Day 106 to 113

Day 106
Dharmashala to Haripur
45 miles

On our way back from the restaurant last night a woman stopped us to ask for some food, she asked us to follow her which we duly did, Gary walked into the supermarket with her where she proceeded to do her shopping, had she asked for us to pay for a specific item or two we wouldn’t have minded but she really was taking the P*** so we only agreed to pay for the first item she had placed on the counter. No sooner had we left the store than we were hassled by another woman wanting us to purchase her some food, we could see how that scenario was going to play out so we politely told her no and to go away, it does leave a bad taste in your mouth when you have to say no, but we’ve found when ever we give to one person several more will take their place and see you as an easy touch.

I spent the evening uploading photos and writing the blog (it takes hours but hopefully it will be a good diary for us to reflect back on in our old age and it is also good to see friends and family enjoying our adventures)

Breakfast was a real disappointment, we had a communication issue, we thought we had ordered poached eggs on toasts, but only got one round of buttered toast for Gary and plain toast for me. Gary went to enquire about the eggs and just as we were leaving he was presented with a bread omelette. To make matters worse we had not explicitly stated that we did not want sugar in our drinks, Gary is used to having sweet tea but sweet coffee, I nearly spat it out, much to Gary’s amusement yukkkkkk.

Our plan had been to pack up and to head to Pathankot, packing up took several trips up and down the steep stairs (a work out all on its own) but we were on the road fairly early.

Our first stop was St John in the Wilderness Anglican Church, unfortunately it was closed but we took a walk round the grounds and inspected the bell in the garden (apparently too heavy to hang in the church) In years gone by apparently their were gothic stain glass windows but everything was boarded up with steel bars so not a lot to see.

The ride down from Dharamshala was approx 13 miles and all down hill, as we headed out on to the main road Gary spotted a sign for the Masrur Stone Carved Temple and suggested we cycled to this instead of going to Pathankot. so off we went, back up a hill to go and see the temple.

Gary; is was only 30k to our left, how hard could it be, plus it was a route by the Pong dam I was originally thinking of taking. I really enjoyed this ride, it was up and down steep undulating lanes just like the small overgrown lanes in the UK but with the major difference being that we were cycling through a jungle. we had noise all around us, crickets, bird calls , monkeys and even a white feathered bird of prey feasting on rubbish thrown by the side of the road. we had to dodge mud slides, fallen trees and watch the locals carry their heavy loads on their heads.

I agree the ride was enjoyable but the temple was a little disappointing but it was what it said on the lid, a stone carved temple, the inside of the temple was a simple shrine, set inside some elaborately carved rock.

Gary; I liked this place, it was not tacky and was hard to get too as you had a 3k steep climb to get to it, you could climb all over it as well. there was a pool in the front in which the fish were in a frenzy fighting over the bread some Indians were throwing in the water for them. it was not crowded, I reckon only about 8 people around the area.

The change of plan meant we didn’t know where the nearest hotel was, Gary did a quick bit of research on his phone and we agreed we stood more chance finding somewhere on the main road heading to some small towns. ‘Main road’ doesn’t mean a dual carriageway or motorway it is just a main road leading from one town to the next. In addition to call parts of this ‘main road’ a road was an exaggeration, parts of it were unpaved and flooded (I got wet feet, Gary managed to stay dry). Some of the damage will be down to the monsoons, especially the flooding and broken trees (we saw several of these during the course of our ride).

Gary; when we reached the main road I must admit to being a bit disappointed as it was no larger than the lane we had been on, which meant finding accommodation was going to be a challenge.
A short while after joining this road we came to a junction which did sign post a “rest room” Ginette wasn’t keen and it was only 2.30 so we pushed on hoping for better. The road was getting worse so I had visions of having to camp out with the Monkeys.
Ginette – Fortunately at the first big town we entered we were directed to a ‘rest house’ I was a little unsure about what to expect as whenever anyone said the word ‘rest house’ it seemed to have another meaning, I had imagined it was going to be a bunk house or a hostel where I would be sharing a room and a bathroom with a lot of smelly men. I shared my concerns with Gary and he said the alternative was the tent (with monkeys, cows, pigs, dogs etc) I said I would be happy in the tent. As we approached the rest house I was pleasantly surprised, it was an old white solid building which looked like it had separate rooms in it. The gates were closed but as we had a number of locals with us we were fairly certain this would not be a problem for long. One of the locals went to find someone who could help us and after several conversations and a telephone call we were allowed to enter. We were allocated a room complete with our own bathroom and we were charged the grand some of £4.50. We think ‘rest houses’ might be government owned but as we don’t have internet access we can’t look it up.

