kochi indai

Last stop: Cochin

Chinese Fishing Nets - KochiWe arrived at the Trident Hotel, weary after 10 hours of travel from Ooty. The route we took through the Nilgiri Hills via toy train, coach, regular passenger train then autorickshaw was spectacular. The toy train took us through emerald tea plantations, villages replete with flat roofed houses, painted in pink, blue, yellow and green, quaint railway stations. When we transferred to our coach, we drove through narrow, snaking roads with impossible hairpin bends, and cars and buses and trucks and motorcycles overtaking and passing within centimeters of our bus. I saw mountain peaks veiled in wispy clouds, frighteningly deep ravines, small villages nestled in tinier valleys, and so many Eucalypts I could have been travelling through the Blue Mountains. The last train took us through flat countryside appliquéd with banana plantations, palm trees, streams and rivers, more villages and towns.

I had been dying to try the train cuisine: samosas, veg cutlet (veg burger) so I made sure I partook on the passenger train leg. The veg cutlets (two was a serve) was smashed pumpkin, potato and peas crumbed and fried and served with ketchup. They were delicious. Ditto the samosas (four was a serve, which was too many so I shared with my fellow travellers). I also had a battered chilli (yuck) and a savory donut thing (also yuck), but they may have been more appetising hot. By the time they reached me, they were lukewarm. I did try the banana fritters (three was a serve) and they were yum, and they would have been even yummier with ice cream.

The opulent Trident was a welcome sight after our auto ride through Cochin. Downtown was so busy with traffic we could have been in Old Delhi. We checked in, found the bar and were delighted to find there was a decent selection of wine. I went with an Indian Sauvignon Blanc, which the hotel later ran out of during dinner. Hilarious after our Ooty hotel experience.

After dinner—I opted for a spaghetti bolognaise and chocolate ice cream rather than the buffet—I went up to my room, in desperate need of a shower. But I couldn’t get in: my card didn’t work. I had to call housekeeping, who tried their card (which didn’t work either) so they had to get the actual key. Ten minutes later I was in my room, after being advised that it was a battery issue and would be fixed in the morning.

The next morning, anticipating the same thing, I called housekeeping— when I returned to my room after breakfast—to let them know that I couldn’t get into my room with my card, and they couldn’t use theirs either and would need the actual key. Five minutes later, the room boy turned up sans key. He tried his card, it didn’t work (shock, horror) and had to get the key (which I told him he’d need at the start of the exercise, but what would I know?). Cue more waiting around while said key was sourced. To say I was unhappy was an understatement, and I told him this issue needed to be fixed by the time I came back in after my morning’s sight seeing.

To be honest, I’ve been grumpy all day. My camera had dust on the lens (which I can’t get off and will need a professional clean when I get back home), then the battery died and I didn’t have a spare handy. It was hot and humid and I was sick of getting on and off the coach (with barely working AC) to visit buildings (forts, churches and temples) I had no knowledge of and even less interest in, as beautiful and culturally significant as they are. I was sick of seeing the garbage piled up in the street. I was sick of being hassled by vendors and hawkers and street sellers. I was sick of being herded into touristic shopping areas when I would have been happier browsing along the cool foreshore where the Chinese fishermen were. I was sick of not being able to browse in peace in shops. I was sick of people trying to sell me stuff I didn’t want rather than tell that what I *did* want wasn’t available. I was sick of not being able to find items that are easily available at home (e.g. a notebook and a paintbrush to clean my lens). I was sick of the fact that using a clean toilet usually comes at a price. I’m sick of TVs that are hard to work and where English speaking channels are hard to find, or non-existent. I’m sick of hotel rooms that hide their light switches. I’m sick of safes that don’t work. I’m sick of paying for wifi, which really should be free. I’m sick of soap that is hard to unwrap. I’m sick of thin toilet paper, and showers with hardly any water pressure. I’m sick of having to get showered and dressed before breakfast. I’m sick of having to ask someone for a cup of tea. I’m sick of seeing the same 12 people—as nice as most of them are—day in and day out for the last three weeks.

So imagine how grumpy I was when I couldn’t get into my room when I got back. Again. Aaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh!!!

(I bowed out of an optional excursion to see a traditional dance performance I was in such a bad mood—I didn’t want to inflict my grumpiness on others. Instead, I sat by the pool, read and ordered room service for dinner. I took a much needed time out. Tomorrow is a new day and we’ll be visiting the Kerala backwaters, which will be relaxing. I have charged my camera batteries, cleaned my lens as best I can and have an extra SD card on hand. It’s my last day in India before flying home on Saturday, and I intend on making the most of it. And the hotel management was very apologetic about my room key, and even gave me a gift—the third book in the Indian trilogy I’m reading.)

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