When I went on the Kerala tour with goMowgli, there was one place I wasn’t that excited about: Kochi. Reason being, I’d been there a lot since Ben used to work there. I stayed on Marine Drive but on weekends we wandered Fort Kochi, explored all the things I could find online that were fun: ice skating (really!!), bowling, LuLu’s, boat rides… so, I kind of figured what can I do on the goMowgli tour that will be exciting?
Read more: 10 days in Kerala backpacking
UPDATE: As of 2018, gomowgli is no longer – sadly! If you still want a tour in India, I recommend checking out my blog post with the best group tours and this post which explains the best day tours for the adventurer!
The REAL number 1 thing to do in Kochi
Turns out, the Chinese fishing nets of Fort Kochi that I always thought were a little too touristy (I’ve been told they don’t even catch fish there anymore) are not the best thing to see while you tour Kochi.
GoMowgli actually knew a secret (not surprised there!). Wandering through the fishing village they took us to was by far the coolest bit of Kochi.
Bonus: after the fishing village they took us down a little path that turned to an area of paddy fields that turn to lakes during monsoon season. We took a boat across and (drumroll….) there were REAL Chinese fishing nets. Ones that actually worked and were being used my locals! By the way, the Chinese introduced this way of fishing which is why it’s called “Chinese”.
I wanted to share a photo gallery of this cool place which the local people would not like the name of to be released, although will be happy to take a few individuals if you ask. I think asking any local where the fishing village is, will get you connected with someone who can take you, although there are more than one, so it may not be this one. Seeing a fishing village is by far the number 1 thing to do in Kochi.
A few of the most interested tidbits I observed at the fishing village:
- Everyone helps everyone else. When boat comes in, people who are on shore leave their catches to help pull the boat in.
- Depending on how many fish are caught, the “market price” as you see on menus changes. The women and rickshaw drivers that are there to buy fish may not have enough money. In that case, they hit up the money lender. He doesn’t even take names because everyone trusts each other.
- Everyone has a job there and it works kind of like an assembly line. When the fish comes in, via about 4 guys on a boat, a dude is there as auctioneer to sell it to the market people or the restaurant owners. The auctioneer takes 10% at least. The men on the boat, split the remaining. It seemed to be about 400 Rs. to split between them for small fish. There were other catches like prawns!
- There were exporters as well. It was full on business.
- Starting their fishing at 5 AM, this whole process is done by 10 AM.
In case you’re wondering what the men are wearing, it’s a lungi which is traditional dress in Kerala and most of South India. In fact, before I met Ben he lived in Kovalam for a year and himself wore a lungi. It’s breezy! I actually have some similar to lungi called lapati that I wear as a swim coverup.
No one seemed bothered that we were there, and I’ve been told a local guy takes tourists occasionally. The women selling ice to the exporters were having a big laugh wondering why on earth we found it interesting. All in all, it was a positive experience in that I didn’t feel we were invading their space. Men would stop and want their photo taken even when walking with a basket on their head.
The following set of photos are some of my favorite from Kerala… mainly because of the dog! But also just showing the whole vibe of the place with the fishermen, the woven baskets, the catch, and how chill it was even though you’d think it would be full on chaos.
As I said, we walked a ways to see the local homes on the paddy fields and Chinese fishing nets. We took a little stroll and found a guy making boats. I found it interesting that the small boats used to cross the flooded paddy fields had drivers supplied by the government; they even had government driving uniforms on like taxi drivers. I can’t stroll in a rural area of India without taking cow and goat photos. I just can’t!
Read more on Kochi:
- Backwaters and Backalleys of Kochi
- But seriously, where’s the fort in Fort Kochi?
- Kochi markets, Kerala
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That is really cool that you go to have the local experience. I always feel that is better than anything else.
I must admit, when I first saw the title I thought it was regarding Kochi, Japan. I was shocked since I haven’t seen much regarding it. It’s good to hear that the locals were fine with you being there, even though few tourists go. Though it’s a bit of a surprise why people wouldn’t want to check out a fishing village and the Chinese fishing nets. Seems way cool.
Well the fishing nets are set up in Fort Kochi in the tourist area, and this is the major attraction where they fish from the side of the walkway. Taking a bus out to a fishing village isn’t a tourist attraction though, but was very cooL!
Thanks for the cool tip! It’s always great to see beyond the typical path.
The authentic fishing village looks amazing! How cool! I love how relaxed it sounds, that you didn’t feel invasive at all, that can be so rare these days! Wonderful!
(sorry, probably a few too many exclamation marks in this comment!)
Yeah it’s nice to be somewhere that isn’t a tourist attraction but the locals are curious about u and find it funny you are there so everyone is happy!
Thanks for the great post! How would one go about finding an authentic fishing village like this one (where to find a reliable local person to take you?) and how much would you be expected to pay? As a solo traveller (plus a first-timer in India) I’m always a bit worried that I’ll just be scammed and charged a ridiculous amount of money…
I only found this place through goMowgli who knew of it’s little secret. You could always ask a local person to take you to any fishing village (I would guess they are somewhat similar) and I would expect to pay about 200 Rs. for their time plus the taxi charge if they drive
If I were interested in visiting the little fishing village that you mentioned, then I would have to go through GoMowgli? Seems like they set up a pretty cool experience for you! I would love to get recommendations on fishing villages to visit while I am in Kochi, if you have any?
Just stumbled upon this article. I’m a malayali and I just got to know about this place because of this arriart, thanks a bunch Rachel!
Wow! Being a localite I have never heard of this place. Could you tell me where is this place in fort kochi, please? Thank you.
thanks for the article.
Is the name of the fishing village you visited “Kumbalangi”?