Another day, more travel. Thank heavens for air con! We set off from Billimora at high speed, with true Indian style driving
. After an hour or so we stopped for a McCafe at a nearby McDonald's (not burgers or chips for us).
Refreshed we climbed back in the car and drove and drove and drove into the heart of rural India. To see a patch of land. This plot could soon become the centre of the Mudo in India. Keep your eyes peeled!
On the way back we were provided with Golili, which to the untrained eye is a peeled fruit. The instructions we received were to peel the pith like skin off the golili before eating. At this point imagine trying to peel a very difficult jelly filled with sugar water! Now add to this travelling on an uneven road at 60kmh, in confined spaces. No one was spared!
On the outskirts of Mumbai we stopped for lunch. In an interesting restaurant with on floor seating, Korean style! Master Ron ordered Hannah a pizza after the golili disaster. Needless to say she spoke very little once it arrived.
A little more driving brought us to the centre of Mumbai, to the Lord's Hotel (anyone else get the cricket reference?). We were greeted by a member of Congress who brought flowers for Grand Master Kim and Master Hannah.
Tomorrow we start the first of 3 seminars here in Mumbai. Check back to see what we get up to!
Today we drove to have breakfast at the only coffee shop in Billimora, which happened to be next to a beautiful Hindu temple. It was very peaceful and we met lots of people who were interested in our presence at their temple. Maybe we will have encouraged a few people to join the Mudo Academy. Despite the traditional aesthetic Master Ron was fascinated by an electronically operated drum, used to summon people to prayer. 1.4million people in the area and no one can play a drum!
Then we drove for hours, through a countryside diversion to Museum 241, better known as the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial, which was the end destination of Ghandi's peaceful protest.
It was a 24 statue mural depicting an event of each day of the march. There were also 80 statues, depicting Ghandi and those who accompanied him on the whole 241 mile march.
Our arrival did not go unnoticed and the manager of the museum invited to sign the visitors book. Where Grand Master Kim spoke about the unique heroism of Ghandi, who fought and won without bloodshed.
The museum is ran by volunteers and powered by solar energy, in keeping with Ghandi's philosophy. It was a very humbling and thought provoking experience and we are very grateful our hosts brought us to this memorial and shared the experience.
Before setting off home we stopped at the beach but Master Kim thought it looked suspiciously like Blackpool so we left to get lunch.
In the evening we were invited for a meal at the home of our hosts. A home cooked thank you. We leave Billimora tomorrow and would like to offer our thanks and extended friendship to Master D Mistry and Master S Mistry.
Tomorrow we head to Mumbai. See you there!
Midnight Mangoes! Read on for a better explanation.
Last nights sleeper train saw us arrive in Gujarat a little after midnight. Where we were greeted by a large welcoming committee. We then were chauffeured to Billimora, the Manchester of India, which is a mere 4 hours from Mumbai... In the middle of nowhere.
At this point our hotel was a glistening beacon of rest, not that we Could figure out the plumbing!
Rested and refreshed we headed further out of town to the Dojang of Masters Darmendra and Sanjay Mistry. The floor was full of willing Martial Artists from Taekwondo and karate alike. After a home cooked breakfast at their attached house, we headed into the Dojang to a traditional Gujarati welcome.
Festooned with flowers and red dots on our foreheads the seminar got underway. Master Kim Jihyun, with a little help from Master Hannah, taught the basics of breathing control in the Martial Art. Their double act was definitely well received as during the break they were asked for maybe 100 photos!
The spirit in the room was inspiring and despite the heat the effort was immense. As the training drew to a close Master Mistry invited parents of students onto the stage to share their thoughts, which was an interesting addition to proceedings. Next came the official post seminar photo, which is always a great exercise in organisation and Indian seminar photos did not disappoint, everyone say "Chippatti"!
