A Travellerspoint blog

A Chinese girl in Delhi

this can't be real.


View pre-real-life hoorah on yoganini's travel map.

After several days on a beach in Goa with the fabulous Yann, whom I'd met in Ooty, I was ready for the final leg of my trip in India: Delhi. Given all of the media frenzy surrounding the recent attacks and rapes in the capitol, was I understandably nervous about my time there. Fortunately, Tuomas, my Finnish hiking buddy I'd met in Nepal, emailed me about a week prior and said he would meet me in Delhi. Excellent- a guy to accompany me in this city notorious for hateful and violent acts against women. And to make it better, I adored him. And what made it perfect was that his flight got in a couple hours after mine did. I flew from Goa and waited for his flight from Nepal to get in. I perched myself at a counter that faced the international arrival gate and got myself a horrifically over-sugared and overpriced latte and waited. I was so excited to see him, explore the city with him, see what there was to see. Not only did I not have to be nervous or worry about finding a safe (and probably expensive) place, but I would get to have more fun because he would be there.

As I was waiting, a girl stopped in front of me. She spoke with a thick Asian accent and asked me if I'd booked a place. I hadn't, I told her- I was waiting for my friend, who had been to Delhi before and knew some areas with good budget accommodation. She asked if she could share a taxi with us to the same area and maybe help her find a place, as the places she had called from the airport (that she'd found on the airport map) were out of her price range. Turns out the places in her price range would not have a spare rupee to spend on advertising on an airport map. So of course, I said yes, and she went off to retrieve her luggage from the luggage storing area. Tuomas arrived and it was great to see him. We wandered around a little looking for Lydia, who was nowhere to be found. We found her outside on a bench, near nothing- how she expected us to find her, I have no idea. She had with her two things: a small, floppy, half-filled backpack- (the kind a grade school child would have) and an old-lady grocery cart. And what was in the cart but a comforter, still in its plastic, zipped case, fresh from the store. Anyway, find her we did, and we hopped on a bus to Pahar Ganj, the area for budget travelers. I'd heard that traveling alone in this area was not an intelligent choice, but I was fine with it because Tuomas was by my side. We went from place to place, winding our way through the narrow passageways with secret doors and shops that appeared out of nowhere, with Lydia rolling her cart over dead rats and open sewers. We established a routine: Tuomas and I would be happy with the price, the lock, and the bathroom, and Lydia would not be, so we'd continue on. Her anxiety was contagious, and I was getting ready to say goodbye to her. Finally, Tuomas and I settled on a place that was $7/ night. We dropped our stuff off and walked (rolled) around more to find a place for Lydia. I didn't necessarily mind, but I only had a few days with Tuomas and didn't feel like spending any more of that time looking for a place that fit Lydia's criteria (at MOST $10/ night, safe, and clean)- a place which didn't exist.

After wandering around for another 30 minutes or so, we ran into a group of Japanese tourists who pointed us in the direction of a place that had been recommended by this or that guidebook. In the lobby, Tuomas and I made smalltalk with the owner and oogled his fish tank. The owner closed his eyes and waved his hands in front of him, and said: "Don't try to bargain with me. I have a set price that is the same for everyone. So don't waste my time or yours." I liked him. Lydia went to check out the room and, shockingly, returned with deeper breaths. SOLD. She started to try to ask a question, but in her flustered mixture of excitement, relief and rudimentary understanding of English and social cues, the owner started to get agitated and thought she was trying to bargain with him. So he started to raise his voice and she did the same, thinking he was just as excited to have a customer as she was to have a room to stay in. This battle went back and forth for a while until he looked at me incredulously and asked me where I found her. She lugged her cart up the stairs and came back down to have dinner with us. On our way out, I asked her if she had a guidebook. She looked at the ones offered on the counter of the hostel, picked up a Korean guidebook and flipped through it, and then said she'd grab one after dinner. When I asked her if she spoke Korean, she looked at me like I was a racist who couldn't tell one Asian from another. I was too annoyed to argue with her.

We had dinner together at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the chaos of the Delhi street. Throughout our dinner, everything began to crystalize. Lydia, from China, had never been outside of China, had no Chinese guidebook, no command of the English language, no plan, no itinerary, no day to be back in China. What she did have, however, was an intense fear of everything and a cart that was like a big neon sign, telling everyone that she was clueless.

