The Mighty Bay of Bengal

Sun Temple
Started the morning waking at 430am, well before dawn to walk down to the beach to watch the sunrise, as we were told it was a “must”.  The beach was packed with locals doing the same, and doing their business in the nearby field. We got robbed of our sunrise thanks to some rain. However, we did get an early start to the Sun Temple, a World Heritage site, our star attraction and reason we drove over 100km out of our way. And boy, was it worth it! So much detail of Kama Sutra poses and when the sun finally broke through the clouds….stunning!
Lil Jigg’ got the 1000km mark recommended oil change, spark plug cleaning, tightening up.
We hit the road and Jess started driving, and she was great.  This gave Cork some well deserved rest.
The the skies turned black;  lightening and thunder and  buckets of rain pelted us.  There are no doors on Lil Jigg’ and so we were getting soaked! We used our Chawels as “doors” which kept alot of the rain out.
4km Tide
We arrived into the beach town of Chandipuri at the reasonable hour of 5:30pm, which gave us just enough time to see that the  tide was out a whopping 4 kms! Apparently this is common and what the town in known for. So much for swimming, as we weren’t gonna walk 4km out to reach the sea. Went to a good restaurant where we had some Bengali food which is sweeter and not as spicy as some of the other Indian dishes we have tried.  It was  delicious.
291 kms travelled today.

Drive, Drive, Drive…

Road Muscle

Left Rushikonda at a harsh 5:15 am and did a ton of highway driving.  We arrived into Konark on one helluva road in the dark !  Elly was a total wreck!  It was so scary and there were so many animals , people, bikes, and buses-with NO lights on!  The hotel we stayed at was supposed to have email, no such luck.  We walked  into town and had a bite to eat and then straight to bed.  Today was 14 hours of driving and we were exhausted.  492 kms today!

Note to future Rickshaw Runners: invest in driving gloves and attempt to save your hands

Beach Day!

IMG_0105

Spent a well deserved day on Rushikonda Beach.  The water temperature on this side of India (Bay of Bengal) is much cooler and thus refreshing than the west coast lukewarm waters.  Lots of locals. Hung out with some fellow adventurists from the UK and Australia. Cork joined the boys in a game of cricket on the beach. .

Shared stories other teams.  Of which we heard another  team hit a sleeping cow; a bus clipped the windshield of a  rickshaw making the team wear swim googles for a few days to see; another team tipped over at a tollbooth, and as expected lots and lots of breakdowns. We also heard a few teams dropped out.

Destination Beach

Lil Jigg Beach

Left Guntur at 6am.  Stocked up on gas and planned on putting on some major mileage as we want to get to the beach today!  Lil Jigg’  was running a little sluggish, could be our gas/oil mixture. Gotta buy one of their steel measuring cups to keep it accurate.

Had some roadside fresh mango, bananas,  and sesame balls for breakfast. We were really motoring along today to make up for yesterday’s delay and to get to the beach. Cork is on a mission!                                                             This was a really bad day for accidents: saw 2 motorbike accidents, 2 huge trucks on their sides and a dog hit by a small truck in front of our eyes. Very sad.  On another note, we also saw many people squatting on the side of the road doing their business. Our eyes have been stained!

According to the GPS we should arrive at Rushikonda Beach at 4:30 pm…. HA!  As we were approaching the very large city of Visakhapatnam (try pronouncing that ten times) the crazy traffic began and we were caught in the thick of it.  To add to matters, it was quickly getting dark out!  Holy Hell!  Cork has become an Indian driver and is so aggressive. (Either that our she really wants to hit the beach) Thank goodness for GPS as we would not have found this “off the beaten track” tiny village outside of Visaknapa-whatever.  We got into Rushiconda at 6:40 pm and it was dark!  Got the last room in the place, a beach cottage which is actually ON the beach – amazing!  The sound of the waves was a real treat after a 12.5 hour day of noise and filthy fumes.  We had our spiciest dinner yet.  Fish curry, chicken tikka masala and mutton plus a couple of different breads and of course a few Kingfishers.

Packed on a whopping 478 kms today!!!

A day in the shop…hour by hour

Mechanic brake

Left at 6am with the boys, looking for a place to service the rickshaws, as we’ve been advised to have them ‘checked’ every 1000km.  Found a Bajaj dealer in the random city of Ongole. After a test drive, the mechanic found out we needed 2 rear wheel bearings and some minor adjustments with our fluids changed and greased.  The boys had less issues tho we all ended up at the garage for 4 hours.  After completing the work, the mechanic took Lil Jigg’ out for a test drive and there was yet another issue.  The boys had to get going as they had a hard departure date, so we had to say a sad farewell.

