08 January 2009

CYCLING INDIA - Mangalore to Calicut

23rd December
Mangalore - Kappil Beach

Amanda was strong as an ox and we did good time. The road was fairly flat and the weather good. Disaster, however, struck again, as Ernest’s front tyre was so smooth it wore right through, causing yet another puncture. So after a few trips on the tuck-tuck back and forth to the village he had a new Indian tyre, and the wheel was fixed. We found a secluded beach where we could camp under the palm trees, while Ernest cooked supper for us.

24th December
Kappil Beach - Bekal

First, we stopped to inspect the Bekal Fort and then found a most fantastic beach resort. Although we’d only cycled 6km it did not take a lot of convincing before we decided to stay put for the night. The price was extremely high but it included three meals. We stayed in luxury-tented accommodation with bathroom and all. We spent the entrire day swimming, lying in the hammocks and just sitting around doing nothing (except some laundry, of course).

25th December
Bekal - Payyanur

We were really lazy and after a good breakfast, we continued down the road, looking for the famous backwaters and houseboats. However, as usual, there were plenty of road signs, which then abruptly ended, and no word of it was mentioned again. So we missed the turn-off and decided to find a room in Payyanur town. Ernest had to work on his bike again in the room, changing all the incorrectly placed spokes on the front rim which kept on breaking (after changing the hub with the help of a local “shop“ earlier in his travels).

26th December
Payyanur - Kannur

We left rather late as Ernest still had one last visit to the local bike shop. After 20km, we had our brunch stop. Most of the day’s km’s were done that afternoon in Kannur town in order to find the beach (local directions!). At last, we found a beach but it was not a place we could camp, instead we found a room at the Savoy Hotel (not quite what it sounds, but comfortable enough with TV & all). That evening we ate at a local diner, and as usual in the smaller towns, there was a power failure during the meal (at least the food was good and cheap, as usual).

27 December
Kannur - Payyoli

After breakfast, we saddled up again and headed further South. The road was fairly flat and the weather good. Once again we found an idyllic beach where we camped. However, our camp was near a large village, and we had loads of spectators, watching keenly from the moment we arrived - and then the word spread. Once Ernest lit the stove to start cooking, the women watched in amazement, that a man is doing the cooking while the women are just sitting around (the MSR stove itself could have been Apollo 11 due to the attention it attracted).

28th December
Payyoli - Calicut

This was not Amanda’s day, she puked again shortly after breakfast and was nearly knocked down by a bus. Shortly after that, she lost her camera bag off the bike and it was nearly flattened - it was a miracle Ernest retrieved it from the traffic undamaged. There is however no rest for the wicked, and we peddled on. Once we reached Calicut, we looked for a room. It was easier said than done. All the hotels were full but in the end, we found a room at Sasathapuri Hotel. A large room with four beds and TV. This is such luxury we did laundry, showered and repacked our bags.

29th December

Every day brings another challenge. We left at 8h30 and already the traffic was heavy. Ernest stopped to do shopping in the town, and before he caught up to us again he was squashed by a truck against a stationary bus. He escaped with hardly any injuries, but the truck drove over his back wheel, destroying the rim (his 3rd since leaving Cape Town). He had to take a tuck-truck back to a bike shop in the town - luckily he was carrying a spare rim. We then took another room for a further night in Calicut.

30th December
Calicut - NC Gardens Beach Resort

That morning we left much earlier than usual, just to try and get out of town before the traffic started. After about 10km we turned off the main road onto a secondary road, running next to the coast. We’d hardly started cycling, but Amanda spotted a Resort. Who are we to argue? We pulled in but found the price rather touristy. They however made a plan and put us all 3 in a tiny room with mattresses on the floor for less than half the price. We decided to stay for 2 nights, as it was a most magnificent place right on the beach with loads of palm trees. Ernest cooked supper again, and the next day he spent most of the day cleaning and servicing the bikes.