda is to take advantage of all the amazingly fresh seafood and we are set to have a seafood feast on our last night in Kochi - so on the hunt for some lobster and crab.

Along the coast they have some intriguing sculptures and art installations (reminds me of sculptures by the sea). My favourite is a huge crab made out of Steele and Sheet Plastic which is also used to promote recycling and awareness. As it urges locals to place plastic bottles found on the beach inside the frame to fill it with beach plastic waste polluting the beach - it's a great idea and it really shows how much rubbish is left on the shoreline. However, there is still a much needed clean up as there is still a lot of debris lying around.

After a relaxing start to the day we are called to have a go at pulling the Chinese fishing nets out of the water. The guys working on the boat have some of the roughest hands I have ever seen - blistered, calluses, and peeling and one would rather we shake hands on his forearm - but not really bothered myself. Pulling the nets is damn hard work as it takes around 6 guys to pull the nets up. It's an amazing experience and are told that they pull the nets every 10 minutes for 18 hours a day and they average around 120 lifts a day. We get some amazing photos and video and is my favourite experience in India to date.

Following we head to the old Dutch cemetery which is unkempt and in ruins but really quite out of place - it's closed to public now but you can still peer through the iron gates and see the headstones and above ground caskets.

We visit an old Dutch church which was beautiful from the outside but no matched by the inside which was really basic and unfurnished. Following our short stop here the day takes a turn from structured to finding our way back. LOST! We walk around trying to get to Mantancherry which is supposed to be around 3kms walk to the Jewish quarter.

After waking around for 2 hours and around 8kms the only reprieve was that we wandered past one of the washing and ironing facilities which has 100 staff and is a manual laundromat. The first step of the process is staff stand in which looks like open shower blocks and water runs into a a basin and a slanted cement block which the clothes are scrubbed and bashed against to get the clean. Looks like such hard work - but being in the water might be nice on such a hot day. The drying fields spans which i estimate as more that an acre and is wall to wall clothes lines which is made of two twisted ropes which allows the clothes to be hung between the spirals without the use of pegs. The third process ironing looks the hardest. It's hot and to heat the irons - burning embers and coals from a forge are placed in the heavy cast iron irons. The irons are supposed to weigh 3.5 kilos and the lady using one is barely 5 feet tall and must weight around 40kgs and she is a pro. One, two, three passes of the iron and a bed sheet is completely pressed - incredible.

Walking around to find our way to the Jewish quarter we give up and a tuk tuk takes us the 3kms we missed it by to the Dutch Palace in Mantancherry. It's packed with at least twenty tour coaches at the entrance. Should have thought this through better but we were told yesterday that the cruise ship QE2 was arriving today and it would be packed with up to 3000 passengers disembarking on Kochi. Instead of waiting in the queue we decide to walk back to our beach area of Fort Kochi and check out the seafood for tomorrow. There is an amazing selection of everything you can imagine.

After a bit more wandering we head back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. We decide to go to this small beach side cafe - which is a few table and almost a canteen kitchen. We order a couple of curries and breads, and for the first time we order desert - a banana pancake and pistachio ice cream. The pistachio ice cream is the best I've ever tasted and with a full stomach we head back to the hotel for some sleep.

Posted by lee_1986 20:50 Archived in India Tagged beach cemetery indian lobster kerala seafood dutch cochin kochi fort_kochi

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