The Rickshaw Run – Day 8

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The Rickshaw Run – Day 8

Rickshaw Run India - The Rickshawshank RedemptionJust like every other day, day 8 started before dawn and we got the obligatory petrol on our hands to get the rickshaw started. We were inland on the rickshaw run as a random guy 700km ago told us this was a better option. The route we were to take today was the first disagreement we had about anything. Since we only discovered yesterday about Nashik and the Kumbh Mela, 2 of us wanted to go west to Trimback which is a very holy town for Hindus as it is the start of the Godavari River and was only 30min drive away while two of us wanted to head directly north and go through a National Park. Both were very valid arguments. On the one hand we were in one of only 4 cities that host the Kumbh Mela and we hadn’t seen any real Hindu temples yet (in the daylight at least) whereas we hadn’t really seen any national parks either (in the daylight) and that would also be great to see. We decided that we could do both even though it would be longer before we joined back onto the main roads on the west coast. We should be back in civilisation and big roads by the evening.  Little did we know the journey that awaited us.

The Rickshaw Run – Cow chicken

Rickshaw Run India - The landscapeWe headed for Trimback in the freezing cold of the morning. The further north we went the colder the dawn journeys got. By this point on this epic Indian journey the morning temperatures may have been about 8-10deg. This is not freezing if walking down the street in but if you are in the back of a rickshaw and the wind is coming in the gap at 45km/hr and you aren’t equipped with ski jackets this temperature can be life threatening! With our limited internet access and only recent discovery about Kumbh Mela we weren’t exactly sure what was in Trimback but the pictures looked impressive. Even at 06:30am there were police checkpoints on the edge of town and certain streets we couldn’t drive. After some mixed signals from the policemen who were very surprised to see us we got into the town centre. I can definitely say I wasn’t filled with awe as we parked up in a deserted square Rickshaw Run India - Getting chased by school kidsfull of women carrying firewood and sweeping the street. The last bit was on foot so this must be where this huge temple hung out. We took it in two’s to head in as all our bags were on the rickshaw. Underwhelmed was not the word. The temple wasn’t big and it was on a small crowded street filled with cow dung and skinny dogs. Not being allowed into the temple wasn’t a surprise but after doing a lap of it dodging the stray pigs we headed back with our tails between our legs (pardon the pun). We had chai with another policeman as we waited for the others and played ‘cow chicken’. This involves standing directly in front of a cow as he/she is walking down the street and see who moves first. It’s a good game of nerve but the cow inevitably wins as it has……more nerve (and horns)! The bull in Trimback was not one to be messed with.

The Rickshaw Run – GPS woes

Rickshaw Run India - The long and bumpy roadAfter much disappointment with the lack of holiness in Trimback our spirits picked up with the beautiful sunrise as we tried to double back on ourselves to head north to the national parks. As said in previous posts we had lost our proper maps so were now relying on Google maps to get us places. We should have realised something was up when one of the ‘main roads’ out of Trimback was not too main in reality. On we continued as our little GPS was moving on our maps and keeping us on track. After an hour we should have reached the highway but we hadn’t. The road had gone from having a few potholes to having lots of potholes and was now not having tarmac in places. After about 2hrs we hadn’t really passed any towns, the wonderful GPS had us located in the middle of the country where there were no roads. We were lost. We were now thinking once we got to a town it would be fine as there would be signs. Eventually we came across a small town with no signs of course but then we realised we didn’t even know where to ask for. As we had no idea where we were, the nearest route could have been back through Nashik where we had come from and where people were telling us to go. Another problem was that it is all fine and well calling towns Vani and Kolvan but the locals call these towns Ban and Kovo. Even Google maps and Bing maps call most towns different names. We asked for big towns further north but the locals kept pointing back the way we came so we were very sceptical. After 20min we now had a big crowd all ‘helping’ us get out of here. In the cities people want your Rickshaw Run - Old man on the streetmoney but in the country they are just curious so if you ask one Indian for help they all just curious what he was asked for and have no problem coming over to find out. When a kind local drove us to a turnoff our prayers were answered and we were sorted as he knew it was 40km to the main road and onto Surgana. It was only lunchtime so everything was fine again. Now that we knew where we were going we could enjoy the beautiful scenery and quite roads. The scenery was spectacular, rolling brown hills, green trees and colourful flowers, the day was warm but not hot, everything had worked out rosy.

The Rickshaw Run – Surgana?

