New snack

I’m a big fan of chips (who isn’t). I love to snack on chips so much that I only buy chips once in a while or I would be eating them all the time. When we traveled in India, we found a whole new world of chips and other deep fried spicy and exotic snacks.

While in the Burnside Food Market I found the chips pictured above. Spicy, deep fried chickpeas. Very delicious and perfect as a post hike snack.

I first sampled these chips from a co-worker, and once I tried them, I knew I had to get hands on them.

Posted from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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At the market

Had lunch at the new Victoria Market, which seems to be hopping. I has the Indian food at Sutra and Tanya had soup from the seafood shop. The food is good and hopefully this market will be breath a little bit of life into this edge of downtown.

I will always support more places that provide a great lunch in the $8-12 range.

The inside of the market has a trendy design and a couple of the shops make it worth the stop. Although there are sill a few vacancies, the Market is now the most convient (and cheapest) place to get good quality fish (thanks to Cowichan Bay Seafood), which is a huge plus as the only other place to get seafood is in James bay.

Posted from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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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.

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

Last Day in India

Well, almost 5 fantastic months later, we’ve made it to our last day in India. We ended up going on a bit of a roadtrip with a friend from yoga, Viola from Vancouver, and her friend Prashanth from Mysore/Bangalore. All of us feeling like we needed a break from the city, we hopped in a car (with a driver of course – it is basically essential here) and took off.

We were going to go to an area called Coorg which is in the Ghats, but being India, things ran a bit slow and we didn’t have time. So we went to some waterfalls, about 2-3 hours drive from Mysore, off of serveral small and bumpy roads.

At first I didn’t think I’d go in the falls, but thanks to the heat it was too tempting to pass up! It was really fun because, unlike Canada where you would be freezing under a waterfall in 30 seconds, you could sit in the waterfall for like 30 minutes and be totally warm!

India has been great, and tonight we are off to South East Asia!

Royal Enfield

A couple of Months ago I had this idea. Stop cycling, send them home, buy a Royal Enfield and ride the Enfield up to Nepal, renew our visa and then tour northern India. Tanya didn’t like the idea much, and for good reason: I had never driven a motorcycle; and India is a hard place to drive. The idea never materialize and life went on.

Royal Enfield is a company that produces Motorcycles. The bikes are built on 1940’s technology (except for a few things, like disc brakes) and are really easy to fix (no fuel injection, no electronics). It is hard to describe what an Enfield sounds like, but I could always pick one out when cycling by sound. They have a distinctive “put put put” sound, which sounds very cool. While here in Mysore there was an Enfield parked here (someone staying here owns one). It is a 500, the most popular Enfield is a 350 and you can get a deisel modle. I took some pictures of the Enfield to remind me of my flimsy dream of riding a motorcycle in India.

One day after writing this post we came home from lunch and saw not one but two very nice Beautiful Enfields parked outside our guest house. Two visitors owned the bike, one of the visitors builds them (the part are  cheap here). One bike looked like a classic and it was a nice, lots of chrome, the other was painted flat black and looked more like a chopper (however the pictures don’t do it justice).

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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Kelly and Tanya vs. India Post

I thought I’d post about our experiences and time spent on the simple task of mailing home some from stuff from India:

Day 1 – Because of our new plans for the remainder of our trip, we decide it wouldn’t be feasable to continue to hall our bikes around with us and thought “hey – what don’t we just ship them home…no problem”
Estimated time: 15 minutes

Day 2 – Tanya does some online research to find out the process for shipping from India – and finds no information of any usefulness

Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 3 – Kelly and Tanya decide to go to the main post office to find out the info from the sources – and again receive some vague info about prices but no concrete answers

Estimated time: 1 hour

Packing, putting everything carefullly in the box

Day 4 – Kelly and Tanya thought “hmm…maybe using a courier like DHL would be a better way to go”. They take a rickshaw to DHL, explain a few times, to a few people, what we want to do and get an estimated cost that is much more money than our bikes are worth.
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 5 – Kelly goes to get packing boxes – despite our lack of information about mailing them. Kelly finds out that apparently boxes are worth something in India and nobody just gives them away…we pay 150rs ($4 – a lot for India) for 3 cardboard tv boxes.

