India - India does not greet you gentle, it comes with a big BANG
Our way to India was very indian - to put it shortly. ;-) Let's start from the beginning - here is our story from our very first time in India. Little did we know that many more times would follow.
As always, we had booked the cheapest flight available on the internet. It looked fine: with Air India via Delhi to Kochi. A week before our departure, the flight was slightly changed with a short stop in Mumbai. Well, we did not care about this. As we arrived in Delhi, we found out that we had another change of flights - surprise, surprise! Finally it turned out that we had 4 flights till we reached Kochi. From Frankfurt to Delhi, from Delhi to Jaipur, from Jaipur
to Mumbai and from Mumbai to Kochi. It was already dark when we reached Kochi on New Year's Eve. And it was hot with 31 degrees centigrade! We were quite tired, but we are flexible ;-). It was a wonder that our bags arrived. So we immediately went to the prepaid taxi desk - and: next surprise. There are no direct taxis to Fort Kochi that evening as there was a big New Years Eve party in the streets. Well, the taxi dropped us off at Vypeen Island at the ferry terminal. This was packed with people, but we quickly managed to get on the ferry for only 4 Rupee. With our big backpacks in the winter clothes we were squeezed in between scooters. No need to say: we were sweating like crazy. What a start to India! But this was not the end. Once in Fort Kochi, we started walking through the packed streets. We were not afraid of all, the atmosphere was absolutely peaceful. It was just a big party. After 30 minutes of walking we somehow managed to find our prebooked hostel. And then, the next surprise. As there are so many people in the city, they gave away our room. That is a typical scam in Kochi. They brought us to another hostel - and how bad it was. But in the meantime it was 9pm, we were awfully tired and just wanted to have a quick shower before celebrating the New Year. So we stayed in this awful place (there was nothing else available anyway). We had a quick cold shower and went out on the road again. We were told to go to the beach which we did. Shortly before midnight we reached it just in time to see the fireworks. It was amazing, about 100.000 people on the streets - 80% were young males. But the atmosphere was good and there was no need to worry. It was just a bit annoying to stop for pictures with strangers all the time and to shake all those hands and wishing a happy new year. India - this is touch and feel. It was fun. No alcohol here, but later we went to a bar for a short drink, before we fell into the bed. That was the last surprise: we were eaten alive by the mosquitos. They bite us through our mosquito net and the sleeping bag. As there is malaria here in the region and a dengue plague, we hope, we have good karma and won't get one of it.
The next day we started with a quick breakfast and a walk to Mattancherry, the jewish part of Fort Kochi. It was busy in the streets, it was dirty, smelly - but we loved it. While having a quick stop at a portugues church we were again asked by a hord of indian tourists to make pictures. No problem guys, Miss Neena (this is how they call me) and Sir Mark do nearly everything for you :-). We visited the Mattancherry Palace which has wonderful Vishnu paintings, went to the synagogue and had lunch at a nice place. In the afternoon the streets were full again in Fort Cochin as it was carnival procession. This time there were much more women and children around and watching the people was as amazing as watching the procession. The following day we walked again through Fort Kochi, had a wonderful lunch in The Teapot and organised our onward travel. As we stayed in such a grab place (never stay in Tantraa Homestay who scammed us or at Mickeys Homestay which is really dirty) we left a day earlier than planned. But we were extremely lucky. Normally, you have to prebook train tickets 2 month in advance. But we got 2 tickets from Ernakulam (where the train station of Kochi is) to Kannur. Well, it is non aircon - but we do not care.
That was our chaotic introduction into India. And, despite the horrible accomodation, we have to admit: we love India. That was a brilliant start and totally different to what we expected. This country has a big heart - it is not easy to travel but people are so friendly and the atmosphere is full of energy. We easily got used to the goats and cows in the streets - the rubbish and smells, well, this will still take some time...