From what I can see on the map, it looks like it’s going to be another nice, scenic ride among the backwaters today. I’m really looking forward to that.

There are 2 places I want to visit today: Kavvayi island, and the long, narrow peninsula of the Valiyaparamba backwaters. It also looks like there are many water crossings today.

I head towards Kavvayi island first but it turns out to be nothing much. The draw of this place is likely the small, upmarket B&Bs located on the fringes on the island, apparently popular with well-heeled city slickers. So I turn back and head for Valiyaparamba instead.

The plan is to ride towards the southern tip of the peninsula and ride my way up north. But first, I have to cross a river to get to the other side. There’s a bridge further down the road but I find out that there’s a ferry crossing at the nearby Kotti Jetty which, obviously, is the one I go for.

Turns out it’s not a ferry boat at all but a small rowboat. Even better. There are not many people about the jetty, and I can see the small boat coming across slowly. The whole scene is quite surreal. It’s a windless day and beautifully quiet except for the sound of birds. I can even hear the boatman’s oar gently slapping the water surface as the boat glides across the placid water.

It costs a mere 35R for me and my bike to get across on a very well-used dug-out canoe. It’s a short but meditatively absorbing and silent trip. The boatman doesn’t utter a single word, nor does he smile. His oar strokes are unhurried — he rows a few times and then lifts the oar out of the water for maybe 10 seconds or so while the boat glides forward on its own accord, dips the oar in and rows again. I just wish this would go on and on …

 

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Not easy to execute a self-timed shot with the camera on a tripod … on a moving boat 🙂

 

Like any well-laid plan, mine is scuppered by the Naval Academy. Because of its location, there’s no way to reach the starting point of Valiyaparamba without riding through the academy. I try to sweet-talk my way through but the guards at the main gate politely tells me to sod off. I even try to find a way around the academy but no luck. I have to backtrack all the way to the morning’s starting point again and since it’s getting on in the day, I ride across the bridge instead of taking the rowboat.

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I even tried to bluff my way through at a different gate but nothing doing …

 

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Today’s lunch stop. There’s something wonderful about Indian ‘hotel’ kitchens.

 

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They always seem to be grimy and grubby but the smells from the kitchen … heavenly.

 

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Riding across a land bridge towards Edayilekadu Island. The little stumps of concrete roadside barriers make very good camera stands.

 

I ride all the way to the southernmost tip of Edayilekadu island, passing quiet little houses and not knowing what to expect. As I ride to the very edge of the island, I see a deserted boat jetty. Resting in the shade of a tree, I hear some voices heading towards me. 3 Indian men are making their way to the jetty so I ask if there’s a boat across. Yes, they said. They’re going across too, so I wait with them.

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It’s just a short ferry-ride to Valiyaparamba. 2 Indian ladies with a little boy in tow join us just before the ferry arrives.

 

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On the island, I make my way through the coconut trees towards the main road that serves the length of the peninsula…

 

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… and which goes by the tongue-twisting name of Kannuveed Kadappuram Road, which is nothing more than a laterite path.

 

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The sickle-and-hammer icon is very prevalent here.

 

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Along the way, I spot this not far from the laterite road. No one was home so I stood there to admire and salivate at the prospect of travelling in this Uk-registered, fully-equipped overlander completely kitted out with recovery equipment, roof-top tent and probably a kitchen inside. When it comes to serious trans-continental travel, Toyota rules.

 

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The beaches here are so pristine and unspoilt it’s a perfect campsite everywhere you look. This is another rueful moment when I wish I’d packed my camping gear.

 

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Every time I cross one of the many bridges here, I can be sure of postcard-perfect scenery

 

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The nice lads who shot the photos of me here

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Looks like a new, concrete bridge is in the works, one that can also accommodate cars. The existing one, which is way more fun, is a pedestrian-and-bicycles-only bridge.

 

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Back on the road towards the next town, Kahangad. It always amazes me that almost every Indian I meet on the road displays a cheerful disposition…always a warm friendly smile that makes me feel so at home.

 

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Rode along for a while with these 2 boys, admiring their magnificent Hercules bicycles.

 

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The boys gladly stopped for me to take a few shots of their bicycles, which are clearly very well-taken care of. Hercules is brand that’s more than a century old, founded in Brimingham, England in 1910. They are prized for their robustness. Well, shouldn’t expect anything less if it’s to be used on Indian roads.

 

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The happy Hercules boys

The end of the day sees me riding into the small town of Kahangad. On the main road, I spot a pink building which turns out to be a hotel. This will do. At only 400R, I can’t complain. At least there’s a tv.

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A pretty-in-pink hotel that goes by the name of Green Land Tourist Home.

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The boss of Green Land. Very woody reception for a green land.

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