DAY SIX… 50.28 miles (80.92 km)
We rise at 6am, plan to leave by 6.30am (dawn). First chai is at 7am (not a stop), then its cycling as far as we can till breakfast. The sun gets hot by 10am. I’m wearing my pyjamas of thin cotton, in an attempt to cut down the heat. The idea is… cycle 30 miles before breakfast, then stop every 5 miles for a cold water dousing. Today we left the hotel in Madhavpur at 6.50am, retrieving our bikes from the garage where a large pile of shit appeared to be emerging from the garage floor (explains the problem we had flushing the loo!)
1pm… Lunch break of samosa and dokra (millet cake). We have already attracted a small group of 4 people who want to know about us. Every conversation follows the same pattern….
Where are we from? (country)
Where are we going?
Where did we come from?
The replies are conveyed round the group in echoes…..’England’…………’Sassan Gir’…..’Dwarka’
There is interest in the bikes too. They have gears and gear levers and a Garmin GPS cycle computer. All of great interest as Indian bicycles don’t have any of these features usually.
Today, our lunch break is enlivened further by a press reporter who interviews Tim about the ride. (all rather bizarre). Whilst this was going on we were invited to someone’s home again. The promise of a bed did it for me, and we accepted. Sure enough we were both given charpoy (Indian traditional string bed) to lie on, in the shade, and provided with tea. Once again, we met many family members and some tiny puppies, barely a day old, (more dogs to add to the dog problems). Sleep was not an option though sadly, as we were the entertainment for the family, and they wanted to chat.
We arrived at Sassan Gir, the Asiatic lion reserve, to find, to our horror, hundreds of vehicles, parked and driving. It was complete mayhem as we cycled in, on what should have been a peaceful, quiet road, instead, absolutely full to bursting with cars and jeeps, hooting and speeding past.
Tim feels he doesn’t ever want to come back to India, and indeed it does seem that Indian tourism has ramped up many fold with increasing numbers of middle classes able to have cars and wanting to travel.
We are staying in little bungalows in a birding lodge where, at last it’s peaceful and rural, even though the madness is not far away.