After a much needed hot shower, we ventured out for dinner, the locals were keen to point us in the right direction and several children joined us in the restaurant to practice their english. There was only one item on the menu ‘chow mein’ our only choice was half a plate or a full plate, without hesitation we ordered two full plates, the bill came to £1.20. We stopped on the way back to the rest house for a bit of shopping and settled down for a quiet night with a cold beer and some chocolate.

It had been a day where a lot of children took an interest in us and our bikes, some children have run across fields others down hills to come and say hello. It is lovely to see them, they’re always really happy and often shout ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’ followed by ‘which country are you from’ when we speak to men in India this is often followed very quickly with ‘how much is your bike?’ Gary responds with 5,000 but he doesn’t expand on which currency, in India this would be £50. Which in rural areas would be a lot of money.
Day 107
Haripur to Una
54 miles

Gary’s diary
Slept well even though it rained heavy all night, woke to a good morning with no rain. Up early and ready to leave by 7.15am. The manager (in a string vest) greeted us as he was not there when we arrived the previous night, his English was good and he invited us to have some chai with him we declined as we were fully packed and loaded to leave.

Ginette – I think the ‘manager’ was the man in charge of the village

We set off back on the poor condition country roads, we stopped after a few miles at a roadside cafe for tea and an omelette.

When we reached turning it was over a muddy road, like one of our b roads in the UK, over a bridge and then a long hill climb. At the top we had some samosas with spicy dahl and two bottles of pop for 50p our cheapest meal yet. When we stop in the busier towns for lunch we do attract a bit of an audience. On this occasion the locals were looking for our engines, which was quite amusing.

Back down the hill and over the bridge, this time the hill climb was very long and although not steep it had lots of false ridges so just as you thought you was at the top the hill kept on giving more. Past one restaurant I had to stop to check my phone map to make sure we were going in the right direction

Ginette – I knew Gary had stopped, but I didn’t know it was to check the map, I wouldn’t have been a happy bunny if we had climbed the hill for no reason.

At the top we had a long flat ride – so no good views as the area around us had climbed in height all we could see was the top of the jungle.

Along the top ridge we saw lots of troops of monkeys by the road, in trees, wherever you looked, different groups of monkeys. There were lots of baby monkeys, I tried to photo one having a bath/playing in a puddle, but it got scared and ran back to it’s mother.

Ginette – it is amazing how natural it now seems to see monkeys as we cycle along

Eventually we got to cycle down hill. We had planned to cycle to Hoshcarpus a bigger town with hotels but as the roads had improved we decided to head for Una.

This was a good choice our first flat section of road in India, 20 miles of smooth flat road.

We noticed that the Indian men and women were darker skinned in this region and a little more western in their clothes and building designs (many made of red brick). However we did see some settlements of straw huts, some set up near construction sites but also more established ones in fields.

We also saw more people on bikes today than we have throughout India, some even looked like they were doing it for pleasure rather than as an essential way of life.

With 12 miles to go we stopped for some more samosas, the alternative was some salty bread or indian sweets, which are very sweet.

We stopped at one hotel just outside of Una, but unfortunately it had no bar or wifi so we decided to cycle on into town. We found a hotel with everything we were looking for, we were shown several rooms with different tariffs but to have wifi in your room and to be away from the noise of the bus station (immediately outside of the hotel) you had to pay a little more at £20 it was one of the more expensive hotels we’ve stayed in, in India but was clean and luxurious inside.

Once showered we headed to the bar for a pint and to do some internet searches, we had not been there long when we were joined by 5 men. They were very interested in our photos and were keen to have their photo taken with Ginette. One man kept inviting us to his house, but we were tired and wanted to eat and sleep.

Before dinner we took a walk outside of the hotel, Ginette didn’t like all the noise and headed back to our room whilst I liked all the noise and hustle and bustle so took a longer walk.

We had dinner in the restaurant, the quality of the food was very good, but we made the mistake of ordering too much.

Day 108

Una to Rupanager
48 miles

Woke in the middle of the night with a bit of a headache, we often have a cold beer at the end of the day, but last night we had 2 each and rather than the light kingfisher beer we’re used to we had the strong kingfisher beer (this is all they had), not only does it give you a headache in the middle of the night it doesn’t taste as refreshing as the normal kingfisher.