After dinner, Lydia asked us to bring her up to her room. She asked us to sit down on her bed (the room was really nice, definitely worth the $10). She told us (me) how she had arrived in Delhi the night before around midnight. She had slept at the airport and then took a taxi to the same area where we found ourselves now and had felt understandably threatened when a group of men stared and began walking towards her. Then she told me this was at 5 o'clock in the morning. In the dark. Alone. In Delhi. To be a savvy traveler, we all have to start somewhere, and I respected that she was starting here. But really? Had she done no research before leaving China? What was she thinking, traveling around any major city at 5am with her luggage? As I listened to her story, Tuomas patiently and quietly, laid down on the bed and proceeded to fall asleep. It took us about 45 minutes to get out of the room.

The next morning, we left our place at 5.55am to pick her up on our way to the train station. We were headed to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, and agreed to let her come with us to the station. But, I told her, Tuomas and I are going to the Taj Mahal alone. I assured her that she would be fine, that it just takes some time to adjust, and that other travelers were like us and willing to help if she needed it. On our way in a rickshaw, we passed a nice-looking park, which was dark and misty as the sun rose. "Ohh, beautiful. I will spend the morning there." There's no way she couldn't see all of the homeless men who were sleeping there. This was exhausting. I had to instruct her to get 3 teas and slowly drink them at the station before leaving to go anywhere that was well-lit and full of women.

Tuomas and I had to run to catch the express to Agra. We waved goodbye and said we'd see her for dinner.

We never heard from her again. I can laugh about it now, about the absurdity of it all. But I still wonder, months later, if she is okay. If she had run away from home. If she had found what she was looking for.

Posted by yoganini 09:21 Archived in India Comments (0)

Hampi

I had heard nothing but good things about this place- people described the big rocks and boulders scattered all around, the remains of what used to be a thriving empire. even after seeing pictures, i still didn't know what to expect of a place considered magical and enchanting. i arrived early in the morning after taking a night bus, from which i got to see the sun rise over a landscape that was a curious mix of arid desert and tropical greens. at only 7am or so, the bus station was already buzzing with activity- people asking if i was looking for a room, for a tour guide, for a rickshaw. there are two parts to Hampi- the Bazaar, which was busier and closer to the ruins, and then Virupapur Gaddi, a (really) quick ferry ride across a river. since i'd planned on staying only one night, i stayed in the Bazaar.

upon arrival in the bazaar, i got the sense that everything there was in ruin- chunks of concrete covered the small roads and the sound of construction or destruction (i assumed it was the former) filled the air. i tried a few guesthouses from the guidebook but all were booked. i ran into a guy on the road who was also looking for a place and we wandered around together. we found a place i remember from the Lonely Planet and asked if they had any rooms. they had one, and it was a little pricey. so, being the seasoned traveler i am, i asked what they had there- internet? hot showers? rooftop restaurant, as most have? at this last one he scoffed, rolled hi eyes, and said no, it's closed. it seemed quite rude so we said we'd come back after looking around some more. Richard and i decided we may as well share a room, save some money, and we found a simple family-run place. it was time for breakfast, so we found a place with a rooftop restaurant- oh, so good. seating on the floor, banana and chocolate pancakes, open air, greens, birds, and good people. it was there we met Gus, a south african who was nearing 60 and had had a cancer scare several years ago, which prompted him to do what he'd been gearing up to do for years: sell everything and travel the world. i don't need to tell you how cool he was.

Gus told us a bit about what was going on in the town. something Hampi was known for amongst tourists was its rooftop restaurants- amazing views of the ruins, sunsets, etc. the problem was, these restaurants were technically not legal, as the owners did not have permits for them. well, not 2 days before i arrived, the government had decided to act on this and knock down all of them. it was the first step towards destroying the entire town. the government has grand plans to kick the locals out and make the entire region a World Heritage site, only allowing tourists to stay at 5-star hotels on either side of the site and building an airport nearby. essentially, ruining the lives of those who have lived there for generations and eliminating the backpacker tourists. what we were witnessing was the initial destruction of the livelihood of the locals. apparently, this happens every 4 years or so, then the government loses steam and gives up. some believe that this time is different. we'll see. but this explained the sense of hopelessness on the faces of people there- they were losing everything.

it was getting so so hot, but we bought some water, applied the sun screen, and headed out to explore the sprawling ruins. some told us the best way to do it was to get a rickshaw to take us to the major places, others suggested renting bicycles for the day. all told us the afternoon got blazing hot and that it was too ambitious to explore between 12 and 4pm. we just decided to walk and see as much as we could. we were sure to run into a rickshaw to take us back if need be. i don't know how much area the whole site measured, but some told us it covered over 40 square kilometers. the guidebook said that we could expect to cover at least 9km to see the major sites. we liked the second guesstimate.

