Arrival hall at the new Cochin International Airport
Even though the interior is welcoming, the walls are becoming overcrowded for various services, jewelry, investment funds and telephone cards, three most popular items. The luggage carousel has already the look of 1950s even though the airport is less than ten years old. The luggage arrived promptly, eventhough the flight from Dubai at the same time, had more luggage and there was a great crowd around that carousel. Once the luggage arrived, once again another queue to go through customs since they use the same terminal for domestic and international flights. Then again, you can just pass through saying you are coming on the domestic flight, no one was particularly watchful. There are plenty of trolleys for carrying your luggage. There is a bank counter to change money and once you are through the customs there is also a Pre Paid Taxi service. There is one more xray for your luggage but I just went past the xray machine without putting my luggage through and I saw many people doing that. Indians seems to be more interested in the process than the substance. Airport security is minimal.
our flight was delayed and arrived close to 4 am at the Cochin International Airport. the prepaid taxi system is a good service. it is about 475 inr to ernakulam and 620 inr to fort cochin. Hotels like ballards Bungalows on booking withthem would arrange for a pick up for a reasonable rate. I dont know if you are coming at 4 am whether it is advisable to go to alleppey at that time. pehaps take a taxi to ernakulam and then stay the night and catch a bus or train the next day or even another taxi. but if you are coming during the day you can go directly to alleppey from the airport using the prepaid taxi service.
Checking into Jet Airways counter at Cochin
Since jet airways have a mutual agreement with both air france and continental airlines
I went and stood in the Premiere class line which was empty
The gentleman behind looked like a novice at this game and a tall young man was helping him
The three bags in total weighed 53 kg, 13 kg overweight
And I saw him calculate the excess weight of 2530 inr. But I started talking to him
And showed him our air france gold and continental platinum
He checked us in, didn’t charge the excess and was polite and without asking, gave us apass to the lounge
Which was kind indeed.
I asked him for his name
Reminded me of the Danish designed Jensen, I told him
Is the flight delayed, just twenty minutes and I will come and get you.
Jinson had come in tp the lungefor some other errand, I called him over and told him, as I handed him a one peso note from Cuba. He had earlier asked, in that tilting manner of the malayalee, are you basically from Kerala?
Where are you from? I asked the question, I am basically from Cochin he answered.
I handed him a peso note and pointing out to Jose Marti who adorns the Cuban peso note, I said
He is like Gandhi to you, a great intellectual and a great man. You must learn something about him. Also this would bring good luck to you, keep it in a safe place. He couldn’t believe it, but accepted it gracefully.
I had another cappuccino and another glass of cucumber cooler which was true to its name.
I saw Jinson coming over again, I looked at the watch , the flight was supposed to arrive at 12 45 pm and it had not arrived . he came over and asked for our boarding passes and said
Both of you have been upgraded. I was happy about that ready to enjoy the benefits of a first class ride on an Indian airlines.
I thanked him mentally, and here it is an excellent example of transaction of symbols.
A little later, another jet airways employee, a lady this time, came over to say that we could go over to the security.
The jet airways lounge at Cochin International Airport
Set up as a café with a small buffet and uniformed waiters for serving coffee and tea
This is where an observation came to my mind
All the Indian passengers are fatter than me and all the coolie workers are thinner than me
The well off are fat and not so well off are thin, nothing profound but then again, india is a poor country, with an uneven development
In richer countries the rich tend to be thin and the poor fat, in India the poor was thin and the rich or richer are fat.
A little vegetable salad
And a cappuccino with and another without the cinnamon, but I could taste the machine and the powder.
nice place to wait for your flight
Most of the flights ( from Paris or New York) arrive closer to midnight, thus you are left with a choice of spending the rest of the night at the airport (not user friendly) for an early morning flight or find a place to stay.
Air India offers domestic flights which are connections to its international flights and there is a flight from Bombay to Cochin leaving at 0100 in the morning, at least you could sleep in the hotel in Cochin and sleep in if you like.
If you book ahead the airfares on Air India are very reasonable, competetive to Kingfisher and jet and Indian. and they all leave first thing in the morning for Cochin.
The greatest attraction for me is the fact that you dont have to switch terminals in the middle of the night. Air India flies into and out of International Terminal, so if you arrive on Air France, you can clear the immigration and customs and recheck for Air India.
I flew to Kochi via Dubai with Emirates Airlines. I fly often with Emirates and never han a bad experience.
Arriving in Kochi is better, compared to Mumbai and Delhi.
Emirates have 3 flights per day from Johannesburg to Dubai, and recently introduced flights from Cape Town to Dubai!
The many public ferries link the islands and mainland of Ernakulam. The KTDC offers daily boat cruises that visit the main sights.
The ferries provide a quick and easy way to get about Cochin, with views of life around the bustling harbour. Small fishing boats bob alongside huge tankers.
