Passage to India
Since I knew I was going to be in India for two weekends, I searched for bike rentals and/or guided bike trips. I talked with other US coworkers who had traveled to India to see what recommendations they would have. Most said that it wouldn't be advisable for me to explore alone on a rented bike, so I looked for guided bike rides. I found one through a company called Art of the Bicycle and reserved a spot while still in the US.
One the day of the ride, I needed to meet the guide in downtown Bangalore and had a hotel BMW take me there. I left the hotel at 7am Indian time and didn't get back to the hotel until 6:30pm. Long and worthwhile day. There were 4 paying riders, a leader riding with us and a driver following us with a van. The other riders were one lady who works for Cisco, one lady who works for Amazon and a local Indian who works as a concierge. He was riding so that he could give first hand recommendations about this ride to his guests. Here we are at the start of the ride:
My first two days of work meant that I was staying in the city. Bangalore is a very large city in both area and population. It was nice to get out of the city. This bike ride was out in the countryside and it was beautiful! We biked on village roads that were all paved - unlike rural Vermont where the back roads are dirt, all roads were paved. We saw a large reservoir, fields of sheep and rolling hills. Each village had a temple and there were many fruit stands on the street.
Here is the GPS data of exactly where I rode: Garmin Data. The average speed was very slow since we stopped and walked around the Big Banyan Tree - a tree that is over 3 acres! The branches spread out and drop to the ground and form new roots.
Our guide stopped along the road and showed us a tamarind tree. We grabbed a pod off the tree, opened it up and ate it. It was great! It tasted similar to a very tart green apple.
While biking through small villages, everyone would wave and children would run out to practice their English - "Hello", "Hi". I stopped at one group of children and handed out pencils. I had read that pencils are in demand so I asked Carly to donate some of hers. They were very excited to receive them:
After the ride, we all got back in the minivan (a Toyota Innova) and drove to lunch, silk city and toy city.
Channapatna is "toy city". There is a long history of making wooden toys. We actually got to take a tour of a toy factory. Most of the workers were young women. They all seemed to enjoy their work and they were good at it.
I wasn't too keen on the buttermilk and didn't try it. It is a typical spiced buttermilk. It had already seperated and you could see the spices floating in it:
We then began our long drive back to Bangalore. Along the way, we stopped along the road at one of the many roadside coconut stands. The vendor grabs his machete and hacks off the top of the coconut and you drink it. This isn't the typical brown coconut seen in the states, but a green one: