Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ernakulam Sojourn and Fun at Cochin International Airport


I wasn't too sure if I wanted to check out Ernakulam, but I eventually found myself taking the jetty to the big city (15 minutes, 2.50 rupees). I just didn't want to regret not having explored just a bit of the mainland.


After walking along a district called Broadway, I headed back towards the jetty until I saw a children's park with a really long name. It was a Children's Traffic Training and Renewable Energy Park (5 rupees). The small park is designed like a little city dotted with named streets, and children's accoutrement (seesaws, slides). The kids could rent little cars they could pedal around the compound. Some of the kids would wave at me while others were bashful.

My favorite place would be the deserted amphitheater near the breakwater, as well as a lookout bridge where one could see the islands to the west.

I headed back to Fort Kochi and by the time I got back to Orion Homestay, my sweat was dripping freely while I confirmed my taxi ride to Cochin International Airport. My flight leaves at 5PM but I wanted to get there earlier than usual that way everything would be at leisurely pace. The remaining hours I had, I just took a long shower then waited for my taxi, which came early at 1PM. I said my goodbyes and shook hands with the mild mannered and shy owner. I was sincerely grateful for his kindness.


For 750 rupees, my taxi ride turned out to be non-AC, so I pulled down the windows. For 30 minutes, we would slide through bridges and little towns. Somehow, 30 kilometers seem erroneous, as this ride took 1 hour and 15 minutes. We passed along places like Vytilla and Kalamassery, I thought this was a very long ride. The driver said that it was too hot so he said, "Just add little, we'll use the AC!" I was anxious of that but heck, I think I could afford this. If he asked too much, I would huff and puff. 750 rupees isn't a small amount for a taxi fare, after all.

Upon reaching Cochin International, I handed 200 rupees to him. I honestly thought he would complain, but he displayed a huge surprised grin and even offered to carry my baggage out. No need. I am always grateful reaching places safe and sound. That would suffice.

Cochin International Airport looked nice and everything worked in straightforward manner, from checking in down to the immigration checks. It did take a bit of time at the immigration counter because they were tutoring a new girl how ro input data into her computer screen, and I had to stand by and just observe them while the guys instructed her: "Write it there. No, go to that box." But it was alright with me. I had a lot of time - almost 3 hours to be exact. I was one of the first to get inside the pre-departure area.


Now you have to understand that the whole of India was in a frenzy because later that afternoon, the country would play for the championship match against Sri Lanka. (Who won?) And everyone was anxious. Airport people were glued to the TV screens scattered all over the airport. People were careless and this eventually seeped through work. When we were boarding, a police man was manning the door - which was odd. When my turn came, he was looking for something from my boarding pass - a stamp from some place. And I was sent back to the Air Asia staff for something I have no idea of. I was the last one on queue so an Air Asia guy accompanied me back to immigration check.

We made a dash, and it was nerve wracking. I didn't want to be left marooned in India. The seal turned out to be a "C.I.A. check" that some nincompoop forgot to stamp on my boarding pass. So I ended up being first person in my gate's pre-departure, and last one to board my plane! How uncool is that? No matter how strategic you make your trip out to be, something always happens that's beyond your control!

Children's Park in Etnakulam. This photo only courtesy of picasa's Javid.

The flight back to KL was bumpy, as it had been from Manila, and as it had been to Bangalore. It had to be one of the dreariest, most boring air travels I have been in in a while, I didn't know what to do with myself. It was a protracted 4 hours and 25 minutes, and I was worrying the buses that travel from LCCT to KL would have stopped by the time I get to KL. I didn't want to pay 100 ringgit instead of the measly 8 ringgit to Jalan Pudu.

At 1 AM, I was on my hotel bed. Images from India, in the last 3 years flashed before my mind. It had been a cornucopia of technicolor dreams set amidst the backdrop of Earth's most varied, most colorful corner. Malaysia felt like home, but it took forever to get here.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

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