Although it was overcast on the day we spent in Cochin, and I was feeling ill, we were cheered by the sight of a dolphin that briefly appeared at the side of our boat....some days you can be escorted by a family of these creatures as you sail along!
Recently Etihad from Abu Dhabi and Tiger from Singapore have started to fly to Cochin.
Other airlines flying include:
air arabia www.airarabia.com
air deccan www.flyairdeccan.net (dont recommend this airline)
air india www.airindia.com also operates air india express and now has merged with indian airlines www.indianairlines.in
sahara ww.airsahara.net recently acquired by jet airways
go air www.goair.in
gulf air www.gulfairco.com
jet airways www.jetairways.com now they have flights from bombay to london brussels and new york and toronto
jazeera airways www.jazeeraairways.com
kuwait airways www.kuwaitairways.com
www.mahan.aero to bandar abbas
oman air www.omanair.aero
paramount airways www.paramountairways.com My favourie airline in India, highly recommended for its punctuality, professionalism and Class in a country all three commodities are in short supply
saudi arabian www.saudiarabianairlines.com
srilankan www.srilankan.aero very nice airlines,well run, preferred flights to colombo
Domestic destinations: Bomaby, bangalore, madras, delhi, trivandrum, goa, hyderabad, agathi, coimbatore, calicut
International destinations: mostly for the modern day slave trade
Riyadh, Dammam, Kuwait, bahrain, Alain, Jeddah, Muscat, Sharjah, Dubai, bandar abbas, salala, abu dhabi, doha, colombo (mainly for connections to the middle east)
the only international destinations for tourist purposes is Singapore now served by silk Air and Tiger Airways . Tiger would connect you to various points in south east asia or will connect with singapoer airlines, jetstarasia airlines to various points in asia and beyond.
We have hire the Tempo Travel 14 seater for Munnar trip.. in just 4500/ rs.. but we also offered in 3500 rs a Qalis car.. but we decided to go by tempo travel.. this were booked by our hotel....But later i have found couple who were from Rajasthan and know Malyalam.. they told me on the counter.. conversation between hotel and Driver.. they only paid 3000/- to Tempo Travel and were discussing each other they will charge us 3500/- for munnar trip.. but actually they charge us 4500/- rs..
so u should always bargain.. with hotels.. or go in local area to find transportaion..
If you go to Tourist Land offices at the Corporation Bus Stand Building just in front of the Ernakulum south/Junction Railway station, just a stones throw away from Metropolitan Hotel( at the lobby of which they also maintain an office), you will come across friendly Sunil and Suresh. They can arrange the transportation to and fro Vaikom where they will organize a tour of the backwaters with or without lunch for you.
I look forward to the day when Air France will start flying to Cochin from Paris, until then I will Air France from Paris to Bangalore and then take the train ( I really dont wish to fly cheap airlines domestically, such as Air Deccan!) The other pleasant alternative is the one I will do today.
At 9 pm today, I have a reserved ticket on a 2A sleeper class to Ernakulam. the fare is now under 1000 inr ( about 20 usd or 16 euros ). One is able to stretch out and sleep and until Kerala, the train speeds through the sleepy Tamil Nadu. Once the sun breaks the horizon, the train slows down and it is time to enjoy the verdant scenery of Kerala, while the train passes through stations with magical names..
Tea is to be had while the train stops, occasionally one gets idli wrapped in banana leaves. by 11 am, one reaches Ernakulam and I expect to be invited to the buffet, sumptious by any standards, very good Kerala food, my favourite indian food, at the Metropolitan Hotel.
Hag Sameach to all Chaverim Tovim e am israel.. Tomorrow night begins Pesach.
A cheap way of getting around. A single trip never cost more than 30 Rs.
The taxi drivers are also well informed. It is sometimes difficult for them to understand that you do not want to visit any shops/emporiums - "just look", they will say.
Ferries are the cheapest way of traveling between the different ares of bigger Kochi. A trip to Ernakulam will cost only 2,5 Rs.
There are 2 jetties in the Fort Cochin area, one to the islands, and the other to Ernakulam.
The last ferrie between Fort Cochin and Ernakulam is 21h30.
It is great to hire a driver for a day or more. You can plan your trip the way you like. Usually the driver will be from the area and you get to see things that is not part of the major tourist drag. We were very lucky in the sense that we could visit a Hindu Temple, eat at a local restaurant and stopped at more than one festival on the way. You can stop to visit shops, take pictures etc whenever you like. Prices are usually calculated per kilometre, and maybe give the driver a good tip.
We used an air-conditioned taxi.
Another way to travel through India is by bus. Even though the busses are very old they appear to be more or less reliable. Some astonishing enough do not have windows - maybe a good thing - so they are airconditioned :-)) Prices are relativley cheap, and one should ask the locals before boarding what the fare would be, else one will pay a lot more!