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Published: February 20th 2008
Having the holiday of a lifetime here in India. Arrived in Trivandrum on Saturday for the start of a fortnight's cycle touring holiday in a group of 19, including John and Pat our group leaders. The arrival on the street outside the airport at 10pm was like nothing on earth with the heat hitting you in the face and the old Ambassador cars and Tuk Tuks lined up. Sunday assembled the bikes and had just a 20 mile ride to limber us up from our long journey. Went to the local beach at Kovolam and actually went into the water, which my family will tell you is a very rare occurance, it was just like stepping into a warm bath . The ride through the suburbs to Kovolam was quite exciting, mixing it for the first time with the unruly drivers and the loud music being played on tannoys in the streets. The locals are absolutely fascinated by us, I left the hotel in the evening to ring home and was surrounded by a large group of youths desperate to practise their English, it took nearly 20 minutes to escape and make the call. I know what zoo animals feel
Taxis at Airport
like now being stared at by incredulous humans, we are certainly viewed with fascination.
Monday 18th Feb, rode 65 miles in 35 degree heat, stopping three times for brews and light lunch supplied by backup vehicles. The heat and hard climbing was getting to me during the middle of the day and I struggled to keep up with Pat. I improved after the afternoon break and got back into my stride. I lost my computer, which vibrated off on rough roads. The hotel out in the sticks was a real shambles. We got there to find no towels and no food. Moothy, our chief organiser went to town and bought some towels and food for our van drivers and leaders to cook. They did a fantastic job. The shower did not work so I stood in a bucket of cold water and poured it over my body and I was then kept up for hours by a buzzing mozzy and no mozzy net. This is India.
Tuesday 20th February 2008-6pm. Rode to Shencotta today with a nice cooling breeze . Got up early, breakfasted at 6.30am and was away by 7am. It was wonderful being out early and got the opportunity to stop lots of times to take video and still photos( I have already taken over 200 photos, everything is so, so different!). Seeing rice planted, harvested and winnowed by hand is like something from another world. Have been to a brick works to see bricks being made by hand too. The people here are so friendly, they wave at us and greet us warmly all the time. Five of us shoe-horned ourselves into a tuk-tuk and went on an 8 mile journey to buy some screws to repair a pair of riding shoes for a group member. The whole trip for the 5 of us was the equivalent of £1.30. I was very flattered to be asked for my autograph, fame at last! I have taken advantage of an immaculate swimming pool at the nice hotel.
Rode to the town of Maduri today and I now know why it is so called. The hotel, by contrast, is like being in a five star hotel in London. All the staff are liveried and cannot do enough for us. We have not been allowed to carry anything and the staff attend diligently to our every whim. In one of the earlier hotels I had ants swarming all over the floor and it was very difficult to put my feet down on the ground without stepping on any. I also had a ghekko in the bathroom, thankfully it scurried under the hand-basin when I appeared.
The roads and driving conditions leave a lot to be desired. 'Mayhem and chaos' are the only words to describe it. It is like being permanently on the Pepsi Max, with all its thrills. Needless to say I am thoroughly enjoying myself, I am finding the whole holiday exciting and so different. I can certainly recommend this part of India particularly to men folk, I know for a fact that Steph would NOT like it.
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