it was so beautiful. it was as if the giant boulders were chess pieces on a massive chessboard, and a Zues-like god decided one day to throw the board and accompanying pieces into the air, and they all landed this way and that, some splitting down the middle, some landing on their sides. but somehow there still seemed to be method to the madness. it was hot, yes, and magical and enchanting, just as people said. it was so strange, though. i couldn't get a sense of what it all used to be- was it a kingdom, and the random temples and run-down buildings we saw were royal or holy? or was what we were seeing part of a city, where locals used to worship? i'm sure hiring a guide would have been well worth the money, but we assumed we'd be able to get the answers to these questions with my guidebook or signs. we didn't- we had to guess what most things were using the ambiguous and not at all drawn-to-scale maps posted here and there. any signs there were stated identical warnings about touching, destroying, taking part of, or vandalizing the structures (it is a World Heritage site). other than that, there was a disappointing lack of information. but we decided to just enjoy the aesthetics of it all instead of worrying about what they were, or what they were supposed to be, or what they used to be used for.

Richard was great company- it was fun to talk about travels, life, perspective, yoga, health. and he was great company despite the fact that he encouraged us to climb a barbed-wire fence in an effort to save time, which got us temporarily lost. conversation became sparse, chuckles were forced, and we both were silently wondering how many wild animals lived there, what the chances were of our water running out, and whether or not people would come if we screamed for help. for about an hour or so, it looked pretty bleak, as roads seemed to be farther and farther out of reach and horizons brought us no closer to figuring out where we were. finally, we reached a road and asked a rickshaw driver where we were. in typical Indian fashion, he said we were about 7km from the temple we wanted to go to. we reached it in about 30 minutes.

we explored yet another temple, walked back along the river, and decided to round up our day's worth of walking to about 50km. we went back to the rooftop restaurant and each had about 5 drinks in 5 minutes, we were so thirsty. we heard about a festival to celebrate the full moon at the temple and invited Mike, another fun British guy, to join us later that night.

as the sun set behind the boulders and the main temple of the town, we climbed to the massive rocks that towered over the temple to get a good view. it was so beautiful- the red and orange and purples of the sunset on one side, with the blues and silvers of the full moon on the other. the best of both worlds. turns out the festival was nothing more than Lakshmi, the temple elephant, being paraded around the temple with a few drummers and only a few onlookers. it was surprisingly anticlimactic, but still worth a look.

the next morning, richard and i met mike by the river to watch Lakshmi's ritual morning bath. it was really something to watch. the weather was sunny and warm, and it's always great to be near water. Lakshmi, a beautiful, powerful elephant, was a site to behold. she was obedient and graceful, which was a strange combination that elicited a mix of emotions- sadness, that she was in captivity at all; happiness, that she wasn't chained up during this as most elephants might be; awe, that this massive creature could still move with such grace and control. we got to watch the caretakers bathe her and scrub her, and then we had a chance to do the same. it was such a curious feeling- her skin was so smooth but made rough with the ridges in it, and her hair was so coarse and long. i'd never felt anything like it. it was funny to see her nose have its own personality through it all, playing with whomever was closest to her at the moment. it was a really peaceful thing to watch, and really relaxing to be able to participate in it.

Mike, Richard, and i rented bikes and went to the other side of the river to go to a lake and a monkey temple. we first went to the lake, and on the way we saw more signs of the town going to modern ruin- bulldozers carelessly drove right into people's homes and shops and guesthouses. owners and neighbors sobbed and begged officials to give them more time, another chance. the officers gave them neither.

without really processing the weight of what was going on, we rode to the lake. the water was ice cold at first and quickly felt aMAZing, cooling us off after riding in the blazing heat. after swimming around a bit, we eyed the big boulder that overlooked the water. it took us about 45 minutes, no joke, to jump off of it, each of us taking turns being brave then refusing the jump at the last second. countdowns didn't work, jumping up and down didn't help, cheering each other on didn't help. finally, knowing that it wasn't going to happen if i announced it, i took two running steps and jumped. it felt so good. but it was really funny to think about why it was so hard to jump- other people there had done it and it wasn't even that high up. still, the more we thought about it, the harder it was. hmmm..

i had to leave early to change, pack up, and get to the train station to take a night train to Goa. i was bummed to leave, because i could see why people spent days and even weeks there, and i really enjoyed the company of richard and mike. alas, the ticket had been bought and i Yann was expecting me at the beach.

so funny that so much can happen in two days..