We were both were awake by 6.00am, I took advantage of the internet connection and Gary wrote up his diary.

We had breakfast in the hotel which was a mistake not only did it cost much more than the roadside cafes, it also took forever to get served. It took three men over half an hour to serve a boiled egg, cornflakes some jammy bread and an egg pakora, longer than it took to serve the evening meal.

Once fed, dressed in cycling gear, we did have clothes on for breakfast, packed and loaded we headed off on the same road we had been on the previous day (Manuel to Chandigarh Road). As Gary mentioned yesterday it was a good cycling road, it was covered in asphalt, fairly flat and had very few pot holes. However we still needed to watch the road carefully as there were vehicles, dogs and cows coming towards you from all directions, even when it appeared we were on a dual carriageway, it was possible to have a vehicle head towards you going the wrong way up the dual carriageway.

The morning cycle was fairly uneventful, other than seeing a number of people dressed up and looking like they were celebrating an event/day, we will need to look this up when we have internet.

It was clear to see that we were in the punjab region as we saw more sikhs and sikh temples than we had in previous areas. Just before lunch we were lucky to stumble across a very big temple, the streets were decorated in ribbons and banners and their was a market leading up to the temple. We decided to have a closer look and inadvertently became part of the attraction. Usually when we visit tourist attractions we are in our normal dress wear and not dressed in our cycling clothes, which made us stand out like a sore thumb.

The sikhs were really helpful and told us where to put our shoes and provided us with appropriate head wear so that we could enter the temple. The queue to enter wasn’t very long, and a number of people expressed an interest in where we were from etc. The temple was beautiful, inside there was a small band playing and a man sitting on a chair accepting prayers and gifts (including money). We made a small donation and moved on, Gary was a naughty boy and got told off for taking photos, in fairness there were no signs prohibiting photography and others appeared to be taking photos, I think he was just unlucky. Once we left the temple we were asked to pose for a number of photos, it is hard to say no, but the novelty of standing there with strangers to have your photo taken is wearing off, especially when you’re hot, hungry and being eaten alive by the local wildlife.

Gary; these photo shoots were mainly inspired by the white haired devil lady, it was clear that I was an added extra, in fact some of the photos taken it was blatantly obvious that I was being cut out of the photo, bloody cheek. we did get a feel for what it must be like to have some sort of celebrity status, loads of eyes on you, giggling ladies and the odd brave ones that directly ask for photos.
Whilst cycling we would have cars and bikes slow down alongside us with there phones filming us. others would shoot ahead and pull over, jump out and wave to ask us to stop for snaps, we never refused but it does slow the trip down.

Lunch was a simple affair at a roadside cafe and the afternoon cycle ride was fairly easy accept for the heat 34c whilst we were cycling, the temperature raised to 44c when we stopped, which we did on a number of occasions either for requests for photos, cold drinks or ATM machines (Gary’s was struggling to get his card to work at any of the ATM’s and we were running out of rupees).

Gary stopped to take pictures of the slums situated by the side of the railway line, the locals were burning their rubbish and the smell was horrendous and there were so many flies yuk. Just down from this sight there were a number of vendors selling umberellas at least 10 different stalls, nothing else just umberallas, very strange especially as it was so hot.

We arrived in Rupnager at about 5.00pm and headed to the first ATM, fortunately this worked and we made our way to a hotel, we were hot, sweaty, itchy (I had at least 6 new bites) and a little bit irritable. As I was a little crabby we accepted the first hotel with air conditioning, unfortunately it was right next to the railway line (and as we wrote our diaries later that night we realised that trains with very big horns use the track). After a quick bucket shower, we made our way to the bar for a beer and something to eat. I had been looking forward to some pasta, the picture on the menu looked nice the price was reasonable and it wasn’t indian or chinese but when I placed my order I was informed the only items available were chinese or indian (this has happened in a number of restaurants we have visited). Gary wasn’t feeling great so only ordered a tomato soup, I settled on a chow mien. The TV was on in the bar so we decided to go back to our rooms for some peace and quiet (unfortunately no-one told the train drivers), I think it might have been quieter to sleep in the bar with the TV and the endless stream of adverts.

Day 109
cycled 50 miles (was supposed to be 27 miles)
Rupnager to Chandigarh (and all around it)

Slept surprisingly well for a bedroom next to a corridor leading to the bar (very noisy) and a train station. Gary took a little longer to get to sleep but also managed a good nights sleep.

