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41 ~ Keep turning right - Self guided walkabout : Udaipur

Didn’t come to India to "relax" in a hotel


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Was told that was it for the organized part of seeing Udaipur so back to the hotel to relax. This got to me as I didn’t come to India to "relax" in a hotel. Despite telling Sunil my local guide at the outset that I had wanted to see the local veggie market. Told that I would have to take a tuk tuk myself and given very vague directions.

Plus, I asked him for a suggestion for a local restaurant and again his directions was non-existent.

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Sunil

It was 12.30pm / 12:30 when I was dropped only a block further from the hotel towards town being told that the car could not go any further. All I would say that this was incorrect …

So off I walked back towards the old town.

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By asking around, found Raas Leela. It was next to The Leela Palace. It was certainly nowhere near I had thought it was.

Armed with my map crossing the Daiji Bridge / Chand Pole Puliya Silawatwari Pedestrian Bridge, I went towards the Clock Tower. Got there at 2pm / 14:00.

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It was then a case of follow my nose and thoroughly enjoyed what I came across in the next couple of hours.

Down Hathipod Rd with shops on either side.

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The one in black is called "Kala (black) Jamun" and the bright orange one is "Gulab (Rose) Jamun".

It is like a doughnut dessert, but it’s made up of milk solids called Khova / Khoya which is kneaded into a soft but stiff dough, rolled into balls and then deep fried in ghee (clarified butter). As soon as they are fried, they are drowned into Sugar Syrup which is flavoured with Cardamom (elaichi) and Saffron (kesar).

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At the bottom Hathipole is a popular market for shopping of traditional handicraft items, traditional Rajasthani clothing and shoes, and antique articles.

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A local got talking with me and I brought a fresh juice.

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Seeing many Muslims walking out of a side road, decided to see where they were coming from. (Rasoolpura Masjid)

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“Gajar halwa" also known as Carrot Halwa made out of grated carrots which is sautéed and cooked in clarified butter with milk and then dried fruits such as roasted cashews, raisins, almonds and saffron is added onto it. Eaten specially in winters. I was to have some later in Jodhpur.

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Gajar halwa

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CHECK 25-3

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As long as I keep on turning right I can’t be wrong in finding my way out of this maze of narrow roads and alleyways. Sure enough, I came out directly opposite Jagdish Mandir (Shree Jagdish Temple). It was now 4.20pm / 16:20 so the last 2.5 hours was great with the diverse “street photography”.

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Gangaur Ghat

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Time to head down to Gangaur Ghat with the flying rats - pigeons.

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Along to cross back on Daiji Bridge to see Gangaur Ghat from Hari Ghat on the other side. This pedestrian only bridge while gives walkers respite from the crazy traffic in Udaipur, though not from the cows, dogs, beggars and busking musicians.

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Gangaur Ghat from Hari Ghat

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Back to the same point overlooking Lake Pichola as last night for sunset.

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Garden of Taj Lake Palace (also known as Jag Niwas island)

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City Palace

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Garden of Taj Lake Palace (also known as Jag Niwas island)

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City Palace

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Garden of Taj Lake Palace (also known as Jag Niwas island)

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City Palace

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Met a couple of fellow photographers. Asked Kaushik to join me for dinner at Raas Leela right on the lake edge with Taj Lake Palace all lit up in the background.

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Dinner = Non-vegetarian platter - chef’s choice of four non-vegetable starters 450 rupees / NZ$9.10 / US$6.30.
Dal bati churma = traditional Rajasthani dish served with lentils 450 rupees / NZ$9.10 / US$6.30.
Maki ki roti = indian bread made with yellow corn flour cooked on a griddle 75 rupees / NZ$1.50 / US$1.
Plus GST and a tip came to 1,200 rupees / NZ$25 / US$16.90.

https://www.raasleela.in/

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Walking back to the hotel came across this rather noisy wedding procession.

The groom is on the horse with sehra - made out of flowers - white and red roses.

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Posted by bruceontour 01:34 Archived in India Tagged sunset udaipur lake_pichola Comments (0)

36 ~ Udaipur means just 1 thing! James Bond & Octopussy

Find a place for dinner with customers


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

What does Udaipur mean to me? One thing! James Bond and Octopussy, the 1983 film with Roger Moore as Bond. My memory is especially of Garden of Taj Lake Palace (also known as Jag Niwas island) with the scene when disguised as a crocodile, Bond swims up to the 'floating palace', populated only by attractive women, and the lair of Octopussy, whom he suspects to be involved with the smuggling of a Fabergé egg.

