Friday, November 23, 2012

Some Musings on Thanksgiving Dinner 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner 2012

Deconstructed Malaysian Style


Cranberry Juice

Main Course

Tandoori Chicken Ala Jeffrey Saad

With Basmati Rice and Spicy Tomato Chutney


Matar Paneer

Oven Roasted Pumpkin with pumpkin pie spicing


Crème Brulee Ice Cream with Chocolate Cookies


Cold Water

Rolf Binder Hale’s 2010
Shiraz Barossa Valley (Australia)

The Back Story

Until recently, we hosted the annual extended family Thanksgiving Gathering.  Over the years up to 46 people gathered at our home in Raleigh, NC, USA.  The gathering included family, friends, and casual acquaintances.  Some of the friends and acquaintances became family.

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner in the USA varies greatly depending upon where you lived and your ethnic heritage.  My mother's family was originally of Swiss/German extraction and the dinner included sauerkraut, and horseradish infused Lime jello salad.  In our Thanksgiving tradition we quickly dropped the sauerkraut and jello salad, but added other items: matar paneer (adopted during one son's vegetarian phase), cranberry sauce with horseradish (sounded like a great NPR recipe), green bean curry (because it tasted so good), and homemade salsa (adopted from a friend's recipe while we were living in Arizona).  But the center piece of the dinner was always the turkey.  As our economic situation changed we migrated from frozen turkey to fresh, from one large to multiple small sized birds.  We always had a stuffing (and it was always stuffed in the bird, not cooked on the side).  Liz baked a pumpkin pie (which became less popular over the years as tastes (and waistlines) changed).  

Various friends and relatives contributed to the dinner:  some made yams cooked in a sweet sauce with marshmallows melted on top, others brought cookies, apple pies, a minced meat pie, various Chinese dishes, and other Asian dishes.  Everything was labeled so people with dietary restrictions could partake.  We always had peanut butter on hand for the occasional child whose palate did not include new and strange foods.

In later years, I learned to make Ice Cream (an obsession learned when visiting Hanoi early in the 21st century).  So ginger ice cream, coffee ice cream and East India Company spiced ice cream joined the mix. 

This all came to an end in 2010 with the last Thanksgiving Meal at the O'Sullivan-Hale household in Raleigh.  We retired shortly later and moved to Malaysia.  The USA dinner continued at a new venue a year later, but the geographical dispersion of the family  members with new nuclear families forming caused the tradition to end.  This is not sad, but the natural order of things.  Over the years five generations of family members celebrated with us.  

Uncle Brendan

Dad (Colin)
However in the new venue's some traditions continue.  Family members in Texas, USA are now making their own "strange cheese", and a grandson in Rochester, NY (USA) is learning the fine art of paneer making in the arms of his doting Uncle.  Other members of the family celebrate in Alexandria, VA, USA, Laurel, MD, USA, London, UK, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Bangsar, Malaysia 2012

In 2011, we invited my niece who was doing a gap semester in Seoul, Korea to come to Kuala Lumpur.  It was a busy time and we celebrate Thanksgiving by Skyping to Oregon and the family gathering in Maryland.  We ate at a local restaurant.  

This year I began looking for a method to make a Thanksgiving dinner.  We first looked for restaurants serving a Thanksgiving dinner.  We found one which would include a suite of rooms and a room service provided meal (it was only USD 600 for four people).  I wondered whom we could include who would share the room with us.  Another hotel offered a "Southern Thanksgiving Dinner" buffet.  The thought somewhat scared me, especially when one son opined that it probably included "Cream of Mushroom soup".

So I decided to evaluate my kitchen and determine how I could create a satisfying Thanksgiving Dinner.  I have an oven (a counter top overgrown toaster oven), and a small, work surface challenged environment.

My Oven

My Kitchen

My first choice was looking for a turkey breast.  All turkey in Malaysia comes from Australia, and are "liquid infused" birds.  However, they are "halal".  But the birds were too large for my limited baking environment.  I was not interested in deep frying my turkey, and potentially setting fire to my condo building.  Then I looked for turkey parts.  Frozen drumsticks are available, but no turkey breast.  This is somewhat puzzling, since no sliced meat  pork free substitutes (pastrami, salami, ham, and bacon are made from turkey) and freshly ground turkey meat is similarly unavailable.  What has happened to the missing breasts, thighs, wings, necks, and turkey feet?  Mystified, I decided to abandon turkey as the centerpiece of our dinner.

