When I grow up I want to Be ‘KIM’

https://www.strava.com/activities/838117284 Great Route to Hill Stn and descent to almost Sea Level.

https://www.strava.com/activities/839466615 Follow this route to a great Yoga Retreat

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I sometimes realise its been days since I looked in a mirror and its possible I am a bit dribbly and tired a bit like this old dog at the Yoga Retreat.

The truth is I came here to empty my mind and relax.

I came too meet two friends Finnish Friends I met in Indonesia who suggested this could be the perfect place to get away from it all and escape the Hustle and Bustle of India.

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But Indian early mornings are too be adored. Look hard and you will see my tent in another harvested rice field. Its the last night before ‘civilization’. What I mean is a few weeks in my very own bed, regular showers and maybe some of India’s rarest prize. Wi-Fi.

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And the first look at the day from my Tent is at the security crews tent and its time to enjoy the cool air and golden colours and that morning stillness and get a waft of last nights now cold fire.

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Followed soon after by a few locals who are always pleased to see you and despite what must be a pretty ripe smell from my tent are always willing to give you your first Chai of the day and I haven’t even got out of bed yet.

 

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And there he goes, last nights ‘Coffee Guard’

 

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Next I’ll nip to the Local Hotel for tiffin (breakfast) and enjoy the regular spectacle of people who are not tall enough to ride my bicycle make complete fools of themselves and we all enjoy ourselves immensely.

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A nice fresh Young Coconut firstly has the top removed and all it takes is a few noisy slurps and the juice is gone. Next he will chop the coconut in half, and few spoonful’s of flesh leaves me feeling ‘fresh’.

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Someone did tell me the name but its been lost amongst the countless other names of things that I get too eat fresh every day. Its sweet this one and its something I never saw before.

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And the road is beautifully surfaced and its rolling and immediately the Indian colour is upon you. Its getting warm quickly as well.

Here is one of the Chuckle Brothers from a few days back showing me some wildlife in his Village.

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For sure, its not all smooth, in fact this is downright bumpy but its very peaceful.

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And some pretty impressive homes sit amongst the Coffee and Tea Plantations.

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Tiny towns appear with what looks very much like Colonial architecture? Its just a guess though.

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Its a guess fuelled by the fact that monuments too the English Emperor still stand in this beautiful Hill Station.

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And a local who tells me “The English were influential and Loved here, they brought us progress and many things, like the Lord God Jesus”.

 

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Is the Traffic Cop the bravest man in the World?

 

 

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The advice from my friends also came with the knowledge that I would be able to meet some fellow Europeans, talk some English, its been a while since I saw Europeans. In this case a whole group of Finn’s who speak great English and are super Friendly and I’ll have the chance to wear civilian clothing.

What I didn’t realise is that the Yoga retreat is a really special place to visit. The Guru is well thought of, leads great Yoga sessions, Chanting Sessions and Philosophy lessons.

But Yoga Starts at 5-30 in the morning and I am fine with that. Its still dark and its the coolest time of day. Humidity is on the way up and in the daytime temperatures are over 30c even though its still Winter.

But the problem for me is that it means I miss the very best of India first thing in the morning just like with my Crab Fisherman friend or the day before diving in the River to catch Shrimps or the offer too come fishing in there boats.

Yoga is great but Indian mornings just cannot be missed and I think its time too leave and head too the beach and I am not quite ready to follow a time schedule.

What I learnt today!

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Took a day off yesterday just here. Its easy to see why. Just 50 metres behind me is a fairly quiet road. If I turn right or left within 1 mile are a choice of Hotels. I checked for Elephant shit and saw none and it seems I am out of the National Parks and no-one said NO. Not that I saw anyone and enjoyed a day of Reading and relaxing in the Winter leaves. Rudyard Kipling’s KIM is better read whilst in India. Loving It.

https://www.strava.com/activities/838117277

I think I always learn lots but I’ve given all my pens and paper away in India. You get rural and the kids will always ask. Problem is my phone is getting a bit old and making notes doesn’t work anymore and its usually forgotten by evening.

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This is a new breakfast for me. Its Rice Dust and Coconut and served with a daal. A few Indians have questioned the Englishman’s ability to endure Hot Curry. It’s hard to explain I am a Veteran of an English Seaside Town Challenge. Its been attempted and beaten many times over the years ‘The Phaal Challenge’ has not yet been beaten in India.

So tonight’s good because I am in a harvested rice field again and I’ve just been helping  rake freshly picked coffee beans over huge tarps laid on the ground.

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If you want this food its just down here. I know this because I am still on recently covered ground. Its nice to be recognised and made welcome by all the people I saw last time.

They will stay for about 10 days in the Sun drying. This information is fresh in my mind.

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It warms up really quickly, but note Jackets for the Motorbike Riders.

Amazingly, as with maybe 97% of my time here is no cloud. Maybe a little with sunrise but even evening time is no cloud. Maybe a little.

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Random Indian kindness. We have Oranges here and that’s the Tree they came from. Add Oranges to the never ending list of stuff too eat Fresh here and enjoy the maybe 20 they have stuffed into my panniers.

So we are still at about 3000ft and its winter time her in the new state of, Karnataka and today reached 27c, I know this from the locals at the Chai stop just over there.

