Journal -- Day 11

December 29th

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Our morning takes us to Mattancherry (or Jewtown as it is commonly known), a historic district just to the south of Ft. Cochin. This area houses both the maharaja's palace and the oldest synagogue in Asia, right next to each other. Although the current Jewish population is minute, this area shows its history through the Star of David decorations on ironwork and Jewish surnames on most businesses.

The synagogue is small but filled with ornate treasures. The floor is tiled with hand-painted Chinese tiles, and the ceiling is crowded with chandeliers donated over the years, most European. Next to the synagogue is the palace, called the Dutch palace due to the source of funding not the architecture. Outside it looks like a warehouse rather than a palace, but the interior is much nicer. The murals are the highlight here, showing scenes of the Ramayana and of the gods.

The afternoon is free so we spend a quiet time reading and enjoying the grounds. Afternoon tea is a highlight, with well-brewed first flush Darjeeling in a nice lounge. Unfortunately the garish Christmas decorations and incessant Christmas music continues, which does rather spoil the mood.

The pool is particularly interesting, with an elephant motif and set right next to the shore. For dinner we try Cochin's best (and only) Thai restaurant. It's not terribly good, but a nice change of pace and a lovely rest in a lovely place.

One interesting note on our stay in Cochin is that the government requested a hiatus on shipping for fear of recurrence of the tidal wave. One treat this affords is an unobstructed view of the river dolphins.

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