Using a roast chicken did not resonate with me.  If I was going to make a change it was going to be an Asian homage to a Thanksgiving dinner.  What were the elements I needed to include:  a meat centerpiece, a starch dish, a vegetable dish (matar paneer was the easy choice but its implementation is controversial within the family), a tomato salsa dish and a pumpkin pie dish.   So what did I come up with?

My spice infused mortar and pestle
The meat centerpiece was replaced with the Tandoori-style Chicken, basmati rice and spiced tomato chutney adopted from Jeffrey Saar's  Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders: 2012, Ballantine Books Trade Paperback Originals, New York, USA.  The rice is a beautiful yellow in colour, courtesy of turmeric (I used some turmeric produced by a woman's collective in Bhutan).  It did not have the sharp taste of the powder turmeric distributed in the USA.  Maybe I am overly critical as I have become accustomed to using fresh turmeric ground in my mortar and pestle.  The tomato chutney replaced the Arizona based tomato salsa.  It is sweet with a nice vinegar kick.  I used the red wine vinegar specified in the recipe, but an Asian rice wine would be nice substitute. 

A healthier and economic choice
The featured part of his dish was the chicken.  I do not like the chicken parts the local stores package.  The chicken meat is heavily infused with water.  Instead I chose a Japanese style of chicken, which is antibiotic free, and air dried.  I cut the chicken into  parts myself.  It is amazing how some little things are so different.  Butchering of chicken parts is different, with the thigh parts containing part of the back, and of course the feet are included.  I substituted "Gheeblend" for ghee.  It was both an economic and well as a health choice.  Real Ghee in Malaysia, at least at my "expensive" neighborhood store is exorbitantly priced, and the substitute must be better for my arteries.  Otherwise I followed the recipe.  Of course I had to transfer the chicken from the frying pan into a baking dish because I oven was too small.

The matar paneer was a violation of the family tradition.  I used a prepackaged version.  It was an adequate substitute but not the real thing.  Maybe next year.

I apologize to to Matar Paneer purists.

The roasted pumpkin was my own creation.  I had a half butternut squash in the refrigerator and had roasted pumpkin in an earlier recipe for pumpkin and potato curry.  As I was cutting up the pumpkin using my "Vietnamese peeler" I was thinking "what about dessert".  I added some butter, a stick of cinnamon, some freshly ground nutmeg (I needed to find a hammer to crack the shell before grating the nice interior nut), and some whole cloves. It was put into the oven while the chicken was resting.  About 20 minutes at 200 (375) was about right.

The final part of the meal were the nicely caramelized onions and red bell peppers in Jeffrey Saal's recipe.  They added both a colourful and a flavourful touch.  Again, I learned that colour and flavour can go hand in hand.

For service, I made a bed of the caramelized onion/pepper mixture, reconstructed the chicken from the parts, and added some fresh coriander.  A spritzer of fresh lime would have added some brightness to the dish.  Garlic coated Naan were originally included, but for the two of us it would have been overkill.

The wine was nice, and it got better as it breathed.  I always forget that step in serving wine, it really mellows with the exposure to air.  It probably could have used a few minutes in the fridge to take a bit of the warmth out of the wine.  A short note about wine in Malaysia. According to a report on the local news this AM, Malaysian excise taxes on alcoholic products is the second highest in the world: following Norway.  Given that "two-buck Chuck" would cost USD 10 here.

A nice cheap wine.

The dessert was nothing to write about.  Just straight out the store freezer and a bag of cookies.  I have given up on making ice cream here in Malaysia.  One we don't need the calories or cholesterol, the ingredients are expensive and UHT heat treated, and many of our friends to whom we would serve the ice cream are lactose intolerant.  Besides, the pricing of a compressor ice cream maker is 5 times that of the USA or UK.

The Aftermath

I am now reflecting on what I miss.  The deconstructed dinner does not easily lead to:  cold turkey sandwiches with Susan Stanberg's Mother's cranberry sauce,  Left over pan fried mashed potato cakes, nibbling on left over stuffing, and matar paneer at its best, a day later.  I miss cooking breakfast the next morning when I can serve pancakes without Liz objecting.  I miss walking with family on cool autumn days, and either organizing shopping trips to local potteries, visiting museums, going to the symphony, or attending ice hockey games with a group of 20.  I miss the hordes of people and actually I miss the feeling of solitude when everybody goes home.

