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Mexican standoff with the taxi

Day 14 Kerala Backwaters > Fort Kochi > Mumbai

Did I appreciate the 5am / 05:00 wakeup call by the local cockerill? You can answer this.

Then as the sun rose listening to the birds, motors of the passing house boats, dogs occasionally barking, across the canal the house builders with their concrete mixer and next door the sound of breakfast being prepared broke the silence.

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Breakfast of apam, banana fritters and vegetable stew before at 9am / 09:00 heading down the water to Appelley.

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The hour sitting on the top deck seeing the boat traffic passing quickly went by but my memory will be the sound of the ladies at the riverside washing their clothes with them swinging the clothes high above their heads and down it came "wack" onto the stone blocks.

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There was in fact another person completely under water who surfaced just after we went by

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Travelled back to Fort Kochi with another Café Coffee Day chai for 20 rupees/ NZ$0.40 / US$0.30 and toilet stop part way through the hour long journey.

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Some high ranking Catholic official

Some high ranking Catholic official

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It was 12.30pm / 12:30 where this part of my India odyssey ended upon arrival at Fort Castle Hotel. But it wasn’t over just yet for the day!

The heat and humidity hit me again as I left the comfort of the air con bus.

Andrea and Marina had during the trip talked up Ginger House that we enjoyed on the first day. As we had time, wanted to show Rosie the place for lunch. After a few hassles with getting a tuk tuk at the right price, eventually made it there.

As Prem was to join us, Majnu proprietor whom we didn't know at first, asked us to wait in the air conditioned restaurant for an outside table for us five to become free. He then introduced himself and briefly told us his story as a guide and then a brief history of the Ginger House hotel and restaurant. It was karma in that he didn't seek what he now has but how it came into his possession.

Ginger mutton, ginger ice cream and couple of ginger lime soda coming to 2,000 rupee / NZ$42.10 / US$31.00 will be how I remember this first part of my odyssey through India.

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Tuk tuk back to the hotel but both drivers wanted us to stop at a shop for a few minutes, not buy anything as in the first case he will get a container of petrol (100 rupees/ NZ$2.10 / US$1.60) for his efforts.

We were supposed to leave the hotel at 4pm / 16:00 in order for me to board the 7pm / 19:00 Spice jet flight to Mumbai.

The hotel staff wanted 2,500 rupees/ NZ$52.70 / US$38.80 for a pre-booked taxi. It was a Mexican standoff with Prem trying to get another taxi.

Yes, I was anxious as in my mind I had to be at the airport 2 hours before flight to check in plus we had at least an hour travel in busy commute traffic.

Eventually paid 1,300 rupees / NZ$27.40 / US$20.20 shared 4 ways and we left at 4.15pm / 16:15. Yes, with the road construction the going was at times very slow. The taxi driver tried to reassure us all that for check in domestic flights all you need is 60 minutes and international flights 3 hours. He was right.

Dropped Rosie off at her airport hotel, Andrea and Marina at terminal 3 as they were also heading to Mumbai and I got off at terminal 2 at 5.45pm / 17:45.

Made it through by 6.15pm / 18:15 with boarding pass in hand so could finally relax.

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The Spice jet 737 7.00pm / 19:00 flight didn't leave till 7.25pm / 19:25 for the nearly 2 hour flight.

I think I heard "As you are a corporate customer you are entitled to a complementary meal". I had previously heard "If you have prepaid for a meal or wish to purchase refreshments...." so was somewhat pleasantly surprised at the meal service.

Despite the delay by Mumbai air traffic control where we were told to circle out at sea landed at 9.35pm / 21:35.

It's only 31 C outside when we landed.

At the pre-paid taxi rank it was 653 rupees / NZ$13.90 / US$10.00 which included for 70 rupees / NZ$1.50 / US$1.10 the air con option, but in hindsight wasn’t necessary.

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Welcome to Mumbai ... took less than an hour (10.15 / 20:15 – 11.00 / 23:00) to reach SunCity Apollo Hotel.

“I have a reservation” … and my paper work at the front desk was all ready for me. With the late minute ownership change of Garden Hotel and Treebo Hotels wanting me to move to their inner city hotel, but I wanted to be staying in Colaba. Many thanks Eve for your unrelenting efforts back in New Zealand over many days, coping with the time zone differences to sort this one out.

Glad of SunCity Apollo Hotel’s central Colaba location. Plus my room was far enough away from the next door night club that the noise didn’t really bother me.

