Last days in India... Featured
Our final days in India were to be spent in Delhi. So we left Jaisalmer on the morning of Monday on board a vehicle that traveled at a mind-boggling 80km/h most of the way, without a single breakdown. Back to civilization/technology. We were off to Jodhpur airport to board another vehicle that traveled at an even faster speed without breaking down (to our satisfaction and relief).
Arriving at the airport, we saw a number of teams that have also made the journey to Jodhpur airport to fly out to Delhi/Mumbai where they would be catching their connection flights back home. Most were leaving India. Few stayed behind to continue the adventure of discovering India.
day 8 9 ++ Featured
Leaving Varanasi early Sunday morning was painful. It is such a great city, beautiful in its chaos, spiritual in its own soothing way, but most of all it is a city we saw very little of. To all visiting India, Varanasi should definitely be a stop on your itinerary.
I have now officially become the worst blogger. We have documented our trip in pictures and videos and lovely memories. They will be uploaded eventually :p In the meantime, let me walk you through the last four days of madness on the rickshaw run. To be honest though, last four days pale in difficulty to the first four days we had. Nevertheless, quite eventful and full of wonderful moments and people.
Wake up at 5am. Again. Get the packing done as quickly as possible. We have a long road ahead today. We're hoping to arrive in Agra tomorrow to witness the beauty of the Taj Mahal. So our itinerary for the day leads us towards Kanpur which is approximately 300km south east of Agra.
The illegal immigrants, rare travels and rick dangerous were with us through the last five days in a lovely little convoy, and so we pushed on from Varanasi, together once again. Only this time, our carburetor problems make us much of a burden, and we keep stopping every couple of kilometers, slowing down the convoy. After a quick caucus, the convoy agreed to the Blue Camels' request to be left behind at the mechanic's while they press ahead, with the intent of meeting each other later on in the day, somewhere down the road to Kanpur.
H2 quickly finds breakfast (some awesome spicy aloo matar, potatoes and green peas, with little rotis). We descend on it like a pack of wild dogs, as our mechanic, silent as a dead person, takes apart "she who cannot be named" and cleans her out. Fast forward 45 minutes, and we're on the road again, after taking photos and giving away Bahrain memorabilia to the crowd that were surrounding us at the garage.
Except for the 8 decibels of exhaust pipe banging to the bumper in the back, the beast was running smoothly. We're pushing 60km/h. That's terrific. We might be able to catch up with the convoy; we are after all, only 1 hour behind. Alas, things never go to plan, and 20 minutes into our rejuvenated ride on the beast our carburetor clonks again, and we slow down to a stop on the National Highway. We're not feeling so good right now. After a day of rest and service we thought she would be up to the task. We get out, figure our options. Allahabad is only 60km away. Let's get there and look for a mechanic. Again.
We arrive eventually in Allahabad, and some random dudes off the road start asking us to pay tax. We argue and plea with them, and eventually they let us through without tax. Mind you, it was Rs20 (200 fils/30 cents). It wasn't about money. It was principle. We're not paying, period.
Off we go towards where we were told there was a mechanic. After much explaining in broken english/hindi/sign language, the crowd makes way to Mr. Khamrej, who looks like a war veteran. He bids us to ride with him, to a place near by where he has a 'friend', who happens to know auto-rickshaws inside out. We arrive at said place, and said man descends upon "she who cannot be named", quickly diagnosing the problem and coming up with a solution. Solution: take apart the carburetor, fully! and clean everything including exhaust pipe and air filter.
2 hours and several chai-from-plastic-bags later, Khamrej invites us to his humble abode to share chai with him. This is a sign of respect and friendship, and although we are trailing the convoy by a good four hours by now, we take him up on the offer and proceed to his lovely little home. His son, Vitali, is a great character who speaks some English (oh, Khamrej doesn't speak any English, but somehow we still have some phone conversations that last over 3 minutes long) and shows us around the house and his cow. Yes, Vitali owns a cow. India.
Off we go, the beast sounds like she just came out of the showroom. It is a lovely feeling, this is. So we are flying down the highway, making up some wonderful time, as we bear down to Kanpur to hopefully meet the convoy. Hours and hours we drive, as always, into the sun. As we near Kanpur we check in with the rest of the convoy. They haven't found a place to stay yet. Somehow we lose connection with them and end up in McDonald's. Shame. We eat like the hungry Bahrainis we are, and continue to discuss our plans for the evening.