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And it’ll drop to maybe 2c tonight. That’s quite a swing. Anyway, the pile next too this one is black compared to the bright red and green we just ‘raked out’. Its been in the Sun for 5 days, its dryer if course as is the nut (it seems like a nut) and its like a very very hard peanut. No taste to mention and no hint of it being coffee.

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I am still in a National Park I think. No Tiger or Elephant, just National. This is near too the Karnataka State Border. Goodbye again Kerala. You’ve been magnificent. Lo0ok at those thin quiet roads. Still a few attempts on my life today. Whoever is paying these Hitmen needs to up the game a bit! Middle Finger is seeing more action.

After 10 days it goes off to the local traders. It sounds organised and efficient .I’ve asked the Farmer if he’ll sell to friends looking for coffee but it seems the trader is going to be the first stop if they want to buy. Freshly picked Coffee gets 46 rupee per kilo and is harvested once a year and each crop takes 6 months to grow.

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Its all about Coffee here again. In a couple of days it will all be gone when I descend back too sea level. I get a feeling I will be back, its great up here.

As for wages, if I work from 8am to 5pm picking Coffee I’ll earn 1000 rupees. The same length of time applies for growing and harvesting rice, 1 crop per year and 6 months to grow. In the local shop they have rice for sale and a 25kg bag of premium rice costs 10000 rupees and will last a family of four just about a month.

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I forget the name of the Waterfall but its  beauty and you’ll see the dead end road that leads me there on the Strava Link. Worth a visit? If you are passing, yes. Wouldn’t go out of my way for it though.

I still cant work out where all the water has gone from rice fields but if I understood right, in the rainy season the small river/stream that runs through is deep enough to fill up the rice paddies. Its not rained in over 2 months hence the waterless fields.

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I think I want to meet one. Maybe!

That may have been lost in translation. Its been another day of riding in and out of nature reserves and despite me wondering if things would start to get busy again as the coast gets closer, I couldn’t be more wrong. Its perfect riding with some not to challenging climbing and descending with a beautiful waterfall as the perfect break half way.

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I keep expecting the Rural paradise too end but its hanging in there.

As for the demonetization ‘crisis’ the effects can still be felt here. The ATM’s give out 2000 rupee notes, its about £22 and since the smaller 1000 & 500 rupee have been taken out of circulation (although a new 500 rupee note has since been issued) which made up 85% of notes in circulation initially I cant pay the 110 rupee fee too get in because they don’t have change for my 2000 rupee note.

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I can see nothing that says no camping. NO Rubbish, Smoking or Fires are on the NO List. If there are no animals about I’ll take my chance. Don’t want to break the rules but its seems there is some space for bending them?

It must be a nightmare for people trying to live. The staff have decided to let me in for free but I can pay them back as I leave because an Indian couple who live in Australia have offered to give me some change.

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A busy day at the office. The Red and Green Coffee Beans are freshly picked and we will rake them shortly. In the background are blacker beans, they have been drying for a few days.

For the first night in a while I am entirely comfortable that no Elephants or Tigers will be visiting. Plus, maybe just 10ft away in a makeshift tarpaulin tent are two locals guarding the coffee beans for the night.

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Still enjoying the Indian ladies in all there Colour.

Ordinary Day

https://www.strava.com/activities/834915260

 

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Rear Wheel and panniers off to squeeze into the Jeep.

 

I think its a sign that I need to head too the Beach, or more precisely a nice quiet village not so far away from the beach that friends two Finnish friends have recommended as a great place to relax, has a great Guru and is perfect for practicing Yoga and some meditation.

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It’ll be nice to get some extra meditation tips and I reckon this old body might appreciate a different sort of exercise and lots of doing nothing, I have a lot of books that need reading.

 

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Its so dry here.

 

And the sign is this, I managed about a mile out of the village this morning and no amount of blagging, begging and even trying an annoyed face will get me past the Forest Rangers checkpoint which clearly states this is a ‘core’ area of this huge Tiger Park that if I heard right covers 65000 square Kilometer’s.

 

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Close up and very big in the Core Area.

 

I may even be one zero short but Whatever the figure is, its home to 41 Tigers, I think 72 Leopards and lots of Bears and I forget the number of Elephants.

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These are just the big animals that might see me as lunch or just plain annoying. I’ve accepted the need for an 11km Mahindra Jeep ride and been assured that from then on I can ride all the way too Mysore which is a big city with some special architecture. Its all looking Rosy after my lift until I reach the next state Border about 5miles down the road and I’m being told to take a lift.

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To be honest, I know I don’t enjoy the big cities and I’m not too sad to miss this and decide to swing around and out of the Park. I’ve enjoyed my visit, Ive seen proper wild elephants and enjoyed the feeling.

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Its a little bit of ground already covered today and I’m happy too get another look at the Tea Plantations and enjoy the longer steady climbs and delicious winding descents.

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Yet again in a short amount of miles I’ve seen a huge change in scenery from the dry dusty water starved Tiger Park, into some greener wild Forest and then into the deep green and more organised Tea Plantations.

 

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I rode in and turned around back into Tamil Nadu State.

 

Put the last week or so’s riding on a must do list. It’s been so full of surprises and huge smiles but today its been great to step of the WOW and into some ‘normal’.

