Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fort Cochin

The corporation of Kochi, or simply known, Kochi, is the biggest city in Kerala, with a population of about 1.5 million people. It was created by joining three communities, Ernakulam, on the subcontinent being the modern one, Mattuchery and Fort Cochin on the island being the older, touristic and tranquil places. Our choice was Fort Cochin, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a Portuguese history, a Dutch one, a royal one and now it is at the forefront of the tourism development in Kerala. We stayed at Orion Skywings, a simple, but good mini hotel, the cheapest so far. We saw the historic attractions in Mattuchery, the Dutch house and the old Synagogue. No pictures allowed, but we got to pay Indian prices, 5 ruppees! The Dutch house has some amazing wall pictures, very old and interesting depictions of Mahabharata and besides that has a good, educative history of the royal family and traditions of Kerala. The head of their royal family was still alive when they put the exhibition together. He was 93 and he worked as an accountant after India's independence. Remember Mysore?
I visited my first synagogue, mixed impressions, they only have nine Jews left in the state, it takes ten for a service, I don't get it. Everybody said we should visit and having it there and a few hundred years old, we visited and it was interesting. I think Mattuchery is a brief stop on the itinerary of some cruises, there were a lot of groups of western tourists. The highlight of the day was the restaurant Casa Maria, where Ileana Ruxandra had the "best Indian meal" then the trip back to the hotel with the singing driver.

Another attraction in Kochi is the "Chinese fishing nets." Ingenious mechanism that takes six people working together, they were up, nothing was going on. It was a strong current that day, we got contradictory information about when to return. I wouldn't pay 200 rupees, $4, for a mock demonstration. When people see the true thing they also buy some of the catch and take it for cooking at one of the local restaurants.
Resting Chinese fishing nets
It was 8.30 am, we heard about a beach, we didn't know much. We jumped on a ferry for a quick trip, later I will find out that the ticket guy took three times more money from me. I gave him a hundred he probably got tired of counting the rest and stopped after giving me 70. How much was one ticket? Then we took a wrong road, ended nowhere, came back and took a 45 minute ricksha ride. We had no idea that it would take this long, we had almost no money and no food.
We arrived at Cherai beach, on Vypeen Island. This is phenomenal, the perfect beach we've been dreaming of. Ten kilometers of uninterrupted, undeveloped, sandy beach. Hardly any people. Unfortunately, no cows. After a few hours in the sun, we took of to walk for a bit and left the children by themselves.
Cherai Beach

When we came back an hour later, they were visited by "a beautiful, funny, young Parisian," who invited them to her restaurant. It turns out that Marjorie and her two partners just opened "Les Trois Elephants", a luxury resort. Maria gave more details here. We were so tempted to stay for our last night in India, and they would have given us a discount, but things didn't work out. We had a great lunch, French cuisine, including one dish of crème caramel. This is the kind of place where people would come after crossing half the world and have an amazing vacation, then go back recharged to work for another year. We will remember it for a long time, even though we might never make it here again. If you come in this area schedule a few extra days, go the "The Three Elephants" for us and say hello!

With Marjorie at the resort "Les 3 elephants" 

One of the rooms

The children learn a new game

Back at our hotel in Kochi, we have the last 48 hours of India. We look for tickets for a kathakali show, this is a famous traditional dance form. We write postcards and we do a quick tour of the old churches. It is impressive to see the first tomb of Vasco Da Gama. Of course his remains were moved to Portugal, but just imagine, he died here almost 500 years ago!

Sending postcards from India

St. Francis church, the temporary resting place for Vasco da Gama

In front of Santa Cruz basilica
 The Greenix village is one of those projects that you have to admire and respect. Combining money with a good cause and making what seems to be a self sustainable art venture. We saw the Kerala Cultural Experience, a 90 minute show of traditional dance forms from this area. It also included a little number of martial arts, even our black-belted children were impressed. We ate twice at their restaurant trying various local dishes. We liked them and they liked us!
End of show, the guests are invited for pictures

With the people at the Greenix Village restaurant

The last day came. In the morning, the children left at the hotel, we went to the Sunday mass at a Syrian orthodox church. We stayed for almost the whole service, women on the right, men on the left, a big nice church with open walls, loud megaphones and good choir. We couldn't understand one word, it was all in their impossible Malayalam language, I even recorded a segment for posterity.
At noon, we struggled to find a restaurant open for lunch, when we came back the taxi was already waiting. Seventy five minutes later, after a ride through the up-rising Ernakulam, we were at the airport. This is the first airport in India that was built with some private money, it is sparkling clean, super-modern and almost empty.
And then we left India. So many experiences, so much learning and in the end an unfinished business. While we saw the most important things in Japan and pretty much all there's to see for us in (upper) China, Tibet, Nepal, Delhi and Agra, now I felt that we were only skimming the surface of what this country has to offer and we will have to come back over and over and over.
For me, it was a continuous crescendo and I liked it more and more and more everyday. I will let my thoughts settle for a while and return at some point to what I learned in India.


  1. Excellent account, felt like being the 6th one despite being from Kochi.
    Was searching for les 3 elephants review n stumbled upon your blog, well written.
    And thanx for visiting Kochi!

  2. Thank you, Rahul! When you see Marjorie tell her we love her! They really did a fantastic job at "Les 3 elephants"


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