Travel logistics for Kerala (and Mysore)

For our travel in India we have asked travel agencies to arrange a two person tour. This year we felt we could do the planning ourselves. In the end mostly because of laziness we asked a travel agency do the work. After surfing the web we contacted Envoy Tours and asked them to modify their standard Kerala tour. They hired our driver and city guides, booked hotels, and suggested extra activities.

To help individual travelers to Kerala and Karnaka this post comments on the travel agency, drivers, and guides. They were all excellent.

Travel Agency
Envoy Tours was the 3rd travel agency we have used in India. It was by far the best. Envoy sent a proposed program, so we could ask for adjustments (we asked for one hotel change and passed on an elephant ride).  The agency also found a driver and city guide for the Mysore portion of our trip.

All Indian travel agencies are not equal. A previous agency booked us into a Mysore hotel that lacked convenient public transportation into the city  For New Year's eve they booked us into hotel that charged USD29/person for a New Year's "party." It was highway robbery.The party was a buffet dinner held in the hotel's unheated (freezing) garage and the guests were charged for drinks including water! For more information on what can go wrong see our post India Travel Logistics.

We can't overstate how important a driver is. A good driver can make a trip virtually hassle free. He may meet you at the airport or your hotel, follows a flexible schedule, and goes where you want to go. In practice we let drivers set the time for a morning departure; they are better at estimating travel times between points. Our driver in Karnataka was Ravi and in Kerala Rajeel. Both were careful, managed congested traffic and winding roads capably, and scheduled rest breaks at places with clean toilets and inviting restaurants.The restaurants catered to travelers, but not necessarily tourists. We stopped at a one place that gave us an extensive menu. The waiter acknowledged most requests including one for stuffed tomatoes, with "don't have." Surprisingly stuffed tomatoes appeared - a yummy surprise. A limited inventory and more limited English made the restaurant memorable.

Rajeev Kumar
We spent 4 days with Ravi and 10 with Rajeel. Think about it - it is a lot of together time. Both men pointed out sites along the road, stopped for quick tours and commented on what we were seeing, e.g., in Karnataka signs had their English blacked out. Both drivers made sure that the hotel registrations went smoothly and they acted as translators for a few transactions. Along the way we had conversations and came to know a bit about each other's lives and families. We recommend both Ravi and Rajeel highly and hope that you can  book with them if you are traveling in the region. Ravi , who lives in Bangalore, may be booked through GL Tours & Travel and Rajeev can be hired through Envoy. Rejeev would prefer to be booked directly. If you leave a comment and I can send his mobile number. 

Tour Guides

In general we have found licensed Indian guides are quite good, but once again Envoy did an exceptional job. We had four guides who did far more than rattle off facts or, as is often the case in India, focus on the many gods and their relationships to each other. Unlike Northern Indian guides no shopping "opportunities" popped up on our journey

For one day - crowd management
In Mysore M.S. Raghunath "Ragu" made sure that we didn't get swept up in the Dasara crowds. I expected that the palace would be boring, after all we had seen it in January.  I was wrong.  Ragu focused on items that were important in the Dasara parade. He added similar depth to the other sites we visited. Raghunath can be contacted at

In Kovalam we met Ramesh Nair who took us to some sights in Tamal Nadu as well as Kerala. We had a lot of car time, which allowed for many interesting conversations over a wide range of topics, including the status of women (good). He said that he doesn't get bored because always learns new things from his clients. Our contribution - the naturalized Americans can change their name when they become citizens (thank you, Sandhya, for teaching us this.) Ramesh talked about the challenges of working on bus tours, making sure that passports aren't lost or luggage forgotten -  may be worse then chaperoning a bunch of teenagers. Ramesh can be reached at (the aa is not an error)

Sreeraj may have been our youngest guide ever. No problem - he was a committed environmentalist and studying to be a volunteer naturalist. He was invested in introducing us to Mummar. He was pleased to choose our lunch menu at a local restaurant and so were we. The piece of personal information that I enjoy was that he and his wife lived with his brother and his family and Sreeraj (I can't remember if grandparents were also in the house.) To keep piece television serials (which I think are similar to soap operas) and politics couldn't be discussed. He can be reached at