It took a further hour to leave the Dojang with everyone wanting pictures or to speak to us all. A very brave lady black belt handed her 5 month old son to Master Hannah so she could take a selfie of them all! For those of you who know Hannah, no she did not drop the baby!
After a fantastic lunch and rest we climbed back into our uniforms for another seminar in Navasri, only an hours drive away. The facility was a brand new sports complex built to bring sporting opportunities to the poorer community, including a new Mudo club.
Attendees received an introduction to the Mudo philosophy from Master Ron Brennan, translated by Master Jai Gohail (Mumbai Mudo Academy), a demonstration from Master Hannah and a lesson from Master Kim Jihyun. Who then watched their celebratory ice creams melt as they took another million photos.
Master Ron continued to do his bit for international relations by comparing the facility manager and gureyo 2nd Dan to Donald Trump! It took a round of darts to smooth thing over, but with no beer it wasn't quite the same. After an introduction to darts Master Kim Jihyun showed us how to wield a badminton raquet and with Master Ron as his double partner, lost to an Indian man whose game we'd crashed. Finally, we were treated to a yoga demonstration.
Now for the mangoes. In this area Mangoes are only on sale on the highway. So we drove an hour away from Billimora towards Mumbai looking for a mango stall. The stalls were all on the other side of the road and quite unlike the man carrying a tray of drinks across all 6 lanes, we couldn't hop over the central reservation. Indomitable spirit prevailed and after 90mins and some creative driving we were the proud purchasers of 6 mangoes and some grapes and oranges. The fruit salad for supper was amazing!
But now it's midnight and time for bed.
We left Chennai this morning and were waved off by Master Navaneeth and Shijo. Ready to take Gujarat by storm. The space time continuum of India had other ideas.
First step a flight to Mumbai. Master Kim Yong Ho and Master Kim Jihyun got on their flight and Master Ron and Master Hannah were on the flight an hour later. The plan was to all arrive at the same airport and get a second flight from Mumbai to Gujarat together.
However, the travel gods had other ideas as Ron and Hannah had their flight delayed one hour as airport security checked every nook and cranny of the plane for a rogue bag! So we arrived at terminal 2 of Mumbai Airport with a whopping 6mins to claim our luggage, locate Master Kim (who had the tickets for the 2nd flight), clear security and board. Needless to say, no amount of Martial Arts fortitude could achieve this, especially in the face of Indian airport security.
Every cloud has a silver lining though and we all still have our luggage (for now). So luggage in hand we set off to find Master Kim who was waiting for us at gate 2, Mumbai Airport, terminal 1...which some of you will have noticed was not where we were! Which was relayed to us by a bewildered security officer sporting a Freddie Mercury moustache.
Undeterred we got an uber to terminal 1, the movie of which "wacky races: Mumbai nights" is now showing in imaginary cinemas near you! At the time we were supposed to be landing in Gujarat we reconnected with Master Kim Yong Ho and Master Kim Jihyun, who had taken refuge in the nearest Starbucks (other brands available).
Upon arrival we were informed there were no more flights to Gujarat til Thursday. The wheels of the Mudo started to turn and Master Jai booked us on the 9:30pm train to Gujarat. Time to see if 2 English people and 2 Korean people can book a taxi to an unspecified train station in Mumbai, with a taxi booking - man who only speaks Hindi.
Success! 4 Masters, 4 suit cases and 1 driver folded themselves origami style into a suzuki swift and raced across the city to Central Station, in rush hour, across a lengthy bridge!
We arrived at the station altogether and met a student of the Mumbai Mudo Academy who had secured our tickets and bought us a drink. I'll stop this entry here. But if the train ride is as eventful as the rest of the days travel maybe there will be an epilogue to follow!
Today was our last full day in Chennai. Master Navaneeth and Shijo took us to see the St Thomas Temple, where you can see out over Chennai. It was fantastic to see part of the diverse cultural make up. Whilst we were there Hannah was stopped by some people who wanted to take her photo. Perhaps they had mistaken her for a celebrity.
