A Travellerspoint blog

Exploring Fort Kochi

February 11, 2016

sunny 32 °C
View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

We got going fairly early because we had no food for breakfast. We found a fruit and vegetable store fairly close by and bought bananas. We walked along the shore past a beach and the Chinese fishing nets. There was a lot of garbage all along the shore, whether it is brought in by the ocean or thrown there by locals, we don't know, but it is pretty disgusting.
Chinese fishing nets

Chinese fishing nets

Garbage strewn shore

Garbage strewn shore


We found a little restaurant for breakfast and had idlis - sort of rice croquettes with sauce - very good. I'm becoming addicted to lime soda, fresh lime juice with soda, it's so good. We wanted to see if we could find a ATM that would work with our Mastercards, so we set out walking towards one we had been told about. A tuk tuk driver wanted our business, so we ended up getting him to drive us from ATM to ATM until Don finally used his Visa card at one and got some cash. Yea!! However, it is a mystery to be solved why our Mastercards will not work. Yes, we told them we were traveling to India.
So we proceeded to let the tuk tuk driver take us to a couple of artisan stores, where he gets a lottery ticket for bringing in customers. They were beautiful places, filled with sculpture of all types and sizes, hand knotted rugs, saris, etc. Tempting as they were, we managed to escape without buying anything! We then went to the Dutch Palace, a big old building which has been turned into a museum of the history of the Cochin area and its rulers. There we said goodbye to our helpful tuk tuk driver and started walking again.
Men working so hard

Men working so hard

Goats on the streets

Goats on the streets


We found a restaurant for lunch, although I couldn't eat very much of what I ordered. Almost everything comes with hot pepper on it in some form or other. I'm considering getting my wedding ring cut off because my knuckle has swollen so much. However, I think I'm losing weight on this trip, so there are benefits!
We walked the streets, trying to figure out where we were in relation to the map (which wasn't to scale) and just seeing the sights. We worked our way back over to our neighbourhood. I bought some mineral paint/dye from a small shop, which may be fun to play with. We found the Seagull Hotel, which has a terrace and deck beside the ocean channel. So we sat in the shade and had a beer, watching the constant activity on the water. After a rest, we continued on home, stopping to buy some food for breakfast tomorrow.
Mineral pigment display

Mineral pigment display

Another wedding photographer captured

Another wedding photographer captured


We went out to a little restaurant very nearby, which has all of 3 tables in the space of a single car garage. But the young fellow was very accommodating and made me some dosas with spinach and cheese and no peppers! It was delicious! Once we got back home again, we talked with Sheeja, our hostess, and she helped me call Mastercard on her phone. After talking with both Mastercard and someone from the credit union, we concluded there is no problem from the bank's end. It is something about the Indian ATM's. Very strange, but at least we have one card that gives us cash.
Tiny neighbourhood restaurant

Tiny neighbourhood restaurant

Posted by katdill 18:29 Archived in India Comments (0)

Farewell to the Maldives

February 10, 2016

sunny 32 °C
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We had to get up early and have an early breakfast to catch the 7:00 am speedboat into Male. We got there around 9:00 and then took the ferry over to the airport. We would have liked to look around Male a bit, but with our luggage it did not seem possible. We hoped we could check our luggage when we got to the airport and then take the ferry back to look around but no. Once you are in the airport system, you don't get out again. We couldn't check our luggage for a couple of hours, cuz our flight didn't go until 2:45 and Rob's at 3:30. So we sat outside the airport in the shade, by the dock that the ferries and other boats use, had some lunch, and finally it was time to get in the airport and leave. We said goodbye to Rob as we boarded our plane and left him waiting for his time to come.
Very expensive liquor in the Male duty free shop

Very expensive liquor in the Male duty free shop


Don and I landed in Cochin, India at 5:00 and were hoping to catch the 6:00 bus to Fort Kochi, where our accommodation is located. Unfortunately, after breezing thru immigration and customs, we tried to get cash from the ATMs at the airport. No luck - transaction denied! So Don went back into the airport and changed some US money for Indian rupees. Our 6:00 bus had left and the next one came at 7:30. We spent the wait sitting at the bus stop reading and people watching. Finally when our bus came and we got on, it took 1 1/2 hours to go the 37 km to Fort Kochi. Then we got off and found a tuk tuk to take us the rest of the way. The tuk tuk driver had some difficulty finding the place, but with our hostess' help over the phone we arrived safely.
Cochin's classic old airport

Cochin's classic old airport

The motorcycle parking

The motorcycle parking


Sheeja, our hostess, made us some eggs and toast for supper since we hadn't eaten anything since lunch in the Maldives. It was very kind of her because neither one of us felt like going back out to find some food.
Our new place is like a suite on the second floor of the house. We have an outside stairway coming up, a living/dining area, a kitchen, and our bedroom. There is also access to a rooftop terrace.
Our new living/dining area

Our new living/dining area

The large spider welcoming us in the bathroom, which was removed for us

The large spider welcoming us in the bathroom, which was removed for us

Posted by katdill 04:50 Archived in India Comments (0)

