|Total km bike/run/hike||3802|
|Mean km/day on Biking Days||98|
|Mean km/day on Biking and Other Activity Days||54.3|
|Mean km/day on Hiking Days||12|
|Mean km/day Biking/Hiking over all Days||42.72|
|Hotel courtesy of Friend/Family||10|
|Random people met along the way||1|
|Explore City and Biking||8|
|Flight or Car Travel||5|
|Cruise on Kerala Backwaters||2|
|Explore and Biking||2|
|Swimming, visiting temple||1|
Notes for cyclists:
- India was a challenge. It was not until I left the country that I realised how much I had been on my guard there at all times.
- I loved cycling in India. It was extreme but amazing and very rarely boring. Some of the countryside is just beautiful and it was fascinating to see how the people live and interact.
- Many people will be really happy to see you and wave and smile - particularly in the villages in the South. Children will run up to greet you and race you on their bikes or running.
- There are some lovey paved single track roads through mountains, forests and fields.
- There are so many temples and old buildings and historical sights to see that you can become bored of temple ticking....
- The traffic is insane and it takes about 1 month to get used to NO road rules and what that means to the way the traffic flows! One of the most dangerous things is the old man cycling on the wrong side of the road directly at you as it is literally a toss of a coin to determine which way he will swerve.
- The beeping of a horn does not mean that an Indian is angry. They don't seem to use their eyes when driving and so feel the need to let you know they are there by beeping. It means that towns and cities are very loud. A beep can mean many different things depending on the length and tone of the beep.
- Indians use the accelerator and the brake as on off switches!
- There are other cyclists that travel through India (more often Southern India) but they are much rarer than other countries. I saw only 4 others in 4 months - but Alan saw about 10.
- It is really easy to pick up any drug you want from a pharmacist without a prescription. Therefore, don't pay the high prices in the UK and just get a first aid kit when you arrive. There is an area in the North and also around Goa where there is a chance of getting Malaria. The anti-malarials with limited side effects are only available for about £70 in the UK where as they are available in India for less than £1!
- You will get the shits! Hopefully it will just be Delhi belly and will go in a few days (rather than dysentery - what I got on my first trip to India). Every other traveler that I spoke to in India had been ill at least once. Alan (the other cyclist I biked with for a couple of weeks) had the shits 5 times in 3 months in India and spent about 1 week in hospital - he was a bit of a wus though. (;-)) When you arrive in India buy some general antibiotics (Ciprofloxacin), dehydration tablets and some Imodium. I have a solid stomach but still found that some of the times I got a dodgy stomach I could not fight off the diarrhea until I took some antibiotics. Normally I did not feel sick - just weak and uncomfortable and needed to go about 5-10 times per day. As soon as I took 1 or 2 of the Ciprofloxacin I started to feel much better and the diarrhea went away by the next day. I know that you are supposed to take a longer course and speak to a doctor etc but I prefer to take as few antibiotics as possible and each time just 1 or 2 tablets set me right.
- Indian road atlases will show a single track road as the same size as a good quality highway and are full of errors. It makes route funding hard. I would recommend a smart phone with GPS and Google maps for navigation.
- Children will race you on their fixed wheel bikes. It is fun and usually ends up with them racing ahead for about 3 minutes, them getting tired and then me catching them - like the tortoise and the hare. I do enjoy racing. One time a lad was determined to beat me and I was stupid and competitive enough to race him for about 15 mins before he turned off with a big grin on his face. This banter, which crosses language barriers, provides lots of light entertainment as I travel along.
- When traveling in NZ and Aus I would always wash my clothes when Couch Surfing or Warm Showers and only sometimes have to hand wash my things. When traveling in India you tend to stay in cheap hotels instead and so end up hand-washing your clothes at the end of each day. It is a rubbish part of cycle touring and drove me mad.
- If you are a single girl do not Couch Surf in India. It is more trouble than it is worth.
- Do not attempt to ride at night! It is just too dangerous. Very few people use lights and there are a large number of accidents. Especially, if you are a girl on your own try to stop biking before dusk and find a suitable lodge. I would not recommend going out in some towns once it has got dark. You will get a LOT of male attention anyway but going out on your own at night can be dangerous.
- Most Indians (with the exception of the higher castes) don't use toilet paper and use there left hand to wipe their bums. Don't shake someone's left hand.
- A hotel is called a "Lodge" in India. A hotel usually means a restaurant. This confused me for the first few days. A "Hotel" in India means a restaurant.
