Amritsar to Udaipur………(and then my time in Gokarna)

at the Rat temple in Bikanir

at the Rat temple in Bikanir

at the Rat temple in Bikanir

Well hello all, and I apologise for the massive delay in writing this out, Ive been putting it off for a while, seems that once I do it the trip will be totally finished for me!

So then, the last well spelt blog page……..ha.

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=amritsar,+india&daddr=NH+15+to:Unknown+road+to:NH+15+to:Unknown+road+to:NH+65+to:NH+65+to:24.784241,73.487549+to:NH+76&geocode=FSqm4gEdAHN2BClVc55WqmQZOTF974TuW2Ci7g%3BFSyr1gEdXj93BA%3BFezL1wEdItpyBA%3BFQjXyQEdiLZnBA%3BFcR6qwEdVs5eBA%3BFTIXlwEdGIZdBA%3BFTqKigEdDlRdBA%3B%3BFWAOdwEdrsVkBA&hl=en&mra=dpe&mrcr=0&mrsp=7&sz=9&via=1,2,3,4,5,6,7&sll=24.789228,74.039612&sspn=0.96747,2.677917&ie=UTF8&ll=28.110749,76.333008&spn=7.515866,29.794922&z=6

We set off from amritsar in the cold drizzly weather that is more reminiscent of Kernow than India (you might have seen about it on the news), and started cycling down almost directly south through Punjab, which is a huge food producer for the nation, its so green and agricultural, although mostly rice paddies. It was a fairly mundane cycle along the massive flat plains, along good, but busy roads. It seems though that we werent meant to cycle this part of India, as once we had arrived in the town we had designated as stop for the night, we spent an hour an a half waitning around for a guy to ring seemingly the whole town, until he eventually he found us a relatively nice hotel, which served food, and also had a culture box! As there were three of us we had to draw straws to see who would kip of the floor. That night however, Jack seemd to have got what i had on the Pakistani side of Punjab, and was back and forth to the bog all night. Suffice to say he didnt really want to cycle that next day, and so me and jack sat around watching telly when the power was on, and reading/ playing sudoku (me anyway) whilst Rob had decided that he couldnt afford to hang around, and headed off again.

We enede up staying in that room for 4 days, as jack kept getting bouts of sickness, and eventually we decided it would be better and cheaper to just get a train to Bikaner, where Rob was now approaching. So early one morning we set off, firstly getting a bus to a nearby town with a train line, and then i went in and bought 2 tickets for us. This was a mission in itself, as there are numerous forms and stuff before you can even buy the ticket. That however was only the start of our troubles. On the ticket was scribbled the ominous symbols “W18”, which at the time i had no idea what they meant. I was told to return 5 hours later to confirm my tickets…..a little strange i thought, but whatever. So there i was 5 hours later, after queuing for 1 of those, only to be told that my ticket wasnt confirmed.

As i had no idea what they were on about, i probed and kept asking questions until i discovered that “W18” meant that we were 18th on the waiting list…..as it seems here in India they dont do things the straightforward way. Apparently they always massively over book the trains just so that they are always full. good in theory, but in practice it creates a huge mess of bureaucracy bullshit.

So anyway after waitnng around all day for this train we found that not only would we not be getting on it, but even if we did, our bikes wouldnt. Suffice to say we were both pissed off, and claimed our money back, and went and got on a government bus to the town of Sri Ganganagar, on the border of Punjab and Rajastan, which turned out to be massively cheaper.

We spent one night there, afetr being led there by a really nice guy who had offered me an arranged marriage, even going so far as to show kme pictures of some prospective brides……he was a nice guy though. However he did ruin it by asking for money once we had got to the hotel. The next day we got another bus to Bikaner, where we met up with rob again, and we spent a few days having a look around the town, and we even  paid to go into the fort, which was lovely to look at formt he outside, but as we soon found out, quite boring to be inside. The best bit of it was lookinh at the weapons display, and deciding which would be the best to kill each other.

