Friday, 27 June 2014

9,000 miles 14 countries and one mouse later....

And which country are you from?
Gandhi once said "At the age of 18 I went to England.  Everything was strange, the people, their ways and even their dwellings. I was a complete novice in the matter of English etiquette and continually had to be on my guard. Even the dishes that I could eat were tasteless and insipid. England, I could not bare.....". 

Coming from Wales I have to agree with him! They are a strange bunch! (Just kidding. Calm down!). However, it just goes to show that it works both ways. The cultures are so different despite the fact that India was under English rule until as late as 1947 and our culture is probably just as alien to other people looking in. Unlike Gandhi though, I am enjoying the culture shock immensely! 

Cant talk. I'm in the back of a truck!
It is no secret that there are problems in India. You cant ignore the facts. The roads are a little crazy and 900 people die on them everyday. Corruption within the government has taken the taxes and happily got fat on it while its people see nothing in return. Poverty is clearly an issue here and as you ride around, you can't ignore the families living on the streets or the beautiful historic buildings in desperate need of repair. However, after just 10 days in the country, the beauty within the chaos is already shinning through.

On leaving Surat we headed for Vadadora, the third most populated city of Gujarat after Ahmedabad and Surat. It is situated on the banks of the Vishwamitri river. Like Surat, it is a place that is rarely frequented by visitors and once again I find myself centre of attention, or so I thought. As I unload my bike at the hotel and the crowds gather, an argument breaks out with the security guard of the hotel, who turns to one of the guys in the crowd and says in Hindi
“What is the matter with you. Have you never seen a human being before?”
The man retorts
“Im not looking at her, I’m looking at the bike!”

Out staged my Rhonda AGAIN! 

From Vadadora we headed North to Ahmedabad taking in the sites and smells and avoiding the turned over lorries, the baboons, the cows, the camel trailers and even an elephant!  

Once settled in we decided to take a Rickshaw to a local park on the lakeside. There have been several terrorist attacks in recent history and so it is common to have security on the entrance to parks or shopping centres. This was no different and as I entered, my bag was given a thorough check. The security guard took out an item and inspected it slowly and in great detail.. “ITS A TAMPON!” I cried impatiently and eventually satisfied she put it back and waved me through! From there we took the Rickshaw back through the bustling streets and over to a house that Gandhi once lived in. It was nice to do a bit of site seeing but the heat was stifling. 

No harm in window shopping!
The following day we road to Udaipur. What a great place. It is clearly used to tourism here and so as soon as we came in to the city I was waved at and greeted like an old friend. Rhonda once again was popular and I happily stepped out of the way while people took pictures of her! 

Khooram and I chilled out and took in the sites of this beautiful city all afternoon. I even went shopping and bought myself a pair of flowing, lightweight trousers and top in a bid to stay cool. In the evening we visited Jagdish Temple just in time to witness the evening prayers when the temple comes alive with melodic chanting. It was a beautiful place and full of extremely happy and welcoming people.

I was sad to say goodbye to Udaipur. 

Today the ride to Bundi was just over 300km. It was a lovely ride with the usual chaos. We even managed about 20km of dirt track. The last 10km though was just horrible. We hit a fast moving and very busy road which seemed to be full of kamikaze drivers. Wrong side driving and general lunacy is common place on these roads but this was crazy even by Indian standards. The heat was getting to me and I was getting a little weary having witnessed several crazy acts and one particularly close incident which I could see coming and was already pulling back and preparing for the worst. Luckily the driver also saw what was coming with a split second to spare and managed to avoid a head on collision which would have wiped out his family and added them to the list of 900 for that day. By the time I was 100 yards from the hotel, one too many Rickshaws had pulled out on me and the last one which decided to drive straight for me got the full angry Welsh girl verbal from by helmet! 
Yes it was that close!

“These are the days we talk about with great fondness later” I tell myself as I pull up to my hotel and relish the feel of the air conditioning as it calms my nerves! 

Bundi can wait! The bed is too inviting to resist!

Rhonda and I have now travelled 9,000 miles (14484km) together (although the tracker shows about 700 miles short of that as it did not track me mile for mile in Iran). This little bike has proved herself! She has not missed a beat and has coped with everything I have thrown at her so far. It will be interesting to see how she deals with the Himalayas! Lets hope she doesn't get altitude sickness!

