Cochin, India

Musty smell of wood, swaying coconut palm trees, and luscious greenery of what looked like a life size portrait of a tree leaf, we landed off the coast of Malabar, Kerala. First stop: Cochin.

From the airport, we zigzagged across houses, villages, people, animals, potholes, cars and you name it, on a main one lane dirt road. To top it off, we stopped for at least thirty minutes glaring at a rail track frantically waiting for people dangling off a train to pass, and acclimatized to the sound of incessant car honks and jerky rides during our 30km, (which took an hour excluding 30 min train wait), drive from the airport to Willington Island.

The mini bus stopped bouncing as tarmac road started on Venduruthy Bridge to reach the man made island. Previously a military base for the British Royal Air Force and now a major port that links India to the rest of the world, we drove by several freight containers, massive warehouses, and rundown ex council buildings.

The major landmark on the island was Vivanta by Taj Malabar Cochin Hotel, previously a hostel to cruise ship passengers. It also served as quarters to war time staff. The luxury boutique hotel, touched in old British Colonial decor, faces Kochi Lake, a portion of Lake Vembanad. It’s accessible either by driving through the island ghost town OR taking a ferry across Kochi Lake from Fort Cochin. Erm, no,!

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