Fort Cochin is such a fabulous place, I don’t know where to begin to describe how wonderful this place really is.
There are many layers of history and culture in Fort Cochin, making it a fascinating visual feast in an architectural sense. Elegant 15th Century Portuguese Mansions sit side by side with English Colonial Style buildings and colourful shacks painted many different colours. There are some beautiful churches, mosques and Hindu temples, again, sitting peacefully side by side.
The thing that is most wonderful is the people. Their warmth and good nature melts religious differences, making this community one of diversity and harmony. Many other countries could learn from Kochi people.
Here are a couple of maps that track some journeys around Fort Cochin, with links to my EveryTrail maps.
Catching an autorickshaw for the first time can be quite scary, but is a cost effective alternative to taxis and is great fun if you are prepared for a lot of noise, traffic chaos and the challenge of trying to communicate with local drivers with very limited English. Here are a few tips that may help to make your first autorickshaw journey a pleasant experience:
Make a mud map. Just on a piece of scrap paper make a rough map of the destination, you can hand this over to the driver. It doesn’t matter too much if he doesn’t hand it back or you loose it.
Record the destination address accurately, make sure that you include the suburb or area name. If the driver doesn’t know the area that well they can always pull over and ask for further directions from a local shop keeper when they get there.
Record the phone number of your destination. If possible write down the phone number of the destination so that if the driver gets lost you can ring up and ask for directions.
Record major landmarks. On your mud map record any major landmarks or major cross streets close to your destination if you happen to know of any
Ask a local, who uses autorickshaws on a regular basis, what they would expect to pay to go to your destination. This gives you a rough idea of what to expect as a fair deal.
Agree a price beforehand, or insist that they use the meter. Autorickshaws are equipped with a meter but are not always used. If you have a rough idea of a fair price, or of what you are prepared to pay you can agree on a price before you accept the ride. However an agreed price will usually be more than the metered price, unless you are an exceptional negotiator. If you are after the cheapest option insist that they use the meter.
Track the route. If you have a smart phone it is useful to track your progress to maake sure that you are heading in the right direction.
Do not hand over your phone. Unless you really trust the driver, it is best not to hand over your phone as you may not get it back.
Flag down a driver rather than picking one from the queue, if you choose an autorickshaw from the roadside queue (the equivalent of a taxi rank) it seems that you are charged an extra fee for the time that they spend waiting in the queue.
Keep your stuff secure, hang on tight to your personal belongings as it is easy for a passing motorcyclist or pedestrian to reach in and grap what they want.