The coast is just a few kilometres west of Kannur town. Like every other beach I’ve seen so far, it’s beautiful, unspoilt, and most of all, there are no fancy resorts blotting the perfect landscape. This is very likely the opposite of hippie-infested Goa, 300kms up north.

It’s a beautiful morning — blue skies all around. It’s still a bit early so the sun hasn’t reached toasting temperatures just yet. I ride at a very leisurely pace here. It would be a shame to do otherwise.

Payyambalam Beach, Kannur, Kerala, India

Payyambalam Beach, the first of many beaches I will be riding on today. The sound of gentle waves lapping the shore, and coconut trees rustling in the sea-breeze infused with the tang of salty air is just … mesmerising.

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Today’s Indian friend #1. A young man selling fruit-in-brine by the beach.

 

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I hang around a bit, chit-chatting with the boy. Soon, his friend joins us, and wants to see what he looks like wearing a cycling helmet. Anyone would look cool in that helmet.

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I had a piece of sweet pineapple, just 10R.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s Indian friend #2. Hiran of Payyambalam Beach.

As I was riding along, Hiran stops me as he’s riding by on his way to work, and chats with me. He insists on buying me breakfast, when he finds out that I haven’t had mine yet. Over a simple meal of dosa and chai, I find out that Hiran is married to a British girl, and he runs a little business in Kannur. Like many well-travelled people, he’s inclined to stop a fellow traveller when he meets one (especially in the middle of nowhere Payyambalam Beach where few, if any, cycle-tourers go). I thoroughly enjoy his company and our mutual views on many topics. I’m sure I have a warm place to crash in should I come this way again.

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Following Hiran to the tea-shop.

 

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As prices go, I could tell only locals patronise this place. The dosa and chai are excellent, and cheap. One can go a very long way on a limited budget here in India, if one eats at the right places.

 

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Beachside attractions come in forms, including camels. There is no way I’m going to pass up on the chance to ride one of these animals.

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The ride cost me only 50R. Money well-spent.

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A single-humped Arabian dromedary camel, that’s what this particular specimen is called.

 

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The sickle-and-hammer is everywhere in Kerala. That’s because the communist Left Democratic Front is currently the opposition party. This little Che Guevara hut seems to be a recreational spot, seeing as there are some boys inside playing carrom.

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A Joseph Stalin inspired carrom board, never mind that it’s a bit of a bourgeoisie pastime.

 

 

 

 

 

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Life moves at an unhurried pace along the coast.

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When riding along the coast, the road usually comes to a dead-end or, in this case, a jetty, where I simply hop on board and head across the Valapattanam River and continue my ride north.

 

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Hereabouts, the Muslim influence is quite apparent, with more mosques than Hindu temples. Unlike their Hindu counterparts, Indian Muslim women are a bit more modest when it comes to posing for the camera.

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There seems to be some sort of segregation here; women in front while men, except for the pilot, stay at the back of the boat.

 

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I end the day’s ride at the outskirts of Payyanur, another crazy chaotic town. I figure that since I’m heading towards the backwaters of Kavvayi, I might as well stay outside the town nearer to where I’m going, and which is a lot quieter. Unfortunately, as I found out later, the hotel that I decided on, located just next to the railway station, is full, thanks to a recruitment drive by the Indian Naval Academy nearby. The only room left is an air-conditioned one for 1,400R, the most expensive to date.

Oh well, what the heck, might as well live a little…

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