Yesterday I became aware that Ocean Princess would be docked today, and sure enough as we opened our bedroom curtains this morning this is the view that met us. There are implications when a cruise ship from a major international line lands in town, and they are not beneficial to the pocket. Taxi meters are turned off, prices have to be negotiated, and store price tags are all removed for the special ones reserved for cruise ship visits. With this in mind, yesterday morning I left Margaret by the hotel pool and wandered off down the road to the canteen where all the local tuk tuk drivers were gathered awaiting a small insignificant cruise ship that was about to put out its gangplanks.
I was really looking for an old friend who has given us pleasurable tours twice in the past, but the word on the street was that he had become indisposed only the day before, at the pleasure of the local judge :-) I spent an amusing hour with the guys taking chai with them and having a laugh, but crucially before I left, I negotiated a morning tour with an owner driver - remember the difference between khaki uniforms and plain clothes from previous posts? I negotiated that he would pick us up outside the hotel gates at 10 am this morning in his souped up Ferrari manufactured tuk tuk for an all in price of 400rps. That is ten times his average individual fare, but probably ten times less than a fare off one of the Americans from the cruise ship, had he been able to secure one. (The port authority only allows four tuk tuks at a time on the site of the cruise ship docking area, and they have to queue, sometimes for days, for a large prosperous ship).
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of fried eggs, (real) bacon - Kerala is a mainly Christian state, new potatoes, beans and toast - the works ready for our day out, where lunch would probably be just fruit from the never ending bowl that is in our room.
After breakfast, at around 9.25 am we wandered outside awaiting our contracted time with the tuk tuk driver, taking these images that I have published before, but today's light was magnificent
RW, Brisbane! Do you remember this table by the pool from 2012? The same shot appears in one of my early 2012 posts with you sat there I believe.
And here is our new found tuk tuk pal Babu, sat with Margaret in the driver's seat of his Ferrari tuk tuk.
The full shot of the mean machine. It does 0-60 in 15 (minutes). Seriously though a tuk tuk tour is far better than a taxi here. They can get places other vehicles can't, and you get a real feel for the area.
First stop was to have a look at trans-shipment of rice between railway and road. Everything in India is labour intensive as there are plenty of willing participants. We could learn lessons here rather than paying folk to stay home in front of their mega flat screen TV then producing offspring for the state to support afterwards.
Babu took us into the beginnings of the backwaters, away from all the tourist areas. Above is a working fishing net, as opposed to the ones that are now there just for tourists in the town. These land fresh water fish, the ones in town are in sea water.
This is a small launch area for the small two man crew fishing boats that historically would be paddled, now powered by outboard motor.
Here we are at Kochi's Dhoby Khana or washhouse. All washing is done by males, finished by both men and women. They launder most of the hotel linen here as well as that from the local hospitals. Margaret is trying her hand. The iron is heated by burning coconut shell embers.
No washing pegs here. All linen is held in place by twisted rope.
Here is the local Hindu Temple. Unfortunately only Hindus can go inside.
Above is Santa Cruz Basilica, a Catholic Cathedral where we were welcome to go inside. And it was stunning - see below.
Now here we have the tourist fishing nets that are located in the centre of Fort Kochi. No longer used for commercial fishing, they earn their keep from tourists who, for a small fee are shown personally how they work, and even haul the boom up with them as we did. Unfortunately the image of that event is on Margaret's camera, which I can't access until we arrive home. Below is the link to several images taken by Babu that were put together as a short movie by Google+ on our return home.
Our last visit of the day was the Church of St. Francis. Built by the Portuguese in 1503, and was the location of Vasco de Gama's remains for a while before they were repatriated to his homeland by his son. The tomb remains to be seen today.
And that concludes a most enjoyable day. We are back by the pool now, writing this.