Gary; very noisy hotel, echoed chambers for corridors and the trains blowing their horns outside our window, it did settle down after 11pm.

We have decided to boycott hotel breakfasts unless they’re incorporated in the room price, so we got up, packed up and hit the road. We stopped at the first road side cafe and had a couple of paranthas each along with a drink for the grand sum of £1.20.

Gary; this place was decorated with wrapping paper on the walls, looked kind of nice, at least it was the cleanest road side cafe yet. Ginette – it is amazing how quickly you adapt to your environment, before leaving home I don’t think I could have ordered breakfast from an outside grill, covered in flies, where the ‘chef’ was filthy and didn’t use gloves and dogs and cows loitered around the tables and cooking area.

It was supposed to be a nice easy ride of 27 miles but as with all best laid plans it became a very long day. This was not helped by monsoon rains and three punctures! Even lunch was a disappointment of dry bread and water.

Gary; It rained loads today, at one town the traffic was backed up due to flooding, we had to cycle for about 500m in 4” to 6” of water. It was impossible to see the state of the road and cycled over/through several large potholes, which explains Ginette’s puncture.

We fixed Ginette’s first puncture by the side of the road in the rain, we had to remove all the panniers to do this. after a few miles the tyre was flat again. this time we sheltered under a petrol station roof, dried all the tyre internals and even noted where the hole in the tube was in relation to the tyre so I could pin point the cause but couldn’t find anything. again after a few miles it was flat again. This time we sat in a cafe (well a roadside cafe under a tarpaulin. Had tea and this time I changed the tyre as again I couldn’t find the cause but there was obviously something small that I couldn’t trace. Fortunately it worked this time, but I have to remember to check out the tyre I changed when I have time.

We saw two accidents today, one was a head on crash right in front of us as two cars collided, one car was driving the wrong way up the street (a regular occurrence), it was low impact so no-one was hurt.

We also saw our first road kill involving a dog, there are so many strays we’re surprised (and pleased) we haven’t seen more.

For the first time since cycling in India we saw ladies riding bicycles, some in saris but many in trousers with a tunic top. We have seen more cyclists in the past couple of days than we have during the whole time we’ve been in India, this is probably because the terrain is much flatter.

Once we arrived in Chandigarh we couldn’t locate the right train station, fancy there being three of them. We cycled through some very affluent areas with roads, pavements and posh houses, I wanted to stay in that area but alas that wasn’t where the train station was located so we had to cycle on. We found the right one at about 3.30pm and proceeded to go through the motions of queuing, we were told at the first counter we needed aisle 6, but after queuing again we were informed we needed to visit a ticket office outside of the station. We managed to book our tickets but we’re informed we needed to book our bikes at another office on the railway station platform…you start to get the picture of how we spent our afternoon. In India when dealing with bureaucracy you need a lot of patience.

Gary; the locals had directed us to the station and we ended up coming in through the back door so to speak, along off road stretches, across railway tracks and up onto the ends of the platforms, we ended up pushing the bikes along the platform and out into the entrance area.

After finishing at the railway station we went in search of a hotel, we tried 4, which were either out of our price range of full before we stumbled upon a hotel set back from the road. I enquired about the price and initially walked away at £45 + taxes it was out of our budget, but 5 mins later the receptionist approached us in the car park and offered us a room at £40 plus breakfast (I think he took pity on me as I was wet through and covered in mud). We accepted and it was heavenly, it was clean, we had a proper shower (no bucket), soap and even toilet paper and more than two pillows on the bed – simple things that we take for granted in the Uk. Of course having spent so much on the hotel, dinner was a simple affair and washed down with a pint.

Gary; Posh hotel, well the sort you get back home. All well and good but as I am writing this there is really load music being blasted out of speakers somewhere outside
Day 110 and 111
Chandigarh to Mumbai
by train

What a night, the music went on until the early hours of the morning, it really was like having a sound system blasting in our bedroom. It was that bad that I went down to the reception desk to complain to be told it was the hotel next door, but that they would lodge a complaint.

Breakfast was an indian buffet, which we both really enjoyed, although I don’t think I will ever get used to the concept of eating curry for breakfast.