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Posted by bruceontour 01:47 Archived in India Tagged boats kerela Comments (0)

Ginger in everything!

Lime soda, prawns, grilled fish & ice cream & banana chips

Dutch Palace

Tuk tuk or auto rickshaw to the Dutch Palace.

Andrea and Raj

Andrea and Raj

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The Palace was built and gifted by the Portuguese as a present to the king of Cochin around 1555. The Dutch carried out some extensions and renovations in the palace in 1663, and thereafter it was popularly called Dutch Palace. The rajas also made more improvements to it. Today, it is a portrait gallery of the Cochin Rajas and notable for some of the best mythological murals in India, which are in the best traditions of Hindu temple art. The palace was built to appease the king after they plundered a temple nearby. Thanks Mr Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattancherry_Palace

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By now it was certainly not only hot but also humid. With the crowd it was no fun being herded like cattle inside the palace.

No photography in the main rooms so have a look at Google Images.

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=dutch+palace+in+kochi&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjXnc3f0bfZAhWGbbwKHcJUCm0QsAQIOw&biw=1536&bih=734

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattancherry_Palace

https://www.keralatourism.org/destination/mattancherry-palace-kochi/178

http://www.keralatourism.org/kochi/dutch-palace-mattancherry.php

http://www.cochin.org.uk/tourist-attractions/mattancherry-palace.html

As it was a worship day the nearby 400-year-old synagogue was closed. Never mind, we will visit it tomorrow before heading to the railway station.

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Ginger House

The trip notes said “free time to explore Matlancherry’s spice market and Jewish Quarter" but as I was here yesterday I opted to take Phrem’s suggestion and had lunch with Marinaand Andy at the more expensive water edge Ginger House.

Of course we had whatever was on the menu that had ginger in it. I had the grilled fish 870 rupees / NZ$18.30 / US$13.50 plus a couple of Ginger lime soda at 170 rupees / NZ$3.60 / US$2.60 each. Desert was their Ginger ice cream with banana chips 350 rupees / NZ$7.40 / US$5.40. Total 1,510 rupees / NZ$31.80 / US$23.40.

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http://www.gingerhousecochin.com/

Here are Google Images
https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=ginger+house+restaurant+kochi&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjcwZ_r07fZAhUS5rwKHQ_GCScQsAQIVQ&biw=1536&bih=734

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/kochi-cochin/restaurants/ginger-house/a/poi-eat/1293661/356338

A pleasant 2 hours before walking the 2.5 km back along the by now familiar road. While there was a more direct route, this one was more interesting. So a few more street scenes were captured by my lens.

More useless information = first quality chilli is 120 rupees / NZ$2.50 / US$1.85 a kilo.

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Now 3pm / 15:00 and time to upload some images in the comfort of the air con hotel room.

Phrem suggested that I go down to the Chinese fishing nets to take some sunset photos. Shown where the Kathakali theatre was and down to the waterfront I headed.

Pity the sun wasn't in the position of the postcards nor that there was any clouds.

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Kathakali

The evening performance of Kathakali is a form of traditional dancing from Kerala. Considered one of the oldest dance forms in India, Kathakali is a combination of drama, dance, music and ritual. Characters with vividly painted faces and elaborate costumes re-enact stories from the Hindu epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. This dance drama is famous for amazing costumes, extensive makeup explosive body movements and is performed exclusively by men.

http://www.kathakalicentre.com/

What do I think of the performance? Unless one was really interested in local dance and yes, this form of dance is unique, let's just say that it should be an optional extra. I'm glad that I was at the back with my monopod so that I could stand to take the few pictures / videos that I did but it also meant that I could also take a........ I'll let you finish the sentence.

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A group headed to Fusion Bay for dinner. Meen Thilappichathu or fish in spicy kerela broth. Yes, the most popular recipe used by families in Cochin of fish boiled with turmeric powder, chilli and vinegar certainly had some kick in it. Wow! That plus the ginger lime soda and basmati rice finished off the day. 540 rupees / NZ$11.40 / US$8.40.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/kochi-cochin/restaurants/fusion-bay/a/poi-eat/1557307/356338

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Posted by bruceontour 11:05 Archived in India Tagged palace kerela dutch ginger kathakali fort_kochi Comments (0)

My true profession ... ironing

St Francis Church

Off at 9.30am / 09:30 to enjoy an early morning orientation tour of the delightful Fort Kochi.

