. We're staying on the mainland and joined our Group of 11 that evening. next day it was over to Fort Cochi by local ferry (where there's no longer a fort) but a Jewish and Dutch heritage as well as the fairly famous Chinese fishing nets which are virtually a total tourist attraction. A pleasant laid back place and we eventually went through another 4p on the 40 minute ferry ride back. That evening we went to a Karikali (?) show - it was on the Hairy Bikers if you saw that - made up men and lots of mime and dance is not really a major turn-on but thats culture for you. A beer beckoned till we found ourselves in a dry restaurant - eventually we made the bar again - another aspect of modern India - lots of locals. Overall this part of India is obviously more lush but is also more prosperous (i.e there are cafes!) and not quite as dirty but still as manic. We're collecting mottos and other gems "Toliet- Urine Only" was one of todays. Also 'do not allow urchins on train".
On Thursday, apart from confirming rumours that England had blown the football (we are 5.5 hours ahead so saying up for a 1.30am kick off was not on, we headed off to the station (tuktuk with big bag on roof) and the joy that is Indian railways and getting chatted to by all the locals & pilgrims - so 6 hours later we are at Coimbatore Junction having travelled in a sleeper car with the seats down; more reference points but rice biriani is 30p on the train. We then took a hairy bus ride up to Ooty, courtesy of major road repairs this involved a diversion and a 4 hour trip. I'll pick up on this in the next bit - however newspaper correction of the day - BS Patel was in fact caught behind and not bowled as reported in the [minor] state fixture
Arrival in Kochi without major incident - slept most of the way to arrive at 10pm at night to hit that wall of 25 degree heat - yes. At that time of night the taxi ride down town is not an issue even if its 30km - however I've learnt a new technique - drive on the smoothest part of the road and when there is a caution flashing light at a junction just peep even louder and speed up. The other joy of India is 3 of us with bags in that Morris Oxford that was, and it costing GBP6 for 30km....and no hassle about the bags. Hotel was good partic as they told us that as we arrived at 10 to midnight we had 10 minutes for the bar so perhaps we'd check in later. A/c room and hot shower but very hard bed - Liz found a use for the towels. On the first morning we had a tat about the town and ordered new glasses from the local opticians; Liz had picked a new prescription before she left, I got a new test and will finally replace the ones I left in NZ - don't ask how cheap!. In the afternoon we took a Tuk Tuk out to the SOS Childrens Village where they take in orphans and a series of 'mothers' look after 12 kids in houses in the grounds - look it up and donate in place of any frivolous Xmas presents (or a beer or two)