Posted by yoganini 07:19 Archived in India Comments (0)

Mysore


View pre-real-life hoorah on yoganini's travel map.

Alice's sister was studying yoga in Mysore, so she hooked us up with a place to stay, which was a lovely home cum hostel/ lodge. apparently, lodges were very difficult to find because "It is yoga season". the thought makes me laugh.

we arrived via bus then took a rickshaw quite far away from the city center to a house in a peaceful (relatively) residential area, where Alice's sister was staying for several months with her daughter while studying yoga. dreadlocks, piercings, tattoos, flowy pants and skirts, scarves used as headbands, armpit hair, and lots of stringed instruments, pot, and (strangely) beer everywhere. a fascinating sociological study. people coming and going, sleeping in this corner or that. though the hippy culture was a bit much for me, I could see myself spending time in the city for an extended period of time to study yoga. the city quieted down after 10pm or so, there were sidewalks, and there was a general sense if calm in the city which was great.

that day, we relaxed and enjoyed the rooftop and quiet. in the evening, we went back to 'the house' for what was dubbed a party. in reality, it was kirtan, or call and response of mantras- there was a tablas player, a guitarist, a violinist, and a singer. many of the songs they sang were songs i play in my yoga classes. i enjoyed it, but from an outsider's perspective, i imagine it looked like a cult worship session- people in the room singing in another language, swaying from side to side with their eyes closed, while people in the kitchen danced or hula-hooped or hugged each other. but then we were treated to a local sitar player who was inCREDible, many said the best in Mysore. the tablas players had fingers that moved so fast my eyes couldn't even keep up with them. sold.

the next day, we explored the beautiful Mysore palace and the market where I got sandalwood oil, good for purifying skin. what a colorful market! merchants surrounded by bowls overflowing with beautiful and vibrant powders, used for painting and for Holi festival, when people wear white and throw water and this colored powder at each other. it was just like I imagined India to be- colorful in every sense of the word.

later in the evening, a guy in 'the house' taught us a horribly instructed class, during which he pushed on my head to get me to fold forward farther even after I told him not to. I didn't have enough time to find an ashtanga class that accepted students on a drop-in basis, but I thought the class were sufficient for getting my yoga on in Mysore.

the next day we took it easy with yoga in the morning taught by yours truly on the rooftop. we all had not great things to say about the class the previous night, so naturally I was nervous about teaching, but it went really well! I had the chance to slow down and explain things, though I later found out that their body part vocabulary wasn't as polished as I'd thought, so when I talked to them about heels, arms started to reach upwards... but they loved it and felt good which made me feel good.

for our last night together, we played a fun card game on the rooftop. Julie brought candles, the moon was almost full, there was a warm breeze. good company and conversation perfected the night.

the following day we went to the market to get some food to bring up to Chamundi Hill, atop which sits yet another temple. but we were interested in catching the night view of Mysore Palace, which lights up in Sunday nights. the French and i had many discussions about how to best describe what happens to the palace- do we say 'light up' or 'is illuminated' or...? way too many vocabulary questions that made me question my own mastery of the language. anyway, we picked up some fruit and balls made of coconut, oil, and sugar (somehow, i feel like because these things do not come out of Dunkin Donuts, they must be healthier than their american cousins), then we tried to find something more substantial near the bus station. at last! someone pointed to a vegetarian place down this side street over here to the right. this must be for locals, we quickly realized as we stepped over dogs feeding on a dead rat. we settled on a place that had an enormous cow standing in front of it, flicking its tail from side to side. of course, it was an open restaurant without doors or windows, and the cow was facing the street, which meant that when its tail flicked from side to side, it really flicked whatever excrement was on its tail into the restaurant. a man swatted at its tail with a cooking spoon to get it to move along. i'm pretty sure the spoon was not washed before being put to use in the kitchen. but no worries, we ordered parothas from the other side- flat breads like pancakes served with lentils on the side.

we took the bus up the hill and wandered around a bit before finding an open place to wait and see the Palace light up (be illuminated). what a beautiful night- a warm breeze, a view of the city, good food, good company. we enjoyed it for a few minutes then squished onto a bus that was already oozing with people. we headed straight to the palace for a close-up view. it was just like any other tourist place, with people selling tacky, miniature plastic versions of what you were looking at, differing only in how many sparkles were on them. it was fun to watch people buy them.

we headed back via rickshaw to pack up and say goodbye. i think we were all excited to see more of india (people were headed to Gokarna and Goa and staying in Mysore), but we were all pretty sad to part ways as we got along so well. alas, all things must pass, and Yann and i planned on meeting up in Goa anyway...

so i boarded the night bus to Hospet and hoped i'd be able to sleep...