With Raj as our local guide, our first stop was St Francis Church, the oldest church in India. I'm glad that I came yesterday as the sunlight was different and more beautiful streaming in the stain glass windows even though it was around the same time of the morning.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/kochi-cochin/attractions/st-francis-church/a/poi-sig/1150567/356338

Brief facts … Kerala has more ladies than males, highly educated, coconut, spice accounts for 80% of the state’s income with cardamom being the queen of spice, black pepper = black gold, rubber. Portuguese influence. 54% Hindu, 24% Muslim, 18% Christian. Children learn 3 languages.

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For some of the group, a refreshing cool coconut was in order.

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Back passing the fish market and Chinese fishing nets again.

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Dhoby Khana

Along the waterfront again and caught a local bus the short distance to the open air laundry Dhoby Khana.

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No machines just sheer human power. I'm sure that my new front end washing machine is gentler on the clothes than this method.

A lady gestured me to iron so I did. Perhaps I am in the wrong profession?

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https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/kochis-historic-dhobi-khana-run-tamils-may-soon-be-hung-out-dry-44636

More pictures here.

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=Dhoby+Khana&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZhpvgkLnZAhXFnZQKHXQ4AmUQ_AUICygC&biw=1922&bih=951

Posted by bruceontour 02:30 Archived in India Tagged kerela st_francis_church fort_kochi chinese_fishing_nets open_air_laundry Comments (0)

Morning street side Chai before breakfast

Day 2 Kochi

Out for an hour's walk before the 8am / 08:00 breakfast. The street side mural was being painted by different people with a crowd watching on. Each time I passed it another section had been completed.

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The waterfront was alive with activities. Locals having a street side breakfast or a cup of hot tea, walkers and runners pounding the shoreline footpath, fishermen hauling in their catch plus the fish auction in operation made this part of town busy.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/kochi-cochin/attractions/chinese-fishing-nets/a/poi-sig/1319114/356338

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Spoke with a retired local who offered me a cup of tea. His daughter lives in Wellington. The way the vendor poured his tea out reminded me of the lady doing the same on the train in China but with hot water and the train was moving. Love the way the milk was being delivered ... by scooter. Sorry that the 2 videos are oriented incorrectly.

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Then along at the breakwater while watching the fishermen again casting their nets spoke with 2 students. One undertaking Islamic religious studies and the other one was completing a B Com.

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Breakfast eventually at Oissa with Eddie. We both chose a masala omelette 170 rupees / NZ$3.60 / US$2.60 that came with garlic bread, but it didn't taste that spicy or garlic at all. That with the press coffee came to 232 rupees / NZ$4.90 / US$3.60.

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Posted by bruceontour 12:09 Archived in India Tagged fishing kerela chai fort_kochi chinese_fishing_nets Comments (0)

Let this journey begin

A walk along Calvetty Rd and Bazar Rd got me the 2.5 kms to Mattancherry.

Found the wholesale area on Bazar Rd right by the water’s edge really fascinating with activity constantly going on ... goods being loaded and unloaded from the shops with their narrow frontage.

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Boxes of tea

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No point going into the Dutch Palace nor the Synagogue as that was on the tour tomorrow. So it was a walk around the Jew Town area bustling with tourists. By now it was hot with not much breeze at all.

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Lunch at Fort House overlooking the water of Verbena Lake. Settled on fish molee - Karela style mildly spiced fish stew with thick coconut milk 360 rupee / NZ$ 7.50 / US$5.60 served with Appam 60 rupee / NZ$1.25 / US$.90. That plus a couple glasses of refreshing lime soda came to 570 rupees / NZ$12.00 / US$8.80.
http://sutra.myindiasite.com/

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Then back to the hotel along the same roads and time to put one's feet up.

After the group 6pm / 18:00 "welcome meeting" (how some hotels may not have hot water as it could be heated by solar or need to wait 5 minutes for the water to heat, strong accent down south, mossies – dengue fever prevention better than cure, north men are clean shaven while down south they have a beard and moustache, so many different languages, body action down south shaking of their head side to side means YES. Then if they shake their whole body that is really saying YES.

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The first dinner which all who had arrived so far attended was around the corner at Sutra. For me it was their fish Tiffin Thali's plus a sweet lime soda. This may be my drink of choice on this part of the trip as I enjoyed it at lunch time as well.
http://sutra.myindiasite.com/

Fish Tiffin Thali 300 rupees / NZ$6.30 / US$4.65. Add on the lime soda came to 390 rupees / NZ$8.20 / US$6.00.

