So after the bliss of the beaches which we stayed on until Thursday we decided it was time to head South. So we took a (sort of) overnight train down to Cannanore which is a famous town for therum dancing. Basically when the dancers body appears possessed and it’s supposed to be an amazing sight. So the train left at 1.30am (only 1.5 hours late) – this time we were in 2nd class sleeper and when we got on the train people where asleep on our berths. Luckily the train was just in the wrong order, so we moved the grumpy Germans from our beds and got a few hours sleep. One thing that amazes us is nobody ever tells anybody what station you are at. Its a problem cos the trains can be running an hour late at one point and an hour early all of a sudden. So you just have to guess when you’re stop might come, and in the dark when the station isn’t lit up thats a problem. Anyway we got to Cannanore and didn’t get a vibe from the place at all. We checked into a hotel at 8am and by about 10am we had found nothing to do at all. We decided to get out and get to Cochin the same night. It was John’s birthday and not the place to be on your birthday. Unfortunately we’d put laundry in so we had to try to get that back before the 4pm train – lots of confusion later and we did. We also had someone following us around from 20m back and another bloke who befriended us in a restaurant – said about 50 words to, but somehow he got wind of our train. We arrive at the station at 3.45 and he was stood there with his friend. We were slightly spooked and walked quickly to our carriage – luckily he didn’t follow us. Not sure what that was all about – sometimes I think they just want to practise their english, but it’s a strange way of going about it!
So we arrived at 10pm in Cochin – most of John’s birthday spent on the train, and into the driest state (alchoholically) in India, so there wasn’t time to find an illicit drinking den for a birthday pint. We found a decent hotel and settled down for a couple of days in Ernakulum.
The next day we decided to have a proper day’s sightseeing in Fort Cochin, which is the area across the river from where we were staying. It’s really chilled out and not like the rest of India. Not many cars, low rise portuguese buildings etc. We found a nice little whitewashed cafe which had an art exhibition on and lots of great food. Proper nice breakfasts and drinks. After that we hit the Jewish Town, the first Church in India, just wondering around and taking photos and watching the fisherman catch fish to cook straight away using Chinese fishing nets (hard to describe but they lower a net just off shore into the water and lift using huge boulders – normally get a few fish each time – you’ll have to see the photos). We got a beer, but they brought it too us in a shopping bag and we had to drink out of mugs. It was going down quite nicely until a seagull got a perfect shot into my just poured mug of beer 🙁
Then we went to see a Kathakali dance – this has been performed in Kerla for hundreds of years. They can last all night but the “tourist” version lasts a couple of hours and they give a demonstation of all the moves. It takes years to learn (there is no speaking – everything is performed by hand gestures) and the music, performance and costumes were exceptional. Definitely worth seeing.
After that we bought a couple of tabla drums in our slightly drunken stupour and took a tuk-tuk back to the pier where the penultimate boat was leaving for the day. Tomorrow would be the backwaters of Kerla….