We found a hotel on the
other side of Panvel with the usual grotty rooms, but a nice garden and
open air restaurant. Every time we ordered beer, one pound a pint, it
came with a plate of peanuts. From Panvel it was all uphill, 2000ft, to
Lonawala not surprisingly called a hill resort. The last few miles were
on the Indian equivalent of a motorway, but we were ok because
according to the signs, pedestrians, ox-carts and three wheelers were
Lonavala was packed with Indians taking the last
day of the Divali holiday and mostly packing up to go home to Bombay.
On the road in, we met about 30 lads who were walking from Bombay to
Poona, a distance of about 200k. We never found out why. On to Poona
(or Pune as it is now called). We managed to find a very basic room but
with a courtyard which always makes it more pleasant and settled down
for two days.
Remember that we said "no Delhi belly yet". Well,
David got Poona belly after a posh restaurant meal in Poona. As well as
his cold, he now had sickness and d...(can't spell it) to cope with.
This laid him out for a whole day and made him very weak for another
two. So far Joan has been ok and acted as nurse to David. Food
poisoning always seems to happen when we eat in the posher places!
bit about clothing. Shorts are definitely not worn in the North. We
have been told it is thought offensive (except in uniform!) and can
lead to us being spat at or stoned in rural areas. So far rolled up
under the knee cotton trousers has been the cycling gear. Perhaps it
will be better tolerated in the South.
David's illness kept us
longer than we wanted in Pune and we caught a bus out to a local hill
station called Mahabaleshwar, where we found a hotel room with a view
overlooking a valley.
The room was enormous and also had a
separate front room with sitting area. Joan knocked them down from 1000
to 600 rupees a night. The town was at 3000ft and the climate just
right, but a bit cool in the evening. It was so pleasant that we stayed
A two-day course of Amoxycillin brought from home
finally cured David who now feels better than he has since arriving in
India. Cycling in the South is much more pleasant than the North. The
scenery gets better every day, the poverty appears to be less and the
roads are less busy and the traffic more organised (more or less!).
is now unusual for every motorcyclist to ride alongside and say, "How
are You?" "Where are you from?" "Where are you going?" We now don't
attract huge crowds and get cut-up by every cyclist we pass when they
suddenly turn right without looking. We still get the occasional
motorcyclist with his wife riding pillion who rides slowly alongside so
his wife can get a good look at us.
Now, we ride the same as
they do and hold our line playing chicken as pedestrians and cyclists
come towards us or attempt to cut in. The road out of the hill station
was mostly downhill with terrific views and it was nice to be able to
stop to admire the view without being viewed ourselves.
at only 30 miles was enough for us for one day and we settled in to
a medium hotel at 425 rupees. It was ok but a bit grubby with
unreliable power supply. David evicted a few cockroaches. Not as bad as
the rat a few nights before!
Just across the road stood the "Hotel Maharaja Regency", a large marble
and glass modern building with entrance to match. As a treat, we would
try to eat in their restaurant, as we obviously could not afford to
stay there. As we walked in, we asked if we could eat in their very
sumptuous restaurant. "Of course" they said, and we plonked ourselves
down in solitary splendour. The menu arrived and we chose from what was
priced at no more than we had previously paid in a restaurant. "Sorry"
said the waiter "snacks only, the chefs not here".
we chose again. A few moments later the waiter re-appeared with a very
smartly dressed woman who said that we could have anything on the menu
as she had called the chef in for us. She was the hotel manager'ess and
chatted to us in perfect English. She insisted on showing us around the
hotel and showing us into the presidential suite and a normal double
room such as we would occupy. Both were sumptuous and sparkling clean
with veranda's and views. The big surprise was that a normal double
room would cost us only 650 rupees compared to the 450 rupees for a
rather basic grubby room we normally stay in. Thats only another couple
of quid to go from mediocre to luxury. The presidential suite was 1700
rupees (about 20pounds) We left with her recommendation for two other
hotels on route and her signature as authority.
interest for Paul and Adam, our engineering sons. All of the motor
repairs and workshops are extremely crude with hardly any decent tools.
Arc welding in the street is carried out with no eye protection at all
and sheet metal cutting is done mostly with a hammer and chisel using a
length of railway line as anvil. Rebar is cut the same way. Even with
this, the quality of work is surprisingly good, only in the large
cities are better facilities found.
Overnight at Karad and on to
Kohlapur. The hotel recommended by the woman in Satara said they were
full. After some persistence we found that they had expensive rooms at
750 rupees, but still didn't seem to be keen and so we gave up and went
elsewhere. We visited the Maharaja of Kohlapurs Palace which is a
splendid building part of which is a museum open to visitors. It is
full of stuffed animals, particularly tigers, and has some chowdahs
(seats that go on top of elephants) made of solid silver.