Estimated time: 2 hours

We took our wheels apart to save weight.

Day 6 – Kelly decides to skip yoga, buy a beer, and take the spokes out of the wheels (to save space). He gets two wheels done instead of four (perhaps due to the beer…).
Estimated time: 2 hours

Day 7 – Tanya does a preliminary dig through all of our stuff to see what we want to send home. Kelly takes the rest of the spokes out.

Estimated time: 2 hours

Day 8 – Kelly takes apart the rest of the bikes while Tanya cleans each and every dusty, dirty bicycle part

Estimated time: 3 hours

Day 9 – Tanya and Kelly pack the bicycle parts into the boxes.

Estimated time: 1 hour

First attempt, but no room for the driver

Day 10 – Tanya does some research on customs requirements and ends up more confused that when she started
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 11 – Tanya realizes that they need a list of every item in each box, so Kelly helps Tanya take everything out of the boxes and bags to write these lists

Estimated time: 2 hours

Day 12 – Kelly and Tanya finally have packed and taped up boxes ready to go! They then realized that they have no idea how these very large and heavy boxes are going to get to the post office…it’s not like in Canada where you always know someone with a truck.

Estimated time(to figure out what the heck they are going to do): 30 minutes

Box on the roof, anything is possible in India

Day 12: Kelly thinks he’ll be able to flag down one of the water cooler delivery trucks and pay them to drive us to the post office, he goes and tries but comes home with just a regular rickshaw and a very confused looking driver
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 12: A small crowd of people gather to help do the impossible…get two huge boxes somehow into and on top of the rickshaw…I didn’t believe for a second it would work, but I realized that this is India…anything works!! What we did would never meet safety or legal standards in Canada.

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Day 12: Kelly, Tanya, the rickshaw driver and the two boxes make it to the parcel wrapper-upper place…whew!

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Repacking our 2 overweight boxes into 4 boxes with weight restrictions

Day 12: We unload the boxes from the rickshaw and Syed, the parcel wrapper-upper guy and his two helpers, get to work. They weigh our boxes and realize that we are way over the weight limit…so our carefully packed boxes were thoroughly and completely dismantled
Estimated time: 30 minutes

Day 12: The parcel guys totally re-arrange the boxes (which have now become 4 boxes instead of 2) and Tanya realizes that she needs to write new lists with all the stuff in each of them
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 12: The parcel guy gives us the customs forms to fill out, we realized there is only a tiny little place to describe every item that is in the box. Tanya and Kelly fill out a total of 8 customs forms (2 for each box). Once completed, the parcel guy basically tells us we filled in half the things wrong and scribbles all over them. We need to fill them out again.

Estimated time: 2 hours

Altering our boxes, now smaller and within the weight limit

Day 12: While the parcel guys are preparing our boxes (every parcel needs to be wrapped in light cloth that is custom sized to the box…I think it is a make-work project to keep more people employed)…Kelly goes to get snacks and stops in at the post office…we find out it is too late to send a parcel today and guess what…tomorrow is another holiday…so have to wait.
Estimated time: 30 minutes

Day 12: Kelly and Tanya deliberate about whether or not we should keep the parcels with the parcel guy for 2 days or if we should find a way to get the now 4 boxes back home, and then back again to the post office. We decide to trust the parcel guy and keep them there.

Estimated time: 15 minutes

Sewing the package up

Day 12: After three hours with the parcel guys, we pay and we go home.
Estimated time: 15 minutes

Day 13: Kelly and Tanya take a well deserved rest day from dealing with anything related to the postal system

Estimated Time: None

Day 14: Tanya and Kelly head back to pick up our packages from Syed. Each box is intact and accounted for. Syed then pastes on our now fully complete, but probabley still inaccurate, customs forms.

Estimated time: 30 minutes

The Custom Forms

Day 14: Now four of us each pick up a box and walk the half block to the main post office. We were informed of the price by the postal clerk (which hurt the wallet but is still cheaper than brining them back on the plane with us) and paid up. We were then informed that the two largest boxes, in addition to the required custom tailored cloth covering them, also need to be in a special bag that we need to purchase.
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 14: We finally get a rickshaw home, Kelly buys a beer and we do nothing!

