Day 1 – Dec 18th
It starts today – our 3 month trip to Kerala. We’ve been looking forward to this phase of our life for quite some time now and our excited that it is finally here.
We woke up early and finished some last minute packing. We were traveling on the Sabari express and the journey was 25 hours long. Although our tickets were booked from Secunderabad, we decided to board the train at Nampally – the starting station for the train. Two bikes to package and send to Kerala as luggage and boarding it from the origin point would give us more time to get the bikes packaged and boarded carefully.
We arrived at the station by 9:00 AM, two hours before the train actually starts and began the packaging process. This went fairly smoothly except for the fact that along with the 6,000/- that we paid the Indian Railways, we had to pay hand offs to each and every person who touched the bikes!
We were traveling in luxury on the 2nd AC mainly because we had a lot of luggage and didn’t want to discomfort other passengers.
Day 2, 3 – 19th Dec – 20th Dec
The train was running an hour late by the time we reached Ernakulam town station the next day. We de-boarded the train and I rushed to the luggage compartment to ensure that the bikes were getting de-boarded as well. After completing a few formalities and paying a “tip” to the porters we had our bikes in our possession.
The bikes needed petrol, and once that was done we started our 20 KM drive from the station to our homestay. The drive was good as we were mostly riding on the Salem-Kochi Highway (NH-544) and we reached our homestay – Orchid Villas in about an hour.
We were given a room inside a villa, situated in a compound that had 15 similar villas with a few more still under construction. Our villa had 4 other rooms, but all of them were empty for now. Infact it seemed like we were the only guests in the entire compound. Maybe the distance from Kochi city put people off? Either way we are happy to have the villa to ourselves. Everything was neat and clean and the staff were friendly.
After unpacking we took a careful tour of the house and realized that some important things were missing – a line to dry the laundry, dustbins, utensils in the kitchen among other things. The fridge and stove were there but did not function. We made a note of all these things so that we could get them fixed up. Dinner was at a local shop near the house. We also got a few groceries that we could cook the next day.
Early next morning we headed out for a long walk around the homestay. This area feels like the country side. Houses are independently designed and have a front garden full of plants and trees. Large patches of land are left as is, with wild plants and coconut trees filling them up. Life is slow here, there is no rush and people go about their business in a leisurely manner. We also made a note of a local bakery close to our homestay.
The rest of the day was spent catching up on our emails, setting up the house and cooking our first meal. Most of the issues we had made a note of earlier were taken care off by the staff at the homestay.
Day 4 – 21st Dec – Visit to Fort Kochi
The next day we started off to Kochi on the Activa at around 7 AM. The weather was cloudy and perfect for a drive. The distance to Kochi is around 34 KMs, majority of it on the NH966A. It took us an hour and a half to complete, including a stop on the way to take photos.
We hopped over to Vypeen island and from there took our first ferry ride ever to Fort Kochi. It was nice to see the locals waiting patiently and boarding the ferry in an organized manner.
Upon arriving at Fort Kochi, we went to see the Chinese fishing nets in action at the Fort Kochi Beach. These are big fishing nets connected to a pulley; that lowers them into the sea, and then pulls them up swiftly. In the process it also ends up pulling any unfortunate sea animals wandering about above the net at that time. During our time here, we saw large container ships and dredges crossing the Kochi port. The beach was full of activity – fishing, vendors selling the fresh catch from that day, the birds chirping and flying around grabbing small fishes caught in the nets and the huge container ships sailing in the background.
Our brunch at the Loafers Cafe consisted of banana pancakes and some coffee. The food at the cafe is good and it is comfortable enough to relax and get work done. Next stop was the Maritime museum. On the way there we stopped at a handicraft exhibition held at the YWCA hall opposite the Parade ground organized by A Hundred Hands. It is an annual handicraft exhibition / sale that has artists from all over India and their works for sale. A must visit if you are in the area.
The trip to the maritime museum was informative. The place is clean and well maintained like the rest of Fort Kochi.
Next we headed to Pepper House Cafe to have a late lunch. The place is a little expensive but the food is very tasty. While we were there we had a slightly jarring experience that left us a bit scarred for sometime – I’ll blog about it later. Aside from that, our time at the Pepper house was good. We learnt about the Kochi-Muziris Biennale for which Pepper house is one of the locations. The Kochi Biennale is an art exhibition and festival that is the largest of its kind in South Asia, certainly worth a visit.
On our way back to our homestay, we stopped to shoot the sunset at NH966A. We also made a stop at the supermarket to buy groceries and household items for the month.
Fort Kochi is beautiful – its green, its neat and clean, and people there are warm and friendly to tourists. There are a lot of beautiful old buildings from the Portugese, Dutch and Anglo era that have been renovated and turned into cafes, museums and art galleries. The trees seem to be as old as the buildings – huge with thick trunks covered with creepers.
Until next time!
Thanks to my wife and travel companion for the pictures. You can follow her on Instagram here.
Following is a summary of the places we visited in no particular order,
- Orchid Homestay, Athani – Homestay for Dec to Jan 2019
- Chinese fishing nets, Fort Kochi Beach – Landmark
- Pepper House Cafe, Fort Kochi – Restaurant
- Loafers Cafe, Fort Kochi – Restaurant
- The Maritime Museum, Fort Kochi – Museum
- Handicrafts exhibition, YWCA Hall, Fort Kochi – Exhibition
- Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Pepper House Cafe, Fort Kochi – Art exhibition