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Bags onto the bus that night or else we will be carrying it to and from the train. So a pack …

Let this journey, just another journey within life's overall journey begin.

Posted by bruceontour 03:19 Archived in India Tagged kerela fort_kochi Comments (0)

On the Chinese fishing nets itself

Passing the Chinese fishing nets again and while taking photos of the nets in operation from afar, I was waved over to join them. Only 7 nets left now. Anchovies, mullet, tiger fish, cat fish, white snapper. Best caught on the incoming high tide.

January and February are good months. Now only 3kgs are often caught in the 6 hours. It's low season. Fish are sold at auction.

With 6 families to support, I wasn't surprised that he wanted some money. Rupees or dollars or Euros.

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Posted by bruceontour 01:10 Archived in India Tagged kerela fort_kochi chinese_fishing_nets Comments (0)

Dutch Cemetery & St Francis Church

Dutch Cemetery

The Dutch Cemetery was rather run down.

http://www.keralatourism.org/kochi/dutch-cemetery-fort-kochi.php
http://www.karmakerala.com/guide/dutch-cemetary.html

IMG_5010.JPGIMG_5011.JPGIMG_5012.JPGIMG_5013.JPGLove the goal posts

Love the goal posts

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St Francis Church

St Francis Church was open and being lazy didn't want to take my shoes off. Knowing that we would revisit the church tomorrow, I opted to taking photos from the entrance.

St. Francis Church, in Fort Kochi (a.k.a. Fort Cochin), Kochi, originally built in 1503, is the oldest European church in India and has great historical significance as a mute witness to the European colonial struggle in the subcontinent. The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in 1524 when he was on his third visit to India. His body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years his remains were removed to Lisbon Thanks Mr Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Francis_Church,_Kochi

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Posted by bruceontour 00:41 Archived in India Tagged church kerela st_francis_church fort_kochi dutch_cemetery Comments (0)

Chinese Fishing Nets

Day 1 Fort Kochi

I had the whole day to get over the jet lag as the G Adventures welcome meeting wasn't till 6pm / 18:00.

A broken night's sleep. Awake by 6am / 06:00 and breakfast at 8am / 08:00. It was 160 rupees / NZ$3.35 / US$2.50 for either a western or Indian breakfast. Indian it was. A couple of chapattis with potato stew. Offered seconds so gratefully said "Yes please". That plus the piece of watermelon and couple cups of coffee set me up for the day.

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Late morning walk along the foreshore passing the Chinese fishing nets.

In India, Chinese fishing nets (Cheena vala) are fishing nets that are fixed land installations for fishing. While commonly known as "Chinese fishing nets" in India, the more formal name for such nets is "shore operated lift nets". Huge mechanical contrivances hold out horizontal nets of 20 m or more across. Each structure is at least 10 m high and comprises a cantilever with an outstretched net suspended over the sea and large stones suspended from ropes as counterweights at the other end. Each installation is operated by a team of up to six fishermen. While such nets are used throughout coastal southern China and Indochina, in India they are mostly found in the Indian cities of Kochi and Kollam, where they have become a tourist attraction. The Indian common name arises because they are unusual in India and different from usual fishing nets in India.

The system is sufficiently balanced that the weight of a man walking along the main beam is sufficient to cause the net to descend into the sea. The net is left for a short time, possibly just a few minutes, before it is raised by pulling on ropes. The catch is usually modest: a few fish and crustaceans, which may be sold to passers-by within minutes.

Rocks, each 30cm or so in diameter, are suspended from ropes of different lengths. As the net is raised, some of the rocks one-by-one come to rest on a platform thereby keeping everything in balance.

Each installation has a limited operating depth. Consequently, an individual net cannot be continually operated in tidal waters. Different installations will be operated depending on the state of the tide.

The nets may have been introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He.

The Chinese fishing nets have become a very popular tourist attraction. Their size and elegant construction is photogenic and the slow rhythm of their operation is quite hypnotic. In addition, catches can be purchased individually and need be taken only a short distance to a street entrepreneur who will cook it. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_fishing_nets

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Further along passing where the fish auction was in action, fishermen were waist deep in the water casting their nets.

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Posted by bruceontour 02:22 Archived in India Tagged india kerela fort_kochi chinese_fishing_nets Comments (0)

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