Thursday, 15 January 2009


No, I'm not on my way back to Cape Town. Instead, I'm at the Southern tip of India, Cape Comorin at the covergence of 3 seas (Bay of Bengal; Indian Ocean; Arabian Sea). Since my last update from Mangalore about 3 weeks ago, I've been cycling South down the West coast of India, mostly through the beatiful state of Kerala. Compared to my hectic routine of the previous few months this has been a welcome holiday cruise. On 24 December we'd hardly started cycling when we came accross a luxury tented camp practically on the beach (with hammocks, and meals included). The cost was way above my budget, but Leana and her sister Amanda decided that we should treat ourselves by spending Christmas Eve there (last Christmas Leana and I were camping in the Sudanese desert). A week later we were similarly treated by spending 30 and 31 December in a room at a luxury beach resort. A certain part of Kerala is famous for it's backwaters, and all types of boat trips are on offer. From Alleppey (the Venice of the East) to Kollam my 2 companions took the backwater ferry, while I chose to cycle. I arrived at Kollam a few hours ahead of them, which allowed me to find accommodation and start with supper by the time they arrived. The first part of this "stage" was mostly through local areas where there are few foreign tourists, and the curious locals were all over us on the few occasions where we camped on the beach. From Kotchi (Vasco Da Gama's landing) we started to encounter tourists, and places like Varkala and Kovalam are crowded resort beaches, teeming with tourists and all the infrastructure which they attract. This coast is also popular with bicycle tourists, and we met a number of foreign cyclists along our way (one guy from USA bought his un-geared bike on arrival in Mumbai - I was not surprised at his admission that he spends a lot of time pushing!). The only mishap in these past few weeks has been when I had to replace the rear rim on my bike - the 3rd of this trip (luckily I was carrying a spare rim). This time the cause of the trouble was neither the weight of my bike nor road conditions. Instead, on the busy morning road out of Calicut I was squashed against a stationery bus by a passing truck, which drove over my back wheel before I could get everything out of the way. Now Amanda's 2-month cycling holiday (I've heard her refer to it as an "ordeal") has come to an end, and Leana has accompanied her by train to Chennai from where she gets her return flight. Before she left Leana and I scavenged whatever parts we could from Amanda's bike (which is still brand new compared to our old "war-horses"). Now I'm waiting at Kayakumari, Cape Comorin, for Leana to return, before we continue on our way. My daily cycling distances since Mangalore have been:- Kappil Beach 68 km; Bekal 20 km; Payyannur 46 km; Kannur 52 km; Payyou 62 km; Calicut 48 km; Calicut (after accident) 5 km; Tanur 53 km; Chavakkad 72 km; Cherai Beach 68 km; Kotchi (Cochin) 28 km; Allapuzha (Alleppey) 66 km; Kollam 88 km; Varkala Beach 38 km; Kovalam 59 km; Takkalai 54 km; and Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) 36 km. Total distance since leaving Cape Town is 33 860 km.

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