It was nice to be cycling in a trio again, and our first day was an amazing days ride, popping in to visit the Rat Temple, and finishing off by camping up in the sand dunes next to the road. As it was so flat the wind had been a bit of a problem, and it continued to be all through Rajastan, continually in our faces no matter what direction we cycled in. There was a massive bonus which made up for the wind though, and I took advantage of it whenever i had the opportunity. The trucks there were a really nice speed, a little fast at times, but if you got to them just as they were speeding up you were able to get in their draft and stay there for a really long time………it was in these days cycling that i got my longest tow/ draft ever, approximately 20 km, but i was knackered after it. Tractors also presented themselves as medium paced drafters, although you usually had to try and convesre with the large group of people sat in the trailer, either that or just smile and nod your head.

It took us a few days cycling to reach Jodhpur (home of the riding trousers if your a horsey type) throught some really beautiful landscapes, I mean it was still really flat, but it really felt like desert in this region, alot of sand, and not alot of water, and the temperature was rising every day it seemed, so much so that we were all reinstigating our tans, and getting burnt as a result. Surprising considering that 1 week previous we were wearing our thermals and jackets because of the cold.

Jodhpur was a really nice place, where we met alot of really cool people. from a wide range of backgrounds, and it was really nice to meet some sound people after our first reintroduction to the backpacker trail in Amritsar, which was a little obnoxious, or rather some of the people there were.

The fort in Jodhpur is really impressive, and gives a really great view from up at its entrance, as its built on outcroppings of rock that rise out of the desert plain. As in every indian city (it seems) there is always alot going on, and not just in the markets, on a few of my aimless wanders through the backstreets i came across some small gatherings, and although there was less traffic, the hustle and bustle continued unabated. Unfortunately the dorm we had managed to find for a quid was right next to the tran station, and thus was incredibly noisy until about 3am, them it all started again at 6am, resulting in a few earlier than desired wake ups.

On setting off from Jodhpur i had assessed whereish we would camp, and how long it would take us to get to the next, and last stop for me, Udaipur. I only did this as i had to really maintain my budget to make sure that i could spend a while on the beach. Again the cycling was really nice, and towards the end of the day we collectively decided to take some smaller roads, sort of a short cut, but the thinking was that it would be quieter and better camping. This was a great choice as it turned out, as the next day we eneded up cycling past some Jain Temples in Ranakpur. These were truly impressive marble constructions, which must have taken decades to create. These particular temples revered monkeys, and unfortunately for me, they had gotten very used to tourists, and lost their fear of humans. After getting back to the bikes, one confident strolled up to my bike, sniffed around the bags until he found the one wiht the bananas in, cliche i know but true. One he had found it, he proceeded to attack the precious ortleibs, which had endured so much up to now. I thought id scare it off with my angriest snarl and making myself look big, i took a step towards it. followed quickly by a tactical withdrawal, as it turned to look at me, and looked at me with the devils face, and a look as if to say “just try it mate, ill tear you apart!”. Then it turned back to the bag and attacked it with new ferocity, and i panicked, shouting at Jack to give me something to throw at it………..and he promptly gave me his shoe. I was in such a state that i missed the bugger, form 2 feet away, and it wasnt until a local ran up with his belt in his hands that the monkey ran off.

After thanking the guy for saving my bananas, we headed off in search of a camp spot for the night, making sure to eat all the bananas before going to sleep. In fact we had all aquired ouselves a monkey stick to defend ourselves in case the troop decided to attack us in the night!

The following day was the last days cycle to Udaipur, and it was an even more incredible ride than i could have hoped for. The Temples were at the base of a range of hills, and we had to go over them. The climb took us along a winding road through some hidden valleys and plateaus which felt very jungle bookish. Some of the views were amazing as we climbed, looing back across a part of the massive plain we had been cycling acros for the last 2 weeks. Once we reached the top, there was a large plateau of rolling hills, with a reaaly nice road, which meant that we blitzed the distance to rejoin the main road in no time. At the junction we stopped for lunch, and then started on the last 20 km to udaipur. Almost as soon as we got onto the road it started to descend, and apart form one big hill, it was a sweet roll down to the junction for Udaipur. It was a big city, and took us a little while to find our way to the central touristy area next to the palaces and lakes, however we got there eventually, and booked into a really nice hostel, (still only a quid) with a roof terrace and good food. It was from here that i would depart jack and rob to get a bus all the way to chris and sara in Gokarna, south of Goa. But for the next few days we looked around the city with some of the people we had met, drinking rum and coke in the evenings, and generally enjoying ourselves. We did meet a german Motortourist who has to be the most ill fitting traveller i/weve ever met, he was just so negative and seemed to hate everything about india……..strange to be touring through it then youd think? I expect he actually loved hating everything, and if he found something he liked, hed find an excuse to dismiss it. anyway he was a miserable git, but I think he just needed to vent some frustrations on someone.

