Mai 03, 2016 - India
I can't find a ship passage from Oman to India. So to get to South India I fly out of Muscat to Trivandrum. I miss the flight because of problems with my bicycle. I had checked everything in advance and, as requested, Cargo packed my bicycle. When checking in it then doesn't fit through the scanner vertically.
First I resist to accept it as my problem and complain at the airline company who had informed me about what is needed. But nothing helps. For the check I have to unpack the bicycle completely. This and repacking it after the control takes too long and I miss my flight. The airline is fair enough to rebook me on a flight for the next day.
When arriving in Trivandrum in the morning a humid heat hits me in the face. When I unpack and prepare my bicycle this really gets me into a sweat. And of course there is no lack of observers. The last two nights I had not enough sleep and so I use the first opportunity to rest under the palm trees on the beach. In the early evening I ride to Kovalam. The next day I meet my friend Burkhard who is in India at the same time.
We spend a few days together. It was good to hear from home and to slowly get used to the climate here. Now I look forward to discover India by bicycle. I ride along the coast to Kollam and I have my first impressions of the country.
The next day a boat takes us on a backwater tour to Alappuzha. A wonderful day. A system of sweet water lakes and canals with fishing villages alongside.
I could take a next boat to Kottayam. But I decide to explore the other backwater areas by bike. On small, partly bad roads, along huge rice fields. I take ferries at places were there are no bridges over the canals. Some roads are renewed. To lay new cables they dig deep trenches with pick and shovel.
Coarse gravel is brought in baskets. Little stoves beside the road heat tar which is then taken to the right place with small tuktuks with a load platform.
Today is my birthday. The landscape and the silence are a beautiful gift for me. I want to see the mountains at Munar and look for small roads to get there. They take me through deciduous forest and I have the first contact with wild monkeys. I am going uphill for about 30 kilometers, up to about 1600 meters. Around Munar there are a some beautiful nature reserves which I discover by bike, without my luggage.
Mainly tea is grown here. A unique landscape. It reminds me of wine-growing on the Mosel in Germany. I spend a few days here, followed by rides in an extraordinary landscape with a permanent up and down through the mountains. In this area one can find wild elephants. In the evening a few roads are blocked for the safety of people and animals. Unfortunately I don't meet wild elephants. Cardamon is cultivated in this area and rubber is extracted from many trees. This mountain area is followed by a breath-taking descent of 30 kilometers down into the valley.
Since more than a week I have a problem with my rear wheel. One spoke after the other breaks. This is no fun any more.
I leave Kerala and enter Tamil Nadu. Here is more poverty. Poor houses, bad roads. Poverty is obvious. People live in small huts, made of palm branches, often not bigger than one room. In the morning I often meet women on their way to get the water for the day in water jugs.
In India I eat more vegetarian food. I especially like the freshly-pressed fruit juices (mango, pineapple, fruit mix etc.) which are available everywhere. On my way from Madurai to the East coast I prefer the small side roads. The landscape is impressing. Agriculture is dominating here. Coconut tree plantations, rice and vegetable growing, fishing at the coast. I visit Madurai and many other cities with their big temples. I visit some temple festivals as well. Many religions, Hindus, Muslims and Christians are present in this country.
The atmosphere in the cities is very chaotic and noisy. There are no sidewalks. The street is filled with masses of people who want to get along in different ways, back and forth with a lot of honking of the horn. The stronger wins. After a few days I reach one of my dream destinations, the big community of Auroville. I rent a cabin and plan to stay for a while.