The end of the big T

Tanya cycling through India

T is for Thailand, but it is also for Tropics. As our time here in Thailand end, so does our trip. For the past 10 months we have spent all of our time in the tropic, from the northern Thailand, northern Vietnam and middle of India. We have also been in the far south, in Singapore nearly straddling the equator. We have seen the season (hot, hotter and wet), and although hot season was hot when we arrived, it is now cold. Hotter is still hot and wet is wet. Torrential downpours have caused small streams to fill paths, make roads more like river instead of roads, and have transformed the landscape from yellow to bright green. The lethargic hot weather makes any task difficult.

Learning at the PDC

Taking our PDC in Malaysia during the hot season was tough, I remember laying on the cement trying to cool down. I also remember working on Grassroots farm during this hot period, hoping for rain just to keep cool. I also remember when it would get cold at night in Hampie and Dalat, having to wear a sweater and a toque (who knew?)

New tastes, Durian, the King of Fruit

We both embarked on this trip in hopes to see something different, and experience something different. Riding a bicycle through India was a great way to achieve this goal. We also wanted to get inspired, thanks to places like Sadhana forest and the Panya project we are inspired. But also to our PDC teachers and everyone else we have met along the way. We have learned so much on this trip. We have learned:

  • How to build with mud

  • How to make kimchi

  • How to make wine

  • How to live in a community

    Learning about biodynamics

  • The best way to find ones way around rural India

  • How to grow food

  • How to cook without a cook book

  • How to cook for a hundred people

  • How to make various Biodynamic perperations

It was damn cold in Dalat

I know there is so much more as well. I never thought that I could get sick of traveling, and although I’m not sick of traveling, I am ready to come home. There is so much I want to try, there is so much I want to do and I’m looking forward to doing it.

SE Asia is full of culture and history

I want to thank all the loyal readers of this blog, we appreciate you dedication and patients. The last couple of months have been pretty inactive (in terms of blog posts). Since the beginning of this trip there has been more then 16,000 views on grannygear, which is pretty amazing, so we thank you all for your support. For those that we met on the road, maybe one day our paths will cross and we can catch up. For the rest of you back home, we are looking forward to meeting up people we haven’t seen in about a year and just chillin. See you soon.

Fairy Stream

After viewing the deserts we went to a place called Fairy Stream. Although the internet will tell you about a small waterfall, we didn’t walk far enough. We we did see was a small stream slowly eroding the heck out of giant sand dune. The result was a canyon, about 25m deep. To make things better, you had to walk up this stream to get to it, the stream was cool and it looked like we in paradise (you know, sandy banks, palm trees, hot weather). We even saw a cow, which adds to experience (being India for five months will make you look at cows in a whole different light). It was a lot of fun and no better way to spend the morning in this town.

Posted from Phan Thiết, Bình Thuận Province, Vietnam
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Mui Ne Sand Dunes

Mui Ne has some pretty spectacular sights. One being the sand dunes, there are two of them, one close to town (the yellow dunes) that sees a lot of tourists and another over an hour out of town (the white dunes). We signed up to go to the yellow ones early in the morning, early enough to catch the sunrise. Although is sunrise wasn’t anything spectacular, the sand dunes were. It was very cool, and the temp was nice as well.  We had fun (despite the 4:20am alarm setting), and it was pretty neat, now we have a new fondness of deserts.

Ok, maybe I went a little overkill on the number of dune pictures.

Posted from Phan Thiết, Bình Thuận Province, Vietnam
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Best of India

During our mulit-hour wait to catch the bus to Mysore, we came up with a list of some of the “Best Of” our trip:

Best Scenery

Riding into Hampi (image above)

Best Riding Day

Cochi to Alleppy

Best Dal

Hotel Raya’s in Kumbakonam

Best Temple

A taste of the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Trichy

Best Pizza

New Creation Pizzaria in Auroville

Best TV show

No Reservations

Best Ice Cream

Richy Rich in Auroville

Best Indian Food discover

Parotta is amazing, white flour covered in oil and fried, great for eating right there or saving for the next day.

Best shot from inside a temple

Inside the Pattadakall temple

Best Photo taken

Us, taken somewhere along to the temple route.

Best Cycling equipment

Brooks saddles

Best Weather

The cooler weather at Kumily hill station

Best value accommodation

guesthouse in Mysore around Lakshmipuram

Best cycling energy food

peanut chikki

Best Entertainment

Open Stage nights at Sadhana Forest

Best fresh juice

Grape juice from Mahesh Prasad in Mysore

Best city not in the guidebook

Belgaum

Best Masala Dosa

Mahesh Prasad in Mysore

These were amazing, I probably had at least one a day for 30 days.

Best City

Pondicherry

Best Luck

No flat tires

Best Chocolate

Baker Street – Pondicherry

Best cycling road

The road Into Pudukkottai was quite, calm and enjoyable.