 

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And within 5-10 miles the scenery changes.

 

All I’ve gotta do now is pray I am far enough away from the park and its amazing animals and count the stars, the really clear and bright stars just poking through the canopy above my nice secluded campsite.

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And just time for a read. Ordinary is good sometimes. I’m feeling refreshed and ready for some busier life closer to the coast.

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Its a few days away yet and a little climbing too come. Love you India!

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The Bringer of Happiness

 

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If you remember a Hotel serves foods not beds in India but occasionally you’ll find one with rooms. If you are in Masinagudi drop by, the foods good, the Chai is plentiful and just sitting watching the world go by is perfect here slap bang in the middle of what is allegedly a hotbed for wildlife. To be Honest I’ve discovered the rooms comfy, clean and round the back and therefore I can be left in peace and that’s the plan and as  daft as it sounds I have been on the Go, Physically and Mentally for days.

 

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See that? Its the Long Shadow cast by the end of the day Sun. I should note I froze my bits off last night even at 3000ft in my room, so  my sleeping bag was yet again welcome. Its perfectly warm right now and today has been red hot. Unless you have had your fan on in your room most of the day like yours truly.

 

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You might be thinking what’s he doing riding a bicycle in a Tiger Reserve. Notice the lack of panniers, if I need to sprint it gives me a small chance. I’m only 2km from the Hotel and I have been told “come back before dark” that’s when most animals come out to play and that’s when its really dangerous! Still being aware is important in the day.

 

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The answer is this. I am gonna just sit here at this small Junction and see what happens.

 

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It looks like this behind me if you are interested. Its a tiny tumble down Village.

 

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Ahhhh, here we go, first visitors are this lot coming home for the night. Great Start.

 

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Look left and these two have just come back from the temple with some wood which I assume must be for cooking and keeping warm.

 

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Its about 1/4 Km down the road.

 

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Look right and make mental note to unpack sleeping bag before bed tonight.

 

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Look slightly left and the Lion Monkey who is the biggest Monkey I have seen on my trip and moves very fast and gracefully pops by for a quick photo.

 

 

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Look behind and here come the India branch of the So Solid Crew.

 

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“Can we have a go please Mister James Bond”. They are great lads. “Of course, here are the brakes but I ain’t telling you where the gears are, oh yes and DON’T break her!

 

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“Looking Good there mate”

 

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What a great shot and this one looks like a natural!

 

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Fella number four knows it just ain’t gonna work for him, but all four have just experienced the Happiness Bringer!

 

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Looks so much Fun I want a go! The CAADX is supremely versatile! Her real Job is a Cyclo-Cross and that mean racing on sealed surfaces and off road just like this! No Lycra and no panniers! I could nail that Mountain right now!

 

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Or this lot who every time they drove by they would call out “hello Uncle, How are You Uncle?”

 

 

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And some more Happiness Bringers with news that some Elephants have been spotted down by the Reservoir but we have to be quick!  We never made it…… I should be disappointed but I’m not, just being with Indians is a great thing.

 

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And if you need reminding how big the Ooti Mountain is….  I climbed up that and crawled down.

 

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I never imagined I would have just done what I have done after this morning . A couple of Lads have stopped me after Tiffin and asked if I wanted to ride into the forest. Being in a car felt like the safest way to see all of this.

 

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That’s where I’ll meet the cycling lads later.

 

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It can be compared to cycling through the Aussie Outback.

 

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Maybe 10-12 inches high and can be found at the temple on the way.

 

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And as always in these Harsh conditions  life is going on. In the middle of  Tiger Reserve!

 

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Its pretty easy to spot the Deer, this magnificent fella just ain’t coming out though.

 

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The first of the Lion Monkeys I will see today.

 

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Still not close but a better view.

 

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They are tall thin Monkeys and seem chilled but getting close would not be a good plan.

 

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Here is the Main Star and thankfully he doesn’t seem angry.

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I couldn’t be more pleased with my day off, in fact I reckon I might stay one more day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you just can’t get off

https://www.strava.com/activities/832782031

 

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It looks beautiful in the Morning and it is. But its on a slope and my tactic of not using a sleeping mat to stop me falling into a deep sleep in case any unwanted visitors turned up meant a cold uncomfortable night.

 

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As often happens, if I had travelled another couple of miles further this could have been my campsite but when its dark and you’ve been pushing for a while you take the first spot you can find.

 

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Those trees were a blessing in disguise though and kept things a little warmer. The Chai master has just told me at 8am its 2c. Its an easy fix though. Drink Chai, lots of it.

 

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We are at near as dammit 7000ft hence the Chilly Start.

 

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Wrap up warm is the order of the day especially if you are on a two wheels.

 

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The secret of course is too get in the Sun. In the shade its bitter but the warming rays of the sun on the other side of the street make todays decision to beat records for going slow an easy one. Its a place too go slow.

 

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I have not been this high since Indonesia and its nice to be back wrapped up.

 

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Life up top is still colourful in India and very peaceful and the air is so clean and the sky is perfectly blue.

 

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I have heard that in addition to the already mind blowing choice of fresh fruit AND SPICES in India there will be something different for the eyes and mouth today.

