We arrived at Cochin at 4.15pm and we were collected and deposited at our hotel “Les 3 elephants eco resort”  I booked a cheaper room and found out why it was “eco”.

There was no ceiling in the bedroom so bugs fell on us during the night and there was a constant rustling noise in the palm thatch roof.  Added to that a dog next door howled at the full moon all night so we didn’t get much sleep.

I mentioned that we weren’t told about the no ceiling bit to the very vague French guy running the place who had a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth most of the time at the reception desk. He also had the same shirt and  pants on for the duration of our stay.   He thankfully upgraded us to an airconditioned room with ceiling which was a much nicer room as well at no extra cost.  There were also no elephants there!  The description of the place on the net made it sound as though it was on the beach but it was on the backwater instead.  It is a lovely setting and looks over the “chinese fishing nets” on the backwater which are used only by Indians now.  Only the name “Chinese” has remained. It was only a short stroll to the beach which was nice for a walk in the mornings or evenings and there were lovely sunsets each night.  The small resort (11 bungalows) has only been open for 1year.  They have a small menu but the food was very tasty and fresh apart from the fried fish.

We had fish from the ocean – not the backwater the first night and the cook had cooked it to death so the second night we decided to try “chill out” further down the beach which was also just OK.  The third night we opted for a restaurant in the 5star resort a good hour’s walk away.  We weren’t disappointed there.  We had a delicious dry cooked mushroom dish with slivers of coconut.  The resort had only been open for 6months and they were really trying hard to please.

We decided to go to the Athirampally waterfall which were about 1 1/2 hours by taxi away.   We had seen spectacular shots of the waterfall during the monsoon when it is more like Victoria falls in length but was not quite so dramatic in non monsoon time.  It was still very impressive with a massive amount of water crashing down to the river and rocks below.  We definately got our exercise that day with walking all the way down to the bottom of the falls and up again.

A cheeky monkey at the falls stole a litlle girl’s icecream and proceeded to eat it while keeping the other monkeys at bay.  I thought the little girl would cry but she just laughed at it.   We stopped at the lovely Bumphur Muzhi gardens about 20mins from the falls and had a long walk around there.  There were an literally hundreds of blue butterflies around one small bush in the garden and some interesting trees and flowers.

We were stopped on the way up by a crowd of teenage boys outside one of the many Catholic churches in this part of Kerala and asked for a donation for Christmas.  We also saw what we thought was a political type of rally with a large banner in front and a crowd of people following but it turned out to be a protest by the locals about a liquor shop that has opened in the area.  It is very strange here – you can have a beer if you have your meal in or outside your room but they are not allowed to serve alcohol in the restaurant.  We only saw some alcohol at the 5 star resort.

I  have got into the habit of waggling my head at people who I look at and they usually respond with a nod and a big smile.  So many people we met on the beach want to know where we were from and shake your hand or want to have a picture with you and many say “welcome to India”.  All the children shout “hello” as soon as they spotted us and some come up to you and ask “what is your name” and “where are you from”.

Maurice has got the accent down pat and two of our friends Vince and Tony have both hung up on him when we have skyped them so he must sound like a true Indian.  I just get asked if I’m from the Punjab – obviously my olive complexion and Roman nose are taken as prominent features for Punjabis.

The mosquitos are vicious around here and David from the villa gave me his tube of “Odomos” insect repellant which has worked a treat.  They buzz around me but don’t bite which is a blessing.  I plan to buy a few tubes of the stuff to have while we are travelling especially in Asia.

We took an autorickshaw the other night and the driver spoke good english and showed some initiative by giving us his phone number in case we needed him again, so we did use him or his brother who shared the vehicle again.  The autorickshaw’s inside roof was decorated with large flowers and lights which flashed every time he braked.  We felt as though we were in a disco.  The three wheelers are a very popular form of transport but do sound like the old singer sewing machines.

We spent our last day having a long walk on the beach followed by our own yoga session and relaxed for the rest of the day.  In the evening we went for another long walk along the beach as far as the small fishing harbour with many chinese fishing nets and other small fishing boats.

The four tables in the restaurant are set up as mini billiard type tables and are covered with glass. When the glass is removed you can play the game which is called  “Karom”  They play with round discs and the rules are similar to a pool game and the object of the game is to flick the round discs – black for one side, white for the other side – into the pockets at each corner of the table.  I tried my luck with not much luck but it was good fun and like pool requires a lot of practise.

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