Better late than never here is part two of our Kerala trip (the remaining entries are mostly written, I just need to add photos and polish them over the next two days).
I woke up in my luxurious room the sound of the engines starting up as we began our travel back, apparently both Scott and I slept in past the 8:00AM breakfast time we had told them and they didn't want to disturb us.
The ride back was leisurely and we had another great meal for breakfast as the world past by. They almost had to drag me kicking and screaming when we got to port, but I decided not to make a scene. I will be doing this again though - soon.
We arranged a cab through the booking place, and while we waited I went back to that same house along the water where I hadn't been able to give the girl the pen the first day at first I thought I wouldn't see, but on my way back to the dock I saw here with her mother as she walked past, almost not even making eye - she snatched it right out of my hand as if to say "you should have given me one in the first place." :P
We decided it made the most sense to go back to the same hotel we were in on the Thursday, no problem again doing points and cash. We looked at what to do that day and the next and realized it was a little too late to do a full day tour of Cochin, so we decided to instead just drive in with a taxi later that afternoon and do a big trip the next day. The specific trip we chose was day trip for Sunday feeding the elephants: "After a lesson explaining the nature of the these beautiful creatures you will get to bathe and feed them" more on that later. :P
With the afternoon to just chill out we decided to do a little pool and swim up bar action. We had the whole things to ourselves, then met a cool guy Anthony from England who was there on business.
We invited him with us to go see Cochin, so after a little chilling out upstairs we went into the city to check out some of the sights, unfortunately most things were closed so it was a little bit of a write off. The Chinese nets were neat, as was the beach,, but nothing was happening, the Fish is sold literally 15 feet from where they catch it which is crazy.
When we asked out taxi driver if there was anything else that was good to see our guide/taxi guy wasn't too helpful since he didn't speak English very well, then he brought over another guy who also didn't speak English to translate so that didn't work out to well. :P
We decided to head back to the hotel and have a few drinks and dinner. On the way back though we saw some of the REALLY back streets of Cochin including "Jew Street" (that is literally its name), and some crazy patchwork illegal electricity wires going EVERYWHERE.
After a few drinks in the bar we had dinner at the hotel was a very solid gourmet buffet. Although a disco option was floated we called it a pretty early night and since we had the elephants the next day.
The trip out to the elephants was pretty uneventful, except our guide / taxi driver didn't have a F*ing clue where to go or what was going on (he also had pretty poor English skills which is weird because the whole hotel caters to western tourists).
We stopped for a little mango drink in a country house which was nice, but no one explained was was going on or happening next. Then we left and headed towards we assumed, the Elephants.
The Elephants thing was pretty kick ass (with some caveats). We were led down this steep-ish path to a pretty cool ravine that was pretty rocky with sporatic water. Never really seen terrain like it before - you could walk anywhere without getting wet pretty much if you were strategic, but there was tons of running water.
Scott and I sat around as these dudes cleaned all the elephants and no one is telling us anything about the elephants and what they are about etc. in fact NO ONE is talking at all, and what little talking is happening is among the cleaners in Malayalam I think.
We saw other guides encouraging their people to clean the elephants (The elephants get scrubbed with the husk of a coconut) and some of them where cleaning this HUGE bull.
There were also these guys in front of us cleaning a medium-sized dude, and two more cleaning a baby. The guys cleaning the elephant were trying to get it to lie down in the water, but he kept refusing so they started whipping its legs. They also used this crazy hook stick that applies pressure - FYI this a NATURE RESERVE. I felt REALLY uncomfortable and could just imagine what Claire Smith would have done. We decided to over to the baby who was proving to be less troublesome.
The big bull made a call and it was so loud it shook the whole valley, then the baby answered - crazy!!
After carefully making our way over to the baby we got in close and I asked if I could help clean it, they gave me a rhind and I started helping. The skin is SUPER tough and there are these sparse very course hairs on the elephants head and back, kinda like Jeff Goldblum gets in the fly. While the baby was on its side in the water it used its trunk as a snorkel . :P
He also tickled Scott's feet with it when it was his turn.
At one point the baby took a poop in the water and the guy picked it up and threw it - it was the size and colour of a whole cabbage. :O
We made our way over to the big bull who was now getting up and spraying himself etc. We were able to pose with it for photos and touch it. Soon after the elephants all started getting collected and we went up the hill again. Halfway up we were given the chance to feed them bananas - almost entire bunches (but the bananas were about 1/2 size of 'normal' bananas).
(The rest that follows was only captured on video which I still need to edit and upload)
They grabbed them out of your hand or they would open their HUGE mouths and you could kina put it right in - their mouths serioulsy look like the Squid in the Watchmen comic. :P When they take it from your hand you can feel the power of their trunks as they wrap around your hand - very cool.
Once we were done with the elephants we went for breakfast in a local country house, the food was pretty much off the reservation, and what I tried I liked, but I was pretty wary especially with the water which had tape over the cap. Our very cordial host tried to get us to eat boiled bananas since it was good for our stomach - both Scott and I were skeptical, but I gave it a dry.
After our lunch/brunch we were taken to what was supposed to be a museum, but is really a zoo, and the saddest most horrible zoo I have ever seen in my life. All the cages were the same size pretty much no matter what animal: monkey, eagle, or wild cat, and there were WAY too many animals in each cage for the most part. On top of it they were living in their own faeces in a lot of cases. It was just really not good at all. Besides the cages they also had some deer, and for maybe a 100 foot by 40 foot pad they had a good 25 of them, so strange compared to what I am used to.
There was one little monkey baby we nicknamed gollum because he looked EXACTLY like gollum that was so small and tiny that he could fit through the cage bars, the only thing keeping him in was the firm grip him mom had on him and his own fear presumably.
Neither Scott nor I felt wanted to stick around too long so we left after maybe 10 mins. We then had some confusion with our driver whether that was it for the elephants, I though maybe we were supposed to get a ride, what followed was a comedy of misunderstanding with our driver who couldn't understand us. When he wanted us to pay him to do it I think he was trying to just be helpful since he asked for the same price as was posted on the board, but because we are not familiar or comfortable with middle-men deals (and wary of rip-offs) we decided to just get out of there.
We went back to the room and decided to watch 15 mins of the battlestar gallactica finale we had gotten, which turned into 2 1/2 hours of course. Scotty had a nap while I chilled and then we flew back to Hyderabad for the last week of school.