 

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Lets start with Corn on the Cob, boiled and then slightly browned on the fire and of course it goes without saying, add chillies.

 

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Followed by Mango, sliced and if it needs mentioning, add Chillies! And enjoy my new best mates great English.

 

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Then keep it simple, just gawp. Its a place to gawp and I reckon I have managed about two miles in 2 hours.

 

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Just behind me is her home. It looks pretty simple but the view is priceless.

 

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Nice to see the Hindu influence in the Morning.

 

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If there is one complaint about Indian Chai its this. We Brits like big Mugs! The good news is maybe 500m down the road is another reason to take it slow and soak up the warmth and its impossible to have too much Chai.. Happy days.

 

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Chai and Carrots? I don’t mind if I do thanks!

 

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The Indians or should I say Tamil ladies really are very beautiful and a bit mysterious.

 

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And the fellas are pretty smart looking in a kind of understated classic way.

 

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I need to find out if two nose piercings has any significance, I seem to think it was pretty common in Tamil Nadu. Very friendly people and proud of what’s for sale. Cabbages, Carrots, Beetroot and Radish. I can confirm all except for the devils own food, beetroot tastes great. If I go any slower I will surely fall off.

 

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But this is pure cycling heaven, great surfaces and light Sunday Morning Traffic and not riding is not easy. Its so good.

 

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Reasons to slow down though. Its Pongol Festival which I am a little confused about but means something along the lines of its a new year and we are celebrating the harvest and of course probably far deeper that this but its why this cow is sporting such beautiful colours.

 

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Its all feeling a bit English up here, look at the Grass although signs of the huge drought can be seen. It should be much greener up here I am told.

 

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More superb English spoken here and its a Chance to ask” why do you have two beautiful marks on your forehead?” It means she is married.

 

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She and her friend are manning the all important Chai stop and some local weaving is going on and a lot of friendliness. I am going slooooooow!

 

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I’ve learnt that “This is our Tribal Weaving” and although India has 122 Official Languages, depending on where you look there are maybe as many as 780 languages if you include the unofficial and its one of these they are using. WOW. I have been invited to there village down an 8km road to nowhere and its tempting but there is no Hotel so no guarantee of food and I don’t want to ask “will you feed me” I am sure they would though.

 

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“Please camp on me Jason” All I need to do is find some supplies and have a huge curry that’ll last me until the morning. But its Sunday and the road too Ooty which I have heard is a bit of a tourist trap is now beginning to heave with Indian tourists and why not, its stunning and its Sunday.

 

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You don’t see many sheep in Asia, it seems that the goats provide the mutton that you will see on menu’s but here are the first seen since maybe Australia. Nice too see you back.

 

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The temperature is perfect, maybe 23c at a guess, still cccold in the shade but I can see why the British liked too escape to the Hill stations for a break from the heat down below.

 

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Making homes out of Nothing.

 

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Even Monkey like a leisurely read of the News on Sunday.

 

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I rode into Ooty and turned around a rode straight back out. I am wondering if it might have been better too visit in the week but on Sunday its heaving and fume filled, horn blowing traffic is driving me nuts at 7000ft… Arrrrghhh! I am feeling the Indian Traffic pressure.

 

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Take a right out of Ooty and the peace is back and if you look hard you will see the bottom of this huge Mountain. The bottom is about 4000ft down. Its not sea level though, its still about 3000ft feet down there. I have no intention of going all the way down and my greedy free camping eyes are scanning and it all looks good!

 

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This is a monster descent though and once you get on it you cannot stop. Its very VERY technical and has a serious amount of Hairpins (have a look at the strava link at the start of the blog)

 

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Here is hairpin 11 of 36 and believe it or not its not looking simple too free camp. Firstly because of the steep descent but some Park Rangers have tried to turn me around half way round and I am not pleased about the idea of pushing back up. “There was an Elephant Attack here yesterday”  I have promised that I will get to the next village and take a room “Free Camping is not allowed in this Park Mister”. Fair enough, its a pretty stupid idea anyway.

 

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Especially when you reach the bottom and this sign appears.

 

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I am slightly nervous, I have about 2 hours light and maybe 15 miles before the next town. Pedal Forrest PEDAAAAAAAL!

 

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I am also totally speechless, for the last 3 or 4 days lush green vegetation has been all there is too see and now after dropping off the mountain the effects of the drought are startling.

 

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And also infuriating but I have to think smart. Its full of elephants and Tigers and I’ll be in big trouble if the Rangers find me. Its ideal free camping though!

 

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I could do with a shower though and a £12 a night room is not budget friendly but it means I can watch India v England and just wonder at how incredible India is. I am pinching myself “Am I really here, how can it all change so much just like that”.

 

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I’ll argue until I am blue in the face that tourist guides are dull and pointless, its much more exciting to have no idea what’s ahead and just be stunned by what you find.

 

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Climate Change or whatever it is is in full effect here!

 

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More people travelling in the Mahindra Jeep than the 3 wheelers now. Just right for the mountains and games reserves eh!   

 

ANOTHER MIND-BLOWING DAY IN AMAAAAAZING INDIA!

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, going slow ain’t easy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting High

https://www.strava.com/activities/832345698

 

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The view from my Tent. Perfect.