  • *i am changing the post time to reflect the end of my time in mysore, though i am so behind in posts!

Posted by yoganini 05:31 Archived in India Comments (0)

Ooty

best name ever.

so from fort cochin, it took a planes, trains, and automobiles kind of journey to get to Mettupalayam, a town/ city where there was really nothing to do or see. so i roasted in my humid room where the electricity went out for most of the night. when i woke up at 5am to get to the train station, it was pouring rain, but lo and behold, it stopped as soon as i stepped outside of my hotel. so i booked it to the station to get a ticket to take the World Heritage miniature toy train to Ooty, one of the three Nilgiri hill stations at the top of a mountain. i sat with a Belgian, a Pole, some Germans, and a small family of unidentifiable origins. the train left the station at 6.30am. it was so so beautiful. we passed waterfalls, misty mountains, colorful villages, tea plantations, rivers, green green green. so beautiful. the temperature also dropped, which was a welcome respite from the 24-hour sweat fest going on. we had to stop every once in a while to fill the steam engine (Grandpa Rocky would have loved it) and we could take pictures, get fast food like samosas, and drink chai. the breaks were key, as a 5-hour train ride for 10 rupees (20 cents) sounds great (and is), but you can only take so many pictures of scenic mountains and greenery (sigh).

upon arriving in Ooty, the Pole and i headed to the YWCA, where we met a bunch of French people. the six of us then formed what we later dubbed Le Group. the next day, we went trekking for the day. i really can't being to try to describe how green everything was. the deepness, the richness, it just seemed to go on forever. we saw more tea plantations, women harvesting the tea leaves, we saw a temple dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey god, we saw amazing views of the surrounding areas. the villages we passed through were filled to the brim with smiles and unassuming friendliness. either not enough tourists had passed through this route suggested by the tourist office (they recommended hiring a guide, but we didn't), or the tourists who did pass by were just as friendly as they were. they didn't want anything from us, just to return their hellos. it was refreshing and it made my heart happy. we ran into a man who helped us with directions and then directed us to a local food joint, where we got thalis (traditional and basic Indian dish of rice, dahl- lentils, and other side dishes) for 75 cents. then he brought us back to his house where his brother's wife made us all tea. it was a fun detour.

we went trekking the following day to a waterfall and lake. it was all nice- the weather, the surroundings, the views. but it was really the company that made it what it was... allow me to introduce Le Group:

- Konrad, from Poland. he's the first one i met of the group, as we sat in the same section on the train. has been traveling for months now, and will only head home once the money runs out. ripped, good-looking, and apparently very popular due to his blog, as not many Poles travel like he has.
- Yann, from France. dark skin, deep eyes, tall. a delightful French accent, super polite, open-minded, and fun. really open to speaking English, though he says he's not good at it. really great talking to him about anything from soccer (football) to south america.
- Julie, from France. very petite, has mastered the Indian head-nod. picture a bobble-head doll, and the head moves from side to side. we would interpret the gesture as meaning 'i don't know'. here it means whatever you want it to mean. she is such great company.
- Alice, from France. really, really pretty, adventurous, open to new experiences, and fearless.
- Mathilde, from France. i didn't get many chances to speak with her, though she was totally great to have in the group. she teaches children in elementary school, and it was so interesting talking to her about the school system there, as well as her experiences traveling. she admitted to her fears of traveling in india, so it was cool to see her push herself out of her comfort zone. traveling with Alice.

a dynamic group of people, and usually 6 is a tough number, and it would have been difficult to travel much longer together, but it was a great time- we all got along, did our own thing balanced with things together. we were lucky to have met each other!

things were so fun that Le Group decided to travel on together to Mysore via bus...