Our tour with Tomy Joseph was the shortest of the trip (3 hours); they were a packed 3 hours. We went aboard a Chinese fishnet. We were especially interested in the synagogue and Jew town. He was informative in describing what was in the synagogue and the status of the tiny Jewish community. You can reach Tomy at

In the Future

We were happy with all the arrangements - the only change we might have made was to stay at different beach at Kovalam, but then we found a small seafood restaurant and expressed a wish that we would see the staff again in the future. In a few cases the guide had to fill in an open schedule. In hindsight it isn't fair to put the burden of where to go on the guide and we would give more thought to what we want to see, e.g., contemporary art and markets. In some areas we may see if a travel agency can help us identify music or dance performances.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fort Cochin (Kochi)

Our last stop in Kerala was Fort Cochin.  The metro area is large and parts of the city are on various peninsulas and islands that are linked together by ferries and bridges. When we booked the tour we needed to choose where we wanted to stay; in Fort Cochin with the historical buildings and charm, or  Ernakulam.  However as we learned from our guides, a major portion of the population lives on Vypeen Island, and Vallarpadam Island just to the north.  The tourist maps show no streets there, but they are densely populated.  We chose to stay in Fort Cochin, and were booked into a heritage boutique hotel (Killian's) on Calvathy Road.  This was a good choice, not only was the hotel nice, the restaurant fantastic, and we could easily walk to most of the tourist sites.

As our trip came to a close, we need to descend from the Western Ghats.  The valleys were beautiful, and we had wonderful vistas to gaze at.  On several occasions I requested that the driver stop so I could get pictures.  We saw large waterfalls and wide valleys.  As we descended it got warmer and population density increased.  It was almost a shock when we encountered metro Kochi.  We had to skirt around the southern sided of the city and crossing private toll bridges (the list of exceptions to tolls was interesting starting with the President and Prime Minister of India, and including pensioners, police, etc.).

Western Ghats on descent to Kochi

Waterfall in Western Ghats

A view of the Western Ghats

Our driver had some difficulty finding the hotel, but had no problem with asking for directions.  Although he carried a smart phone all the time, he never seemed to use some of its advanced features.  We made arrangements for a representative of the tour company to meet us the following morning to follow-up on a refund due us (this was not a problem and our tour company was very accommodating).

After a quick rest (and shower) we began our exploration of Fort Cochin.  As always, I am enamored by ferries (Liz is not) and spent some time watching a ferry unload.  Cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and pedestrians are crammed on these boats.  Star Ferry in Hong Kong would be luxurious in comparison.  The massive amount of water exiting the backwaters joins the Arabian Sea.
Kochi Ferry

 It is so massive that only a small amount of sea water actually enters.  Tankers, freighters, and container ships enter and exit the harbour with regularity.

Chinese Nets at Fort Kochi

Fishermen mending their nets

Lining both sides of the strait are the Chinese fishing nets.  They take their name from the original designs brought to Kochi in the 14th century by traders. The technology has been enlarged and expanded by local fishermen.  On a Saturday afternoon, many families were walking along the waterfront and beach areas, vendors were selling an assortment of items (locally roasted nuts, ice cream, canned drinks, sliced fruit, toys, and novelties).  People willing pose for picture, and businessmen tried to attract our business (we stopped at a fish restaurant for a mid-afternoon drink of fresh lime and sparkling soda.  While we are careful with our selection of food and drinks in India, we do indulge somewhat, but no ice and bottled water only.

A vendor roasting nuts

We left the beach and wandered looking for dining choices, and searched for Sing Cheung Chili Sauce (Kolkota).  Liz found this sauce in Bhutan and has been on a quest to get more.  But while looking, I found Sriracha sauce, an essential for Vietnamese Pho.  It is unavailable in Malaysia.  You find things in strange places.

We ended up back in the hotel.  We had a delightful dinner in the open air restaurant, a grilled fish in banana leaf, some vegetables, and a nice pulao.  While local wine was on the menu we deferred instead for fresh lime and soda, and a local lager.  The rest of the time we spend sitting around the pool, catching up on the Internet.
People love to have their photo's taken

Yes, we are still in Fort Kochi
We love signs

The next morning we had breakfast (not good, not bad) with weak coffee.  I assisted the hotel staff to print my boarding passes (a tick in the wrong box caused all the problems), and waited for the travel agent representative to arrive.  Precisely on time, I met with him and we conducted our business quickly.  I have found in India, that people are very punctual.