A few days later, me jack and rob cycled to the bus station, where we said an extremely fond farewell, not the last, as they were going to get down to the beach before i left, but sad nonetheless. That was the point that the famous partnership of matt and jack dissolved for the time being, and Jack wouldf have to find his way in cities, and fix his bike without my expert knowledge and advice…..

So ill keep the last part brief, as it was mostly me sat on a beach reading books, swimming, and eating. It took me about 2 days to get down to Gokarna, on 4 seperate bus rides, including 2 night buses, and i turned up at the beach just as the sun was setting, which was beautiful. After finding Chris and Sara eventually, it was absolutely fantastic to see them again ( the last time had been  int Tashkent 2 months ago), and they lovingly allowed me to sleep on their floor for a few nights, which turned into a week. Unfortunately i managed to persuade chris to swim out to a headland on the first day, and in the process of getting out he got naikled by a wave, resulting in a nasty gash to his foot. After inspection by a sound guy who lived next door, he was deemed to be temporarily disabled, and he was for the rest of the duration of my stay.Bummer but worse for him, as he had to sit around the room all day, and relied for me and sara to bring himi sustenance. Obviously as you would, sometimes he got really lazy and me and sara became his servants at times….ha. Towards the end of my stay we all went to Saras uncles (who was also staying in Gokarna) wedding, a traditional hindi wedding, which was beautiful. Hope fully ill be ablt to get hold of some pictures soon.

And 2 days before my departure, Jack turned up ( after cycling very far on one gear and also crashing) and we spent a few days hanging out, before my final departure. On the morning i was to leave, we cycled to the bus station, and the whole gang were there to wave me off, it was an incredibly sad time, but exciting for both me and jack too, as I was going home, and jack was heading on on his own. I amglad to have shared such an experience with such a great friend, and also to have met such great people as Chris and Sara, and  Rob. Im sure they know it but I want to thank them for such a great adventure, and i really hope i see them all soon.

So for ciao for now guys, and take care of yourselves, and thanks everyone who reads this for your supprt, keep it up for jack, who will get twice as far as we got i have faith. And if you havent already……DONATE!    So Long guys, and thanks for all the fish

sunset over bikanir

climbing out of the beautiful valley at ranakpur

we just wanted water

a common theme in India...women working hard and lazy men

out side the rat temple....

mat and rob starting the climb after a rest

desert riding

cool

how else do you move 20 chairs

on our way to johdpur

on our way to johdpur

3 Comments »

  1. eurasianadventure said,

    last well spelt blog…ha, there were atleast 10 mistakes my friend.
    cool nice blog
    take care brother xx

  2. han said,

    You guys had such an amazing time together it must of been so strange to leave and probably even stranger to come home for you matt, back to boring old reality!!! Its a shame you couldnt of persuaded Jack to come home to but i guess the thought of more adventure is way better than the thought of coming home to us!!!! (only joking)
    Hope you manage to settle back in to the wonderfiul UK Matt and Jack be safe and have loads of fun.
    Love you loads

  3. mum and marg said,

    Well written last blog Matt – any thoughts of re-joining the trip later?
    Like Hannah said can’t believe it’s more than a year since Hannah and I waited 3 hrs (at least) for you guys to be ready to leave Newquay
    If I remember correctly you were the one ready and Jack was still packing and putting his bike together which was still in pieces
    you did well to put up with him for so long and I’m sure he is going to miss you.
    hopefully see you soon
    Meg & Marg


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