It is so nice to be in the sand from Gokarna, so nice that we don’t want to go, so nice as well that the beach attracts so many nice people, with whom one can sit at the fireplace, we can make music and to jump off cliffs. Ameli and Mut from France, as well as England, Turkey have been on the road with the bike for one-and-a-half years now, through europe, russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, India….Maybe we can go with them for a little part, but we ride most definitely with Marteen (the bikerider from Amsterdam) in the next few weeks. From Humpi, we will go together and travel through the tourism-closed inner from India. On the third of March we leave Gokarna, take the bus to humpie, and from there with the bike to Katmandu.
First off we want to chill out here, plan further trips and have a look around. Gokarna is the alternative beach (well, many beaches) where mainly young people take a rest from their trip to India or actually bring their whole time there, some have been here for weeks, months…
We met a dutch man, who rode his bike from amsterdam to India as well, he also wants to go to Katmandu, but via a different route than us, that we have planned…maybe we might get to travel together for a while. Tomorrow we might be riding for two days with him and his girlfriend to Hampi. They have a great Monkey Temple there.
Our contemplative thoughts will be posted shortly.
A few pictures have been posted, sorry for the long loading time for the site, it is actually to many pictures at the moment, and we have no idea, yet, how we can re-arrange it.
An atrocitiy has been growing in us, beginning off as weak, that grew bigger and stronger, against some habits and people in the Indian community. First off, the worst: The bus drivers. Anger lines develop in their faces, they go red from anger when they haven’t turned red due to the heat already. With 3cm margin of safety, at eardrum bursting levels they honk (the bus horn) and with a accelerating speed, they zoom by us hundred times a day. Whether from the back, or they overtake us from the front, no consideration towards others is expected from the “Queens of the Street”. Taking flight is the only way to help.
The gawkers are next, just in front of the questioners. Regardless of what we do, whether it be eating in a restaurant, lying at the beach and relaxing, repairing the bikes or just simply walking through the town, they are constantly around us. No movement in their faces, their gaze serious and fixed only in one direction, on us. If you smile at them, nothing happens. If you look at them seriously and on them, maybe only 3% of them looks away. If you talk to them, they are oft flustered, they don’t speak English or just suddenly walk away.
There aren’t so many questioners, but still there are too many. “Where are you from?” is the rare question that one gets asked. Often it is just the simple “place!”, “country!” or “you american?”. Even those questions are not even pronounced as a question, instead more of a statement. The second-most important information for the Indians is our name, which plays a strong role in their society. Following the country question, the name information is then requested with the simple “name!”. Some Indians are content with that information, though there still are some Indians who want to dig further. How long have we been in India, do we find India great, like all Indians. If you ignore all the millions of greetings, and partial questions which was yelled by motorbike drivers, Indians are often offended, even if they haven’t shown polite manners in entering the conversation. Many Indians don’t even notice if you are annoyed and simply continue talking.
Just a quick Anecdote:
A bus crashed into an elderly man on his bike. In the bus, there was 2 french tourists, one of them a vet. The bus passengers promptly exited the bus, and crowded around the wounded man. No one helped, they all stared. The tourists couldn’t believe that no one was helping. One rang the emergency services, shoved their way through to the front of the crowd and tried to conduct first-aid to the victim. In the general pandemonium, some of the crowd members started to grope the women on the breasts and other body parts. They found the tourists more interesting than the elderly man who was from the lower part of society, who was lying there dying.
These are suited to paraphrase them together, but here are some information:
ñ In Kerala, the town in which we are currently travelling through, the Communist Party is the ruling government. The opposition party is something similar to the Greens. Everywhere on the streets, one sees the Hammer and Sickle symbols, printed on every election posters.
ñ The family in India play an important role. The role between the single family members is very strong, often strong hierarchical. The women are married off very early, those who don’t find a boyfriend by themselves are given one. In the newspapers, there are countless marriage announcements, where the man or the woman is presented like a product that one advertises. Leaving the family is out of question for every one. The elderly live at home until their death.
ñ We still don’t know exactly why women can’t bathe in the sea, probably no where else. We were surprised, we thought India would be more free.
ñ The people in southern India are rumoured to be more friendlier, more humane; further north business rules.
