04 December 2008

CYCLING INDIA - Kunkeshwar to Arambol

20th November
Kunkeshwar - Malvan / Tarkarli (Day 14)

After our usual Indian breakfast (curry veg and bread), we set off up and down the hills again. It was a hot and sweaty ride but Amanda had renewed energy and zooted past me while I sat under a tree waiting for her. I did not even notice her going past and went back to the previous village looking for her. We stick out like sore thumbs here, so it’s easy to ask about her whereabouts. Locals told me she has already gone past, so off I went again, finding her not too far down the road. We reached Malvan just after lunch. Midway between Malvan and Targarli we found the most idyllic beach. A white sandy beach, palm trees, hammocks and lukewarm water. What a paradise! We rented a room at a “resort”, consisting of a property with only one room. The people were extremely friendly and offered to make us food, sold us beer and gave us snacks. So we sat on the beach watching the sunset and the fishermen pulling in their nets while drinking a beer. What more can a person ask for?

Malvan/Tarkarli - (day 15 & 16)

We spent two entire days, just lying around on the beach. This is truly a paradise. We ate, we walked on the beach, we lay in hammocks and floated in the ocean.

23 November
Malvan - Vengurla (day 17)

Just 4km down the road, we found a ferry to take us across yet another river. Needless to say, it was another hot and hilly day. Amanda claimed that she had to push her bike up 6 hills within 25 km. She also said that this was not for her and that she was going to take a bus. I’ve heard that many times already so I was sure she would be fine by morning. We found a room in Vengurla which was below all standards, but I took it as I feared Amanda was going to throw her bike in the ocean if we had to cycle up one more hill. There was obviously nothing wrong with the beds, because we’d hardly set foot in the room before Amanda was fast asleep. After her little nap, we bought a beer and sat on the beach drinking it.

24 November
Vengurla – Arambol (day 18)

We cycled at least 7km before we got to our first hill and then it was mostly downhill to where we found the ferry at Terakol. It was a short ferry ride across the river and about another 11km cycle to Arambol. We were a bit shocked at all the tourists and tourist trade in Arambol. Coming from a far more rural area, we were not so used to seeing tourists and all that goes with the tourist trade. It definitely has its upside as well, as there were many restaurants serving western food. I could do with a pizza or anything not curry! Amanda was in top form this day, she did not want to throw in the towel or dump her bike in the ocean - in fact, she did not even have her usual nap!! We found a shack directly behind the beach at Rp 200, which suited us just fine. It only had an outside toilet and shower but it appeared to have no bed bugs or other biting things. We are so bitten by what-so-ever by now, that we have invested in a can of insect killer which claims to have “laser fast” action.

CYCLING INDIA - Mumbai to Kunkeshwar

7 November
Mumbai - Alibag (day 1)

Our first day on the bike!! Amanda’s chain broke before we even rounded the first corner, so it was back to the bike shop again. I suspect they did not do such a good job with fitting the new derailleur. At last, we were on the ferry to Mandwa. Amanda must have been a nervous wreck but handled it well. At last, we were on our bikes and cycled the 20 km to Alibag. The going was very slow (10km per hour). Amanda’s back was sore by the time we reached Alibag, so we found a cheap room by the beach to rest for the night. The room was as basic as any African room but came with a sea view. We even had a swim, fully clothed (like the locals). The water was lukewarm. This is my type of ocean!! That evening we ate the most delicious food from the food stalls next to the ocean, which was jam-packed with locals all giving us a good stare.

8th November
Alibag - Murud (day 2)

Out first full day of cycling started with near disaster as we were hardly on our way when Amanda fell off her bike. Nothing serious but she was a little shaken. Her bike is still not a 100% and the gears are not working so well. Although it is very humid it’s beautiful weather for cycling. The scenery is fantastic as we followed the coastline to the South. After an about 45 km Amanda was feeling weak and she decided to take a tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) to Murud. Once there we looked for a camping spot on the beach but the tide comes in real high so there was not really a place to camp. In the end, we found an unofficial camping spot in someone’s yard. We also met a fellow cyclist from Hungary who camped with us.

