Hill Climbs, Coffee Plantations and a Dazzling Palace

Sullia – Mysore – Gundlupet “Madikeri!” exclaimed the hotel manager. “Oooh. The road is closed for construction. Let me just call the traffic police to see if you can pass through.” “The road is very bad,” mentioned the shop keeper. “You might have to walk and push for most of the way.” “You will have to cover your faces,” advised a tea shop owner serving up steaming cups of chai. “It is going to be very dusty as there is construction going on.” “Madikeri?” said two passing doctors on a motorbike. “You will need lots of energy for that road.

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Hippies, pilgrims and the dreaded Delhi Belly

Patnem Beach, Goa – Sullia, Karnataka “Good morning, Ma’am!” “Happy journey!” “What is your good name, Sir?” “Which country?” Those are the shouts that accompany us for most of the day, originating from passing motorbikes, school children, jeep passengers and shop keepers. The people in this part of India are exuberant, bubbly and fun, and there is never a dull moment in our day.|| Leaving Patnem Beach and Goa, we followed a beautiful windy road into the next state, Karnataka. Rising up and zooming back down again, we passed bright green rice paddies and fishermen in dug-out canoes…

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9,000km Photo

“Stop, stop!” cried Ebrahim, rushing out of his restaurant to greet us as we were dragging ourselves through the midday heat on the boneshaking road to Madikeri. “You must come in and try my chicken kebab, and how about a free health check-up!“ he continued.Now there was an offer we couldn’t refuse. As we pulled in to the restaurant we noticed there was quite a crowd. Ebrahim explained that a free monthly health clinic which had been funded by a local business man was taking place today. Many of the locals can’t afford healthcare and were queuing in…

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Goa: A Portuguese Enclave in India

Panaji – Patnem The train journey from Mumbai to Goa took 12 hours, even though it covered only 600km, and is rated as one of the most scenic train journeys in India. The old locomotive stopped at every little station, where colourfully dressed locals loaded and unloaded all sorts of goods from bags of rice to motorbikes. Economy travel involves sitting in rather compact surroundings on wooden benches, fun for a few hours but we felt the call of a little more luxury so travelled 2nd class. We each had a sleeping berth (a bit weird as it was a…

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Dharavi – the largest slum in Asia

We had heard that it is possible to do a walking tour through the Dharavi slum in Mumbai. Initially we hesitated, but as 55% of Mumbai’s population lives in slums, we thought we should see for ourselves how “the other half” lives. Dharavi was created on a large rubbish dump, which was covered with mud before people started erecting shacks and houses on the site. It is now the largest slum in Asia, housing over one million people in an area of just 1.7 sq km.|| Neither of us had really been to a slum before, and we…

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Mumbai Madness

When we arrived at the airport in Dubai, we were told that Emirates had recently tightened their baggage restrictions and were now extremely strict, charging for each additional kg. It is frustrating that most airlines allow people to carry golf clubs free of charge, whereas there are no allowances made for bicycles. With a weight allowance of 30kg and our boxed bikes already weighing 21kg each, it was clear we would be over our weight allowance. We had 10kg too much, and were advised by the friendly check-in staff to buy an additional hand bag at a duty free shop…

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from sunny Mumbai! May peace, health and happiness be with you. Today, we were invited by a local woman to attend Christmas carols in a cathedral in the south of Mumbai, but as most people in Mumbai are Hindus or Muslims, we don’t see too much Christmas activity in the streets. || As usual we will celebrate twice: first comes the German Christmas, which is celebrated on the 24th, and then the Australian Christmas on the 25th. Freddie’s family in Hamburg is enjoying a white Christmas with plenty of snow for the first time in…

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