Arriving in Kochi was extremely surreal after our monsoon experience in Goa. We drove through a large city surrounded by neon lights and billboards with the majority of signs in English. The city instantly felt more modern and cleaner than what we had recently experienced and we were excited to see what it had to offer. We stayed in an area called Fort Kochi, very close to the main attractions. The region itself has an incredible history, at one stage or another it was ruled at different stages by the British or the Portuguese and evidence of this is in the buildings. The people here are beautiful, they are laid back, happy and don’t seem to want to rip you off as much as other places. The men here wear wrap around skirts with full length button up shirts which was great to see.
A few of the sites we visited included:
– Jew Town: previously a Jewish settlement but not many Jewish people live here anymore, mainly small shops selling clothing and jewellery
– Jewish Mosque
– Dutch Palace
– Chinese Fishing Nets: previously these were very successful in catching in large amounts of fish, but unfortunately due to the issue of over-fishing, these nets seem more like a tourist attraction
Now for the story of the massages. Kerala is known to be the state where the famous Ayurvedic massages come from, so of course we all wanted to try it, but each centre we went to could only treat two people at once, so we split up into two groups; Alice and Himani went to a random clinic suggested by the rickshaw driver and we went to Ayurville, a clinic which was highly recommended on Tripadvisor. Both places charged 1000Rs (AUD$20) for 60 mins so we assumed that the quality would be relatively similar….WRONG. To cut a long story short, Jason and I had a 5 star experience and left super relaxed, the other two on the other hand, left traumatised. The bed they laid on was a plank of wood with no mattress and covered in dead mosquitoes. The walls of the room were covered in dirt and they had to walk barefoot through a dirty kitchen to access the dirty shower. When we met up with the girls afterwards, their faces were so pale, we’d thought they’d just seen a ghost!
The following day we travelled to the next town of Allaphuzza (aka Allepey) known as the main access point to the 900km stretch of Keralan backwaters. When we arrived we inspected a few houseboats and decided on a 2 Bedroom boat and negotiated a prices of 8000RS (AUD$160) which included accommodation, food, water and the cruise along the backwaters. I’ve got to say this has got to be one of the highlights of the trips so far. Moving smoothly along the backwaters we saw schools of children heading back from schools on canoes, villagers fishing, cooking and washing their clothes and kids swimming in the waters. It all seemed so peaceful. The food they cooked was delicious and service couldn’t be faulted. Unfortunately Jason’s stomach still hadn’t fully recovered from previous incident, so by the end of the night his cramps returned.
The morning after, we took a taxi to the next city of Varkala, but stopped by to KIMS Hospital in Kollam to drop Jason and I off whilst the girls headed to our hotel first. Now this hospital was the complete opposite to our previous experience in Goa. It was only built in 2013 and both service and technology was quite advanced. Upon arrival we spoke to the client services manager who made Jason a patient ID card and within 5 minutes we were in seeing a friendly Russian-trained doctor, who initially appeared to be more interested in our holiday than Jason’s condition, but he eventually got to the point and did a thorough examination. Jason’s pulse rate was quite low, roughly mid 40’s so the doctor ordered a blood test to clear him of Enteric Fever and within 2 hours the results came it. Thankfully all was clear and it was just a case of persisting stomach bug. Overall a great experience at this hospital, if only Melbourne’s public hospitals were this efficient. All up we were there for probably 3 hours and it cost us only $20.
So despite another hospital visit, the experience in Kerala was great. We would definitely visit Kerala again outside of monsoon season and would highly recommend hiring out a houseboat for one night.
Next stop, Mumbai!
Until next time
Ann & Jason