More Exciting Village Life

February 9, 2016

sunny 30 °C
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Today was pretty much a repeat of our previous days here, except the guys didn't go out in a boat, they just snorkeled around the home reef. But, I have other interesting stories of village life for you.
As we walked around the island, we had noticed some of the palm trees have boards fastened to their trunks to form ladders. Great idea, right? I had Don try one out so I could get a photo. Right after that, we ran into the man who was using them as intended. He climbs the palm, makes a cut across a flower stem? or new leaf? and fastens a plastic bottle to it. Then he covers it all with some cloth wrapping and climbs down. He empties the containers from his previous trip, which maybe is 3 times a day, but for sure twice a day. The sap that he collects is then boiled down to make syrup. Voila! Palm syrup just like maple syrup. We had heard the description of this from Harshi in Colombo, but this was the first time we got to see it in action.
Don demonstrates ladder

Don demonstrates ladder

Man collecting sap

Man collecting sap

Height of palm

Height of palm

Man at top of palm

Man at top of palm

Another interesting bit as we walked past the boatbuilders was one of them was making copper nails to use on the boat. As we stood and watched the process, the man offered Don a turn and he managed to pound down the copper to make the head of the nail fairly successfully. It was pretty cool to see just how they did that.
Don pounding the head of the nail

Don pounding the head of the nail

Posted by katdill 18:35 Archived in Maldives Republic Comments (0)

An Interesting Afternoon

February 8, 2016

sunny 30 °C
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This morning was a repeat of yesterday's, the guys went out on the boat to snorkel and I sat in the shade and stitched and read. But after lunch, when they returned, it got more interesting.
Don and I were sitting in the shade by the ocean, reading, when Rob came by. He was walking around taking pictures and he reported there were a group of women who were weaving. That got me interested and after a little bit, I wandered over to see what they were doing. They were weaving palm leaves to make palapas thatch. They don't seem to use it much on this island, their roofs are all metal or cement it seems, so maybe they are something they sell to other islands. So I took a picture and was asking them about how they use it, but English is pretty limited here. Unless people work in the tourist industry, they never use it, I think. Then one of the women gestured to me and had me sit in her spot and try my hand at weaving thatch. Well, it was hilarious - the young woman who had the best English asked for my camera so she could take a picture of me. I could hardly get down to the little stool the woman was sitting on and I found out later she is just a year younger than I am. Then it was lead me step by step, pretty much doing it for me, until I had added one double row of leaves to the thatch. At that I gave up and let them get back to work. Lots of fun and they had lots of laughs at my expense. Don wasn't with me and I think the woman felt freer without a man watching, they sure had fun!
Making thatch

Making thatch

My turn to try

My turn to try


After I rejoined Don, we walked around the island, Don taking pictures of groups of kids, who like hamming it up for the camera. We helped a couple of women who were working on untangling fishing line. It was very heavy gauge nylon line, wrapped around a detergent bottle.
Kids acting for the camera

Kids acting for the camera

More kids

More kids


Walking along the beach we found a couple of women and 3 boys catching little fish. They had a bottle of water they would put them in. We have no idea what they were going to do with them - sell them? add them to the aquarium? - they seemed too small to eat. They enjoyed our interest and showed us their technique. Once they spot a little fish, the two women quickly hold a piece of fabric against the bottom while the boys drive the fish onto the fabric. We saw more fails than successes, but the number of fish in their bottle shows how successful they were.
Catching tiny fish

Catching tiny fish


Bottle of fish

Bottle of fish


Tune in tomorrow for more stories of exciting island life!

Posted by katdill 18:55 Archived in Maldives Republic Comments (0)

A relaxed day on Omadhoo

February 7, 2016

sunny 30 °C
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Don and Rob went off on a snorkeling trip with another fellow, Tom, from Germany. The trip was about 2 hours and went to a reef away from the island. Apparently, this is called a "thila". "A Thila is an underwater island that can be both, so small that you can dive it all around or so big that you'll manage to see only one side during a dive." They had a good time and enjoyed all the coral and fish they saw there.
After they left I went over to the school to see if they wanted me to speak with any of the students, the way I had on Dhangethi. It turned out the principal was away on leave, and the vice-principal(?) was afraid to do anything out of the ordinary. So I said if you talk to the principal and want me to come just contact the guesthouse.
I walked over to the windy side of the island and found a lazy chair in the shade. As I walked I passed a woman harvesting some fruit from a net-covered tree. I asked her what kind of fruit it was, but her English wasn't up to answering me. However, she gave me a fruit to try and motioned for me to eat it. It was delicious - sort of a pear-apple flavour. We still don't know what it is called...
Mystery fruit - I just found out they call it a wax apple

Mystery fruit - I just found out they call it a wax apple


It is lovely to sit in the shade and stitch, enjoying the breeze and resting my eyes on the ever changing ocean. I got quite a bit done and when I decided to return to the guesthouse I met the guys on their way back. So after they cleaned up we went for lunch at the only restaurant that is not at our guesthouse. The young waiter there said "Come" and led us to a small palapa on a tiny island in a cement pond. Very cute - shaded from the sun, feeling the breeze, and small fish in the moat around us. We had a very cheap and delicious meal.
Tiny palapa at the restaurant

Tiny palapa at the restaurant


Don and I went back to my shady lazy chairs and read during the really hot part of the day and then he went for another snorkel around the island, covering some different territory than they did yesterday.
Don exploring some of the shady island

Don exploring some of the shady island


We had supper here at the guesthouse - it's not served until 7:30 - I'm getting adjusted to eating later, although I often have to have a snack before hand. The Maldives are alcohol free islands, at least the islands that have natives living on them. I guess the islands that are just resorts can do as they wish. So we are having an alcohol detox while staying here, but it's not hard to do at all.
The dining area at our guesthouse

The dining area at our guesthouse

Posted by katdill 18:24 Archived in Maldives Republic Comments (0)

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