18.12.2010 - 27.12.2010
So, we arrived in Fort Cochin at 5am having survived a night train covered in cockroaches - covered in them I tell you! Fort Cochin is an old Portuguese colonial town, successively taken over by the Dutch, the British and finally India! Their preparations for Christmas involved some rather attractive bunting. We spent part of the day touring the sites in what we were told was a "Ferrari" (which looked suspicously like an auto-rickhshaw) and the rest of the day wondering through the streets. The highlight of Fort Cochin was the Chinese Fishing Nets (please note the arty photo below) which are posted along the beach. Whilst in Fort Cochin we also decided to embrace the culture and attend a Kathkali performance. Kathkali is a traditional form of dance in Kerala, and is quite something - they tell stories by moving their eyes, pulling faces and positioning their hands in certain poses. They are made up with lots of green face paint (see google for images). I do wonder if it was a bit lost on us, but was entertaining all the same (if not a bit creepy - I will do the eyes for anyone who wants to see when we get back).
Having quickly exhausted Fort Cochin we headed down to Kerala's main attraction - the backwaters. For those of you who don't know, the backwaters are a large network of rivers and islands which cover a chunk of the south west of India. It is very calm and beautiful and if you are rich, or richer than us, you can hire a house boat to live on for a few days. Unfortunately, our funds would not allow for this and we decided to opt for the home-stay option, which is exactly what it says on the tin: you stay in someones home. Whilst Green Palm Homes was lovely, our memory of it will I am afraid be tarnished by the dodgy pakoras we bought the day before. Our first, and hopefully last (though I doubt it) brush with food poisoning. This meant much of the beautiful scenery and home-cooked Kerelan fare was lost on us as we gingerly sipped from our medicinal coconuts. We made good our escape a day early, a quick hop, skip, canoe, train and cab to our final destination...Varkala. The beach.