After eventually finding the 3 star The Lavitra hotel and check in, it was already 4.30pm / 16:30.

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The Lavitra

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I had wanted to see sunset and having just general directions managed to find my way down the narrow alleyways by the lake down to Ambrai Ghat overlooking Lake Picola. No time to pull out my notes and map and research where to eat tonight. All I know is to find a roof top restaurant.

Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

Udaipur has many vantage points for photography but arguably the best one is Ambrai Ghat, especially at sunset. It's located directly opposite the City Palace and also fronts the Lake Palace hotel, so you have an unsurpassed view of both as their lights are turned on. To get to there, head to the Hanuman Ghat area and keep walking along the road that runs parallel to Lake Pichola as far as you can, past the Amet Haveli hotel and Ambrai restaurant. Do be aware that Ambrai Ghat is a popular local hangout for couples. (Of course, locals know the most romantic spot with the best views in the city!)

https://www.tripsavvy.com/udaipur-attractions-and-tourist-sites-1539755

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Rang Sagar (lake)

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He is selling chana jor garam, which is made of flattened chick peas which is smashed into a disc when wet, sundried or roasted (ideally) and spiced with masalas, sold as a very popular street food. Every child from India would have this as their go to snack if they love spicy food.

Chana jor garam is normally roasted with charcoal pot which just sits on the pile of chanas. As per your order, he will mix and toss it in a paper for you with onion, green chillies, lemon juice, chat masala, black salt and coriander leaves.

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Garden of Taj Lake Palace ~ also known as Jag Niwas island

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Come 5.30pm / 17:30 the sun was about to drop below the distant horizon … By 5.45pm / 15:45 it had all but disappeared.

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Then in the fading light a wander around orientating myself.

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My gut feeling was to say find a place for dinner with customers but in this case I didn’t. Saw Bridge Corner Restaurant and I climbed the stairs, saw nobody and said to myself, well the food would come quickly …. was tired, ordered and waited and waited … told 5 more minutes … but after another 15 minutes left having said a few choice words to the staff who some certainly did understand English. Lesson ... “Follow one’s gut feeling and eat at places with customers!”

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Around the corner at the edge of Rang Sagar (lake) was another restaurant Aapno Darbar with groups of young customers there so ordered my dinner = Amritsari Fish 240 rupees / NZ$4.90 / US$3.40.
Kingfisher lager 220 rupees / NZ$4.50 / US$3.10.

https://www.facebook.com/aapnodarbar/

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By the time I got back to The Lavitra, I was still hungry so enjoyed Gatte Ka Saag - garm flour dumplings cooked in traditional yoghurt based gravy 300 rupees / NZ$6.10 / US$4.20.
Jeera Rice 300 rupees / NZ$6.10 / US$4.20.
Garlic naan 80 rupees / NZ$1.60 / US$1.10.
Plus GST came to 714 rupees / NZ$14.90 / US$10.

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Perhaps I should have gone straight back to the hotel first for dinner? No! It had no atmosphere.

A long and at times frustrating day had finally come to an end.

Posted by bruceontour 02:33 Archived in India Tagged sunset udaipur lake_picola ambrai_ghat Comments (0)

A bud and 2 leaves

Day 6 Gangtok > Darjeeling

Left Gangtok at 9am / 09:00 for the 98 km journey to Darjeeling by our private van.

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Border crossing at Rangpo as we left Sikkim state with a short wait for JD to deal with the passports.

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Then stopped at the breakfast spot by the Teesta River where we enjoyed the breakfast a couple of days earlier at Hotel Phalguney.

A vegetable wai wai which is veggie noodle or 2 minute noodle 50 rupees / NZ$1.00 / US$0.80 wasn’t enough so I asked for an egg bread omelette 60 rupee / NZ$1.25 / US$0.90 and a cup of warming milk tea 20 rupees / NZ$0.40 / US$0.30. Just 130 rupees / NZ$2.70 / US$2.00 for all.

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The reflection by the 2 rocks wasn’t the same as the river must be flowing faster.

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The guys were still building next to the restaurant. The method of a person pulling on a rope attached to a shovel with another person at the end of the shovel was common.

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From here it was a 3 hour drive back towards Kalimpong through to Darjeeling with a photo stop at Lovers Meet overlooking the confluence of the Teesta River and Rangeet River.

