As the world has its eye on the 2012 Olympics, we watch a group of Gorkha schools racing, fighting and performing cultural dances in the Himalayas. The competition is no less fierce than it is in east London, but some of the events are surprising. Cock fighting, anyone?
As I heave myself on to the local ferry, camera slung over my shoulder, a group of kids lean over and shout ‘Which country? Which country?’.
‘England’, I reply, ‘but I live here now. I’ve been in Cochin for two years’. The children look puzzled until I add ‘I’m now Indian, India is my home. Look!’. I hold up my wrist next to theirs and joke ‘Same colour!’. The children burst into fits of giggles and I half smile, hoping I can convince them that India is indeed my home, at least for the moment.
[S02E02] Lonely Planet has this down as a must-do before you die, and having spent a couple of days on the backwaters of Allepey, we concur. This is a bird-watchers and fish-eaters paradise. We take a gentle motor through the backwaters, viewing sunken rice fields and people-watching the locals as they go about their business on the famous river banks of Kerala.
[S02E01] Finally, after a year’s absence! Welcome to the brand new followtheboat podcasts! In this first episode we take a nice, gentle stroll around Fort Cochin, the area in Kochi where the European adventurers settled after opening up trade routes between Asia and Europe. It’s a typically warm day so Liz hides under the shade of the tree-lined avenues, forever surrounded by the cawing of crows.
Our last blog post on our trip to Sikkim ends with a photo-montage of the Limboo people. As you read in our last post we spent some time with out guide, Perna, and his family. They reside in the village of Darap in an old house passed down through the generations. Perna lives in relative luxury with a TV in his room, but the main house is like something out the dark ages. We were privileged to be allowed to spend a morning with these gentle people, even more so that they patiently allowed us to snoop around their house and photograph them going about their daily chores, which was mainly drinking salted tea and cooking pop-corn.
Ever been to Shangri-la? We have. It’s alive and kicking in Sikkim. Almost anywhere in Sikkim, outside a large town or tourist area, will do. We found our lost horizon in Darap, near Pelling. Two hundred year old houses growing out of the side of the mountain in which tiny people and chickens share their home with you is not something that happens every day. An afternoon getting high on hooch in the Himalayas is something to remember.