Kerala - Day 4

Corey writes:

On the final day of our Kochi excursion, we ate breakfast at a wonderful little cafe inside of a hotel, the Open Hand Cafe. It seems like every hotel big and small in Kochi had a cafe like this one. Nonetheless, we had an outstanding breakfast with real coffee and cappuccino, fresh baked goods, and even sausage. This was followed by a leisurely stroll one more time down Princess Street. We picked up the tickets for the dance and martial arts performances for later that day and ended up near the water. (It's easy to end up at the water in Kochi.) We happened to be near the ferry for Vypin Island, so we decided to hop on. We had read that you could see dolphins playing in the wake of this ferry, but despite some intense staring at the water for the 15 minute ride, we didn't see any.

We arrived on Vypin Island a little disappointed and hot, so we decided to sit down on the breakwall near the ferry dock and cool our heels. After a few minutes of taking in the beautiful waterline of Fort Kochi, Gina shouted "Dolphins!". Sure enough, we could see a family (school?) of dolphins swimming a couple hundred yards away in the water. They seemed to be making their way down the coast of Vypin island near the Chinese fishing nets. We sat and watched their dorsal fins break the water farther and farther away until they were gone. It was a really cool experience.

Here's a great shot of the Chinese fishing nets:

After wandering around Vypin Island for a bit, we caught the ferry back to Fort Kochi around lunch time. I was feeling hungry and had heard that in Fort Kochi you could actually buy some fish directly from the fishermen and then take them to one of the nearby restaurants and they would clean and cook it for you. We set off to see if this was true. Sure enough, from 1 - 3pm there are many different tables set up near the Chinese fishing nets selling squid, prawns, mussels, and fish of all sizes. Here I am hard at work negotiating for my lunch:

I ended up getting around a pound of shrimp and three small squid for 100 rupees ($2.30). The next stop was a nearby stall and the grill for these babies. Yum!

After lunch, we kept on wandering around until 4pm, when we went to the Kerala Kathakali Center for the beginning of our evening entertainment. We found our way into a medium-sized auditorium along with only 8 other people. The first show was a demonstration of an ancient form of martial arts that originated in Kerala. The demonstrations started with a brief explanation of the history and current status of martial arts in Kerala and an introduction of the six toned guys who would be showing us how to kick butt. I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but all my doubts were cleared with the first flying leap, and quickly turned to astonishment when they started waving arounds swords, knives, and even some kind of razor whip. It was better than watching an action film, because it was happening 10 feet away in real life. These guys put on one hell of a show and I never want to fight them.

The second show for the evening (with 100% less razor whips) was a performance of the native Kerala form of theater: Kathakali. One of the most striking things about the performances is the makeup of the actors. These guys (even the girl characters were played by men) came out on stage and started layering on makeup on their faces for a solid hour before the performance.

It was crazy to see the final product:

It was a memorable end to our Kochi trip and we recommend visiting there if you are ever in India.