Cochin, India

April 24, 2017
I have a tip from the new concierge on board who also does a blog. He says that he composes his blog in Word and then copies and pastes it into his blog. It saves the whole upload process for photos which takes forever on our ship wifi. So with this post I am going to try it and see how it works.

So, it didn’t work as planned!  The photos did not copy over to the site, so this is just the narrative.  But if you want to read the whole thing with photos, click here:

April 24 Cochin
On our last world cruise we visited Cochin and Mumbai in India but missed the ports of Mangalore and Goa since we chose to go on the overland trip to the Taj Mahal. So in the next five days you will have posts from Cochin, Mangalore , Goa and Mumbai.
In Cochin, we arrived early enough for our full day tour, but the pilot boat broke down before reaching the ship so we were delayed for about an hour and a half between boarding the pilot and the face to face immigration we always have in India. You can imagine the mass of humanity (some of the passengers want to be the first in line for everything) trying to get through the face to face and out to the tours. It is a good time to be “zen” or your day could start badly!
As we came into the port we saw the Chinese fishing nets that we got an up close look at on our last visit. This is the only place in the world that these nets are used and they are really unique to see.

There are also unique fishing boats on the shores and some old wooden ones as well as more modern ones competing with the ferries in the waterways. The port is on a manmade island, Willingdon.

We chose to take a tour called Traditional Sojourn. Since we saw a lot of the city on our last visit here, this tour took us out into rural India with a visit to the village of Vaikom. Our tour guide was Joe.

He told us a lot about Cochin (local name Kochi) which is in the state of Kerala. All students learn English in school as well as the national language of Hindi. However, India is a country of language based states and the local dialect is Malayala.
Cochin has the only airport in the world that is totally operated by solar energy!
There is a 95% literacy rate here and 99% of school graduates go on to university, so it is a very educated population. Castes are outlawed now but they are still considered when getting married or in government jobs.
There was a large Jewish population at one time but now there are only 52 Jewish people here. 52% of the population is Hindu and 20% Christian.
Our first stop of the day was at the Shiva Temple in Vaikom, believed to be the oldest in the country. We were given socks since in all temples you must remove your shoes. They don’t always give you socks, though!
We were lucky to see a wedding during our visit.
And of course, there were the usual groups of children who loved having their pictures taken.

The row of people behind the wedding party is there for the food that is given out at the temple.
We could take pictures outside the temple but were not allowed into the “sanctum santorum” which is the holiest place in the temple. Here are some pictures of the outside – the gold tower is filled with oil, there are bulls on all 4 corners and a statue of Shiva inside (where we could not go).

Next we had a tuk tuk ride to the canal where we boarded wooden boats for a leisurely trip down one of the 44 rivers. We saw people bathing, doing their wash and some children swimming. But the biggest surprise was people washing an elephant! Joe explained that every wedding here must feature an elephant or more, only in odd numbers. So some people own them for that reason.

We had the chance to taste the banana chips they make here – seasoned with turmeric. They also make tapioca chips which we had in Bali as well. Sometimes they have potato chips, but not often

After the boat ride, we headed to a local home set in the heart of the village. We had an Indian box lunch which was catered by the Taj Malabar hotel and it was wonderful. We had the chance to see a lot of the way they grow spices and other crops including papaya, mango, nutmeg, jack fruit, coffee and pepper. It was VERY hot and humid so we were glad to be back on the bus after that. Have a look at the bathroom facility with its outside sinks!

This is the nutmeg. The red part comes off and is mace!
We also saw demonstrations of making rice flour, mango chutney and of weaving the coconut strands into rope. And we got to taste the jack fruit and the chutney.

Our last two stops of the day were a pottery workshop and a weaving center. The pottery here is being made by a mother and son. The mother moves the wheel while the son shapes the pottery. Especially popular are banks that must be broken open when full. Those women in the weaving center work hard! Joe says they suffer from all kinds of orthopedic problems after a few years of doing that work. They were weaving white cotton to make school uniforms. Cotton weaving is the heart and soul of Indian textiles and there are 23 different varieties of cotton found in India. School is on holiday now until June so all of the weavers were working on the white fabric.

We truly got a feel for the rural areas of Cochin and had a wonderful day.

There are also unique fishing boats on the shores and some old wooden ones as well as more modern ones competing with the ferries in the waterways. The port is on a manmade island, Willingdon.

We chose to take a tour called Traditional Sojourn. Since we saw a lot of the city on our last visit here, this tour took us out into rural India with a visit to the village or Vaikom. Our tour guide was Joe.

He told us a lot about Cochin (local name Kochi) which is in the state of Kerala. All students learn English in school as well as the national language of Hindi. However, India is a country of language based states and the local dialect is Malayala.
Cochin has the only airport in the world that is totally operated by solar energy!
There is a 95% literacy rate here and 99% of school graduates go on to university, so it is a very educated population. Castes are outlawed now but they are still considered when getting married or in government jobs.
There was a large Jewish population at one time but now there are only 52 Jewish people here. 52% of the population is Hindu and 20% Christian.
Our first stop of the day was at the Shiva Temple in Vaikom, believed to be the oldest in the country. We were given socks since in all temples you must remove your shoes. They don’t always give you socks, though!
We were lucky to see a wedding during our visit.
And of course, there were the usual groups of children who loved having their pictures taken

The row of people behind the wedding party is there for the food that is given out at the temple.
We could take pictures outside the temple but were not allowed into the “sanctum santorum” which is the holiest place in the temple. Here are some pictures of the outside – the gold tower is filled with oil, there are bulls on all 4 corners and a statue of Shiva inside (where we could not go).

Next we had a tuk tuk ride to the canal where we boarded wooden boats for a leisurely trip down one of the 44 rivers. We saw people bathing, doing their wash and some children swimming. But the biggest surprise was people washing an elephant! Joe explained that every wedding here must feature an elephant or more, only in odd numbers. So some people own them for that reason.

We had the chance to taste the banana chips they make here – seasoned with turmeric. They also make tapioca chips which we had in Bali as well. Sometimes they have potato chips, but not often.

After the boat ride, we headed to a local home set in the heart of the village. We had an Indian box lunch which was catered by the Taj Malabar hotel and it was wonderful. We had the chance to see a lot of the way they grow spices and other crops including papaya, mango, nutmeg, jack fruit, coffee and pepper. It was VERY hot and humid so we were glad to be back on the bus after that. Have a look at the bathroom facility with its outside sinks!

This is the nutmeg. The red part comes off and is mace!
We also saw demonstrations of making rice flour, mango chutney and of weaving the coconut strands into rope. And we got to taste the jack fruit and the chutney.

Our last two stops of the day were a pottery workshop and a weaving center. The pottery here is being made by a mother and son. The mother moves the wheel while the son shapes the pottery. Especially popular are banks that must be broken open when full. Those women in the weaving center work hard! Joe says they suffer from all kinds of orthopedic problems after a few years of doing that work. They were weaving white cotton to make school uniforms. Cotton weaving is the heart and soul of Indian textiles and there are 23 different varieties of cotton found in India. School is on holiday now until June so all of the weavers were working on the white fabric.

We truly got a feel for the rural areas of Cochin and had a wonderful day.

This entry was posted in April, Asia, Excursions, Food, Trip 2. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Cochin, India

  1. Gretchen says:

    Another great adventure! Could you get me some nutmeg?

    Like

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