 

Today  has been about two things. Tea Plantations and the most beautiful roads, narrow and winding through the most beautiful sea of green.

 

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Or look into the Creek that’s used for swimming and washing stuff.

 

The coffee plantations which were what made up much of yesterday have gone and its all about the tea. And the second thing is climbing. Its been gentle longer climbs and exhilarating descents through occasional tiny villages to start the day and a clear difference in wealth from Kerlala all finished off with a nice climb on the way to Ooty which sits at about 6000ft.

 

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Or just enjoy the watery but nonetheless warming sun over Banana’s.

 

I lost count of the switchbacks which provide the most stunning but impossible to catch on camera views over the hills and valleys below, but rather than being the impossible climb I feared its been just perfect climbing and at as the day draws too a close its been quite a drop in temperature.

 

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And say Hi to one Chuckle Brother, Mum and best Friend.

 

Rumours of 0c to 5c at night have been talked about numerous times and it doesn’t feel far from it.

 

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No place like Home and this is a great one! Paradise found.

 

Frustratingly finding somewhere to camp has not been easy and its not until after dark that a less than suitable campsite has appeared.

 

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Straight into a climb or should I say push.

 

I’d hoped a friendly Tea plantation might give me the Ok to pitch for the night but ‘elephant problem’ or ‘Nature Reserve’ is the answer I’m given. So its stealth camping tonight and when you get switchbacks you tend to get steep drops which don’t suit tents.

 

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And enjoy this view for pretty much most of the day. Tea of course!

 

Finally after a lot of faffing about I’ve spotted a rubbish strewn, steep path which leads to my ‘flattest’ choice and I’m pitched, wooly hat and socks on in a slightly nervous state thinking about Elephants and Tigers.

 

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And as its India, don’t forget to chuck some extra colour in!

 

A real difference from this morning when last nights hosts appeared with coffee and tea and fresh wood for the fire and I got a great lesson in how amazing India is.

 

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Tiny cluster of maybe 5-10 houses appear periodically.

 

Almost within reach without moving from where we are sat are Bananas, some very small and powerful green Chillies, Mangoes, Jack Fruit, Tea, Coffee and natures natural Chewing gum and the knowledge that if I had a fishing line, the tiny river we washed in Yesterday has some small tasty fish and is just yards away.

 

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Still hot work, if a little cooler than of late. Mid 20’s c?

 

No Elephants or Tigers appeared in the night but this morning the Forest is absolutely full of the sound of birdsong and I’ve just had a demonstration of a pretty little leaf which closes before your eyes if you touch it. I’m not sure why it does this but its amazing too watch and I’ve learnt the Indians use it for medicine in a way I don’t quite understand.

 

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The start of the climb. Almost feels a bit like the European Alps.

 

Nonetheless its a perfect start too a much easier, taking it slow day in Amazing India. I should mention something that’s been really nice to hear whilst I’ve been here.

 

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The Happy People!

 

I wondered if I might get a cool reception from being English because of the past but the Railways are highly regarded as are many of the roads “which we wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for the British” and it includes the one I’m on today although its a fair guess that the real hard work was done by the locals.

 

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As with Any climb its far easier than expected. Out of the saddle most of the time and the rapidly cooling temperature really helps.

 

It leads to Ooty which is a Hill Station built by an Englishman and apparently when I arrive sometime tomorrow the British Influence can be seen in the architecture.

 

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What a Handsome Fella!

 

Yet another incredible day in India. Ive decided to stop worrying about the possibility of wild animals visiting tonight. The fact is I’ll either stay here or I won’t and that’s not an option so I’m rolled into the corner of my tent clinging onto the hillside and if you get this post then you’ll know I haven’t been eaten.

 

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Absolutely Huge Eucalyptus!

 

Ive got a big rock next to me in my tent and my Leatherman’s not so big blade is open and ready to fight off any predators although I’m thinking it’ll be highly unlikely I’ll need them and if I do probably not much use.

 

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I just cant capture a picture of the bottom! Its that hazy sorta evening, trust me its a long way down. Just over 6000ft I reckon.

 

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FFFFFFFreeezing now and nowhere too stay here!

 

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Even my very best attempts at blagging a space on a tea plantation fail but a Green Tea sure is good with these two beautiful ladies.

 

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Look sideways for this one. Its what happens when an Elephant takes a dislike too your Guard Hut! Ouch!

 

 

 

 

 

The Chuckle Brothers

https://www.strava.com/activities/831209005

 

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The first view of the morning and it comes with a Chai. Its the perfect start!

 

I’m maybe about 1ft away from a Small electric fence, its made up of just one length of wire about waist height and its to stop Wild Elephants.

 

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And here is last nights campsite, you’ll see its just below road level, like all rice paddies, just no water in this one. Slept like a baby!

 

Wild Elephants are something to avoid because they are “very grumpy and angry”.

 

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When you hear a rustling in the bushes you have to check it out. “Good Morning Ladies, what are you doing?”

 

That’s what the chuckle brothers told me about 10 miles from the Tamil Nadu state border as they pulled alongside me for a chat on their scooter as I’m grinding up one of the many climbs along my route.