Best 10 Rs ever spent

A massive bag of basil at Nilgris market in Mysore

Best TV commercial

The Diet Sugar commercial

”Aba dabi di be” (we have not idea what this means or how to spell it but we say it all the time because it’s always stuck in our heads)

Best newly acquired skill

Discovering the very efficient way to get the seeds out of pomegranates

Best season

Mango season

Best State

Kerla with its backwaters, chilled out scene, rainforest, and diversity, it is easy to see why this is our favourite State (especially if you only have a short time)

Best Decision

To stay in India despite the terrorist attacks when we arrived

Parotta

A couple of months back we had our first parotta. It was in Kerela, and from that point on we ordered them at any chance. A truly amazing taste, something that is hard to explain, if you know you Indian food, is kind of like butter naan, but smaller, thicker and more delicious. The yeast free dough is coated numerous time with oil during the cooking. While we were on the house boat I was able to watch the cooks make some, but it wasn’t until Madurai (in Tamil Nadu) that I was able to photography the procedure of street parotta. Like most street food, parotta is cheap and delicious and you get see them make it right in front of you.

Although the details are little blurry right now, but I kind of remember the cook making the dough like you would any other dough (water, flour, salt, oil and sugar). You mix it and kneed it and let it sit for a while. Then you make several small balls and let that sit for 15 min. Take a dough ball and smash it against the table until it is flat, round (like pizza dough) and really thin (like a crepe).

After that you fold the sides in (now you have a long three layered crepe). You take the other sides and roll it up into a roll. Then I think you let it sit for 15 minutes.

Take the roll and flaten with you hands and the table and take the flattened roll and put it on a grill or frying pan (don’t for get to add oil to the pan). Cook for a while and when it starts to brown, flip it.

After you watch this you really feel at ease, this is about to end. You take a bunch (like 6 or so) in between you fore finger and you thumb. Lay the parotta down (like a log) and smash the log with your free hand (make sure you remove you other hand). The first time you see this you think: What are you doing? Those were perfect pieces of bread you just ruined. You would be wrong however, the smashing of the dough is essential.

Hold the Parotta between you forefinger and your thumb

Then SMASH the parottas with your other hand (and I mean smash)

The smashing of the porotta causes all the layers to seperate a little, making it easy to pick apart and enjoy fully. The end result is beyond words. Most places porotta cost about Rs12, but on the streets of Madurai, they cost Rs4 (10 cents!). We used to get a parcel of these at night and eat them in the morning with peanut butter and bananas on them. Much better the toritillas, peanut butter and bananas.

Posted from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
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Berries

Once in while you come across something truly amazing. The other day it was literally outside our front door. It was these berries growing off of this tree. The name of the tree escapes me. But the taste of the berries will never leave my memory. Tanya describes the taste like cotton candy jelly bellies. This is not an exaggeration. These things don’t taste natural, they are so sweet and so tasty it is amazing, so amazing I thought I would do a post about them. One of the best things is that the tree grows outside our door, and every day I have one or two these berries.

It is like coming across a huckle berry stand. However in this part of the world there are so many things that grow so fast and produce so much that it really improves life (more so then an iPod would).

They are small but sweet

The flower of the tasty berry

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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Alleppey

Distance: 58km
Roads: 50% the best roads ever, 40% good and 10% awful.
Traffic: very light

Today was one of the best days yet. Amazing, because last night was the worst sleep we had thus far. This all changed as soon as we left the guest house.

Fort Kochin doesn’t really have a lot a traffic at the busiest of times. At 6:30 in the morning there was no traffic at all. We headed west as far was we could and hugged the beach all the way to Alleppey. What a treat, we only saw sleepy fishing towns and excited kids. The weather wasn’t too hot, there was no headwind, no clouds just perfect. This is where you can really start to see the backwaters of Kerala. At one point we had ocean on the right, freshwater on the left and the land was only about 100m wide, amazing. Palm trees and Churches dotted the side of the road.

We stopped for a break in a shaded area. As we were just finishing up a really excited boy came up and started tot talk to us. His English was great and we was asking us a bunch of questions about our trip, our feelings about India and Canada. We went on telling us that he wanted to get his MBA (he hadn’t finsihed high school yet). It was a pretty neat to see him so excited. I think he was one of the lucky Indians that will get the chance if he so chooses.

Did I mention how great the ride was? It was a truly amazing day. About halfway through out the ride Tanya got the idea that we should start a business guiding tourists on this road by bicycle. With the thought of doing this ride for everydayfrom next November to March, the cogs were turning, trying to find a way to extend our trip. We arrived in Allepy around lunch, checked out many hotels and settled on the last one we found (good price and clean). After that we had lunch and ran into the American couple we met a couple of days ago (kind of fluky to met up with them again).

After lunch we went to look at some houseboats for tomorrow (24 hours on a house boat is 2.5 times our daily budget). Houseboats are highly recommended by everyone that has done them and by our guide book (Lonely Planet’s top 10 things to do before you die sort of thing). So we are going to splurge on it.

Posted from Alappuzha, Kerala, India
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