We cycled to the railway station and had just enough time to have our bikes packed and checked in. Whilst waiting for them to be processed a small crowd gathered around my bike, I was asked why my pedals were so small, they were fascinated by my cleats. They also wanted to know how the turbo worked initially thinking the bikes were battery operated they were most impressed with the design and naturally wanted to know how much? Our conversation was cut short because much to our annoyance we were informed we had to carry the panniers on to the train, this meant walking down a platform and over a flyover to the platform on the other side of the track with 4 panniers each, two small rucksack bags and the tent, not easy especially when the temperature is in the 30c’s, Gary’s shirt was soaking. We had 5 minutes to spare and as we stood there waiting for the train we could see people simply walking across the tracks from one platform to the next, this would not have been easy to do with all our panniers but was interesting to watch.

Rather than repeating our China experience we had paid for the best seats at £25 each, this provided us plenty of space in an air conditioned carriage. There were four bunks in our area with an additional bunk immediately opposite us. When we first sat down, a middle aged Indian man sat opposite us (effectively in Gary’s seat), we didn’t mind, but hoped when it came to bed time he would retire to his bunk which was above Gary’s, I didn’t fancy waking in the middle of the night to his face. Not long after pulling out of the station the man put down some bedding and promptly fell asleep, we tried to ignore him, although this was not easy as he was snoring quite loudly.
Whilst the man slept a young man named Siki/Siku (meaning the top of a hill) sat with us for awhile, he explained he would like to get into music production he was interested in England and had taught himself English from the internet. His english was really good and we had an interesting conversation with him.

Fortunately the Indian man got off the train at about 4.00 o’clock along with the man who had been asleep on the bunk above my bed and the two bunks were not used again so we were able to pull the curtain across and have our own space. The toilets on the train were squat toilets that emptied directly onto the train line.

Gary; I think these squat loos are more hygienic than the european sit down type (Ginette – I do too), the ones on the train were clean whenever I paid a visit. As for it going straight on the track, the railway appears to be the nations toilet, from the train window we have seen the locals standing and squatting to do their business by the track.
Ginette – the train (at least our section) was remarkably clean, a man came round at regular intervals to clear up rubbish, sweep and mop the floors and spray the curtains.

During the course of the day we watched the indian countryside and life beside the tracks. For long stretches we could see families living in hovels, half sheds, surrounded by rubbish right next to the train tracks. The train tracks were covered with rats running from one burrow to the next, all very distressing to witness but amazingly the majority of people we saw seemed to be happy, playing games or getting on with everyday chores. It really makes you realise what you’ve got and makes you acutely aware of the inequalities in the world. I did take some pictures but I don’t think they really reflect the squalor and existence of the poor families we saw. I tried to take a picture of some children playing on the track but the train was moving and I also missed a lovely shot of a baby sitting on the track side on its own (nor more than 18 months old), I’m sure it’s mother was somewhere close but I couldn’t see her.

Compared to North India, central India is very flat and green, it will be interesting to see what Mumbai and Goa look like, I would imagine as we are cycling along a coastal road it will be very lumpy.

Whilst on the train vendors walked up and down offering, drinks, food, playing cards and novelty items like crawling spidermen. We ordered lunch, dinner and breakfast, the first two arrived cold but as they were spicy they were edible (just). It was quite exciting waiting for them to see what they’d be offering next, unfortunately it was mainly masala tea or coffee (very sweet and milky).

Although it was a long journey at 28 hours it was much easier and cheaper than travelling by train and meant that we had more space and freedom to move around.

When we arrived in Mumbai we were swamped by people trying to help us with our bags, as we had the bikes we didn’t need their help and were able to very slowly make our way out of the station. We had been told we needed to show our documents to obtain a gate number but we couldn’t see where we needed to do this and no-one stopped us so we joined the chaos of Mumbai traffic. We stopped at one of the first hotels we came across, it was very basic and expensive for what it was but did the job for one night.

Unfortunately the restaurant did not open until 7.00pm so we had to go in search of food in the rainy, noisy city. We stumbled across a cafe in the hustle and bustle of the town but the food was good although only serving snacks and we managed to order a beer – happy days.

Day 112
Mumbai tourists for the day

We had the complimentary breakfast in the hotel, which was really good, buffet style with plenty to eat. I changed Net’s brake pads and we set off for a hotel nearer the Indian Gate (which is where we had planned to catch a ferry to the start of the coastal road to Goa). We also hoped to go and see the Elephant caves a tourist attraction which is rated highly on trip advisor. However this was not meant to be, after negotiating our way across the city (which was exciting) finding our hotel (negotiating a much better room at a better rate) we were informed once we reached India Gate that the ferries were not running because of the monsoons.

