Cochin – welcome to Kerala

Portuguese residues in India. Cochin is a user-friendly city, much nicer than the rest of India… and less dirty. The place is a great gataway to crazy indian reality, recommended for people visiting India first time – to gently, step by step learn how to survive in the country of chaos…

 

Chaotic beginnings

After a long journey from Udupi in a night train we reached Ernakulam Junction. It was 5am and still no sign of daylight. Our map had many hotels marked, so picked one without thinking and went to the right direction. It was clean looking accommodation with price not too high. Place was named John’s Residency so for us was like owned by Brit or at least European person. Even reception had that European feel, decorations and some other small details. Luckily for us, there was 24hrs check out so we had time to rest after journey, see Cochin after and then come back again and spend a night.

We woke up after 3h nap and went downstairs to see with the owner. It turned that we were wrong. The owner of the place was another Indian guy who named himself John and his place John’s residency of course. Very rude guy. He didn’t like 24h check out in our case as we slept there twice. Once at early morning and once at night time and we paid only for one night. He was yelling at receptionist, we understood nothing but could tell it was about us. We also noticed little card he wrote. It was about Lonely Planet and that they made mistake about room prices (too low) at his place. We were wonder if it was true so checked it and prices in Lonely Planet were 300 rupiees lower than he was charging. We don’t believe that one of the biggest and honest guide publishers would make such a mistake. Not only in one but in two issues of the book about India. We could read his cunning on his face. What we think is there was no mistake in Lonely Planet but after being published in there he severely rose the prices as people read this guide and most of them when they take taxi, stay there even the price is higher. 300 rupies seems not much as it’s only £3 but it equals a dinner and when you travel on the budget it counts. Later on we checked other places and prices were lower for the same standard, but we already paid so no chance to move from one place to another, especially when we were staying there only one night. Our advice: AVOID John’s Residency.

 

From Ernakulam to Fort Cochin by ferry

Ernakulam and Cochin are divided with the bay and the main train station is in Ernakulam. It’s also where our hotel was. We had to take a ferry to get to Kochin and do a little bit of sightseeing.

Public boats take thousands of people every day with frequency of 10-20minutes to different parts of the city. Our destination was Fort Cochin. To ticket office there were 2 queues: one for males that had no end and very short one for females. When Anna was standing in line, some local guy approached Chev with his business of a life: 2 tickets for a ferry to Fort Cochin for 420 rupiees each. Chev couldn’t stop laughing and said to Anna what just had been offered. We were laughing so much that even guy who offered us those tickets was laughing with us. Cost of one ticket is only 4 rupiees and Anna was 3rd in the queue to buy it. No need to explain why we didn’t take such a good deal. 🙂

When we were on the ferry we had two small girls with parrents in front of us. They were keep looking at us. Look at the make up. Kids in India have more make up than Indian women – it’s because arranged marriages. Parents of small girls think about their future from early beginnings. They want the girl to be noticed by family of her future husband.

indian kids

indian girl
Indian girl with make-up

 

Sightseeing in Fort Cochin

We wanted to do Fort Cochin on foot. We did about 7 miles in scorching heat. 😀 It was nice to walk around the town and feel like in Portugal. Well, dirty version of it. We saw many churches and some nouns.

 

Street-art

Cochin is well known for Art Biennale, local and world-class artists come to show their works. We spotted many murals in different places.

 

Travel tips:

  • we stayed in Jonh’s Residency, but as you probably noticed above, we won’t recommend this place. It’s better to find something in Fort Cochin – more hotels and they are cheaper/better;
  • from the main train station to a ferry port it’s only 2 km long, easy walk;
  • we did sightseeing in Cochin on foot, but it’s easy to catch a rickshaw when you get off a ferry. Prices may vary, but it’s usually 500 rupiees for a half-day tour;
  • we’ve seen many cheap resaurants opposite famous Chinese Fishing Rods.