The last leg of our trip to India was Cochin and Kerala. Cochin is a lovely port city on the West coast of India. It was once a major spice trading centre and the place Lauren and I were looking forward to buying spices to bring home especially black cardamom which can be very expensive in the U.S. Cochin is a great walking and shopping city except at night when the mosquitos can be oppressive because of the open sewers. Lauren and I stayed at a lovely French style hotel with balconies attached to every room.
The first day, we walked along the port boardwalk and encountered people selling fresh fish & vegetables and in town we went to a couple of spice vendors.
It was also very interesting to see the fishermen reeling in their catch with the huge Chinese fishing nets.
The next day we were invited in the hotel kitchen to observe the cook prepare our lunch. We learned how he combined certain Indian spices to create the flavor he wanted and we were served a sumptuous lunch on the patio.
After lunch we walked to an area called Jew town in the Mattanchery area of Cochin and shopped in the antique stores, visited a Dutch palace and observed a synagogue, church and Hindu temple within meters of each other. The last evening we were in Cochin, we ate a wonderful meal at one of the most expensive hotels in town.
The next morning we were picked up by a driver that was arranged by the houseboat we had rented for an overnight cruise through the backwaters of Kerala. It was about a two hour drive to where we were to pick up our houseboat but we asked our driver to stay with us until we got on the boat because we had made all the arrangements online and were not confident that we were ever going to see our boat. Once we got to the boarding area, we were told that it was being inspected out in the water and we were going to be ferried out to our houseboat. Our driver went with us. After about an hour and a half ferrying around the lake, we realized that something was amiss. After complaining to the ferry crew and our driver, our boat finally arrived and we said goodbye to our driver, boarded our houseboat and met our crew which consisted of a cook, a Captain and Co-Captain. The houseboat was big and comfortable with sleeping cabins for us and our crew, full galley and a living and dining salon.
However, by the time we boarded it was getting dark so we were not able to visit the town of Kerala except when we disembarked to purchase some seafood with our cook for dinner the next evening.
The next morning we rode through canals and inlets and observed life along the river and motored around in the open waters most of the day.
Our dinner that evening on the boat was fantastic but we had to eat it in our cabin because we were docked in the port we cast off from and there were so many bugs flying around the dining salon, it was impossible to be there.
While not the most beautiful of scenery along a lake that Lauren and I had ever seen before, we could totally understand why Indians loved this place. It is peaceful, serene and quiet and a real treasure after being in the noisy and frenetic cities throughout the rest of India. Our Kerala backwater cruise was a perfect ending to a fantastic trip to India.