After our very peaceful week in Varkala, our next destination was the city of Kochi, or Cochin, as it was previously known. Kochi is split into the mainland, which is a large administrative and commercial centre, and multiple islands, breaking off into the Indian Ocean.
Our chosen location for our 2 night stay in Kochi was on one of the islands in a popular backpacker district known as Fort Kochi, famous for it’s Chinese fishing nets, as well as a mish-mash of religion, arts and architecture, thanks to the various empires that have occupied the area throughout history. So, we hopped on the floating tin can at Kochi Boat Jetty that was meant to take us there, and hoped for the best…
Fort Kochi does not look like a part of India. It appears to be more like an old European town (thanks to it’s various European occupants over the years), which just happens to be inhabited by Indians. We explored Indian Europe for a few days, checking out the Chinese fishing nets at the northern tip of the island, and also a few of the other significant tourist attractions, including a few art galleries along the way. The fishing nets were cool, nothing really to write home about (oh wait, I am!), however the small coastal stretch that they occupy is a fucking shit tip, yet again, thanks to the fishermen of the area. I am quickly coming to an understanding that fishermen are dirty bastards.
The Fort Kochi area is nice enough, and worth a look around, but I don’t think it warrants a return visit / stay when we return to Kochi later this month.
From Kochi we boarded a bus, which 4 hours later dumped us in the middle of the Western Ghats, in a hill station town called Munnar. Munnar appears to be more popular with Indian tourists than western tourists, with them arriving by the busload on what appear to be organised sightseeing tours coming from the major cities. Indian tourists are a funny bunch. Yes, they stare, yes, they like whooping and wailing for no reason, yes, they love a “selfie”, and yes they are incredibly intrigued by westerners.
I am all for meeting the locals, etc. but I am now unfortunately no longer able to continue the façade of giving a shit and engaging in the almost predictably inane communication with the Indian tourists, who’s end goal is just to have a photo with you – what do they do with all these photos!? It really does baffle me. To anyone who can keep this up for the entire length of his or her stay in India, I wholeheartedly commend you!
Anyway, minor rant over. Munnar is spectacular (well the surrounding area, not the busy epicentre that is Munnar town centre). It is deep in the heart of tea country, and the tea estates, which are among some of the highest in the world (apparently), are seemingly endless, and beautifully crafted into the rolling hillsides. On Saturday Soph and I went on a 13 mile walk from Munnar to Mattupetty Dam and back again, which took us through epic tea fields, along winding mountain roads, and eventually to a magnificent, unfortunately slightly over crowded, reservoir and dam (the buses had beat us there!). The views along the way were pretty amazing, and the well-deserved beer (or four) upon our return was almost as good! In order to obtain our beer we went down to the Munnar government alcohol shop, and leaving Soph to rest her legs and watch the bags, I joined the queue, consisting of some of Kerala’s many drinkers and alcoholics! Oh, what fun can be had in a queue full of desperate, impatient Indians… haha.
Yesterday we decided to take things a little easier and took a bus up to the highest point in the local area, some 35km away, called Top Station. We were hoping to be high above the clouds, overlooking the incredible mountain scenery, however, sod’s law, it got really cloudy, and so we were just in a cloud for an hour and a half. Top Station view point, therefore, didn’t quite provide the view we wanted, but hey-ho it can’t always go to plan.
We will be staying in Munnar for one more night, then heading back to Kochi to start the next phase of our trip, heading north to Calicut, and from there…who knows. We will decide later.
No photos again due to the incredibly sporadic internet connection in our hotel. I will get some uploaded soon!