ñ The Indian bus drivers are crazy.
ñ The Indian media is fairly questionable. The series in television are cheaply produced, evern cheaper and artificially played crap. On the advertisements there is only the one man, who seems to do advertisement for everything, Hedge funds, clothing, food, communication, films (it is very probable that he is an actor), jewellery…Everything is underlined, for us, by aesthetic.
ñ The Indian kids, (unfortunately also a large part of adults) are not contact-shy, are enthusiastic and often know very little brocken English. At best, they like blonde tourists.
ñ India’s Foreign policies are very diplomatic, very ahead of its time. India was the first country to bring racial discrimination onto the International scene. India removed itself rather successfully from the camps of the Cold War and fought for worldwide Peace. Ideologically, India serves as a role model but in reality it is a little (brökelt). At the moments its inner politics sweeps a lot of problems such as poverty, enviromental pollution and infrastructure under the carpet.
ñ Generally Indias are very nationalistic. They love their land and see no other alternative to it. Curiousity for other cultures, other music, other lifestyles does not exist.
ñ Daily they suffer blackouts that can often last for minutes. In some hotels, there are emergency back up lights.
ñ Probably in no other Land in the world, do the different religions live so close to each other and are at the same time friendly. Mosques, churches, hindu temples are set up next to each other.
Canoeing and drinking tea
We are slowly than usual working our way, a little bit by little bit up to Ernakulam. We try to get on the street as early as possible so we can use the remaining coolness from the night until it gets too hot and we have do a little Siesta. That lasts from about 10:30am until 3 or 4pm. We finally continue in the late afternoon into the evening. We slept in Alappuzha in a wonderful comfortable hotel and canoed 6 hours in the backwaters of the city. The backwaters are a massive area out of big, small canals and natural waterways out of which, small and large islands tower over where the people have built their houses. It is a relaxing spot, the stillness is only broken by the sound of the water hitting the stone that have been polished by thousands of waves. The time doesn’t seem to work here, the inhabitants all have a smile ready, none of them looked stressed. The general laid back feeling has seeped into us. And we have become even more slowly laid back. We left our bikes in Ernakulam and yesterday we went with a bus 140km inland to a bumpy 1500m over the sea level. It is cooler here, there is really beautiful mountains, tea plantations and thick jungles from where wild bird songs reaches your ears, your ears are bewitched.We met great people with whom we have wandered around the area. Paul from Australia, Susie from England and Nelli from Karlsruhe. It is nice to not be busy with the bicycles and more spontaneous and free to do things. This luxury will not last long, we will be sitting on the bike saddles tomorrow afternoon. Destination Goa. The internet cafe is closing now, so I can’t write any more or upload pictures. Until the next time.
The train journey to Trivandrum was very crazy. We almost missed our train, we really did manage to get our bikes in the first best compartment, which the passengers already in there opened for us. After a short pause, we realised that it was the compartment for the Military.
Dear English Reader (Introduction)
Because there are some fellas out there who couldnt understand a word so far, I will try to refresh my englısh skılls and to gıve some ıntererstıng ınformatıon about our trıp.
Ok I wıll start rıght at the begınnıng. We are Phılıpp and Chrıstıan from Saalfeld, Germany. We are both 20 years old and decıded that we want to dıscover thıs our world ın some best way. So we started ın September 2010 a cyclıng trıp from germany to ındıa. We already went through the czech republık, austrıa, hungary, serbıa, bulgarıa and are ın turkey now. Our plan ıs to go on to Iran, than we wıll take a plane to Indıa. On our way back we want to go north fırst. Maybe we have to spent some tıme ın Indıa because we heard ıts ımpossıble to cycle through the Hımalaya ın deep wınter. And we want to see Nepal and all that stuff. In Chına we want to get ınto the transsıb traın headıng for Moskow. Than to cyclıng back home by eastern europe.
Cyclıng ıs always seeıng the bad and the good about the country. In other ways of travellıng you step out of your traın, bus, plane, have a look around the tourıst places and thats ıt. Rıdıng the bıke over long dıstances means havıng a lot of tıme for thınkıng, dreamıng and wonderıng about the world and everythıng. For us ıts great to feel the nature, beeıng outsıde when ıts hot, cold, wındy, raınıng or snowıng.
