The last week has been quite different than our first month in India, but incredible in its own way. We have been cycling across central India and the landscape has changed significantly. For the first few days from the coast, it was dense jungle and we rode through a tiger reserve. One of the afternoon’s riding through the jungle was one of my favorite rides of the entire trip. The trees were outstanding and there were tons to see. There were occasionally certain aroma’s that came from within the forest and somehow they reminded Markos and I of these lemon cookies we usually buy for canoe trips in the BWCA in northern Minnesota. It was a super fun ride as well because there was constantly monkeys peeking through the trees and looking at us. Sometimes they would be leaping down from the trees to run across the road and leap into another tree. Their ability to jump from tree to tree fearlessly amazed me.
From the jungle we rode up to a town called Hampi that we were suggested to visit. The ride from the jungle to Hampi was a little less exciting as we took the highway and it was straight, flat, and there were no mountains or hills. To add, there was barely any vegetation and the landscape was quite boring. However, about 30km before we arrived to Hampi the landscape changed drastically and there were suddenly these enormous piles of huge rocks and boulders that surrounded us. There were also lots of rice fields that were flooded with water. It has been fun to learn more about how rice grows and to see it firsthand. It also amazed me how many people we have seen in the farms. Most of the agriculture work done here is done by hand and the fields are always full of workers doing hundreds of different tasks.
Hampi is a town that is known for the temples around it and it is a bit of a tourist town. We arrived before lunch and we had all afternoon to explore the town and temples. It was also nice as we had previously been hosted in Hubli by a family on Warmshowers and they had connected us with a Swiss couple that was staying in Hampi as well. They took us to this beautiful spot to watch the sunset over the amazing landscape and although the ‘sunset point’ was packed with tourists, it was still nice to watch the sunset and learn more about where the Swiss couple was planning to go in India.
Since Hampi, we have been heading towards south of Chennai as we have a contact on a beach in Mahabalipuram and we plan to be there by New Year’s Eve. We have started taking smaller roads as the highways have become quite busy and there have been quite a few close calls with cars, mopeds, cows, dogs and other vehicles that can be found on any Indian road. For Christmas, we plan to be between where we are right now (Pavagada) and the beach town we are heading towards. We may not have wifi for Christmas day and today is most likely the last time I will have internet connection until we reach the East coast of India, so I have taken the initiative to try and get one more blog post for 2017. I can’t believe we have already been biking almost five months. By the time we reach the coast we will have biked over 5000km and travelled through 10 countries.
Some important things about our bike schedule have changed due to the intense heat. We are now getting up at 5am so that we are on the road by 7am. We then have 5 hours to bike before the sun reaches its scorching height where it burns us like crazy, regardless of how much sun cream we have on. The other day, we made a mistake of biking until 2pm before stopping and many of us got burnt to the point where Markos is now wearing gloves to protect his hands and we are all wearing thin long-sleeved t-shirts to protect our arms. I thought that I would be fine today as we knew we would stop by noon but I ended up burning my hands pretty bad and my forearms are a little crispy. We have purchased some Aloe Vera but the best way to deal with sunburn is just to stay out of the sun and rest in the shade or inside. Other than the sun, we have been maintaining our health and the bikes have been working.
I know that I could keep writing and writing but I think some of the stories will have to wait until I am back home and can tell them in person. As always, I have been loving the food and am meeting more and more people every day. I am sad that we only have just over two weeks left in India, but it has been quite an outstanding and unique experience. I hope to be able to get one or two blog posts in before we fly to Bangkok, Thailand on January 8th, 2018 but it will depend on our ability to find wifi. Enjoy the photos on the India page and Happy Holidays!