We do not recommend this tour agent!!
A wall mural

After conducting our business we went for a walk, and I managed to get lost.  We ended up making a purchase of a blouse for Liz, that we needed to return for a size change.  Our guide for the afternoon assisted us in finding the store. Indian sizes can very greatly, but for accurate European sizing go to Fabindia.  There was a store in Fort Kochin, but we did not visit it. There are stores throughout the country, but main stores in New Delhi are fantastic with selection and sales assistance.  They even have international shipping assistance.

We visited the Chinese Fishing Nets, but this time got a good explanation, and walked out on the net structure, and saw the fishermen actually catching fish (only twice a day at high tide).  The catch was meager with the five workers sharing with the owner the proceeds from the catch.

Catch of the day
Working on the Chinese Nets
A seventy-five year old fisherman
 I think they also share the tips from posing for photos.  We then walked past the Portuguese bastion (one one of the original remains).  It is being renovated as the Indian Department of Revenue has vacated the premises.  Much of the historical beach area has been preserved, in part due to the presence of the Indian Navy.

A goat walking along the wall of a urban canal
Clothes are dried on all available services

St. Francis Church is a relic from the past.  First build by the Portuguese, and then converted to a Dutch Reformed Church, later converted to Anglican, and now Church of India.  It contains the original resting place for Vasco de Gama.  I know, you all remember Vasco de Gama from elementary school history classes.  Hanging above the nave are large panels of cloth attached to ropes going through holes in the walls.  These were early fans with people standing outside pulling on the ropes to cool the congregants.  On this Sunday afternoon, the church choir was rehearsing Christmas carols.

Little Flower Parish
Lunch before our tour
Yet another fish to be devoured

We then visited Jew Street, and the Synagogue.  The history of Judaism in Kerala is long, starting with migrants following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.  One group migrated to Kerala, were after a period of time were allowed to establish a Jewish Kingdom within his realm.  This lasted until the 15th century when the Portuguese in conjunction with a Sultanate destroyed them.  They were replaced with another European Jewish community.  The two communities did not recognize each other until recently as the Jewish population of Kerala has dropped to three families (9 individuals in the 70's and older).

Gate to the Synagogue
Our guide for Fort Kochi, Tomy

Our driver for Kerala, Rajeev
This was the end of our tour in Kerala, but we had several hours until our flight back to Kuala Lumpur.  We do not like hanging out in airports, especially prior to check in (in India the authorities generally do not allow access to the terminals until check-in begins.  So to waste time, the driver took us to the "largest mall" in Kochi.  As we approached he pointed out the line of cars waiting to enter the underground parking lot.  We joined the queue, and actually found a parking space.  The driver gave us 45 minutes to explore.  The interior was 5 stories, with various department stores.  Some sort of contest was being run at a TATA Nano exhibit.   They sell cars in shopping centres in India.  We wandered for a while, purchased nothing and met our driver (and  tour company agent) for our 45 minute trip to the airport.

The flight to Kuala Lumpur was a little late, but we arrived on time.  We disembarked, went through immigration, collected our luggage, passed customs and were in our taxi within 15-20 minutes of landing.

Our India trip is now over,  we will return in a year, after our trip to Sri Lanka in 2013.  But Laos is next in early 2013.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Party Boats on the Backwaters

On our journey through southern Kerala, we did many of the classic things:  went to the southern tip of the subcontinent, walked on the beaches of Kovalum, ate fish at a beach restaurant, had a massage (only one of us), cruised the backwaters of Kerala, visited a spice farm, a tea plantation, trekked for a short time, gathered (and fed) leeches, and saw wildlife.  We had a great time.

Our second stop (cruising the backwaters) lasted only one day, long enough for Liz but I could have used another day of chilling out.  For the uninitiated, a houseboat on the backwaters, is a rice barge, with a cabin covering the entire 15 of so metres of the boat.  They are powered by a small diesel engine, which goes putt-putt-putt.  They now have generators, wide screen TVs, sound systems, and A/C in the bedrooms, with hot water (at least in the sink).

