The next day, I did manage to get out of the hotel room, and was greeted by a pleasantly warm and sunny Kochi. As I was feeling better, we went out and enjoyed the city, doing a walking tour around the main sights. Kochi is a great place to visit – there are loads of things to see – an interesting blend of historical sights and daily life which means that you can happily walk around the city and not get bored. Furthermore, the people are really friendly, and we struck up a few conversations easily – everyone seems to speak English! Even though Kochi is such an appealing place, we were still surprised to find so many foreign tourists there – I think we saw more in one day than we’ve seen in the entire trip so far! It seems to be a very popular destination.
The best of the sights was the Chinese Fishing Nets, huge contraptions fitted with counter-weights, which get lowered into the water for several minutes at a time, and then are pulled out with a few fish wriggling inside. We went down and sat with some of the fishermen, and heard their stories about their lives – including how since the 2004 tsunami, they no longer catch nearly as many large fish as they used to. I’m not sure of the reasons behind this, but it was really interesting to hear how this event has affected their livelihoods. They also mentioned that they rely on “donations” from tourists – something we’d known from the beginning we would need to provide them with due to the fact they’d motioned for us to come over in the first place!
We saw a few other interesting sights, including the Dutch Palace (actually built by the Portuguese) which contained some very interesting Hindu murals, and the spice market – the smell alone there was interesting! A real blend of aromas. In the evening, we went and saw a Kathakali dance – very expressive, despite the lead female (a demon) being played by a man, which I assume is normal. They gave a little explanation as to what some of the expressions meant which was useful for when they did the actual dance. By this point, I was starting to feel ill again, and had to rush to the bathroom near the end, almost missing the dramatic climax of the dance where the green guy from heaven cut off the breasts, nose and ears of the yellow demon woman from hell – no messing there!
After that, the rest of the evening was over for me, and I went another evening with no food – three in a row! Mahmoud kindly brought me back some plain rice at my request, and I forced a few mouthfuls, but was not really able to eat. I’ve been making it all up today though, and am feeling a bit better, although still very low on energy. Thanks go to Mahmoud for running around after me these last few days and doing all our planning and everything - I could get used to this!