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AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures
Cycling India Kerala 2015 : Kerala Backwaters Riverside Stint
We cyclists are a crazy lot. Wherever we are, we just have that itch to ride. I was in Kerala for a holiday; after a few days as a tourist, I was itching to cycle. In fact I was desperate to cycle.... cycle anywhere here as long as it was safe.
Solo Ride: Around the Manimala riverside.
It was morning and I have gone for a walk outside Maria's Heritage Home in Alaphuzha, where we were staying. This is the backwaters district of Kerala.
This place faces the Manimala River (it's called the Pamba River too) and on both sides of the river were narrow roads running parallel to it. The day was hot but not scorching hot, good for a walk, or even better still good for cycling.
The river looks calm and there was interesting activities on the river and beside it; long-boats on its side, floating among
Water Hyacinth plants.
Water Hyacinth plants.
Beautiful bright pink water lily flowers at its banks ...
... and on the opposite bank was a girls' school built along Anglo-Indian-Portuguese lines.
I just have to cycle here, in fact I was desperate to cycle here. How desperate was I?
I was DESPERATE enough to approach a young boy cycling outside to lend me his bicycle.
He took me to his house, a ramshackle a few doors away from our home-stay to see his father.
I asked the father whether I could rent the bicycle from them; he said "Just take it and return it when you are finished." He did not even ask for a deposit! These poor but trusting people are really beautiful people.
And at the moment, the dark red bicycle with its rusty chain and non-working brakes was the most beautiful thing in the world to me.
The road on this side of the river was a non-paved laterite road, shady and almost devoid of vehicular traffic. Despite having no brakes and despite the rusty chain frequently coming out, I was beginning to enjoy the ride as it gave me a chance to observe life here.
Ahead, a woman was washing cloths along the riverside; and some children were thinking about jumping into the river for a swim.
And in the river, a brown snipe was resting on a floating coconut trunk, ready to swoop in on any fishy prey.
Finally I saw some vehicular traffic; a motor-taxi ferrying some tourist....
Hey! That's my wife and her friend, they were coming back from the market on the other side of the river. She waved to me and was surprised to see me on a bicycle... Hah!
Ahead was the Pulinkunnu Bridge spanning across the river. I will have to use the bridge to get over to the other side. Oh... dear... the bridge ramps up and down... and I have no brakes!
The bridge is a narrow bridge just enough for a car to go through; so there are traffic lights on both sides to control traffic. With no brakes, I played it safe and pushed the bicycle up and down the bridge. I was a bit slow, the lights changed and suddenly traffic was approaching form the other side!
Fortunately there was a niche into which I could squeezed into safely for the traffic to pass through. Actually, I squeezed in there for a while, to take in the scenery of the river - it was nice and quiet at this time as many were in church on this Sunday morning.
On the other side, the roads were tarred and there was more activities ongoing; nearby were schools, churches, markets, etc.
On this side too, it can be seen that the river is a common transport route with sampans delivering good...
.. and passengers wait for the Pulinkunnu-Mancompu Ferry that plies a route along the Manimala River.
Yahoo! I have reached the destination that I espied from the other side of the river - the St. Mary's Forane Church.
I rode further into town to look for the market, most of the shops were closed so there were not many I could ask for directions.
Oops.... have to abort the market finding... it's time to go back as we will be checking out of Maria's soon.
Quickly I pedalled back, pushed the bike up and down the bridge before continuing cycling again. Even at this brisk pace I was able to notice things like this rare purple bloom of this hyacinth...
... a cormorant with its wings akimbo, basking in the sun.
And rode pass this family of white goats before returning the bicycle to the little boy's father.
Eventhough they did not want any money from me for using the bicycle, I gave them some, feeling that they would need it to repair their bicycle.
It had been a short stint around the river, one that was over too quickly. But it did satisfy my itchy cycling legs. I hope that the itch will not come back too soon... will it?
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