- The fresh fruit juice that you can get on most road side shops contains lots of calories and is great for an energy rush.
- Do not cart round camping stuff. It is totally unnecessary in India as you can't camp easily anywhere. As a room for a night is somewhere between £3-£5 just go with a lodge. You really don't need much stuff in India. One pair of biking clothes and 2 sets of clothes for the evenings etc, plus biking tools, lights and if you are me about 10kg worth of gadgets.
- Not every town has a lodge especially in the very rural areas. I started asking from about 3pm which towns further on along my route have a lodge by pointing on my map and saying "Lodge, lodge". Most of the time there was someone that understood and would let me know. Sometimes the lack of accommodation meant that I had to stop earlier in the day than I would have liked just so that I could be sure of finding somewhere to sleep. A resort is an expensive lodge - usually by the sea or with a swimming pool etc.
- If you do not like insects and have to be in clean accommodation then do NOT cycle tour through India. You will end up staying in a shitty little lodge (even if you have a large budget) because it is the only accommodation for 50km.
- Dogs attack people on bikes. A friend of mine carried a stick which was handy on her bike to fight them off. A good idea in retrospect.
- Coffee is very difficult to get hold of. If you have an addiction like me then consider buying some in a large supermarket in a city and carry a filter cup with you. It is easy to get boiling milk or water on the way in the morning.
- You have to be prepared for the fact that you are the local freak show. You will get crowds of Indian men gathering around you even if you are a group. Women rarely join men in this activity and will very rarely approach you. Most of the time this attention is just very friendly and interested but you have to be prepared for it and be able to handle the fame. Be strong an forceful if you feel uncomfortable and Indians will normally back off. Take it all with humor and laugh at how ridiculous you look to people from rural areas. Not only are you a Westerner but you are also on a bicycle and probably wearing strange clothing. Indians do not really do sports and will thing that you are extremely odd. The largest crowd I had gathering around me was about 200 men in one village in the middle of no where. They were just interested and were friendly but just be ready to handle it.
- There is a lot of fried food and vegetables are cooked to death!
- A lot of the time even in very rural areas someone will speak English and those that don't speak English will go and get the person that does to help translate. Communication is not a major problem.
- It can get very hot and sunny. Up to 42C when I was in North India. I don't mind the heat and so it was not a problem for me :-)
- Water is very easy to get in most places though and costs about 10-15p per bottle.
- The quality of the roads can be horrendous - even the highways. It is impossible to tell beforehand so do not plan far in advance. I usually had no idea at the beginning of each day where I would be by the end of the day.
- If you are stuck with no where to stay and it is getting dark don't panic - you can always jump into a Rickshaw and go somewhere else. It might be expensive for the budget but will not break the bank and it is better to be safe.
- Sun screen and dental floss very difficult to get hold of in rural India (pharmacy is the best bet).
- The internet is very difficult to find in rural India. I recommend a smart phone with a data connection.
- Alan's (another cyclist that I traveled with for part of North India) had a genius plan of hanging on to the back of lorries and tractors - called tractor surfing! It was an awesome idea and is only possible in a country like India where there are no rules!
- I felt more comfortable going exploring after dark and I was also been less cautious in the day time when I was traveling with a male companion in India. I was happier chatting with Indian men and not so worried about the fact that just by talking to them I am in some strange way giving them the "come-on" just by talking to them.
- It is important to cover up in the towns especially at night time.
- In rural India most spare parts for your bike will be impossible to get hold of. Many Indians have bicycles but they are fixed wheel and use different parts. Take many spare parts with you (including a spare set of tyres) unless you are willing to trust the Indian postal system and prepared to wait for another part to arrive from a city.
- India does not seem to wake up until about 8 so getting breakfast in rural areas first thing in the morning can be difficult. So that I can have as much time as possible on my bike in the day light I tried to get going early. I carried porridge oats and made my own breakfast.
- It is very difficult to get camping gas but easy to get gas canisters. I had the wrong type of stove for India and so did not end up using it. It was not a problem as it was very easy to buy cheap food on the go and get hot water or hot milk for coffee but if you like to cook yourself then investigate which type of gas you can get hold of before you buy your stove to take to India.
- Indian men can not help themselves to stop fiddling with the gears on a bike - they have to turn the cogs and see what happens. Bikes with gears are very unusual in India. When I was not watching my gear tuning was completely screwed on 2 occasions.