A backwaters houseboat

We set out  from a dock near Alappuzha (Alleppey) cruising on a fresh water lake covered with floating islands of vegetation.  In many ways the backwaters are similar in scope with the many sounds inside of the outer banks of North Carolina, with the exception that they are fresh water due to the vast amount of water flowing from the Western Ghats. and only one narrow outlet to the Arabian Sea at Kochi.  The backwaters are shallow, and there are many raised canals feeding water into adjacent padi fields.  On the banks of the canals are  small villages, each with its own ferry docks.  Public transit is a ferry service (small covered boats).  We even passed a small political gathering on one of the docks, whether Congress Party of India, or the local communist party, I don't know which, but they rotate through government as our Republican and Democratic parties do.

Backwaters mass transit

Houses on the canal bank

After about an hour, we pulled up to the canal bank, and the crew of three prepared our lunch: rice, chapati, vegetables, and fried fish.  This was followed by fresh fruit.  After an hour or so we were underway.

Lunch is served

We cruised across the lake and pulled into a small village, with a thriving market.  Out stop was to choose our dinner.  The choices were seer fish, some fresh water fish and tiger prawns.  Four of these monsters weighed in at 750 grams.  We also purchased some hard candies to calm our throats.  Liz had a cold and had used an entire box of tissues in one day.  We re-boarded our houseboat, handed over our "catch of the day" and were off.

Our dinner

I was unprepared for what happened next.  As we cruised down a "grand canal" we began passing heavily laden, and populated single sex party boats.  These large houseboats had 20 to 30 young people "partying".  All I had to do was raise my camera and the noise got louder as the young men danced for our "enjoyment".  Two days later, I read in The Hindu, about a party boat which had burned to the waterline due to a short circuit in the engine room.  I recalled that all over our boat were fire extinguishers, so I guess the problem is not uncommon.

A small party

A local fisherman

Houseboats are not allowed to cruise after sundown.  At night the local fishermen take over, polling their longboats across the lakes and canals, with nets adrift.  The economy of the backwaters change at night.  We tied up along the bank and got off to wander.  We notice a boat 100 metres up the canal and set off to explore.  We encounter a Scottish retired couple who were spending 5 days on the backwaters.  We saw a storm brewing and turned go back.  A member of the crew was right behind us to make sure we did not get lost.  The storm got closer and closer, rain and wind caused the crew to lower curtains around the dining area to keep the water out.  A candle in a glass shrouded lamp was placed on the table.  Dinner was served.  I would have purchased a bottle to Karnataka grown wine, but the liquor stores in Kerala were a mob scene.  The driver indicated the wait would have been an hour or more.  He promised to take me to one later on our journey, but we both forgot.  We had already adjusted to life on the lake, and by 9 pm we were in our bed listening to the rolls of thunder and the sounds of rain.

Fishermen at dusk

Morning came early,  We had breakfast and cast off by 8 am.  We cruised by a lot of tied up houseboats, unseen the night before.  An hour later we pulled into 54r5hthe docks at the small village of  Kumarakon.  In a conversation with a previous guide, we learned this town had only 12 small shops and no real eateries.  We would be confined to the menu at our hotel, Abad Whispering Palms.  Located about 3 km from Kumarakon, on the banks of the backwaters (we had seen the hotel as cruising past).  A very nice room, Internet, swimming pool, gardens, local newspapers, and an uninteresting menu.  We were to see the same menu again in Kumily, but at least here they would take ala carte orders, rather than forcing us to eat a non-descript buffet (toned down to western tastes).

Our crew and houseboat

After lunch, and a nap we decided to wander down the road.  We passed many a "resort" hotel entrance from the road, but could not see the buildings.  At least the building are all one level and do not intrude architecturally, but their dominance does limit access to the lake shore.  We passed several B&B's, a local church (Kerala is 1/3 Christian (Catholic, Protestant, and Syrian Orthodox)), a mosque but no Hindu temples.  Life was abundant with children playing in the front yards of attractive bungalows, flower gardens, women chatting, and small businesses selling their wares.  The narrow road was traversed by tuk-tuks, buses, and dump trucks.  The next day the buses disappeared as the private bus services were on strike for higher fares.

A view of the pool at the Whispering Palms

Street scene

A child

Our driver was ready at 9 am, and off we were to the Western Ghats.