One delightful place we visited on our trip to India was Kochi, also known as Cochin. It is a seaside city and very busy port on the western side of India. It was lovely to walk down by the sea and watch the fisherman looking after their Chinese nets (an old tradition brought there many years ago by the Chinese).
The sea is ever present in Kochi – fishing being a major industry and food source and boat being a major form of transportation.
Kochi was an important spice trading centre from the 14th century and was one of the first European Colonies in India. It was occupied by Portugal and later the Netherlands and Britain.
Kochi is known as the commercial centre of Kerala and enjoys a healthy tourism trade as well.
We were only in Kochi briefly but I was able to experience the laid back style and ambience of this interesting city.
Train travel in India
There is a huge train network in India and nearly all the trains are operated by Indian Railways. I am going to say that we were on the train for at least 24 hours travelling up through the centre of India to Agra and I believe we were in the AC 2 Tier (2C) class.
Passengers sleep on four berths in an open cabin or on two berths that are positioned lengthwise along the side of the carriage. I was in the latter and it can be quite busy with people passing up and down the corridor continuously but the upside is that you get to meet a lot of people this way. Each cabin has a curtain for privacy and each side berth has its own curtain for privacy. There are four toilets, two at each end of the carriage which included a mix of western and eastern style loos, occasionally provided with toilet paper. If it got too hectic in my thoroughfare bunk I just walked down to the end of the carriage and looked out the door at the Indian nation passing me by. The rural scenes were sometimes beautiful and it was nice to see how the people in the heart of India lived.
One experience that comes to mind is when we were stopped at a station for a decent amount of time so I decided to get off to buy a bottle of water and some biscuits from one of the vendors on the platform. Many other travellers had the same idea and I had a bit of a wait. I had just been handed the bottle and biscuits when I heard a loud noise from the train and it started to move off. In a mad panic I threw the bottle and biscuits at the vendor and made a dash toward the train. With all my might I leaped and landed on one of the rungs of the ladder of the train. I stepped up into the doorway and felt the brakes being applied. The train stopped. When I was assured that the train was definitely not leaving I sheepishly climbed off the train, apologised to the vendor and paid for the water and biscuits. Back on the train there were a few giggles and I was known as the triple jump athlete.
Travelling north to Agra on the train was a lovely experience. There was a melting pot of Indian society moving through the carriages and there was never a dull moment. I enjoyed this type of travel immensely.