Name: Rickshaw Rampage
Destination: Kannyakumari, India
Distance: 3,750 kms (2,340 miles)
Vehicles: Auto-rickshaws 125cc
Does your monkey speak Tamil?
Kerala was high on our list of expectations and didn’t disappoint. The landscape had changed to lush green plantations, and winding jungle tracks.
We had a tour of a plantation where we ate grilled corn on the cob. For pudding there was coconuts, mangoes, bananas, star fruit and custard apples. It was all washed down with a palm leaf full of fizzy tree sap. It tasted like a cross between cheap sparkling wine and bleach.
After we’d consumed the equivalent of one year’s “five-a-day” we travelled onwards in to the hills. Some locals were swimming and bathing under a cool waterfall. Excitedly we parked up the rickshaws and bounded down to the river before unceremoniously throwing ourselves in. It was so refreshing and the closest thing to a bath we’d had since leaving.
A monkey appeared. Followed by another. There was a slow realisation that there were in fact hundreds of pairs of eyes peering at us from the trees. The more we paid attention the more things got a bit weird. There was a the monkey sat on a rock reading a book. Someone reached for camera and zoomed in.
“You won’t believe this!”
“That monkey is reading “Learn Tamil in 30 days”.
“What?! That’s mine!”
Another monkey was tucking in to a packet of biscuits while another seemed to be clutching a necklace. The monkeys, we realised, were systematically looting the rickshaws that we had naively left unattended. If only we’d caught on camera the moment Ed from Team Ring of Fire got back in to his rickshaw to find a monkey peering at him from the back seat – he almost jumped clean through the roof.
Later that day Team Curry in a Hurry actually did manage that exact feat after performing an unscheduled somersault in to the jungle. Emerging amazingly unscathed apart from a missing windscreen.
Team Raj meanwhile uppped the ante with a rally ending crash. They took on a rock face and lost. The front wheel of their rickshaw had ended up inside the driver’s compartment. In times like that a cup of tea is in order. With India producing more tea than China we were expecting an epic cuppa. The local style though took a bit of getting used to.
Instead of water they used hot milk and instead of one sugar they used an entire cane field. It looked a bit like Ready Brek and tasted a lot like sugar with some hot milk in it. Curiously the Baywatch Coffee Shoppee offered a “home delivery tickle”. Sounded great but we never had time to try it.
With the sugary paste welding our jaws shut we climbed back in to the rickshaws for the final push to Kanyakumari, our final destination and closing party.