Posted by yoganini 00:19 Archived in India Comments (0)

Fort Cochin and the Kerala backwaters.

lovely.

i went from kovalam beach to Fort Cochin- it required, an autorickshaw ride, a train, a 2km walk, a ferry ride, and another 1km walk to find a hostel room that had one window that opened up into a stuffy hallway. and it was so so worth it. fort cochin is a town in Kochi, a collection of island/ peninsulas on the Kerala coast. it was previously colonized by the dutch, as could be seen in the architecture. i think the best word for it is 'charming'. quaint little houses, huge trees whose roots went down into the sidewalks, cobblestone streets in some places. lots of cute little coffee shops and restaurants and food stalls/ chai carts. on the shore you could watch these giant Chinese fishing nets, which through some miracle of physics uses the weight of big stones and the power of about 8 men to lift nuge nets out of the water. i also saw the Dutch palace, which was not super exciting but it talked a lot about colonization. in the beginning of the photographed era of this place, it was a matriarchal society and women really ran the household. in addition, they showed photos of royal fashions. before, women wore what looked like a big sheet around their upper waists, just below their chest, with their breasts exposed. the main focus was huge necklaces. later, when europeans came (first the Dutch then the Portuguese), covering up became a little more stylish. still, it's interesting because you can see how important jewelry is int he culture today by the millions of billboards for gold and jeweled accessories.

my first night there, i saw a Kathakali performance. this is traditional Keralan dance, wherein the make up takes one hour to put on, dye is put inot the eyes so that five minutes later the eyes turn red, and eye movements are of great significance. hand gestures are a combination of many different mudras. it was really interesting to see and learn about it, but it was long and i coudln't sit still very easily. but afterwards i stayed for hte traditional dance performance, which was sooo cool, as many of the positions reminded me of the poses gods and goddesses take in the temples. the dancers' eyes were exaggerated, fingers very important, and anklets with bells made lots of fun percussive sounds. i really enjoyed it.

a highlight of my time there was a trip to the backwaters. they are called the backwaters, not because of the fact that they lay behind major rivers that pass through the region, but because when the rains come, the rivers flood and the water flows backwards. nearly everyone who come to kerala comes to the backwaters. so i booked a tour, we drove about 90 minutes to our starting point, and then we headed out for the river/ backwaters on a wooden boat, covered with woven leaves. there was no motor, only a man in the front and a man in the back, both using poles at least 3 meters long to push us along, as the water is very shallow. there were probably 20 people on the boat, and what a collection of people it was! i had the British woman in front of me- horribly loud, smoking and throwing her cigarette butts and trash into the water (just like the locals do- not charming). then there was the israeli woman who liked to think she knew everything and whatever she didn't know she asked the guide about. i'm not sure her mouth closed the entire first 3 hours. then there was the incredibly good-looking German couple who just couldn't be bothered to mingle with anyone, though i'm sure they were nice enough. then there were the Belgians who made me think of older americans traveling abroad- white socks with sandals, skin that told us of the years of accidental sunburns, and the confidence of people who spoke 5 different languages fluently. you know the story about people getting stuck in a stuffy elevator for hours with strangers? and the one about people on a boat and they die one by one? and the one about people being stuck on a desert island and having to figure out how to survive without killing each other? it was like all these stories wrapped into one giant burrito and i had to eat it. for 7 hours. but it was more than entertaining. and then i made a friend with a Brit who was with her family but super budget-traveler when she's on her own. she and her sister are, naturally, doctors (they come from Indian heritage), and saved my time there. i was having a nice enough time enjoying the (sometimes) quiet, the shade/ sun, and the peaceful surroundings, but good company of course made it really fun.

after a lunch where we were all put into a big caged shelter, we split up into smaller boats with which we went along even narrower waterways. that was so beautiful- the sun wasn't blazing above us, we were in the shade a bit, it was quiet, green, and clean. and i spoke with the belgians, who were fun and we talked about having relatives in Beersel and such. we also went to a spice plantation which was FASCINATING. i struggle daily with which spices to buy here, b/c it's not like i'd save much money, and i'd have to lug them around for the rest of my trip, but to cook with spices that are from the source? mmm. i like that. i'd also like to make a point of actually reading the books i've bought on spices and their therapeutic qualities. it's so intersting here- the people are so much more connected to nature and where things come from (in Kerala, at least). they can tell you where something comes from and how to use it for hte benefit of your health. and it's not magic, it's just natural. so cool.

after the backwaters, i came back and met a korean woman for dinner and a coffee. she was lovely and mucho fun. we might meet up in mysore or hampi. grand!

the next day, i walked around some more and explored the little sidestreets. then i headed to Mettupalayam...

Posted by yoganini 04:27 Archived in India Comments (1)

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