Tuesday 11th – Kochi

Back in the land of internet now, so catching up

I think I may have picked up a tummy bug. I certainly didn’t sleep that well, but I managed to force down a little breakfast and actually didn’t feel too bad as we headed off for the Chinese fishing nets a short distance from the hotel. It was already hot and busy with numerous tourists wandering along the promenade. In truth it seems the nets don’t catch much these days, mainly due to over-fishing, and the fact that a major container port lies across the river. The main catch now is tourists and we were besieged with people selling bangles, carvings and one particularly persistent man who wanted to sell me a box in the shape of a cat. If he had known me well he would have realised that nothing would tempt me to buy anything in the shape of a cat. However he didn’t, and clearly saw it as his mission in life to get me to take home a feline object.

We went onto a fishing gantry and had a go at pulling in the net. Apparently we were meant to bring good luck, but alas the fish stayed away although 500 rupees changed hands so perhaps we were lucky after all!

We walked along to the Church of St Francis, not exactly a thing of great beauty, but which contained the tomb of Vasco de Gama. His body had long since left for LIsbon, but the gravestone remained. The church was built by the Portuguese and had been remodelled by the Dutch and then the British. Another short walk brought us to the Roman Catholic Basilica of ……….which had a girl’s school in its grounds. It was very ‘catholic’ but had some beautiful ironwork at its entrance.

We walked to a restaurant where I rashly had a delicious vegetable stew with Kerala rice (fatter grains) and a mango lassi. AS others were taking their time I took a short walk, but, truth be told, saw little of interest.

We boarded the coach and went to the Dutch Palace which again was built by the Portuguese, but remodelled by the Dutch. They built it to appease the local maharajah and it certainly was magnificent with beautiful wood ceilings. In the dining area the ceiling was covered in brass balls to reflect the light. This meant that the number of candles were limited and so smoke was kept to a minimum. Two rooms had amazing murals of the Ramayana and our guide, Philip, explained the story in some detail. He is a born actor and frankly should be on the stage!

Another short walk brought us to the synagogue – the oldest in India (although according to our guide only beaten in age by the one In Jerusalem (Hmm!) We couldn’t take pictures inside but it was a beautiful building. From here we were due to go to the spice market, but we rebelled, being too hot and tired. This meant Philip didn’t get his cut, but he seemed to take it on the chin.

Back at the hotel I started to feel very poorly and took to our room, failing to make it to dinner. Some musician started playing a raga in the courtyard which seemed to go on for hours and did nothing to calm my savage breast – indeed I felt like throwing something at him – the first raga lout perhaps?!

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