In the car on the way back we continued Master Kim Jihyun's cricket education (aided by Wikipedia) and expanded our respective grasps of the multitude of languages spoken in the car.
Afterwards we went to a themed restaurant called Rock, which was aptly designed to look like a cave. After more excellent food, including a smoking hot brownie, we received more words of wisdom before heading off to bed.
Ready for an adventure navigating an internal flight to Gujarat via Mumbai, totally unsupervised! Wish us luck!
Today started well, with doughnuts and cake offered on the breakfast buffet!
We headed back to the dojang for another 5 hours of training. It started well with us all getting stuck in a very small lift, between the 2nd and 3rd floor and the only option to get it moving was to turn it off and back on again. From now one we will take the stairs; whatever the heat!
Once safe from potentially slow roasting in a lift and into a luxury air conditioned dojang, Master Kim Jihyun and Hannah started with basic training, Master Ron explained the process of a Mudo festival and then taught Jung Shin and Chung Nyum. After which Grand Master Kim Yong Ho taught self defence. It was excellent training and education but very hard work in the 40degree heat.
Afterwards we recovered with a cup of tea, complete with a "steep timer". Needless to say Hannah was very happy to partake in this Indian tea ceremony.
This evening we met the family of Master Navaneeth, who has been looking after us since we arrived. Over dinner we were educated in the art of taking a large group selfie and discussed the cricket final which was on TV. Master Kim Jihyun is now trying to learn the rules to cricket, but he keeps comparing it to baseball!
The lights in the hotel are refusing to turn back on and the WiFi is on strike, so I suppose the only thing left to do is sleep! Hopefully the hotel will have returned to full power by morning
Today we trained with members of the Mudo Academy in Chennai. 5 hours covering basic technique, self defence, speed training and Jung Shim AND Jung Eui. It was fantastic! The students earned Hannah's respect by ordering a dominios pizza delivery to the dojang for after the session (not that she got any).
Instead went to experience iced tea, Indian style.
Rested and refreshed we headed to Buhari restaurant for tea, where Master Kim Jihyun was sacked from his unofficial role, as Hannah's taste tester, after he was bested by a spicy sauce.
Being driven through Chennai at night is an experience we would recommend to everyone. The traffic moves in an almost balletic fashion, if that ballet was re-enacting the Wacky Races! Tonight's sightings included a man sat on some tyres on the back of a truck, a motorcyclist in flip flops balancing a box for delivery and a man who appeared to be napping on the central reservation.
Check back tomorrow to see how seminar number 2 goes!
Travel broadens the mind (and the ankles). Master Ron and Master Hannah are travelling to India to represent Kim Chung Do Kwan at a World Mudo Academy educational seminar series, supporting Grand Master Kim Yong Ho and Master Kim Jihyun.
The journey was a test of our Martial Artistry to say the least, starting with a quick train change at Doncaster where we had 4 minutes to disembark, navigate and cross a bustling station and catch our connection. Needless to say years of fast footwork drills came to the fore.
This followed by some extreme concentration on the tube saw us arrive at Heathrow a mere 4 hours early. Which meant there was time for pizza and dessert!
Getting to Delhi proved straightforward. However, our plane landed at 11.25 and check in for the connecting flight was 11.30, which most definitely didn't allow for time being scanned or clearing immigration.
Fortunately, customer service were waiting for us by the plane exit to whisk us through to our connection. A feat made easier by Master Ron not having any knives stowed in his hand luggage! We were marched (at speed) through the glamorous staff corridors of Delhi Airport!
After nearly 37 hours on the go we arrived at Chennai and were greeted by Master Naveneeth, who reunited us with Grand Master Kim Yong Ho and Master Kim Jihyun.
We went to a fantastic restaurant, where to Hannah's delight she got to watch cricket on the TV (which kept her quiet at least).
It's been a long 2 days and tomorrow the training starts. Check back for more news!