Rickshaw Run India - Getting breakfast on the side of the roadThat was until we went 5km. The road was now just dust. Dust and potholes. Our paces slowed and every so often the dust would be joined by a woman carrying something on her head walking down the road. Every 10minutes we would ask ‘Surgana’ and point a direction to be sure this was actually the road there.  We must have said Surgana a hundred times over the day. The landscape of small fields and farmers didn’t look as nice anymore and we were being bounced over and back in the rear of our Shawshank Redemption. After 30min of this the road got worse again. It was now just rocks and stones. The rattling was only savage. In one hour we managed only 6km! Every now and then we would hit tarmac and we would think that was it but it was a form of mental torture as around the next corner it was gone again. The shaking got so bad that one of our supports holding the frame and the roof fell off! Yeah, just fell right off because of the shaking. We tied it back on and supported the rest using brown parcel tape! We now had a constant fear of breaking down. We had a history of it and if we did we would be stuck for a day or two in the country sleeping in the fields. We were gone 3hrs since our little helper and we hadn’t passed another town. We got out of the rickshaw every now and then to help the ‘shaw go up steep hills (its only 7 horsepower) and on one occasion I had a very random encounter with a government official from the Dept of Agriculture. He drove a motorbike and had perfect English and was there to advise the rice farmers and just wanted to chat to somebody.  It was now nearing 5pm and still hadn’t managed 40km and we were getting seriously worried we would have to spend the night in the rickshaw. Around a corner and bang. We were in a big town and back on the main road. I was never so glad to see trucks!

The Rickshaw Run – Indian National Residence

Rickshaw Run India- Taking a breakSome chai and deep fried sandwiches later we were on our way to Surgana.  Surgana was a biggish town on the map so we had every confidence we would just wing a place to sleep. As if we had a choice. It was further than we thought and we only arrived just as it was dark. It turned out that there were no hotels and the only spot was an Indian National Residence. We inquired and were told no initially because we weren’t Indian and we had to drive for 40min the wrong way to get a hotel. After some insistence and being in no mood for more driving after the day we had he said he would ring his boss. Another crowd gathered to look at us sitting around as we heard the guy on the phone mention ‘Ireland, Christians’. We presumed the residence was just a big floor for Hindu pilgrims and maybe the girls were the problem but to our delight we got the go ahead and we had a mini apartment. It was perfect. Sofas and two toilets included all for $10.

Then came dinner. We sauntered down Surgana town in the pitch dark as the town doesn’t have any street lights. It was easily the least developed town we had come across. We walked down passed cow, dog, pig, human, cow, pig and then into the only restaurant we could find. Within seconds there were 20people standing at our table looking at us. Well if I’m honest they probably weren’t looking at me! Half the guys wanted to take photos with us and the other half were just looking. The small restaurant got packed before the owner hunted people out to let us eat in peace. We ate their homemade naan bread and drank the beer they bought for us next door before going for a well earned sleep.

 

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Our Rickshaw Run Route

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Launch location - Fort Cochin: 9.965054, 76.240447
Day 1 - Tirur: 10.915057, 75.921910
Day 2 - Bekal: 12.397648, 75.032380
Day 3 - Bhatkal: 13.999247, 74.545306
Day 4 - Palolem Beach: 15.009965, 74.023219
Day 5 - Belgaum: 15.855439, 74.506551
Day 6 - Pimpri Chinchwad: 18.629781, 73.799709
Day 7 - Nashik: 19.983067, 73.717101
Day 8 - Surgana: 20.560467, 73.637432
Day 9 - Bharuch: 21.721821, 73.005675
Day 10 - Udaipur: 24.581209, 73.681842
Day 11 - Sheoganj: 25.141818, 73.062635
Day 12 - Jodhpur: 26.287630, 73.015815
Day 13 - Jaisalmer, the finish line: 26.914083, 70.917384
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Launch location - Fort Cochin
Cochin, Kerala, India
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Day 1 - Tirur
Cochin, Kerala, India
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Day 2 - Bekal
Bekal Fort, Kasaragod, Kerala, India
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Day 3 - Bhatkal
Bhatkal, Karnataka, India
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Day 4 - Palolem Beach
Palolem Beach, Goa, India
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Day 5 - Belgaum
Belgaum, Karnataka, India
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Day 6 - Pimpri Chinchwad
Pimpri-Chinchwad, Maharashtra, India
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Day 7 - Nashik
Nashik, Maharashtra, India
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Day 8 - Surgana
Surgana, Maharashtra, India
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Day 9 - Bharuch
Bharuch, Gujarat, India
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Day 10 - Udaipur
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
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Day 11 - Sheoganj
Sheoganj, Rajasthan, India
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Day 12 - Jodhpur
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
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Day 13 - Jaisalmer, the finish line
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
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Ross Travellingforfun

About Ross Travellingforfun

I have ducked, dived, bungeed, burned, skydived, surfed, volunteered, volcanoed, crossed continents, conquered mountains, got robbed, got sick and got drunk and I hope this website will inspire you to do the same.