So ıf you are ınterested ın what we are doıng or maybe you are plannıng to do somethıng sımılar and need some ınformatıon, you are welcomed to wrıte a message to us wıth your questıon. We wıll see ıf we can help. We already had a lot of help from other travellers and we thınk ıts always nıce to have some connectıons, espacıally ıf you do somethınk lıke we do
Turkey – the huge country ruled by mountains and islamic culture
We are in Turkey for nearly one month now. So I want to give a little summary to discribe what happened to us in this nice country so far.
The route we took is the following. We arrived in Edirne from Bulgaria. Than we headed for Istanbul, at first on a nice big road. Just before Istanbul we took a north route and there where just building areas and a lot of trucks. The last bit was alright and quite strange. On a huge road we cycled on the wellpaved side line and thousends of trucks where driving beside us. From Istanbul we headed again to the Black Sea coast. From the big coastal city Ereğlı we drove a bit south, not to be just on the coast all the time. We came through Karabük and Kastamonu. Because we have heard that its most easy to get a Visa for Iran in Trabzon we cycled back to the coast at Samsun. From there the big highway took us to Trabzon, where we are right now.
In Istanbul we had a great time and we met a lot of other travellers in the Harmony Hostel. I think we can really recommend this one. Nice greets and thank you to everyone who was in our ‘little family’ there. We stayed there for 5 days and could come out of our cycle rythm for some time which was good. My mind was a little bit confused afterwards, but I dont really know why. Anyway it was good to get on the bikes again. Somehow the world was still out of normal order for us the next days. In the first night we had to change our camping spot two times. The first time when we started eating there where some loud noises behind us in the forrest. It was already dark so we couldnt see it but later on we found out what it was. We googled days later and found out that on the eastern black sea coast in turkey there are a lot of brown bears. That made us a little more scared for the next nights camping. And the second time we had to leave our place in this night because there where some funny guys on the street just shooting with there riffles for fun. We could hear one bullet flying over our heads and than we didnt feel comfortable any more.
Also we felt more annoyed by the people than welcomed. In each village it was the same. The older people where looking a bit puzzled when they saw us but greeted gently. Then a children would see us and started shouting Hellllloooo again and again and others joined in until we left the village. But these bad feelings vanished after we got a little bit used to the way people look at us. And if we come to talk to people on the street or in the Supermarket there are always very friendly and openminded. They try to make conversations and with our very few turkish words, hands and feet we can explain where we are from and where we are going and so they often invite us for some tea.
The landscape changes very often. Especially if you climb a mountain range like we did a few times, you will always have different types of trees and different shapes of the mountains. Between Kastamonu and Merzifon there where some of the most beatiful mountains I have seen in my life. In Kastamonu we did some sightseeing and drove up the steep way to the castle. I liked this town very much because it has a beatiful old part and there are this small streets between the houses which are really ancient.
When we hit the coast at Samsun we already knew from other cyclist that there is a big highway and its flat and fast to get to Trabzon. So we did the 300km in record 2 and a half days. Because the coast is densely populated we had some problems to find good spots to sleep. So we stayed the first night right beside the center of Samsun down a hill from the highway. That was the reason why we left early with the first sunlight and so we did the next two nights. We thought we had to rush because its friday. But actually I calculated wrong (not the first time) and it was just thursday. So we had no problem to get our Visa for Iran. We filled out the forms at the embassy in the morning in Trabzon and got our passports back including a 30 days Visa for our next country. It supposed to be easy to extend it in a big city of Iran if necessary.
Now we are relaxing for three days in Trabzon, staying at a very cheap hotel. Last night we met three other travellers who came into the Internet Cafe we were sitting in. We heard that they are looking for a place to stay so we talked to them and they came with us to our hotel. Chris from Switzerland and Luke from Holland are backpacking around and Hardy had a very interesting way of travelling with a trailer and over 100kg luggage for 80 months through and around the world. We sat down in a park and Chris, Luke and me had a beer (illegaly outside) and we talked for some hours.
So far from Philipp and Chris to our english friends and fans =)