9th November
Murud - Harihareshwar (day 3)

We cycled the short 5km to Janjira with its magnificent old fort, just off the coast, a 15 min sail by dhow. With Amanda having a fear of water, she waited at the harbour while I went to explore the fort. We took the 12h30 ferry across the river to Dighi and then carried on cycling. It was, however, only about 10km before Amanda stopped for the day and took a tuk-tuk again. She felt nauseous and weak, must be the heat or water. I carried on cycling until I reached Harihareshwar. The road is in real poor condition and with little steep up and downs. The hills together with the heat makes it a demanding ride for a novice, so maybe it was a good idea she took a lift.

10 November
Harihareshwar - Harnai (day 4)

So the drama continues!! From Harihareshwar in was about a 5km cycle to where we had to, yet again, get a ferry (poor Amanda’s nerves must be shot by now, and all that while she is not feeling well). Once across we asked around and it seems that there was no short cut to Kelshi. Amanda, feeling ill, decided to take a lift while I carried on to Kelshi. Once in Kelshi there was no sign of Amanda, who should have been there by then. As she did not overtake me along the way, I decided to carry on to Harnai. Once in Harnai there was still no sign of her so I decided to stay put. In the meantime, I found us a room. The owner’s son was kind enough to take me on his scooter back along the way I came, to see if we could find Amanda. We were hardly out of town when we spotted a rickshaw with bicycle sticking out.

Apparently, there was a short cut to Kelshi. Amanda took this way after not being able to find a lift. The short cut, however, involved a ferry crossing and a long walk along the sand. Amanda being really ill by then, was fortunate to find Gabor (the cyclist from Hungary) and the two of them managed to get a ride to Harnai.

11th November
Harnai (day 5)

We stayed an extra day in Harnai hoping that Amanda will get over her nausea. She spent the day sleeping and felt well enough by the evening to take a walk to the fish market. The market was a jumble of color and smells. Hundreds of boats arrived with their catch of the day and traders were eager to buy whatever was on offer.

12th November
Harnai - Guhagar (day 6)

Amanda felt well enough to cycle the 13 km to Dapoli. At Dapoli she got a local bus to Dabhol, where we had to get a ferry again. Needless to say, she was a real novelty on the bus. We arrived in Dabhol at about the same time and crossed over to Bankot. It was a hilly and hot ride to Guhagar. In Guhagar, we were lucky enough to find a camping spot behind a house/shop/restaurant, right on the beach. Everyone was very curious about us and we had a constant stream of visitors. Before supper, we swam in the luke warm water with the sun setting over the Arabian Sea. The owner prepared a real home cooked Thali for us.

13th November
Guhagar - Ganpatipule (day 7)

We woke with the sound of the sea in our ears. Before we left, we first had a home cooked breakfast. Amanda still felt nauseous and decided it was best to take a bus to Ganpatipule and have a rest there. Once again, she was a novelty with the locals taking pictures of her. I carried on cycling along the bad and hilly road. Once again, we arrived at about the same time. A misunderstanding lead to us each booking a room, so that night we each had our own room!! We hunted for ice cream, as Amanda has developed an ice cream craving (she who never eats ice cream). Once again, we tucked into the local cuisine. Amanda claims that everything, including the sodas, tastes of masala!!

14th November
Ganpatipule (day 8)

We stayed one more day in Ganpatipule. We visited the sea-side temple and lazed around on the beach. We also hoped that the rest will help Amanda’s nausea go away.

15th November
Ganpatipule - Ratnagiri (day 9)

The rest did Amanda the world of good. We cycled the entire 30km to Ratnagiri without Amanda taking a tuk-tuk. Once in Ratnagiri we decided to stay and take a bus to Kolhapur in the morning.

