Distance cycled: 481km / 299mi
Elevation cycled: 4,060m / 13,320ft
Interestingly, this week we climbed twice as much as we did during the whole month of November, with only half the distance we cycled in November. It was a tough week.
Ferries: 14.5km / 9mi
India has done it: she finally broke us. It’s taken five-weeks, but at some point this week, we’ve each exclaimed how we’re over it; it being India. This happens to pretty much every traveller here for various reasons, as travelling around India is difficult. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the overly-curious people, erratic driving, or nonsensical rules that sent us over the edge. It was accommodation.
Of all the things we thought would stress us out here, accommodation was not one of them – it wasn’t even in the top ten. We thought we’d just cruise into a town and land onto a pillow no problem. Wrong. Finding a bed quickly became the most stressful part of our day.
We had only been using Google Maps to help locate accommodation, zooming in on tiny towns, which uncovered hidden hotels that wouldn’t appear with a simple ‘hotel’ search. Stupid. What’s even more stupid is that these ‘hotels’ have either proved non-existent when we arrived at their non-existent doorstep, or worse: they’ve been apartments, far too expensive, restaurants, office accommodation, or a school. Seriously, we arrived somewhere that was listed as a guesthouse with reviews expressing how lovely the rooms were, only to learn it was a bloody school. I wish someone would learn how to input things on Google Maps properly. And don’t even get me started on the ‘no foreigner’ rule…
We hit a record this week when it took ten attempts to check into somewhere before we actually found a bed – and would you believe, we were in the Navi Mumbai area not some rural village! You can imagine how ‘over it we were’. Thankfully the amazing cycle touring community saved the day. As we shared our desperation on our Instagram Story, we were offered useful alternatives to Google Maps for finding accommodation in India: Make My Trip and Goibibo. They have both revolutionised our rides. Having something pre-booked for the evening completely takes the stress away.
This isn’t the first time the cycle touring community has helped us out. We’ve had help with bike problems, moral support in dire times, advice on countries we’re visiting, and kit recommendations. They really are an incredible bunch of people from all walks of life, who are more than happy to help. It’s one of the best bits about cycle touring: being apart of such a welcoming group of strangers, that strangely seem like a family.
Family has been on our minds a lot this week and homesickness has hit hard, particularly with me. Partly because of the time of year – Christmas is a big family event for both of our families – but mostly because I got some bad news from home. Sadly one of my uncles, my Dad’s eldest brother, died suddenly after being rushed into hospital. It’s hard hearing everyone so upset over the phone and not being able to comfort them properly. I guess it’s one of the sacrifices you make when travelling or living abroad, as it’s not possible to be home for everything.
It sounds like my uncle will have a good send off next week anyway, with family flying over from Ireland and the wake being held in his favourite boozer. The busy local port, where he’s worked since he was a teen, is even being shut down for two-hours so his workmates can go and pay their respects. We’ll certainly raise a pint or six to him!
The cycling certainly helped lift our spirits. The coastal route from Daman to Jaigad offered up everything we love in a ride: inclines, beaches, beers, few people, and little traffic. That whole section of coast is pretty much made up of remote beaches, fishing villages, and roads so small there’s no need for road markings. We lost count of how many beaches we passed. And to think we would have missed this had Harshil – the bike guy from last week – not checked over our route for us.
Like the title says, we caught five ferries for £2.85 – that includes bike charges. You can’t catch the Tube into central London one-way for one person for that. And two of us caught five ferries. We picked up the coast from Daman, but if you’re interested in cycling down the west coast, I reckon you could join it sooner. Also, we struggled to find a pleasant way around Mumbai/Navi Mumbai, but I’m sure with a little more research, it can be done without the pain it caused us. I’ll pop the ferry terminal details at the bottom of this blog post.
We got another boost in morale when we met Rupert… We haven’t met one foreigner during our five-weeks in India. We did see a busload of European-looking pensioners mulling around the stepwell, Ravi Ki Vav, we visited in Gujarat. But besides that, we haven’t seen a single soul who wasn’t Indian. Then we met Rupert randomly on one of the ferries. If you think we’re slightly tapped for cycling around India, this crazy carpenter from Cambridge is walking from Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari in the south. Walking.
Funnily enough, we’d been hot on his heels for a few days. We happened to stay in the same hotel as he had in some random little town. The hotel owner, while declaring all Brits to be nuts, proceeded to tell us about Rupert the walker. Here’s the part where I’d normally share a link to follow his adventures, but he’s quite nobly taking a break from Instagramming every step of his journey and is just enjoying the walk. It was an absolute pleasure to have lunch together and share our Indian experiences. Hopefully we’ll meet more people like Rupert.
After a rollercoaster of highs and lows, on we go to Goa, where we’re meeting Natalie. Natalie is a good friend of Dan’s, who we both also worked with at an ad agency back in London. We look forward to a couple of days with a friendly face from home.
Keranja to Rewas
Agardanda to Dighi
Valmikinagar to Vesvi
Dabhol to Veldur
Tavsal to Jaigad