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Tova, Joe, Ken, Robyn, Sally, Ngaire, Hans

Tova, Joe, Ken, Robyn, Sally, Ngaire, Hans

Tova, Joe, Robyn, Ken, Ngaire, Sally - JD in front

Tova, Joe, Robyn, Ken, Ngaire, Sally - JD in front

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Shekhar our wonderful driver

Onwards to Darjeeling.

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Checked in to Krishna Residency and a plate of Singapore Chow Mein 80 rupees / NZ$1.70 / US$1.25 washed down with a cup of milk tea 25 rupees / NZ$0.50 / US$0.40.

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Happy Valley Tea Estate

Opposite the hotel was the 1,212 hectares Happy Valley Tea Estate.

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Being winter nothing was happening, just maintenance. To me it was run down.

“A bud and 2 leaves” ... a phrase that I have heard many times in Sri Lanka when I saw their tea industry….

  • Leaves mainly picked mainly in March and April.
  • Spring is the first flush and strongest to the fourth flush or weakest.
  • Withering to remove excess moisture – 60/70 %
  • Rolling
  • Blowing at 32C
  • Oxidation drying 115C 98% DRY NOW
  • White best
  • Green and finally
  • Black tea.

Happy Valley Tea Estate (Bengali: হ্যাপি ভ্যালি চা বাগান) is a tea garden in Darjeeling district in the Indian state of West Bengal. Established in 1854, it is Darjeeling's second oldest tea estate. Spread over 177 hectares (440 acres), it is situated at a height of 2,100 metres (6,900ft) above sea level, 3 kilometres / 1.9mile north of Darjeeling, and employs more than 1500 people.

The bushes in the garden are very old — the minimum age is 80 years, and some are 150 years old. Very little re-plantation has been done in the recent past. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Valley_Tea_Estate

https://www.happyvalleytea.com/

https://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_000025.htm

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Ngaire

Ngaire

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Robyn, Joe, Tova, Ngaire

Robyn, Joe, Tova, Ngaire

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From the top of the tea planation I waited for the group and took this sun set sequence.

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A local had lit on the roadside this small fire.

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Took an evening orientation tour of the town which was essentially a walk through the roadside market stalls and shops.

Potent parcels of areca nuts, lime and tobacco wrapped in a betel leaf

Potent parcels of areca nuts, lime and tobacco wrapped in a betel leaf

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Dinner back at the hotel and for another 80 rupees / NZ$1.70 / US$1.25 Singapore Fried rice came out. Milk tea 25 rupees / NZ$.50 / US$0.40

In hindsight we should have had something to eat at the market! The food at Krishna Residency was not good at all throughout our whole stay!!! Without going back into town there was no nearby alternative.

Posted by bruceontour 01:55 Archived in India Tagged sunset tea_planation Comments (0)

“Beach Beach” ~ Chowpathy Beach

Sunset - Now which ones for my photobook?

Chowpathy in Hindi means Beach so it’s “Beach Beach”.

Was told the people down at the beach are mainly non Mumbaians.

Why is it famous in Mumbai? Besides located in the heart of the city, it is popular for its local delicacies which I enjoyed last night on the Street Food Tour. Plus tonight watching the glorious orange sun drop between the distant buildings is a sight worth seeing especially trying to capture the locals and tourists providing the foreground subject!

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How quickly the sun sets! Just a short 25 minutes from the first to last photo taken in this sequence.

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This beach is a retreat from a tedious routine for many as people of all age-groups come to relax after a long, tiring day. The sea though polluted, with its long stretch of white sand is a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the city where one can experience the peaceful and serene atmosphere. Beach vendors selling balloons, toys and local dishes such as spicy raw mango, roasted peanuts and Mumbai fast-food (or chaats).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girgaum_Chowpatty

https://www.mumbai.org.uk/marine-drive/chowpatty-beach.html

Posted by bruceontour 12:35 Archived in India Tagged sunset beach Comments (0)

Row Row your boat gently down the stream

Day 13 Periyār Sanctuary > Alleppey > Kerala Backwaters

No morning music as like the wake up call as back in Madurai so that was certainly a real blessing in disguise.