Had to wait another hour for a part for the carburetor… This was a great service station as  they even asked us to join them for lunch up on the roof.   After finally leaving and driving 20 minutes we lost our brakes!  Holy crap!!!  WTF!   We flagged down a couple of bikers and they called a mechanic.  We followed the bikers, minus our brakes to a nearby mechanic who didn’t want to do the job. However he called another mechanic who said he would be there in 5 minutes. We were all chibbed and ready to drive back brake-less to the Bajaj Service station.  But in the nick of time the mechanic arrived.  He had to tighten something on all 3 wheels and also the brake pedal.  He took Cork out for a test drive and slammed on the brakes, jerking Cork up a bit, much to our amusement. Now  we have great brakes. We were so thankful to the two bikers and the mechanic.  They refused to take any money from us so we gave them Canada pins and took photos of them. (Everyone seems to love having their photo taken here).

On the road again!  WHEW!

Drove to another random town named, Guntur and got room.  Out for a typical rice dinner and then bed .

Only 220 kms today.

 

Gifting the Police

security

We are heading inland to Tirupathi and it took way longer than expected.  GPS gave us a sneaky short cut which worked the first time, however the second time we ended up off road in mud!  The boys watched as we pulled our rickshaw up the muddy hill and back onto pavement.  Got into the busy city of Tirupathi and lost one of the boys…Thomas and Stephen missed the turn.  Jeez, it took nearly 3 hours to get the boys back.  Thank god they had phones, which we do not…
Jess and I tried desperately to find out how to visit the temple up the mountain to see the head shaving..  Nothing was working and it seemed like it would take a full day to do…  We all left Tirupathi and the 3 of us decided that we must see some sights as we had given up the head shaving, so we made a commitment to do more sightseeing if we could: the Sun Temple in Odisha and Calcutta are a must.

We got stopped by police and the boys had to show paperwork etc. The police were all happy with us and we ‘pinned’ them with our Canadian pins.  They were all smiles.  We ran into Team Chang and the Americans so we all convoyed into Kavali where we found a dump of a hotel called the Princes Paradise. Oh it so was not a ‘paradise.’ Our bathroom was outside our room off an outside walkway.  Sink in the room was black with grime.  An Kavali paradise perhaps….

Went to a standup bar next door and had cold ones.  Some real characters showed up and chatted us up and lots of photos were taken. Everyone wants a photo with us.  Went to a nearby restaurant where dinner cost us $1 each.  Rice, banana leaf, sauces, yogurt – great! And what a bargain.  The staff invited us for a tour of their kitchen which was surprisingly clean and really efficient.  Back to the standup bar for rum shots and bed by 11pm.
We have now heard that teams have chosen some different routes; some up the west coast, some going up through Bangalore and others like us, going up the east coast.  278 kms today

Travelling with the Austrians

The Austrians

Pascal, the ski instructor, Joachim, the carpenter, Stephan the welder, & Thomas, the quiet welder. Also known as Really Awesome Guys!

Departed at 630am for Puducherry by taking the wrong road and had to backtrack.  OMG! The traffic in Puducherry at 8am was hilarious and hairy.  At one point all traffic which included school kids, buses, cars, bulls, rickshaws, bikes, bicycles, people, trucks was totally jammed up at the railway tracks waiting for the train to pass.  When it started moving, a bus nearly clipped us a couple of times and our ears were hurting from all the honking!

Got to the Bay of Bengal / Andaman sea.  It was a beautiful setting and we had an Indian breakfast of idly, veg and sauce and an americano which was sweetened and had lemon zest and cinnamon added. Interestingly good.
On the street we saw a guy on his bicycle with a bag full of cut up chicken sitting in the sun – no food safeyt here!
Stopped at the World Heritage Shore Temple in  Mamallapuram. The temple was on the sea with a beautiful stretch of beach running along side of it. Too bad we didn’t have time to enjoy the beach….
A local told us of an alternate route North and advised us not to go into Chennai as there was no bypass and it would take 5 hours just to get through. I guess for a city of 6.6 million people it could take some time…

Our gps was dead and we went the wrong way several times. The locals always know the way…
Got onto a really bad road, actually off road and got onto someone’s front lawn. As we tried to back our rickshaw up we started laughing as we ran over their nice big cactus plant.  Cork’s first roadkill! They did not seem to mind and we just howled! The Austrians seemed quite entertained, yet puzzled.
We finally got onto the right road .  Went thru a massive market which sold everything and it was jammed with shoppers.  Found a clean a/c room in Arack before dark.  Whew! Very choice!  Had a delicious meal of ‘Mutton Hyderabad’ and there were some other great dishes of mushrooms, mutton Chettinad, and tandoori naan with some great spices going on.  385 kms today!

