It’s been a while since I was last in India. I wasn’t surprised by some things, but as has always been the case, India never fails to throw new things at you. Kochi (formerly Cochin) though, with all its history and entrepreneurial prowess is still as fascinating as I remember it being way back when I first visited.
Our journey out was very much better than our return home from Thailand a couple of weeks ago too. Etihad Airways really excelled with punctuality, lovely in-flight service, but most importantly to us on long-haul flights, the comfort of their seats. We were even given a complimentary upgrade on the second leg of the trip from Abu Dhabi to Kochi. So nice and so appreciated.
Kochi is a busy, bustling city and during this pre-monsoon period it’s particularly hot. Luckily the Casino Hotel, where we were staying, had a very inviting pool. It’s not often you get a chance to say this, but the water was so warm it was like getting into a warm bath.
We attended a Keralan cookery class in the morning followed by a walking tour around the old ‘Fort Cochin’s part of the city, with its old hotels, churches, the fort itself and the world-famous Chinese fishing nets at the entrance to the port.
Our guide, Jose, was a minor celebrity himself, being part of the team on the UK TV series ‘The Real Exotic Marigold Hotel’ and a member of the production team on Slumdog Millionaire. He also took that iconic photograph of Pope Francis praying in the gas chamber at Auchwitz a few years ago.
Today, our third day in India, we spent a few hours on the road travelling up to Munnar, a place of mountains, waterfalls and Tea Plantations. Our hotel here is called the Tea Harvester and it’s in the most idyllic setting, looking out over the tea terraces and surrounding mountains. It really is picture book beautiful. We’re here sitting on our balcony as the sun is setting, listening to the different bird songs, distant dog barks and emerging cicadas waiting to fanfare the evening in.
India is an absolutely fascinating country to visit with all its colour, sounds, and lovely people. Everyone is so nice, and everyone we meet enjoys chatting away about all sorts. Tourists are few and far between in this part of the country, but that doesn’t make it any less welcoming. We’re looking forward to the next few days and the experiences they’re sure to bring.