Look Mum! We only went and made it half way across India!!!!!!

Outside the temple
Tomorrow we head for Ranthambore where I will be leaving Rhonda behind and heading in to the jungle by jeep in search of Tigers, thanks to Destinations Unlimited who have arranged two trips for me. One at dusk and one at dawn. I cant tell you how excited I am about this! Somehow the rain has stayed off since leaving Mumbai. The monsoon is unusually late and if it stays off just a couple more days then I am in with a good chance of seeing them as they will have to come to the watering holes to drink! Wish me luck! 


I may not have internet for a couple of days so bare with me. SOMEONE PLEASE PHONE ME IF MY GRANDCHILD IS BORN!!!!

PS - Just made it in to the Mumbai Sunday papers! Here is the online version.....

 http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-grandma-to-be-rides-solo-around-the-world-1998197


11 comments:

  1. Another cracking report, Steph. It's great to see you're taking it all in your stride.
    I know how you feel about being upstaged by your bike, I have the same 'problem' with my Tex :/

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    1. Thanks Paul. Tex? ha ha! Nice to know Im not the only crazy one x

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  2. Hi Steph. Well done you! But pleeeease ... I now have an image of everyone stripping off while they wait for you to come back online (I know it's hot but perhaps you meant 'bear with me'? :-)). Mum x

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  3. Just watched the "visit to the lake" video, I thought you were on the bike. Totally nuts drivers and riders.

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  4. It seems to me you are travelling around taking advantage of selective peoples generosity.
    My wife wrote a email to your gmail and you did not even bother a reply, she was looking forward to meeting and talking to you while you were in Dubai. As she has ridden around central Asia, India, Bangladesh, etc. etc. so could have been advantageous to you.
    You are so lucky not to be locked up for the way you said you talked to the customs official.in Dubai
    Hope you change your attitude so you arrive home safely

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    1. Apologies for the delay. I have been out of signal. Your wife sounds like a great woman. I'm sorry that I didn't get to meet her. I don't know if I missed it or didn't get the email but if I had read it I would have replied.
      I do need to point out that based on your comments, should I have met with her and taken any offer of advice or support, I could have been accused of taking advantage? Accept and be damned. Ignore and be damned! It seems I cannot win. As my mum said though, if she ever finds herself in North Wales on one of her trips, she is welcome at my home. Truly.

      Put in Prison for pointing out the customs and values statement? Wow! Lucky I didn't say what I really thought! : 0 )

      Ride safe.


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  5. In reply to the previous blog - and as Steph has mentioned she would be out of Wi-Fi range for a while so cannot answer for herself yet, I would just like to point out that Steph has hundreds of emails, blog comments, Facebook comments, etc, and so has difficulty in keeping up with all correspondence, which I know she stresses about. She would not deliberately not reply to your wife, she may just have missed it. She does not have a team of people behind her. Her only support is her family and friends - of which she has many.
    She does not take advantage of people - she is invited into all the homes she has visited and I have not seen a negative comment from any of them. In fact, yours is the only negative comment I have seen.
    I'm sorry your wife did not get to meet her, maybe on her travels she could come to North Wales and Steph would welcome her there, I am sure.
    Steph's Mum.

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  6. Anonymous, such a shame you choose to criticise Steph and accuse her of taking advantage of people. I met up with Steph on more than one occasion here in Dubai and was chuffed to do so. I also know how much she is trying to reply to mails and messages each and every day in amongst trying to organize the next leg of her trip. Bikers are a special breed and are happy to help and share with fellow bikers anywhere around the world, in whatever way possible...Pity your comments are neither constructive, helpful or even wanted!

    Hope you change your attitude to become a better person !

    Ferret

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  7. Thanks Mum and Mr Ferret for replying in my absence. Really appreciate the support xxxx

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  8. Congratulations Steph on becoming a Grandma - you do realise that your son has now made me a great great auntie - I'm too young to be one of those!! Really enjoying following your blog - you write such interesting stuff. Don't worry about the ONE negative posting you've received - I think you're amazing to find the time to write your blogs, and post pictures, respond to comments etc as well as planning your routes! Keep safe. A. Pam x

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    1. Hi A. Pam. Thanks very much. : 0 ) Hope you guys are well. XXX

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