 

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If you didn’t guess, this is coffee and they move the sheet under each bush and just strip the coffee beans. Are they beans at this stage? I have no idea.

 

Not too big but not tiny either, in a Park which clearly states “This is a Tiger Park”, note It’s a no boundaries type park (I’ll explain the electric fence soon) and I should add is also called Forest and its very apt, I’m going with Jungle, its thick, lush and if you get a break in the trees that often provide complete cover from the Sun, you will see for miles across the landscape around you that runs off into the distance and is very much the same as what lines the road around me ie green and everything you might imagine a jungle should look like.

 

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You are looking at Robusta coffee here by the way.

 

When I say the same its often broken by large areas of Tea Plantations, never flat but always if you look either left or right you will notice that one side runs downhill and the other uphill, just broken by generally great condition, mostly sealed roads just wide enough for one vehicle and generally involving impossible (even to push sometimes) climbs and absurdly and very likely dangerous descents that melt in to never ending corners.

 

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“Hey Mister Jason, come and watch us process coconuts”

 

Its also only right too mention the easier climbs and fun descents that make up part of this Greenest and most delicious part of India so far. I’ll spare the full details for these, but also include, Coffee, Rubber, Banana, Peppers, and something that grows everywhere and is a ‘natural’ chewing gum.

 

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This machine will be used twice. First time it squeezes out all the juices that we will use for beauty products and the second time, what’s left is used for cooking oil.

 

The dark red soil that makes up the edge of the road and is about maybe 3ft high and contrasts nicely with black tarmac and its green, tidy, eye-candy tea bush top, is vivid. As for the Tigers although you are unlikely to see one, in fact very lucky or if you were the lady who was killed by one about 5km up the road a year ago very unlucky.

 

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This is the result of the first cycle in the machine and its left in the sun for two days before being shipped off somewhere for beauty products.

 

It’s the sorta thing that you really hope you do and I’m guessing that you probably wish you really hadn’t, especially if you are in a Tent or on a bicycle.

 

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These beans are already roasted and you can imagine the smell. This fella will grind the beans into coffee powder.

 

So the chuckle brothers who speak perfect English and are 22 years old and have the signature wide Indian smile have told me its not safe too camp in the Jungle at night because these wild ‘forest’ Elephants can and will outrun you and have huge tusks.

 

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Powder ground before my eyes on the left, that’s breakfast sorted and some beans for munching as I make my way up a big climb that’s coming up.

 

I’ve heard about these Elephants from a number of locals and it seems this is advice best listened too. They have asked where I am going and its agreed I will not make my choice of destination which sits around 6000ft. “Come too our Village, you will be safe” they have suggested.

 

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I just wanna check how much a Pineapple is and its about 40pence but its what’s in pieces in the tub that interest me. 1 pineapple is too big for me and not easy to carry once opened.

 

“Can you promise me you can find me a totally secluded and peaceful spot?”. I’ve explained I am on a mission to find perfect nature and no humans as I need to relax my brain and recharge. “we’ll keep everyone away” they tell me and it has become very rural and its seems doable.

 

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“Excuse me fellas, but I know nothing about cooking but I think you have made a big mistake by putting green Chillies with these pineapple pieces”. Of course I have no idea what I am talking about, these hot chillies and sweet juicy pineapples are soaked in salty water and the taste is incredible. Sweaty head and sweet tongue!

 

We’ve checked out a few great spots but, ‘hmm tiger problem, or hmm elephant problem here” seems to be a ploy to get me closer to there home and here I am just by a tiny river maybe only thigh deep although “It’s a very dry season and it should be 3 or 4 times this deep” but its perfect for a quick swim/rinse and here in Rural India I can tell you I am in absolute paradise.

 

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The Vatican sure is spending some big Cash on Churches in Kerala.

 

As for the peace, after a trip on scooters into the village Hotel for some food which of course includes stopping too say Hi too everyone they know along the way we have headed back to my tent and their parents house which is a small but perfect 3 room ‘farmers’ house nestled in The Jungle.

 

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He doesn’t look much like Tigger?

 

A fire has been lit next too my tent, its cool for sure up here plus a great elephant deterrent and I have had time too learn more about Indian life and there hopes and dreams that would take forever too list.

 

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That’s how I like my Jungle to look!

 

I am really enjoying this wealth of information and loving the constant Indian company. Mum and Dad have made some incredible ‘village’ food which is served with hospitality fit for a god and it is. “Here in India, guests are God” they proudly tell me.

 

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They don’t see many skinny white fellas in this Village that’s for sure!

 

I have had the most amazing Indian day and although I am fairly certain the Elephant/Tiger situation is real I think more than anything its more of an excuse to get me back too there home.

 

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Creating a fire break at about 2500ft is still hard work, I reckon its late 20’s celcius up here.

 

As for the electric fence, it is very much boundary free here but the fences protect the crops, in this case Bananas as “about 10 years ago a huge Forest fire wiped out most of the Bamboo here and the Elephants who love Bamboo are looking for food”.

 

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There is some Tea.

 

The electric Fences are just to stop them devastating crops. “and just last week, 4 elephants came into our village at night”. Mum is slightly concerned for my safety but more worried I will be cold. Dad and the boys don’t seem too concerned but if the Elephants do come, tonight’s full moon will make for a great show!