Another bags out by 7am / 07:00 before a hotel breakfast 175 rupee / NZ$3.70 / US$2.70 and leaving at 8am for the guided spice plantation visit in the nearby Cardamom Hills. Similar to the one that I saw in Zanzibar and Sri Lanka. Learnt a bit more about spice of this region.
- 75% world’s cardamom grown in this district. 40 days till harvest.
- Clove harvested annually. Red Clove better quality, black / brown second and most available.
- 100 different varieties of bananas of which 50 are in Kerala.
- Pepper – the same plant produces green (Dec), Black Feb and March and white April / May
- Turmeric used in all (many) recipes. An antiseptic, anti cancer. Mix honey and water.

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Huge lemon

Huge lemon

Cardamom

Cardamom

Pipe cleaner

Pipe cleaner

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Bolivia Flower

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Clove

Clove

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Pepper

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Cocoa

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Cocoa

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Bleeding heart

Bleeding heart

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Passionfruit

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Candy flower

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Pineapple

Pineapple

Orchid

Orchid

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Rajesh - our driver and Augustan his trusty side kick

Rajesh - our driver and Augustan his trusty side kick

A chai stop for 20 rupees/ NZ$0.40 / US$0.30 part way along the journey at Mariya Family Restaurant broke the 4 hour trip and was a welcome break and leg stretch .

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Then onwards and downwards along the twisting hilly roads passing tea and rubber plantations towards the Kerala backwaters.

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Tea plantation

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Rubber trees

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Called another Venice of the east I can easily see how this area deserves this title.

A transfer by small dugout across to the island where the group was shared between 3 houses for our overnight homestay.

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Typical Kerela lunch, dinner and breakfast is to be provided and lunch was no exception featuring the small local fish. A short siesta with chai at 3.45pm before leaving at 4pm for the walk.

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Explored the island with Thomas, a local person who as we walked along the island path under the palm trees, weaving in between the rice fields that cover the island, learnt plus observed more about the lifestyles of the locals.
- The former spice boats were converted into house boats 25 years ago.
- 90% are Indian or domestic tourist who comes all year round.
- 10% are foreign tourists who mainly come December to February being their winter.
- 3 – 5 crew and travels the 20 kms.
- A single room cost 10,000 to 12,000 rupees rupees/ NZ$210 - 250 / US$155 - 190 a night.
- 21C has been the LOWEST recorded temperature at night.
- Two seasons here – 6 months summer and 6 months monsoon.
- Best months Dec to May with just 3 mm rainfall.
- Many islands are 1.5 metre BELOW sea level meaning they need to be pumped out.
- 1,000 sq km has been man made.
- Rice and coconut main crops grown.
- Backwaters means “Back of the Seas”.

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Local tody is sold here

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Prem

Prem

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Ducks

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Denise

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Thomas

Thomas

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cashew nuts

cashew nuts

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Local ferry

Local ferry

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School children were going home, the house boats passing, local ferry for the school children and another one for the locals crossing canals — it was a great opportunity to see the people go about their normal way of life in this unique peaceful location.

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Prem

Prem

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After a hard day's work fishing, these 3 guys could well be enjoying a local alcoholic tody on board their dugout.

After a hard day's work fishing, these 3 guys could well be enjoying a local alcoholic tody on board their dugout.

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Pump to lift the water from the rice paddy fields up to the backwater

Pump to lift the water from the rice paddy fields up to the backwater

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It certainly reminded me of last year's experience on Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, the peacefulness broken by the sounds of the bird life and the motor of the engine of the passing Kerela house boats.

Just before sunset, stopped for a while to enjoy the golden sunset as it slowly descended on the winding backwaters over the rice paddy fields.

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Kingfisher

Kingfisher

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By now the sun had well and truly set as we boarded 2 dug outs and slowly made your way back to our home stay. "Row Row your boat gently down the stream" was suggested that we sing in reply to a couple of songs sung by the Indian crew but we declined. It was really peaceful being propelled by human effort. Both dugouts rafted together and at the rear the 2 guys used their single oar moving us along the canal with singing and preaching coming from a canal side church ended this part of the evening.

Sophia, Marina, Nina, Prem, Theresa, Henry

Sophia, Marina, Nina, Prem, Theresa, Henry

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Fruit bat

Fruit bat

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Dinner with afterwards a local toddy being an alcoholic drink made from coconut and then it was bed time under the cooling fan. A gap in the mesh meant mossies could enter and sure enough they did. I couldn't hear them but they were around despite the disturbed air circulation created by the ceiling fan.

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Posted by bruceontour 12:31 Archived in India Tagged sunset spices tea_plantation rubber_tree Comments (0)

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