Kerala (Fort Cochin, Pallaruthy, Backwaters, +++)

Trip Start Feb 15, 2010
Trip End Dec 31, 2015

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Where I stayed
Edelweiss Home Stay

Flag of India  , Kerala,
Saturday, February 27, 2010

We endure the twenty-stop walking tour of the dilapidated buildings and the litter lined streets, hoping at each stop that the next will be worth seeing and after being disappointed for the twentieth time I draw the conclusion that Fort Cochin has already had its time. The greater number of tourists here than in Goa provide hope that there must be something we've missed and after the trusty Lonely Planet takes us to Kashi, a fantastic cafe which serves brilliant food and home-made ice tea we unveil a hub of well-hidden quirky cafes and restaurants. 

We venture to Kalikadi, a traditional Keralan story play, where the characters dress in elaborate makeup and costumes and act out scenes using facial expressions, sign language and dance.  It’s impossible to follow, even knowing the story line, but it’s amusing (and exhausting!) to watch them pain-stakingly act out every word of the play using their hands and twitching their faces.  The narrator, who communicates through yet more incomprehensible singing (which is very relaxing if you can block out the ear piercing percussion and tinny drum accompaniment), explains that it takes three years to learn the instruments and something monumental like seven years to train in the sign language and face winking! 

We tour the back waters in wicker-chair comfort on a long boat steered by two men with bamboo poles.  They take us, twenty-plus eager tourists, through narrow water lanes where our guide 'Joy’ has to take over the front bamboo pole role while the original man gets off the boat and starts pulling us along from the overgrown, palm tree riddled river bank - at which point we start to feel particularly guilty!  We stop off and see coconut husk rope making, a clam factory (which has a surprising number of uses, snort! Which I could tell you if we hadn’t been distracted by Joy’s many catchphrases including: "You, are having some ideas about clams?" and “Actually, we can call this one a ...”), a spice plantation and for a traditional Keralan lunch served on banana leaves.

We hear about an elephant festival in a nearby town and yet again are the only non-Indians on the bus to get there.  Being away from the tourist hub, we seem to be more of an attraction to the locals than the thirteen elephants.
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