In my first two weeks in India I had visited the bustling city of Mumbai and saw tigers in the wild doing safari in the jungle. My first couple of weeks had been spent with two friends who live in Mumbai. My friends were incredibly hospitable and guided me around and took very good care of me. As such, the first part of my travels in India had been very easy, completely stress free, very relaxing and very enjoyable.
I would however be spending the next couple of months travelling around India alone. My first stop on my solo travels was the state of Kerala in the southern tip of India. Kerala is described as 'God's Own Country' and also features in a book I have by National Geographic: 'Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places' so I figured it was somewhere I simply could not miss while I was in India.
I flew into the state's main City, Kochi, where I decided to stay a few days. I thought that since it was the biggest and main City in the whole state there surely would be plenty to do there. I had also seen on TripAdvisor that there are a number of day trips you can do from the city to some of the many sights nearby - tea plantations, waterfalls, hills - some beautiful places which I knew I wanted to visit and would provide some great photo opportunities.
I soon discovered however, that I had made a mistake booking several days in Kochi. There in fact was not very much to do there at all. Visiting in May it was also the most humid place I had ever been. As soon as I stepped outside from my air conditioned accommodation, even if I just stood still and not move, the sweat would instantly begin to pour from me. It was incredibly uncomfortable. Kochi was also very noisy, the continuous honking was beginning to drive me crazy, it smelled and I just didn't know how to fill my time there.
On top of that, when it came to booking some of the day trips I had wanted to do I discovered that every single one of them required at least 2 people to be able to book. As I was travelling alone I ended up not being able to book on any of them. So most of my time in Kochi ended up waiting and counting down the days before I could leave and visit the more beautiful and interesting parts of Kerala.
Thankfully as a travel and street photographer, I can at least always walk around and take a few photos.
There was however one thing I wanted to visit in Kochi - the Chinese Fishing Nets. Huge fishing nets at least 10 metres high which are lifted and submerged into the sea by a team of 6 fishermen. The nets were introduced by Chinese explorers who landed here in the 14th Century, hence the name and are unique to this part of India. I had already seen photos of these nets as they were something that kept coming up when I researched Kerala so I knew I wanted to visit them and photograph them too.
When I arrived at the Chinese fishing nets a local man who worked on one of the nets quickly spotted me with my cameras and called me over to his net to take some photos while he also explained to me how the nets work and a bit about their history. At least he tried to - there was a strong language barrier between us so I didn't understand much of it unfortunately!
Naturally he wanted money from me when I eventually left and no matter how much I gave him he kept asking for more. I didn't mind too much though as it did give me a chance to take some photos I otherwise would not have got. In the past I haven't done enough environmental portraits while I've been travelling so I was pleased to get the chance to do more of this here. People are such a large part of travel so it's important I continue to do more portraits in my photography.
If you are planning a visit to Kerala, I advise flying into Kochi, visit the Chinese fishing nets and then move on to the more interesting and scenic places. And if you do stay for a night or two, I recommend staying at Fort Kochi, it is where the beach and fishing nets are, and generally has more interesting architecture, restaurants and just a bit more going on.
As for me, since I could not book onto any of the day trips, I decided to look into whether or not I would be able to arrange visiting any of these places by myself. It turned out the only real way I could get to some of the places I wanted to visit would be to hire an Uber. Although it would be a long journey it still worked out relatively cheap by comparison to what a similar journey would cost me back home.
Now that I was in this part of the world, I definitely did not want to miss out on the more interesting parts of Kerala, particularly as someone who loves nature and landscape photography. So I decided to book an Uber and a few nights at a guest house and head to Munnar, which is up in the hills, surrounded by tea plantations and waterfalls, it's incredibly green and just generally looked beautiful.
I was really looking forward to getting out of the City and away from the noise and the chaos and I couldn't wait to get back to some nature, some peace and quiet and for the chance to do some landscape photography.
All of which you will be able to see in my next video which will be uploaded soon to my YouTube channel.