India Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
Fifteen days cycling in the beautiful Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Another Red Spokes cycling adventure ;-) The trip started in Trivandrum a mad scramble at the airport's immigration checks at an un earthly hour. After finally gaining entry after being scrutinised by the immigration staff we made our way to find bags and bikes to be faced with only what I can describe as a rugby scrum! It seems the way to do baggage reclaim in Trivandrum airport is to dump it in a pile and let everyone dive in to find their belongings. At this point we were scared our bikes may be damaged under the weight of a ton of bags, or the people walking over the luggage once they get a glimpse of their belongings. Alas the only way to deal with the situation was to wade in sleeves rolled up and head down! At last the bags retrieved it was a dash for the exit only to be stopped again by a very official looking fellow wanting to know what we had in the bags and where we were going.
Outside it was another world, it seemed like there were thousands of people waiting for friends and family. The airport does not allow anyone into the terminal unless they are travelling, so the meeters and greeters and the people saying goodbye to their loved ones have to do so outside! there were people selling hot food being prepared on all types of cooking apparatus
with all sorts creations being turned out, things the like I have never seen, seemed to me like a little industry all of its own was thriving on the terminal front.
We were right on Kovalam beach and once rested we had to explore, it was very beautiful and not too comercialised. We watched the fishermen draw in the nets and devide their catch after the owner of the boats got his lot the rest was shared amoung the fishermen, it was a spectacular sight seeing so many men working in a fairly rough sea and how colourful they were, this was the first taste of the "colourfulness of the Indian people" This was going to be "seafood heaven"
Our group were gathering, arriving from different places meeting each other putting bikes together surveying damage sustained on the journeys and making repairs.
As we get ready to roll the skys open and torrential rain falls it makes for crazy cycling out of the city rain is bouncing off the dirt roads and its easy to miss a pothole in large puddle, it was quiet exciting and exhilarating flying through the traffic but couldn't wait for the open countryside.
I rained most of the day with little respite, it was hard to see the lovely countryside with the rain in your face. With late afternoon out came the sun even though it was low in the sky we all arrived at our accommodation in Vathalagundu none the worst of wear just soggy round the edges. The temprature had dropped and a distinct chill in the air we found hot water to be a premium and cold showers were better than nothing!!
Well guess it had to happen started to feel quiet ill overnight so thought I would be one step ahead and start taking Pepto bismol. This was going to be a long ride today and a tough one too lots of climbing and guess what.....more rain although this started when we were in the hills of Tamil Nadu and by the time our lunch stop came we were once again soaked and at 2,133meters it was quiet cold too.
We arrived at the beautiful village of Marayoor. There were Easter processions in the street outside it was beautiful to watch there were views out to the hills in the distance also anayurvedic
massage hospital on site which was a must have experience traditional and very therapeutic. The next days ride (feeling well and back in the saddle) was exploring the area and heading for the afore mentioned hills.......yes a long steep climb to the heart to visit a tribal village and an ancient temple cave where the holey man was praying it was pretty amazing! The only thing was after all the rain the climb to the temple was wet and covered in leaches....yuck.........as you have to take shoes off out of respect it was pretty stomach churning trying to avoid the little blood sucking evil things!! It was worth it though.
At least it was all down hill on the way back, we passed ladies carrying large bundles of "trees" my goodness it really is a tough life, people have to work very hard just to survive I have so much respect for their resourcefulness and spirit. We took a trip to the national park and had a guide take us around (he spoke no english actually he did not speak at all) funny though you kind of knew what he might say if he had by the places and things he showed us. It was so peaceful and very beautiful we were on the look out for elephants but by all accounts there had been so much rain they had no need to come out of the deep forest. We saw evidence they were near by by the enormous piles of dung they left behind! We were treated to a feast that evening all traditional food served on a palm leaf and the people from the tribal village treated us to a spectacular dance.
Oh I forgot to mention it had stopped raining too!
Alas early next morning it was time to hit the road again it was sunny and warm, we were heading for the tea plantations, for as long as I can remember I have wanted to see the place shown on the tea packet depicting the vast gree tea plantions and the tea pickers at their work well I wasn't disappointed at all. It was incredible to see the layred terraces rich and green this was a beautiful ride all too soon we arrive at out stop for the night Chinnakanal.
Leaving the tea plantations, cycle down through the Cardamom Hills taking in the wonderful scenery and fresh air it was once again on and off the bike snapping pictures and enjoying the warm sunshine the rain a distant memory! Our accommodation was in a very rural area just us staying it was very pretty and had its own fishing area which you could aim to catch your dinner if you feelt the urge.
A crack of dawn start to head for Kumily we were having a rest day here too. The ride was down hill and heading out of the mountains the morning mist sitting on the hill tops it was difficult to see where the earth ended and the sky began, it was hard to drag yourself away as the temptation to just sit and look was overwhelming. This was a fab day's ride and we arrived late afternoon leaving the cool air and freshness of the hills behind us. There was a marked increase in the temperature it was now 30+. This was a buzzing town and we were to spend time visiting the spice gardens and an elephant sanctuary eating and drinking! Some of us found a small bar, it was a unique experience to say the least.
It was a dawn trip to Periyer Lake in Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve http://www.indianwildlifeportal.com/wildlife-sanctuaries/periyar-wildlife-sanctuary.html it was very beautiful we watched the water buffalo graze by the shore line, we kept our eyes peeled for birds and animals making their morning pilgrimage to the waters edge.
After the boat trip around the lake it was back for breakfast and then time to get on the bikes and head for the inland waterways to spend the night on a houseboat by now the temperature was creeping up and it was a very hot cycle indeed it is always hard to keep hydrated when its over 35 degrees. We cycled past rice paddy fields and drank chi at little tea houses while putting on more sunscreen to stop sizzling We made excellent time and arrived at the waterways mid afternoon and it was even better than I expected.
We moored after dark and at dawn set of again to start our next day on the bikes. Today we were to spend the afternoon and night by the Arabian sea in a holiday resort it was strange to stay somewhere with other tourists although it was only a few. It was very nice as the accommodation was little huts built among the palm trees.
The trip was coming to an end and our final destination was Cochin, but first we got to visit a small traditional resort/retreat on the waterways where we were to enjoy a traditional lunch and relaxation in the afternoon sun, it was a real treat.
Fact there are 130 types of bananas and we only got to taste around 6 of them!
India re-cycles and re-uses almost everything
For a county with 1billion people there are quiet places too!
If you get to go may the experience touch your spirit as it did mine