If you read my post yesterday about our day in wonderful Mumbai, you’ll know that we enjoyed our first ever cruise ship shore excursion, with a few reservations. I’d ask you to go back and read it, if at all possible, by clicking the link in the first sentence, I’m on limited ship internet, no time to repeat myself.
So Cochin, Kerala. One of my favourite parts of the world. But what was it like seeing Kerala from a cruise ship, as part of a shore excursion?
If India is my favourite country ( sometimes I say Sri Lanka or Nepal, just for variation, but you see the common theme), Kerala is one of my favourite parts. This state in southern India is beautiful, laid back, of huge cultural and historic interest and easy to travel independently with a well-established tourist trade. As is the way with most of India, the local people are delightful, full of smiles and welcomes, particularly for curious children. I’ve spent weeks here on previous trips, but yesterday was the children’s first visit.
I’m very happy to say that by the end of the day my 10-year-old had this to say:
“I didn’t think I could ever love a country as much as I love India.”
My little 8-year-old shared that “All the men have happy moustaches, I love it.”
We’ll be on a flight back to India very, very soon. UPDATE: We later spent 1 glorious month in India, read here.
His only reservation was the heat, strange for a child who grew up in far north Queensland. Or is it? Maybe what we did just wasn’t OK for this climate.
What Did We Do On Our Cochin and Kerala Shore Excursion?
As was the case yesterday, our day began with a coach journey and greetings and introductions from our local guide, Jo. He was great, as was Laksmi yesterday. Jo had the required “happy moustache” and even sang to us on the bus. We liked him and he was great with the boys.
As yesterday, the boys and I were the only people below retirement age on the trip, there were around 30 of us and we all spoke English.
We saw nothing of Cochin itself or stunning Cochin Fort Island, this was a village and backwaters tour, focusing on local crafts and village industry, there were other tours to choose from.
We later visited Kerala and Cochin independently and spent some extended time there, click through to read about Cochin, or here to read about Kerala beaches.
We boarded small open boats to traverse a large lake to our destination village. I had wondered why we were all issued with straw hats when we got off the coach, here was my answer, open boats, no shade. It wasn’t ideal. Jo kept up a commentary and we stopped to watch a toddy tapper tapping toddy, we were at the back and couldn’t really hear what he was saying, nor see the guy up the palm tree as the sun was behind him. I knew what was going on and could explain it to the kids as we waited for the other boats.
I guess the other passengers thought nothing of being in the full sun for so long, they probably enjoy the heat and getting a sun tan in a European winter, but we tropical creatures never go out in full sun during the day if we can avoid it. It was pretty intense.
Once we arrived at our tourist village, we were shown various crafts and manufacturing processes. They were great to see, particularly for the kids. A lot of this is what Kerala is famous for, a geography lesson of beyond textbook quality.
We enjoyed it, but the whole time I felt like a visitor to a human zoo as we shuffled around with our group, just minutes after the previous groups had passed through
The pace was faster today, Jo was working to a tight schedule and we got to our lunch venue on time at around 12.30pm.
The lunch set up was interesting. We were taken through what seemed to be a wealthy private home and showed their beautiful and productive garden. Lunch was laid out for us down by the water and, as yesterday, was delicious, authentic and plentiful.
The boys and I couldn’t find a seat, the other guests rushed to place their bags on chairs, leaving us 3 with plates of food and nowhere to sit. We sat on the grass, happy to have some peace. The Indian workers tried to find us seats together to be met with “No this is my seat.” And “We’re sitting here.” from our co-passengers. We had a lot of time to explore the lunch venue and observe the tropical gardens, so similar to our own back in Port Douglas. The Indian people were delightful, charming, friendly and courteous as we looked around. The boys were particularly taken with the natural gas production facility. 4 hours of cooking gas at a time from kitchen waste and cow dung. I’m getting D to build us one if we ever go home.
The highlight of the trip for the boys was the tuk tuk ride from the lunch venue back to the coach. Just the 3 of us, whizzing around a small residential area with Joshi, our “happy moustache” wearing driver was loads of fun and an authentic India experience. This was also part of the tour, a huge fleet of tuk tuks was waiting for us. I’ve never heard autorickshaws or trishaws be referred to as tuk tuks before, a new development in India I guess.
Back to the coach and a couple of stops to briefly look at market stalls and a dhobi facility. I’ve never been to a working Indian laundry before, so that was interesting, but again, the human zoo feeling was inescapable.
An interesting glimpse of Kerala and a tiny taste of India. We can’t wait to get on a plane and come back for more. Chef is searching for flights and we think we’ll be back in India very soon as we already have visas ready. 1 sea day before Sri Lanka now, then 2 sea days to Phuket, where he joins the ship. We don’t have any more shore excursions booked, we’ll just be hopping off and doing our own thing from now on.
We’re on an extended cruise as guests of the cruise company, but that doesn’t colour my opinions in any way. I always tell my truth, as it is, and always will. We are on very limited internet, so posts, images and formatting are a little rough around the edges for now, sorry, I’ll fix them up later.