We left at 6am in tuk tuks to the train station. It wasn’t far and we were there by 6.15am.
And much like the rest of Southern India, no chaos, no beggars and no people staring. We were just left alone. And we were so early – the train doesn’t come until 7am!
Several other trains passed through, they were quite busy but not ridiculous – everyone was seated – no one standing or hanging out of the doors. And surprisingly no one wandering across the tracks, everyone uses the footbridge! This doesn’t happen in the north!
The train came on time at exactly 7am. We had to move people out of our reserved seats, but they moved without fuss. I like indian trains. People move through selling their goods – chai, coffee, dosa masala, omelette, water. Nothing too exciting though. We passed through the luscious green landscape, through small villages, the occasional elephant and back through the towns we have stopped in.
We stopped off in stations every now and then, all basically the same – a veg cafe, a non-veg cafe and crisp/biscuit stands. The train got quite busy, with people down the whole aisle. The chai and food sellers still battled through! I bought a samosa from one of the sellers (they only started selling these after about 11am!). It was so delicious! And cost 10p, nice and cheap.
It took us 3 days to journey down to Varkala, but only 5 hours to return up to Kochi!
We arrived into Ernakulam train station just before 12pm. The queue to get a tuk tuk was so long. But it moved fast and we were soon nipping through the busy streets to the hotel back in Fort Cochin. It took over half an hour, weaving our way through trucks and fruit stalls, shoppers and tractors. Back where we started last week!
I dumped my bag and collected all the other bags I had left at the hotel (!). I quickly popped down the road to the fruit man – again a huge banana selection, I bought 1kg of small bananas to bring home (bit ridiculous!) and he had mangos! So I bought a few of those too! Cost £1 for all – so cheap!
For a late lunch we headed to the restaurant I wanted to go to last week (and was closed), it was now open! I had a vegetable thali, it was so delicious! Rice, chapati, okra curry, a potato vegetable curry, lentil dhal, and tomato and cucumber slices. Yum! Although it was such a huge portion I barely looked like I had eaten anything!
Back at the hotel I repacked all my bags – managing to squeeze all my stuff into one! We headed back out at 5.15pm to go to a nearby theatre to watch Kathakali.
Kathakali is a performance with elaborate gestures and heavy mask-like makeup. The stories are those of the Ramayana. Traditionally performances start in temple grounds in the evening and go on all night. However the version we are watching is significantly shortened. The men were getting their make up done as we arrived – and you can watch as their faces are painted in bright colours. Each of the colours is made by rubbing a coloured rock with coconut oil. That took a while (45mins!).
Then they decorated the stage with sand patterns and flowers. There are drums, a guy with cymbals and sort-of singing. The 2 actors – in their heavy makeup and elaborate outfits – move around the stage in careful movements. Mostly hand, face and eye movements. It was rather weird.
We were there 2 hours – I was totally bored and quite pleased it was over!! I wouldn’t be able to sit through a whole evening of that…!
We went to a local restaurant for our final dinner. I had a vegetable curry and rice, I had requested no onions. When the food arrived, the guy said I know you requested no onion, but I put a little onion in, is that ok? No. No it’s not ok. I don’t fancy being ill for my final night in India. So he re-did it and it arrived so so salty. So I didn’t eat much.
All the shops were still open when we headed back to the hotel, but none of them sell anything particularly exciting around here.
Sunday 26 April 2015
Time to go home. Already. My flight is stupid early – 7.10am. So I’m leaving at 4am…! I didn’t sleep too well. I was paranoid about oversleeping, so ironically I barely slept. The taxi was on time and the roads were completely deserted. Even still, it still took just over an hour to reach the airport. The number of times my passport, visa and ticket were checked was just beyond a joke. Before you are allowed into the terminal a guy wants to see a print out of your ticket. What a waste of a tree, I don’t carry print outs. My phone wasn’t sufficient. So he made me find my name on a passenger list (which was not in alphabetical order). Barely 50 paces later we had to repeat the process with another guy – the point being?!
There was only one person infront of me to drop bags. The other people checking in had no concept of a queue, but I was in no mood to allow people to push infront so I told them – they weren’t impressed, well neither was I! Not standing here for the sake of it. It was glacially slow.
I loved South india (and wrote this paragraph before the airport – which was a massive hassle) It was so easy, hassle free, no one staring, no one was rude. It was so green and beautiful. I really want to come back. (which is all true until I got to the airport – at this point I can’t wait to leave).