- Cycle tourists look like aliens from outer space to the average rural Indian. Cows rule the road and move for no man. (Quotes from fellow cyclist Alan).
- Buses will accept your bike. Be careful to tie it to the roof yourself though and not rely on the job done by the locals. AC Coaches will take your bike in the luggage compartment at the back of the bus if you pay an extra fee.
- Traveling by train through India is the most comfortable form of transport over long distances but it is an absolute headache with a bike! You need to spend hours getting the right paper work in place with the correct office during their office hours (sometimes only 10-3). If your train is at 9 at night then don't just turn up 2 hour ahead of time in order to check on your bike (even if you are told by 1 official that is what to do). The office will be shut and you will be lucky to get your bike on the train. Some trains do not allow bikes as luggage. You need to check well before hand that the train station you are getting on at accepts parcels at that station or else your bike will have to be transported on a different train and might take a couple of days to arrive. It is the parcel office that can help you. Most of the times I got on to trains I arrived hot, sweaty and covered in oil. Not a very pleasant way to start a long distance train journey....
- It is easy to be a vegetarian in India. Some travelers I met avoided meat dishes even though they were not vegetarians in their own country because they thought it reduced the chances of getting the shits. I found there was no correlation between whether my meal had meat in it or not whether I got the shits - it was just correlated to whether the person preparing my food had just wiped his bum with his left hand and then not bothered washing it before preparing my lovely meal. I also found that eating fresh salad and fruits made no difference. I ate what ever I felt like and I did not become as ill as often as Alan who avoided loads of foods - I think it is partly just a luck thing. Getting ill is just something you have to accept if you want to travel in India.
- There are stalls everywhere that sell tiny sachets of shampoo, toothbrushes and other toiletries. It means that you really don't have to carry many things with you on a bike through India.
|Total km bike/run/hike||556|
|Mean km/day on Biking Days||90|
|Mean km/day on Biking and Other Activity Days||55|
|Mean km/day on Hiking Days||29|
|Mean km/day Biking/Hiking over all Days||22.24|
|Hotel courtesy of Friend/Family||10|
|Sunny Morning Afternoon Rain||25|
|Flight or Car Travel||2|
|Explore City and Biking||2|
|Paragliding and Swimming||1|
|Biking and Hiking||1|
Summary of Country
- I loved the Himalayas and scenery of the country.
- Nepal has the positives of India (cheap food and accommodation etc) and far less of the negatives (. Nepal is cleaner and it is much easier to travel through.
- I did not feel like such a freak in Nepal because the Nepalese are used to Westerners in sports clothes doing trekking and rafting and other sports. It was nice not to have to worry about covering up all the time.
- The attention of men does not seem as threatening as I did in India.
- Thunderstorms arrived about 3-4pm each day during May. There was normally beautiful blue skies first thing in the morning. May was the best time to go for me as it was not the peak tourist season.
- About 10% of the locals wear face masks in the big cities because of the pollution. The pollution is really bad in Kathmandu and I really did not feel like I could breathe properly in the city. It is in a valley which acts as a sink for the pollutants.
- Friend Miranda says "You fall in love with India, you marry Nepal". So true.
- Unlike Indians the Nepalese can use there eyes to drive and do not beep their car/motorcycle horns every second. It was so much more relaxed and quiet. Lovely after 4 months of India.
- There are no auto-rickshaws - small car taxis instead. Auto-rickshaws are illegal and probably don't have the power to handle the mountains anyway!
- There are completely different traffic rules in Nepal from India i.e. there are rules of the road!
- The other countries I had visited up to Nepal were all fantastic and I enjoyed every single one. However, at the end of my time there I felt "tick". I was happy not to rush back for 20 years i.e. until the country changes significantly. Nepal was different. I would love to go back to Nepal on holiday and could spend a long time there and see the country in far more depth.
- It was a beautiful country, easy to travel though and the people were extremely friendly.
- Nepal is also very good value for money. It is about 20% more expensive than India but food and accommodation is still very cheap. You can very easily live on less than £10 per day for everything including doing fun things like trekking/paragliding etc.
- Even though it is a developing country it is very much cleaner and more hygienic than India.
- Nepal has a major problems with power cuts and petrol shortages. The government had been subsidising fuel but then could not carry on doing so as it was bankrupting the country. Rather than increasing the prizes they just reduced the supply so that people would use less and so that eventually they could increase the price to the population without so much resistance as people would see that higher prices where better than the shortages. Most good hotels have generators and back-up supplies.
