Back to normal in Fort Cochin

Trip Start Jan 06, 2006
Trip End Mar 28, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

You'll all be pleased to hear i am feeling back to normal! Fortunately, i was well for my flight from Chennai to Cochin. This area is full of small islands and thin peninsulas. It's still a trading port and it is quite alarming to see huge tankers going through such a thin strip of water.
I'm actually staying on Fort Cochin which is the nice part and famous for the cantilevered Chinese Fishing nets. Although they don't actually catch much fish anymore and only serve as a tourist attraction. Over the years it has been ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Signs of the Portuguese still remain today in their architecture. New building was banned in 1976, so most of the streets are lined with crumbling 15th and 16th century Portuguese houses.
I spent the first day walking around. Alot of spice, rice and tobacco trading still goes on in the old warehouses which are painted in bright but flaking paint. As you walk down the street the smell from each warehouse tells you what is for sale. It's a very vibrant and bustling area with men lugging huge sacks of rice about. The goats seem to like the rice too and have to be chased away!
There is also a synagogue here, located in what's called 'Jew Town'. It dates back to the 1500s and there is still a small community that uses it today. While looking around i was asked by a couple from Bangalore (but living in California) to take their photo. After having a brief chat with them, it transpired that they didn't know that a synagogue was a Jewish place of worship! I was quite surprised considering India lives side by side with just about every religion.
There are lots of small ferries that go from Fort Cochin to the various surrounding islands. Yesterday, i visited Vypeen Island. When the Potuguese were chucked off Fort Cochin by the Dutch, they were allowed to live on Vypeen. Today it is still uniquely Catholic and all the residents have Portuguese names! A really pretty church painted in blue and white still remains. Due to less tourists, it had a much more relaxed atmosphere and the people seemed friendlier. A new bridge has just been built, linking Vypeen with the mainland, so i'm sure it is only a matter of time before ends up like everywhere else.
The novelty of Western food has worn off and am now back on delicious Keralan fish curries, dahl and chappatis. Have also got into banana lassis and Masala chai. Having said that, i still can't stomach Southern Indian breakfasts! Give me toast anyday!
Off to see a Kathakali show tonight. It is Hindu dancing to drums and they have very bright costumes and make up. Should be fun!
Leaving Cochin tomorrow on the 6am ferry to catch a train up to one of Tamil Nadu's hill stations called Ooty. Apprently it is much colder up there so may have to buy some shoes as i only have flip flops... Really looking forward to seeing the mountains again. There is the famous Blue Mountain steam train, which is also called the 'toy train' that goes up and through the mountains to Ooty. The scenery is meant to be amazing. The best seats are in the first carriage in First Class but they were already booked up so I have to make do with Second Class. Fingers crossed, my seat will be on the correct side of the train so i get the good views!
On Sunday, i'm off to Mysore for a few days before i have to return back down south. I can't believe i only have less than 2 weeks left! It has gone by so quickly.
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