H2 almost convinced us to do a night ride to Agra. Luckily, the McMaharaja and McNuggets settled those feelings of adventure, and so we check into a nice little hotel down the road.
The convoy has separated. Rick Dangerous is actually on the road still, 180km outside Agra. The Illegal Immigrants and Rare Travels are 100km away from us. The camels are alone once again. And yet, as we put our heads down to sleep that night, none of us worried what the next day would present to us in challenges and rewards.
Distance covered: 330km
We need to make it to Agra today. Around 300km away, it is bound to be a long one.
Wake up at 5am. Get packed. We were out of bed and on the road in about 30 minutes, and out of Kanpur in about 45 minutes. Got lost a couple of times. Tariq's iPhone Google Maps is still not working as phone connection is clonking.
The convoy is ahead of us by 180km this morning. We push on, on the National Highway pushing 60km/h. This is becoming easy. The road is giving us space and we're making some good time. At around 12pm, we have already covered 200km of road. We sit down to chill and have some chai, even though it is sweltering hot outside.
We check up on the convoy. They are actually behind us!! The illegal immigrants ran into some carburetor problems. So we waited in the little tea place we were in, and lo and behold we are brought together with our lovely convoy made up of Nambi, Duncan, Mark, Candace and Mama Citlali. It's been less than 48h, but we miss them. It's good to see them.
We ride in convoy to Agra. Reach there. Check in. Quickly make it to Taj Mahal. This part cannot be put into words. You must visit this wonder of the world. It blew all of us away. We took some lovely photos and our tour guide enchanted us with tall tales of the building of this great palace and its history. It is magical being here, and at sunset. We just float around the Taj, talking, smiling, and bumping into other rickshaw run teams.
We meet a Bahraini, Houda Sangoor, who was in India for some conferences. Lovely bumping into a Bahraini so far away from home. She was shocked and amazed at what we were attempting, and wished us the very best of luck. God bless you, Houda.
The evening fizzles out into a nice dinner with the convoy and "You've Korma Be Joking", who are made up of 5 individuals on two different rickshaws. Fun times, indeed.
Distance covered: 273km
Up in the am. We make the hard decision of leaving the convoy once again, as we were hoping to get some video footage with the Taj Mahal as the backdrop. We head over to the opposite bank of the Yamuna River, and we get some great videos for World Diabetes Day, our sponsors, Standard Chartered Bank and Nonoo Exchange. La La and Vikcy, two lovely little Indians help us navigate the streets of Agra, and purchase some gifts and souvenirs.
Off we go again. We're late, leaving Agra. It's almost 12pm. We've got over 200km to cover. The beast however, is not daunted by such a feat, and impressively clocks the trip to Jaipur in less than 6 hours. Fantastico!
The convoy has settled into this lovely little hotel called Karni Niwas, where we join them. Have some dinner in the hotel, sit and chat. It becomes a long night. But that doesn't matter at this point, because The Blue Camels are sleeping in tomorrow and seeing the city + doing some diabetes interviews at local hospital plus medical college.
Distance covered: 240km
Wake up late. Have some eggs and head to the hospital for some interviews. The local hospital is packed to the brim. H1 and T-man navigate the crowd, try to pry away some doctors, but with no success.
Make it to the medical college and get some lovely interviews with some medical students.
Off we are for some touristy stuff, after we got some diabetes footage for World Diabetes Day campaign. We eat Pizza Hut first. Yummy.
Then move on to Amber Fort. We came here with no expectations, and this site blew us away. We almost started thinking "Taj Mahal ain't got nothing on this place". It's beautiful, serene and picturesque. We meet the Dubai team there. It's funny how their team name is "Right Place, Right Time", and we always bump into them on the road somewhere.
We leave Amber Fort and head to a local jewel wholesaler who rinsed us dry, but gave us some nice little trinkets in return. The jeweler, Shintu, later joins us at the Copper Chimney for a nice dinner meal.
It's been a long day, again, and tomorrow we push for the longest distance yet. To Jodhpur we go. They say it's around 350km. Ouch.
Distance covered: 0km
I will cover the story of today's ride to Jodhpur and tomorrow's ride to Jaisalmer in a later blog, hopefully published in the next few days. Tomorrow is the final push. The beast is sputtering and muttering, but we need her now more than ever. We're tired, dirty, broke and we want to sleep more than 5 hours.
Wish the camels luck. We'll need it.
Good night and god bless...