Kochi – India
Kochi is in the south of Mumbai in the southwest of India in Kerala State. It is one of the most touristic and beautiful places in India. It is famous for the Chinese fishing nets and it has a lot of old forts, sanctuaries, churches, traditional performances and the backwaters. We took a train from Mumbai to Ernakulam and then crossed over to Kochi using a ferry. Once on the other side we took a tuk tuk to one hotel opposite the school which is run by an old couple. Funny enough we were the only ones in the hotel for the first two days because it was the low season.
It was the perfect place to escape the hectic life in the big cities. It is all about history, culture and relaxation. The place is quite, not too much pollution and it was not as hot as the other places. In the bay of of Kochi lies Chinese fishing nets and fishermen selling fresh fish by the seaside. I liked the place because it was the complete opposite of Mumbai.
The following day we went to see the Chinese fishing nets that are believed to have been introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He. These nets can be as long as 20m or more across and each is operated by up to six men. Luckily, we met one man who showed us how it works. They work singing a songs as a source of motivation.
St. Francis Church is the oldest church in India. It was built by the Portuguese in 1503. Later in 1779, it was renovated by the Dutch and transformed into and Anglican Church by the British in 1795. The remains of Vasco da Gama were interred here in 1524 but later shifted to Lisbon, Portugal. However, his tombstone still stands in the compound of the church. We never saw too much as the church was under rehabilitation and some areas were restricted to tourists.
The same day we booked a tour package to go to the backwaters. The following day we were up early in the morning and by eight we were in the van headed to the backwater. The place is quite. The place is super quite with palm trees on the sides and villagers who are washing in the waters, or collecting sand or shells. We got the chance to go on a spice tour in one village and to see women who were making ropes from coconut fibre. In Kenya we don’t use spices and the few used are very different from the ones I found here. We got a opportunity to see what spiced up our food so strongly. We were also taken to a workshopwhere they burn shells collected from the lake into powder then this powder is sold to other companies and is used to make calcium tablets. It is one of the sources of income for the community people living nearby. At the end of the tour we enjoyed a Keralite lunch of rice, chickpeas, vegetables, and sauces served on banana leaf.
The same day in the evening we attended the Kathakali performances. This is a classical Kerala dance performance that originated in the 17th century. The people do not talk but they use gestures, they mostly move the eyes and body in the tune of the instrumental and vocal music played in the background. The performers’ faces are painted in different colours with heavy attractive makeup using natural pigments and elaborate costumes. Each color represents a certain creature green for the heroes, gods and kings, red and black for the wicked and fierce, and various fussy colors animal types.
It was a whole new experience completely different from the Kenyan traditional music. They started by teaching us what each eye movement represented and they gave us leaflets with all the performance for easy follow up. It was not so easy for me to follow and I was in cloud nine most of the time. But I enjoyed the music and the body movements.
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