- There are often strikes where the whole country grinds to a holt and there is NO public transport running. Hotels are still open but many cafes etc shut. This is due to the political unrest. It s not violent unrest however and being a tourist in Nepal is reasonably safe.
- Nepal is much more geared up for tourism.in comparison to India. It means that you can spend loads of money if you want on adventures like white water rafting, trekking, paragliding. boating and other fun things. Pokara is the best bast to do these activities.
- Micros are the best way to travel round the country. They are slightly more expensive than buses but travel much faster and you have more room inside.
- Transport is so much cheaper in Nepal in comparison to Europe.
- There are major tourist areas in Kathmandu (Thamel) and in Pokara (Lakeside). There you can easily buy knock off equipment (if you want proper equipment then bring it with you as there are only a small number of shops that stock the "real" thing), eat Western food and stay in OK hotels. These areas are much more expensive than the rest of the country but very comfortable to spend a few days relaxing in (especially if you have just been traveling in India).
- There is a lot of variety of food available in Thamel: Mexican, Italian, French, American, Thai , Indian and Nepalese. However, what you end up getting are Nepalese versions of the different dishes. It is lovely to have some western food but it is not exactly fine dinning.....
- Drink is very accessible at any time of day in Nepal.
- Most Nepalese are up and about by 6 - very different to India who are only up and about by 8. In May it gets light about 4.30 and dark by 8. As the thunderstorms roll in at 2/3/4 it is better to get up with the light and make the most of the day.
- Bartering is normal. Barter hard and then if the service is good then leave a great tip. It encourages good service.
- It is probably the easiest place I have every trekked.
- In Europe, you end up camping because of the cost of staying in hostels (which are often fully booked anyway) or B and Bs.
- Even when it is raining there are warm showers and places with blankets and so it is possible to warm up.
- The Nepalise people on the trails are really friendly.
- The meals are more expensive than you can get in non-tourist places in Nepal. Many restaurants in Thamel (Kathmandu)) or Lakeside (Pokhara) have similar prices. However, in comparison to the West the food is exceptionally reasonable.
- As a treat I had Chicken Sizzler for £4.50. This was a big deal.
- A Mars bar is about £1.
- You need to take water purification tablets with you as mineral water is very expensive and not available in some areas.
- They say that the reason for the additional cost is the fact that porter have to carry the goods all the way up the trails. Fair enough. Tourists have the choice to carry the food themselves and pay less for it in the towns.
- I really think to understand Nepal as a country it is important to go trekking in the mountains. It gives an understanding for the way of life and what the whole country must have been like before any roads were built. The major roads have only been built since Nepal opened its boarders in the 1950's. A huge proportion of the population still live in areas where there is no road access.
- I thought that I went trekking at a perfect time of year as there were very few tourists in comparison to a couple of months earlier. As long as you get up early and get walking first thing in the morning before the rains arrive in the afternoon then it is great. The mornings are usually very sunny and there is no hazy early on.
- If you are reasonably fit and confident in the mountains you don't need a guide or a porter. Only get them if you want to support the locals.
- The maps that you can buy of the trekking routes are OK but are wrong in places. Just because the map says the path is on the right of the river does not mean that it is not actually on the left!
- In general most of the paths that you will be walking are well known routes and so are easy to follow even without a map (but get one anyway).
- It is hard to get lost for long as you will see a village off in the distance and can go and ask if need be. It is much safer than walking in the Scottish Highlands for example.
- Rooms are about 100RS. This is for a room with no attached bathroom. Most places further away from civilisation do not have attached bathrooms.
- About 1/3 of the bathrooms have western style toilets.
- About 2/3 of the lodges have warm water for showers. This is usually advertised outside. The cost for a warm shower is often 100RS although we managed to persuade them to waiver the fee as it was quite season and they wanted the business.
- The lodges mainly make their money from the meals they serve and so they have a supplementary charge for the room if you do not eat in the restaruant - about 400RS.
- Many of the restaurants only serve vegetarrian food. There is far more choice than I expected but most of the places have exactly the same items on the menu.
- The further away from civilisation you get the more expensive the meals become.
- Don't go in the really busy period because it will be heaving. Apparently many of the lodges are absolutely full in the busy months of the dry season.
- It you are willing to just get up early and walk until the rains arrive then April/May is the best time of year to visit. Things are cheaper as there is more competition.
- I am sure there is more info to add here..... I will do as I remember it.