Estimated time: 15 minutes

Total time: 32 hours X 2 people = 64 hours

It’s a good thing we have more time than money!!!

Now all we can do is wait…and hope all of our boxes arrive into Canada and that we don’t get charged for import customs (which we shouldn’t because pretty much everything we’ve sent back was bought in Canada!)

All in all, this was a typical Indian experience we will never forget.

(oh yeah, and if anyone is in Mysore – we recommend Syed as a great parcel wrapper-upper (that is, if all our stuff makes it to Canada!)

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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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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The Dog Days of Mysore

Like everything we’ve done on this trip, we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into when signing up for a month of yoga in Mysore. But, also like every other unknown thing on this trip, it has turned out great!

Prana Vashya Yoga

Based on the recommendation of a previous yoga student, we decided to do our yoga with Vinay Kumar, a young teacher but has spend most of his life immersed in yoga. He is a fantastic teacher, encouraging, caring, and very dedicated. I would recommend him to anyone debating which yoga teacher to study with in Mysore!

As in a previous post, we do yoga twice a day (well most days), 5 or 6 days per week. The morning class is similar to Ashtanga yoga, in which you do the same series of yoga asanas (postures) everyday, it is challenging due to the fact we are both usually sore from the day before still! The evening class is more relaxed and is more focused on increasing flexibility, and everyone in the class does something somewhat different.

Tanya enjoying the shade

As for our accomodation during this time, we found a really great place ran by a guy from France (who we have not met because he went home to France just before we arrived and will be back after we leave). It is really well set up, there is a fully stocked kitchen with anything you could possibly need (this is very unique for India), such as things like a pannini press, a blender, coffee maker, a fridge (!), and more! There is wi-fi internet, hammocks in the garden out fount, and hot water. There are also two Indian ladies who are here everyday to wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, etc! There are 4 rooms here and we’ve met some great people also staying here. In any other place but India, I cannot even imaging how much it would cost to stay here. Everything we need is within about a 5 block radius, like…Nilgris – a great market with things like cheddar cheese and basil, and Mahesh Prasad – the tasty restaurant always packed with locals and some yoga students.

Where we get our grocieries

We’ve really enjoyed our time here, and could easily stay longer…but believe it or not, 4.5 months is not enough time for India.

They know you what we are going to order here before we tell them

Kelly making lunch

The Mysore Palace (for Tanya and Kelly)

Inside the Palace

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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Schedule

When you stay put for a while you tend to get into a routine. Being at Mysore to do Yoga is no exception to this rule. Over the past couple of weeks we have developed quiet a routine. The routine is as follows:

5:45      Alarm goes off
5:51      Get out of bed and use the washroom (those that know me know that this is an important and time consuming part of my day)
6:07     Get Tanya out of bed
6:15      Eat breakfast
6:49      Leave for Yoga
7:15      Start the morning session of Yoga
9:17      Go get a coconut (I like them now, especially after yoga, they are so refreshing)
9:21       Get breakfast from Mahesh Prasad (it is so good and for $0.42, you can’t go wrong)
9:45      Have a shower
9:52      Make coffee (this is new luxury that has been missing from most of my travels in India)
10:01    Read my permacutlure textbook and drink coffee
10:50    Practice tablas
12:12    Leave for Tabla Lesson
2:02     Arrive back at home from tabla lesson and eat lunch
4:37      Get ready for the evening class of Yoga (if I go, I find doing 2 classes of yoga a bit much for a guy like me)
7:16      Go get some dinner (at Mahesh Prasad, it is so good and for $1.50, both of us eat (a Masala dosa and some Naan, and get a drink, like fresh juice, grape or pineapple).
8:07      Arrive back at home
9:28       Go to Bed

Although this doesn’t sound like the most desirable lifestyle, it is pretty close. Life is good here. It is kind of like being unemployed, and traveling at the same time. The place we are staying at has a kitchen. In the kitchen there is blender (we made watermelon mint juice once, and cashew butter). The house is so nice, with a garden outside and good coffee that only thing that is missing is my computer.

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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