As you can imagine there were a number of tourist reps that had other tourist trips on offer and one very good sales man sold as a 3 hour personal tour of the city which we didn’t need to pay for until they return us to our hotel and were satisfied with the service. The trip was worth the £28 pound fee we got to see parts of the city we wouldn’t have been aware of including the open air washing areas used by the locals to wash clothes and linen from the hotels (very interesting but hard work), a working fishing village, there were no boats allowed out because of the monsoons, so a holiday for the fishermen and their families and time to fix boats and nets. In the fishing village were slums that were right next to 5 star hotels unbelievable, we even saw a very mangy rat walk by our feet. The sea was filthy, full or rubbish and as we were reliably informed sewage from the towns. Also on the tour we saw marine drive also called the Queen’s necklace because of the way the lights from the hotels shone at night, a Jain Temple (very impressive), Mahatma Gandhi’’s house and museum, Victoria Station and the hanging gardens which sit on top of the towns reservoir. Whilst driving through the city we passed an enclosed area where the Parsi people lay out their dead for the birds to eat, a sight I didn’t want to see, but was shown on the drivers mobile phone. It was a great way to spend a very wet day and as an added bonus we had a lovely guide who spoke good English and shared with us a bit of his history including the fact that he had arrived in Mumbai as a street boy when he was 14 and had been helped by a local charity to learn english and to drive. He did say he lived in one of the slums but we’re not sure where this was true.

In the evening we went to a local Indian restaurant and had our best meal yet, nothing special but cooked to perfection, a lot of the meals we’ve had in India have been covered in a very rich gravy, and have used poor quality chicken whereas this was delicious, the service was really good and we even treated ourselves to a beer, which is a bit of treat because not readily available but where it is the waiter will always present you the bottle and ask you if the temperature is ok, we are becoming connoisseurs but I think we will try a few more just to make sure we perfect this new skill of ours.

Day 113
18 miles

Breakfast in the hotel, very poor, made worse by listening to 4 very noisy eaters at the table next to us. I don’t think I will ever get used to seeing people eating curry and rice for breakfast especially when they eat it with their fingers. As many of you will know I am not a morning person and I got just about deal with a stuffed parantha or an omelette whereas Gary loves it.

The hotel had kindly agreed to do our laundry the previous day and informed us we would have it back by 10.00am, although we checked regularly it did not materialise until 2.00pm. We couldn’t go anywhere until we had our clothes and they kept promising it was on its way. We made use of the time checking hotels for our trip to Goa, and checking our options for the next stage of our trip.

We had been told we could get a ferry or a bus to Alibaug which was at the start of the costal path to Goa (130km away) so we cycled to India Gate only to be informed the ferry wasn’t running and the bus wasn’t an option with the bikes. We tried to hire a taxi but it would have cost £50 which we thought was a little expensive so we decided to cycle. It was horrendous, the roads were really noisy and busy, we couldn’t cross the bridge we had planned to nor could we go on the highway as the day passed the mileage crept up and the rain kept on falling. The roads in India are not made with cyclists in mind and during a monsoon down pour the roads are complete chaos. After hitting yet another unseen pothole/ditch in the road I got another puncture going over a busy flyover. With no other option we had to push our bikes over the flyover and back down a main road to find cover under a bridge so Gary could fix the puncture out of the pouring rain. Even though it was raining and we were in the middle of several main roads we still managed to draw a significant crowd of people. It wasn’t pleasant and to add to the fact that we were drenched to the skin we were covered in flies and it had gone 5.00pm.

In 4 hours we covered 22 miles, we’d had enough and decided to find a local hotel. We found a few in an affluent area of Mumbai each wanting in excess of £60 per night, eventually we found one that after some negotiation charged £50, although it was still too expensive we gave in as it was getting late and we were tired.

It had rained 70% of the time we were in Mumbai (some of it very heavy rain), so over dinner we discussed our options and agreed that neither of us fancied cycling another 8 days in the monsoon, not only do you get very wet, but there are a lot of flies and because of the mist you can’t see anything. It is a shame because we had been looking forward to cycling the coast road perhaps we will get an opportunity before we go home.

Our plan from the outset was to follow the sun and have fun so we are booking a flight to Sri Lanka for tomorrow, we hope to stay there for a month before heading to Indonesia and then fly to Vietnam.

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