Breaking Rules Badly

IMG_0252Departed today at 7:06 am.  The highways were great and we saw many teams.  Our goal was to make it to Puducherry, (a former French colony up until 1962, on the East Coast) as we all wanted to dine on steak, croissants, and Beaujolais.  Every couple of hours we would stop to let  Lil Jigg’ have a cool down and for us, a good stretch.  We were drinking a ton of water mixed with electrolytes.  It is scorching hot and by 2pm the air is cooking even when we are flying at 45/kph!
As the sun is going down, we realize that we cannot make it to Puducherry.  A tiny town named Viluppuram was our only option.  It got darker and darker and darker.  The Indians all drive with their high beams on…or no lights at all.  It was a very scary drive, as we drove with our hazard lights on, trying to be as “bright” as possible. We finally we got to the exit and Jess spotted a hotel.  We had another team following us but they left us as we arrived at the hotel.  As we are pushing our rickshaw towards the back parking lot, we heard some guys yell and it was the Austrians!  We were a wreck and the tears started to flow at the bar with the boys.  But we made it safely and vowed we would never drive at night again.
Ordered boar which never arrived.  However the beers did and many were consumed. We were all thankful to have met up with eachother, especially in this dive of a hotel.
Our room was pretty bad. Jess turned on the water and it came out of a pipe in the ceiling.  We sprayed the beds with disinfectant, as I seriously doubt this room had been cleaned in a few decades.

330 kms today!

And We’re Off!!!!

Start Cork went and picked up Lil Jigg’  and brought her back  to the home stay to pack up all our gear.  We now have India GPS on the ipad.  Drove to grounds and had some  pomp and ceremony  in the sizzling  heat.  70 rickshaws paraded around the grounds.  The newspapers and reporters were all there.  Everyone was pumped and we left at 11:45 am.  Hilariously enough, all teams got lost, including us, just getting out of  Fort Cochin.
We got past the city Thissur when all the fun stopped.  The traffic was horrible in both directions which we found out later was due to a single lane bridge quite a ways up the road .  This is when we discovered that SIZE MATTERS on Indian roads.  It is like a pecking order where the biggest rules the roadways and it just goes down in size from the road-train-trucks (bigger and taller than a transport truck) to trucks, to busses to smaller trucks, to cars, to rickshaws to motorcycles to people to anmals.  As we were stopped in traffic, most trucks, busses, and cars tried to inch their way around .  Cork attempted to pass at one point and went over to the opposite shoulder because Lil Jigg’ would not steer over the weird grade of the road.  Then the worst happened:  a bus ran us off the road.  Thank God there was a shoulder to run on to.  We were all shaken up but ok.  We found a new hotel in Palakdad and had to have a few stiff drinks as  we were wrecks.  I was ready to pack it in.  Cork was ready to put Lil Jigg’ on a train to Shillong.  After a shower, we found a wonderful  all veg restaurant where we chilled out. The food was a variety of  peas, rice, veg and different sauces on a large banana leaf that you ate with your RIGHT hand, not left.  This was the best food we had had so far on the trip.  Now off to bed and pray for a safe tomorrow!

We racked up 125 kms today.

Charlie Boorman & FrankWater

Boorman Offtrax

Arrived at United Club grounds at 10 am.  Charlie Boorman from the documentary series Long Way Around and Long Way Down (with Ewan Macgregor) was there with his film crew.  Charlie came over and had a chat with us about the Rickshaw Run and we got some good photos. He was quite impressed by all our sponsors.
The volunteers for Frank Water interviewed our team.  They informed us that a project is ongoing in Warangal, India and hopefully we will be able to visit the project within the alloted time en route.
We took the rickshaw to our home stay and practiced some packing as there is limited room and have been warned to to overload our roof racks. No problem for us as we have the perfect sized backpacks from Asolo.

The power was out all day! Therefore no internet, and thus no updates. Instead we ventured into Mattancherry, an area in Cochin,   for Corks first hand  at crazy Indian  traffic.  Massive trucks loaded with rice, goats, cows, rickshaws, peeps, all jammed up all over the streets but she managed to get through this hairy mess. What a test!
It was another hot one, but managed to do a bit of shopping pre-race.  Went out for a cold Kingfisher and then to shower and dress for the big send off party at an old Dutch palace on an island in the Cochin harbour.  We were entertained  by the local culture of sword fighting, knives, fire swallowers, and some crazy dances by our fellow team mates.  Some of the teams were dressed up as cows, spiderman, bears, pirates, and even a guy in Depends.. There was massive drinking by some of the teams and the dancing was wild. A new one for us was the “tray dance”.   A group holds a serving tray over their heads as someone would ATTEMPT to dance on tray.  Let’s just say there were some pretty amazing wipeouts.  Home by 1am and off to bed as we start tomorrow!!!!