Tuesday, September 16, 2008


JC, a coworker and I took four forms of transportation within six hours; a cab to the Bangalore airport at 4am, a plane that departed at 5:55am to Kochin, an hour bus ride from Fort Kochin to Vaikom and a 5-hour boat ride that took us on Kerala backwaters tour.

When we reached Kochin airport, we were tired, hungry and in desperate need of coffee but the cab ride took so long, by the time we met Merv at his home stay, the travel bus was already waiting, so no chance to grab a shot of masala chai. Merv arranged the tour that includes hotel pick-up and drop, lunch and 2 boat rides.

Little-boat ride along the backwaters through villages and a spice tour.

Water here is used for transportation, cleaning and cooking.

Big boat ride.

Big-boat took us to a small island, where we had lunch served on banana leaves.

The 2 hours big-boat ride got a bit boring and plus the heavy Indian lunch, it was the perfect opportunity to take a nap.

Sunset at Chinese Fisherman Nets.

These colorful fans were hand-made.

Khatakali performance. I enjoyed this a little more than I thought I would. The animated and colorful costumes with exaggerated expressions, actions and make-up reminded me of a silent version of Chinese Opera.


We stayed at Orion Homestay in Fort Kochin. Mervyn thought we got cheated because we paid Rs1600 for a tiny room in this home stay but one of us had to sleep on a very uncomfortable mattress on the floor. The owner overcharged us Rs100 thinking we won’t double-check the bill (which we later left as a tip), charged us for breakfast (which they mentioned on arrival was free) and made us pay Rs40 for a roll of toilet paper.

Fort Kochin is another tourist-infested state so auto-rickshaw drivers get commission if they bring a new customer or foreigner to any hotels/home stays, souvenir or handicraft emporium (Merv: “… or tourist trap. When they see us foreigners, it’s like seeing money walking in”). After a few minutes of haggling, we decided to go along with the auto-rickshaw driver’s proposal of Fort Cochin tour + 3 emporiums (look only, no need to buy) + free t-shirt = Rs20.

At the end of the “tour”, auto-rickshaw driver was annoyingly persistent about going to 2 more emporiums. Since this wasn’t part of the agreement, JC yelled at him and he dropped us back without another word but left us with a content grin probably because he made enough commission to throw todi parties for a week. Oh, and we never got our free t-shirt.

Snake-y auto-rickshaw driver

More Kerala Pictures

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