Did You Not See That Elephant?

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Bloke who broke my bike

Flag of India  , Kerala,
Saturday, November 20, 2010

We had arranged an early morning canoe ride on the Kerulen backwaters surrounding Alleppey. The guide was bang on time and we left our loaded bikes to hop into a traditional Kerulen canoe.  The old chap paddled us down the first waterway to bring us out into a vast body of water where much larger bamboo house boats jostled for position at the jetty.  It is big business here and the waterways at first were pretty crowded.  However, in our little canoe we were able to beat the stream of tourists and turn off into the quieter capillaries.  We paddled past real backwater village life, the locals went about their daily business, washing clothes and pots in the water that surrounds their homes.  From where we were sitting the water looked pretty grim, but it did not stop the local folk from using the water to have a bath and even wash out their mouths after brushing their teeth.  We joked with our guide about crocodiles and snakes.  Sure enough, we did see a water snake.  I was not nearly as scared as I thought I would be (I share my Fathers phobia of snakes), probably because this particular one was only a couple of foot long.  I was ready to dive over and fight it if needed, but it gave us no bother!  We stopped to enjoy fresh coconut milk where also, very strangely, the boys there had constructed a multigym and were working out.  Not be outdone by Indian muscle, I stepped up to the plate, only to hold on to the part which was covered in grease.  How embarrassing.  Our guide became more chatty over the 4 hour row.  Polly says this is because he was continually chewing Paan, a preparation based on areca nut and intensified with tobacco and lime paste .  Its narcotic effects made him very chilled out and he asked me to get up front and do some paddling.  The morning heat was too much however and I only managed about 20 minutes before I collapsed back under the shade of the canopy.  The last half an hour of the tour, both Pols and I started to nod off, a result of cycling in India, not Paan may I add.  We returned to pick up our bikes very pleased that we had experienced a true backwater experience.  Over lunch we ummed and arghed over where to go next.  Our route is still a little uncertain, but eventually we opted for Kochi.  Already 2 o'clock, the 40 miles were going to have to be swift to beat the light.  Maybe that is why Polly managed to completely miss and elephant driving past in the back of a little van!  It was one of the funniest things I have seen, a small little pick up with a huge elephant just standing in the back, in the middle of a city.  I have noticed Pollys lack of observation skills but that was ridiculous, an ELEPHANT, who misses an ELEPHANT.  The 40 miles were quick, about 3 hours or so.  The last few miles however were on very bad roads.  Our poor bikes are taking a real battering.  Wheels are looking more and more disfigured everyday, and the rattles and squeaks are getting louder.  Arriving in Fort Kochi was pretty average.  We had a wander around in the evening  and found a nice place to eat.  They even served beer which is a rarity around these parts. Strict Kerulen law on alcohol means pretty much all restaurants are unlicensed.  Bad news for thirsty cyclists.  A late night session on the blog finally getting photos and videos from India online really finished us off.  Bed time.
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