16th November
Kolhapur (day 10)

We took the bus to Kolhapur, which was a 4-hour bus ride. Once there we wandered around the Mahalaxmi Temple and old town. Then back to Ratnagiri to our hotel to get ready for the next mornings ride.

17th November
Ratnagiri - Nate (day 11)

We peddled along the road, with lots of short little lung-buster hills. Amanda was threatening to take a lift again, but none was available. I could hear her swearing in the background something about another $%^%$ hill again. On top of that, it started raining and we could not find a ferry across the river. We did, however, find a room - although Amanda said she would have to disinfect herself afterwards.

18th November
Nate - Devgath (day 12)

We started on a perfectly good road with English road signs and all, but then the road abruptly ended. We followed gravel roads up and down many hills, and half the time we had no clue where we were. We crossed over rivers with ferries of all shapes and sizes and everyone seemed to point us in a diffferent direction. Eventually we found a beach to camp on and have a swim. Amanda was dead tired after a hard day on the road and after a swim she fell asleep in her tent. Food is a bit of a problem when we camp in deserted places, as we have no stove with us. This is also not an area were one can find tinned food in the shops. However, people are very friendly and a lady in the village prepared us a meal. The meal was brought to us, still piping hot, by taxi - our own Mr. Delivery.

19th November
Devgarh Beach - Kunkeshwar (day 13)

We woke to a beautiful morning with dolphins playing in the ocean. One could immediately tell it was going to be a hot day. We left with the intention of cycling to Malvan, but after 20km Amanda was too tired to carry on. The heat and the hills really get to her. It was not only hot but also very humid so we were sweating buckets. We turned off at the first opportunity and found a room (with fan) in Kunkeshwar. At least Amanda could have a shower and rest under the ceiling fan for the remainder of the day. It was also a good opportunity to do some much needed laundry. Kunkeshwar is a tiny village consisting solely of a temple, a few restaurants, and a hotel. The temple was built around 1100 AD and has a wonderful location right on the beach. We sat on the beach watching the sunset and then returned for some good Indian food (not that we have any other option).


4 November

Disaster struck sooner than expected. On our arrival in Mumbai, we had to put the bike together as it was still in its box. Amanda knows even less about bike mechanics than me. After assembling the bike as best we could, she took it for a spin around the block. That's when disaster struck!! After just a few minutes, she came walking back up the road with a broken derailleur!! This is quite a disaster in a town where I have hardly ever seen a bike with gears. We spent the rest of the day wondering around Mumbai looking for a bike shop selling derailleurs, but to no avail.

5th November

We slept and slept and were woken by crows at 10h00. The search for a new derailleur was now on in all earnest. We were lucky enough to find a bike shop selling bike spares who had the part in stock, and who could fit it. The quality was little suspect but beggars can't be choosers. Therefore, we spent the entire day running back and forth to the bike shop. We were also given an opportunity to be extras in a movie and Amanda is still mad at me for refusing such an opportunity!! I was far to worried about her bike to even consider such an adventure.

6th November

With the bike fixed, we could enjoy Mumbai and did our own little walking tour of the area. We also took a boat to Elephanta Island with its cave temples. Amanda, being scared of water was very nervous, but made it there and back without totally loosing it. These rock-cut temples were established between 400 - 600 AD. The temples are dedicated to Shiva and many sculptures are cut in to the rock face.


Cape Town
South Africa

Back in Cape Town, it was pizza after pizza, braai after braai and copious bottles of red wine. I had my hair cut, went for a facial, had my legs waxed and my nails done!! What luxury!! Therefore, within a week I looked and felt nearly normal.

3rd Nov
Cape Town - Mumbai

Soon it was time to say good bye to my friends and family again. This time my sister Amanda decided to join me. The plan was that she would cycle along for 2 months. Amanda has never cycled long distance before and does not even like camping life, so watch this space!!