I think this is where I left off the last blog…
Welcome to India, just seeing this sign got me all excited about the next two months, curry three times a day, paved roads, flatter roads, hopefully better Wi Fi, temples, forts, palaces and historic sights a plenty, all waiting for us !
Naomi had a rough plan, we would cycle to Gorakpur, train to Agra then cycle around Rajasthan before heading to Delhi for a quick look then train south to Bangalore. Cycle around Kerala and Goa before our last train to Bombay ( Mumbai ) and our plane home !!
All sounds simple on paper, well just getting through the Indian border was hectic enough, finding the immigration office amongst the hubbub was hard enough…
Chaos, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much traffic on a road, we quickly learnt the rules of engagement :-
1) biggest vehicle wins
2) loudest horn comes a close second
3) there is no right side of the road
4) traffic lights, roundabouts, stop signs are for decoration only !!
5) maintain forward momentum at all times, don’t stop
You may think that I’m kidding but it’s true, on any road at any time you will find the largest assortment of vehicles, animals and people anywhere in the world and they will take whatever side of the road suits there needs best, horns blaring, people sitting on top of buses, trucks, tractors, cows lying down in the middle of major roads, motorbikes weaving there way through traffic, rickshaws and auto rickshaws touting for business, kids begging for money or pens, goats, chickens holding up traffic and among them all, myself and Naomi trying to make headway !!
We managed ok to Gorakpur, we didn’t have a map so relied on asking people, there are rules to this as well :-
1) always ask at least three people
2) never point in the direction you think, they will only agree with you, they want to please you
60 miles later we managed to find the station and a hotel, basic but relatively clean and opposite the station so convenient !
Next, into battle with the ticket reservation office, forms to be filled, money changes hands and finally we are booked on a train to Agra, it will take 15 hours and were booked on general sleeper class !!
Next, book bikes onto train as luggage, more forms, more money but finally we succeed !!
The moment arrives and we leave our bikes with the luggage department and then struggle onto the platform with 14 items of luggage between us, what a sight we are, what a crowd circles us, especially Naomi, you’d think they’d never seen a girl before…
The 15 hour journey although long was pleasant enough despite me being very wary of one particular guy in our compartment, I just didn’t trust him and ended up not moving, sleeping or even going to the loo for the entire journey !!
Naomi was blissfully unaware so she was quite happy and seemed to enjoy the journey, our arrival at Agra was the opposite of getting on, loads of bags to get off, more forms to fill to get bikes back, oh and more money to pay, hmmm !!
Bikes ready and we cycled into a very quiet Agra, 5.00am so not to many people up yet, we were looking for a hotel so it was nice to have the roads to ourselves for a while.
Now normally I’d run through every day, where we stayed, what we did, the photos from the days ride etc, only this time there was no ride, and even the scenery to Gorakpur was just flat farmland, not much different to the UK really, apart from the bright, colourful saris of the women tending them !!
I’d normally tell you about the hotels and what we ate but here it’s not that important, what’s more important is the people we meet, the historic forts, palaces, temples etc that we see so here are just a few examples……
The owner of the restaurant, great vegetarian Thali and free Wi Fi, the guy was very nice, had a good conversation with him about how Agra has changed !!
Well that was Agra, what with decent Wi Fi at the Rajmahal hotel, our Auto rickshaw driver showing us the sights, great food, the occasional beer, laundry service, a good guide at the Fort, we were now ready to leave, direction Fatehpur Sikri, about 60 miles away, flat main roads, good Tarmac, nothing much to see along the way again but with the occasional Chai stop at the truck stops we were soon pulling into our hotel….
Nice looking place and safe for our bikes but a bit odd in some ways, I think maybe because it’s so early in the season, it wasn’t quite ready but the rooms were clean so we dumped our kit and headed for the sights…..
All the above are from The Palace at Fatehpur Sikri, outstanding place and another great guide who showed us around !!
The next day we were heading for Jaipur, we knew it was to far in one day so we would look for a place to stay after about 40 miles or so, enough to leave a decent distance the following day, although we were still on main roads and the scenery was still unimpressive we did take a few photos…..
And finally our hotel for the night, family run motel, lovely people, inquisitive, slightly amused with us and our bikes etc, great food and generally a nice relaxed atmosphere. Nothing to see hear so and early night ready for our trip to Jaipur.
Now as I said earlier this part of our trip is as much about people as it is about places and scenery and the ride to Jaipur was a good example !! We stand out, I’m 6’2″ white, well most of me is still !!
Bright yellow panniers on a fancy bike and normally a bright orange top, not easy to miss. Naomi is also mainly white, female with large tits, her description, not mine I hasten to add, legs on show, fancy bike and bright red panniers, again not easy to miss.
So just stopping for breakfast turns out to be a bit of a do, and within minutes there’s normally a crowd, one around the bikes and one around Naomi !!
We felt at home, an oasis of calm in a hectic country and town, we’d managed to get the room for two nights, not easy as its very popular !! We had a long list of things we wanted to do, not only the tourist sights but, uploading lots of photos, writing blogs, sorting email, Facebook and booking trains, bikes as luggage on trains, hotels in Mumbai and Delhi, sending unneeded kit and bags to Mumbai so we could travel lighter. Oh we also needed to eat, sleep, shower and do our laundry !!
Next time I’ll tell you how we got on and share some of the photos, but for now that’s it, our first week in India. It’s vast size sometimes means that it’s a long way from one place to the next and sometimes people will say there’s nothing between the two paces, well if you can be bothered to stop and drink Chai at the roadside I guarantee you’ll have someone to talk to pretty quick !!
It’s a huge country or continent, I’m not really sure but I do know that most of the people we’ve met so far have been good, honest, inquisitive, helpful, hardworking people and the sights and sounds of India are like nothing I’ve experienced before, I don’t like everything I see or do but I’m willing to try and with that attitude we are having a ball !!
Till next time 😉