The day in Kanyakumari was hot – really ridiculously hot – I tried to spend the day outside but the hotel lobby had AC and comfy seats so we just sat and talked and drank water. Aside from the market and the scene in the town – the find of the day was the sweet banana dosa café – a dosa is like a huge pancake – sugary sliced banana inside and coconut milk – for some reason they also insist on hot curried sauces – this is what the locals do – no way for me. A lot of our group go to this place – about 10 have left so far – 18 of us will go back to the beach at Kovalem to get some last tanning done – then depart – it’s basically 60 hours of varying goodbyes – mine is somewhere in the middle.
Back in Kovalem ( I forgot to mention a few days back – this place was a serious victim of the Tsunami a few years back – but has been rebuilt and recovered well) I say a few farewells – to Ken, Barbie, my team mate Rod who got kicked out of his room due to 100 schoolgirls descending on our hotel so slept in my hallway (it was pretty romantic), Stephanie is off to get married Indian style in Delhi, Bernie and Beryl who I will see in England in a few weeks, Mika – the lovely Japanese San Fran lady, Swiss Erik the napping mountain man, Roommate Rob and Lorry, The Blonde Ladies – Anna and Eva – who kindly bought me a great fish lunch today on the beach, James and Anna – we helped each other get pretty drunk last night on the hotel roof at sunset – the drink was called ‘6000 – Super Strong Beer’ – thanks India for crazily named beers (managed to get about 15 others involved too – good work again – thanks for the dinner James!), Jo and Edwina, Maureen (lunch truck legend) and Victor, Victor, Erik and Morgan of course, Michelene – what a lovely lady – the cool staff – the list goes on – it’s sad saying goodbye but I’m so ready for home now – I need to get back to normality once more – you get pretty tired living out of a backpack and being on the move. My Bike box is ready – the gifts are bought and packed – all my clothes are donated – I will be saving one non lycra outfit to fly in however – the taxi booked for 1am – the alarm set for 12.30 – my Bidi days are over – no beers tonight – trying to get a little sleep before the 5am flight to Qatar – 5 hours transit then off to chilly London where hopefully my dad is picking me up.
The Movements of India –
Cow movements – always go behind a cow as they rarely reverse,
Bus movements – get the hell out of their way – they will mow you down,
Dog movements – peddle fast and shout at them – they want to bite you,
Camel movements – they go slow and are predictable – but give a wide birth
Motorcycle movements – listen for a high pitched horn but stand your ground – they will back off most of the time
Kids movements – shout ‘Hello, How are you’ – or ‘Where are you going?’ to them before they do it to you – when passing schools always wave and give the kids high fives – tip– remember to sanitise your hands after as they wipe their backsides with left hands
Elephant movements – stay away from all wild animals at all times
Bowel movements – we all had a lovely time here
Tuk Tuk movements – grab a side bar and cadge a free ride – especially on climbs
Busy City Traffic Movements – get right in the middle and keep the same speed – look everywhere – expect bruises and minor squeezes – shout a lot – the bell is useless
Monkey movements – don’t go near them – they look cute but want your food – their eyes glow in the dark and they are evil- not to be trusted
Road Worker movements – the road workers are mostly women – they make the road worse and are responsible for the remaining tar on my bike – the best roads in India are absolute shit – it’s a crappy job they do – and they do a crap job
So my summary of this trip then – where do you start?
Actually the drivers in India are good – you need a huge amount of skill and bravery to get through a one inch gap at 70k/h – it’s ridiculous but it works. The people are kind and honest – just curious about us. The food is great – the service needs refinement – the paperwork is painful – the system is frustrating – the pace is slow – the streets are dirty – the people work hard – the bars are all dark and underground – the tourists are few – the scenery is crazy and stunning – they have everything but nothing here – they just need to learn how to do it properly.
So from the Taj Mahal at the start– the deserts and palaces of Rajasthan – the forts and the castles – the crazy long climbs – the Ghats and temples – the fast dangerous descents – the awful sand and rock days – Morgans 3 wheeled adventure – the hand bike giveaway in Mumbai – the accidents and incidents – the big cities – the medieval towns – the Dams – the Rivers – the Oceans – the mountains – the heat – the broken bikes – the falling down the stairs – the bus rides – the drinking – the Bidi smoking – the eating – the parties – the flowers – the Russians of Goa – The Lassi – the prawns – the fish – the English drinking partner arrival in Mumbai – the coffee –the illness we all had sometimes – the chai – the swimming pools – broken chain on day 2 – 4 punctures – losing stuff – laundry – lack of toilet paper – stinky streets –the exhaustion – 5am wailing – snoring – orange tape – getting lost – the luxury – the dumps we stayed in – the bed bugs – the lunch truck – unpronounceable names – the shaking heads – the bloody bag system – the daily 5.30 alarms – the wildlife – the plantations – the shopping – the frustrations – the bloody 195k day – the White Mischief vodka – he snake man – the Indian Wine – the jungle lodges – the truckers in our beds – tuk tuks – the buffets – the old riders – the new riders – the mosquitos – the final emotional ride – the fitness – the 75 year old riders – the weight loss – the staff – the drivers – the water park – the shouting – the horns – the staring…… – it’s a crazy long list – it’s been a real adventure.
The best part for me – aside from the riding – has been this great and diverse group – we all got along so well – 2 months is a long time and sometimes people can really get on your nerves – this group tick along fine – we all helped each other – we all got along – we all had fun – good and bad – who cares if you had a bad day – there’s always someone to eat or share a beer with here.
I would recommend this tour to anyone – there will probably be just a few changes next year – but good ones I think – the TDA did well for a first tour – I would do another one day – somewhere else – maybe – let’s see – most of the guys on my tour were over 55 – an amazing feat – took me by surprise – wonder if I’ll be doing this when I get to that age?
Over and out – time for a clean bed – some probable last minute paperwork at the airport tomorrow with a bike – delays – heat – a curry on the plane – no upgrades – the family from hell next to me – Qatar Duty Free – raining in London – it will be good to get home…… Off to Belgium next week with 3 mates – Tour of Flanders 3 day cycling/Stella Artois Tour trip – great to get on the road bike again. I will be working at some stage soon too…..
22/3/2011 – Last minute update from Qatar (5 hour transfer) – nightmare at the airport this morning – bike box too big but managed to talk them down – had to pay a whopping baggage excess of £300 – yes THREE HUNDRED POUNDS – for my bike – credits and debit cards not working in their machine – the airports one ATM was broken – luckily I had £350 in cash – which I had to change up at a truly extortionate rate of 60 (usually 73) – and pay the bloody bill – only took an hour and a half at the desk – then I go through – still got £40 in rupees – can’t change them back so end up buying duty frees – you gotta love India – I’m not even sure the bike is worth £300 in its current state – at least I got a legroom seat – watched The Kings Speech – free internet at Qatar – better not fall asleep and miss my transfer – and the bloody bike better be there! Now – I wonder if they take rupees here…..
If you want to read the TDA blog – see some more photos etc. and Henrys words on the elephant – check http://www.tourdafrique.com/tours/indianadventure/blog
This will be the last blog – hope you enjoyed it – I hope to keep in touch with a lot of people I met here and plan a family trip to Canada in the near future – great trip guys – no more Bidi’s or Kingfisher – see you one day maybe…..
Clive – firstname.lastname@example.org