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Time for an end of day dip/wash with the Chuckle Brothers.

Its 10-30pm and its peaceful now and the sound of the jungle is very relaxing and still the total silence in the day eludes me but the friendship and warmth of the Indians continues.

 

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Here is Mum and her sisters. Mum’s cooking is outstanding!

 

“Oh and if you do see an Elephant In the day Jason, either run around it in Circles or Jump on your bike and outrun him going downhill or if you are on foot run along a slope, they can’t run along a slope, they will topple over”. Sounds like good advice. Indiaaaaaaa. And maybe my very best discovery is that I can’t count, I have 4 ½ Months left in India and that’s good because going slow is a really great thing and this is the perfect place to do it.

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We have a nice fire burning here. Its not essential but it sure is nice. Thanks Chuckle Brothers, its been amazing!

Three Curry’s with last nights Rice here is ingredients for one!

 

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And thanks Black Flash for getting me here! Love Ya!

 

Chammanthi is Mango,coconut,small powerful green chillie and salt. Crush, add water & mix.

A different Paradise

https://www.strava.com/activities/830159242

 

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Sugar Cana and Lime, perfect for climbing.

 

Its impossible not to fall madly deeply in love with India and because I have only 3 ½ months left and already I can feel a twinge that knows this is precious time and one to be savoured even when its frustrating but mostly just to be absolutely swallowed up by the friendliness, the colour, the smells and the food and the perfect weather and scenery.

 

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These are Pineapples

 

Words cannot explain how delicious the food smells as you wind through the almost constant roadside life. If you can find a proper rural hotel the food not only tastes better but its also cheaper. I have some great moments in Hotels at lunchtime.

 

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And Tea!

 

 

 

Eat with the truckers or Farmers and get no frills super tasty vegetable curry, they are churning this stuff out in large quantities and its as fresh as you like!

 

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The Road is lined my miles and miles of Tea Plantations.

 

Its just the scenery and silence I am chasing today and I cannot believe I cannot find the location I went too yesterday, Ive found my first climb in months its 2500ft of beautiful, but the roads busy, not hectic busy but semi rural full of life busy.

 

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Its an easy climb with plenty of Hairpins to keep the climbing gentle.

 

I’m kicking myself because yet again I am having trouble finding space.

 

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Look hard and you will see the road as I winds up the hill. Its a great one with a fabulous surface.

 

Something always appears though and this time at 2500ft some harvested and dry looking rice fields have appeared and although the roads kinda busy I’m tucked behind ‘rice’ bales or whatever they should be called and I am in heaven.

 

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And its a view worth stopping for at the top.

 

Just as dusk is settling some farmers loading bags of rice onto a truck with an ease that defys the weight of the 28kg of each bag have called me over. Its a red rice and if I understand a very healthy high quality rice.

 

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Kerala Beauty is talked about constantly by the locals and rightly so!

 

Its cool or maybe even cold up here and the full moon lights everything up. First visitors are the men of the village and Ive been invited for some liquor after work. They are a mixture of Christian, Mulslim and Hindu.

 

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“Come and try our rice and sleep here”

 

Next the children are appearing, they don’t get so close to start with but shout hello and run away giggling getting braver each time.

 

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Each bag is about 28kg!

 

Then the ladies of the village appear with the Children and the elders and I’m invited for food Chai and a wash. Its too dark for pictures but its colourful, lively and noisy. And its not the paradise I was looking for but its the perfect alternative. Love you India! Friendly India.

 

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There is no place like home and this is tonight’s Home.

 

Its all about the Royalty

 

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So I am getting the riding sussed now, keep it rural and keep the stress levels low but I am still finding it hard too believe that I will ever find that total silence I am so craving. Just for a refresh before I dive back into some more full on India.

 

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I have done some homework and it looks like going into the Kerala hills might just find the peace and throw some tough climbing into the mix with first class rewards but lazy boy here is feeling a bit sceptical, peace in India…. Nah I don’t believe its true.

 

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So the answer is take up last nights hosts offer of a day in super rural Kerala on the back of his Iconic Royal Enfield. I know an engine is cheating but he’s great company and I can’t come too India and refuse this! Roads are peaceful and its not so busy but free camping still won’t be quite free… Gentle climbing though and mixed road surfaces.

 

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Despite the totally insane volumes of traffic here that really seems to work quite nicely, accidents have been pleasingly rare! Just a mild one here this morning.

 

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Hello! Here come the Hills or are they mountains and a new sight for India, Rubber Plantations. Now we are looking at just sporadic houses dotted around but for fussy boy here its not quite perfect but not far from it!

 

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And now the serious climbing is on, its hairpin central and some shoddy roads. This bits good, but rough or smooth I will be pushing for much of this climb! And just dreaming of how good it might be to be a Royal Enfield owner. I am better suited as a passenger though.

 

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And its everything that I imagined it would be up here. It has a kind of white haze which masks the real beauty but trust me its high and peaceful…..

 

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I sure am missing trick. Even at the very end of the road at the very top of the sealed section I am being selfie ambushed. I am used too it now but I reckon a 10rupee charge for each photo might make me rich! Mind you if I get the same charge for each photo I take, the balance will be low! Win Win then! FOC all round!

 

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After a 300 metre climb on foot too the very top its time for an Indian omelette, which is much like and English Omelette and the chance to consider If I do cycle up here tomorrow I have food and Tea available and a 100% yes to Free camping in TOTAL peace!

 

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So my Omelette making friend tells me, if you want too see this view in all its glory you need to be here at Sunset or Sunrise, then you will see it for what it is! Mind you its pretty goddam good like this!

 

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I would be exceptionally happy to Open my tent too this and I can if I want! We have seen two other visitors and heard nothing except for nature!

 

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Welcome too the descent and the best bit of tarmac! Its a bit shoddy the rest, no fast descent for a cyclist but its no complaint, just an observation.

 

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80pence for two of this is incredible. Its a nice little friendly village at the bottom of the hairpins. If I got bored of Omelette up top, everything I need is down here. Its a steep drop down though.

 

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Its a shame the bus doesn’t make the trip too the top! That would be the way ahead but a 4wd would be more appropriate and the hairpins are steep and tight!

 

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Oh yes, if you can smell this evil smelling ‘fried eggs’ I wouldn’t be surprised. ‘RAW’ Rubber ain’t pretty and the smell is very strong.

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We have a little cloud cover up here. I thinks its about 3000ft? Its still very hot though. Plenty of water supplies will be needed.

 

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Still more descending to be done but as we get lower the shape of the hills is clearer too see.

 

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And this fantastic location at the bottom is perfectly fine for free camping, no booze allowed and no leaving fag butts. Fair enough.

 

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Just a few visitors and a newly wed couple enjoying the serenity. Dangerous looking fellas these Muslims eh?  As with many of the Locals in Kerala great English is spoken and I have learned they are close too finishing 8 years of studying Islamic Science. That’s commitment!

 

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Always in awe of the Asian side saddle trick by the ladies. Not hanging on to anything but looking very relaxed and secure.

 

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Indiaaaaaaaa!

 

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The Royal Enfield Thunderbird is a great way too travel. If you want a new one you will have to wait about 4-6 months. These things are in Demand!

 

 

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Anas Beeber – Thank mate for yet another awesome day in India and the discovery that peace is here in India. Tomorrow the real work begins with a bicycle but the Royal Enfield has been incredible. What a top Fella!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Beautiful place on the Planet?

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/827446768

https://www.strava.com/activities/827446766

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My 5-00 am visitor. Maybe a bit early for Friendliness. This 15ft x 15ft three sided building just by the sea was maybe full with at least 20 locals until 11am when I managed to persuade them Its time for me too sleep. Its 18hr friendliness here.

 

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Its early for sure but that doesn’t stop the Indians from being extremely happy! About 6 am here. Kerala is the state of Smiles.

 

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Ok, so being woken up early is not always so good, until you see this!

 

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These fisherman will be carrying the days catch on there heads. More smiles.

 

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I have got a mission today. Dive into the big city and find an HSBC ATM. I am hoping an international Bank means I can make withdraw larger amounts of cash. Even if I can make it too Mumbai I just do not want to say goodbye to Kerala and anyway I am so far ahead of schedule I don’t even need too rush anywhere but cash availability will decide my fate.

 

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Whatever happens with the cash, I still have enough for at least a week with careful budgeting and I want too go slow now and there is plenty of reason to do just that.

 

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And this bridge is the perfect reason. Its where the Backwaters meet the Sea.

 

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First things first though, mess about in the local Transport.

 

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Here is the driver. We shared a Chai this morning and I learned that the Christian dominated part of Kerala from the last few days is behind us and its majority Muslim now.

 

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His advice is ‘take the track just over  there’ and its great advice and the perfect place to practice my new taking it easy mode.

 

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Even these Fisherman who are diving for mussels are happy to see me. What a friendly place.

 

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The Indian Ocean is looking stunning and the locals tell me the temperature in this area is between about 25c in the winter and maybe 35c in the summer. Is this the perfect place to live?

 

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If you are not Fishing then the other option is relaxing.

 

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And plenty of people are just relaxing.

 

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This fella is Fishing, no rod required, just a line.

 

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Heading out with his net.

 

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Casting the Net.

 

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Checking your Catch.

 

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He’s contemplating………..

 

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Him as well.

 

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These fellas have got a job on though!

 

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Its all hands on deck to get these nets repaired!

 

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Probably best not too rush things though, this is Gods own Country and rushing doesn’t seem vital.

 

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We have got about 200 metres of net here! 

 

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And to use those nets something a bit bigger is required.

 

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And that’s the bigger stuff that will launch these nets.

 

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That’s a “What is in this?” Face. Its lemon and lime all freshly squeezed and some other ingredients I didn’t understand but make another glass a must. 12p a glass by the way.

 

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That’s the view from the back of the Iconic and classic sounding Royal Enfield.

 

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The Royal Enfield Hospitality connection continues. I am being looked after by Friends of my last super Hospitality givers and it gets even better, I have found an ATM that has provided me with decent amounts of Cash!

 

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Seaside Kerala…. Its the most beautiful, friendly place on the Planet.

 

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Radeefudheen, Shafeer, Anas are tonight’s hosts. Thanks Fellas

 

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That’s how Kerala makes you feel!