Monkey business

We were in the mountains again and rode through winter forests (at least we were hoping so as many trees looked as if they were in their winter state, brown and leafless). We rode again on an unbelievably bad road, it seems that all state highways are like this. They even try to repair it, but the way it is done only makes it worse and we are still musing about the reasons for that. We would cycle for 500 m on a perfect road that just becomes a soft road with huge holes and repairs with no avail that actually make it even worse to ride on it to just become a perfect road again after a few kilometers. There is no pattern of it and there are also no signs of road works in the near future, so this will remain a secret to us forever.




By lunch we had only cycled 40km and we decided to stay in Kota, another depressing town with even atomic industry. Scary! While cycling and knowing that Johan was still in a more bad than good mental state given the cold, his stomach, the bad roads, the no privacy policy in India and the food I thought to myself that I don’t want to spend another night in a horrible hotel (as described by the rough guide) and rather wild camp. We discussed my idea during our next break and Johan had a similar thought and suggested to directly continue to Bundi and just cycle a bit longer as we had made good progress after lunch.


Great idea – if the map would have been correct, but we got misled once again and made a huge detour of about 20km on a deserted motorway (I got almost scared at times as there was just NO traffic at all for kilometers, I think on the 10km on the motorway one tuk tuk, one car and one motorbike passed. I started thinking about the movie ‘The day after’ and that maybe the atomic plant detonated the other day and we were the only idiots cycling into town! But I was thankfully wrong, it was just another useless motorway). We unfortunately had to cross the whole chaotic city of Kota, which took us approximately one hour and by 4.30pm we were finally on the national highway to Bundi, another 35 km to pedal. That highway is a major connection between Bhopal and Jaipur and you would think that it is an OK road to cycle on (at least these were our experiences earlier on). But it wasn’t. And it wasn’t good for us as we were racing once more against time – we had time until 6pm before it would get dark, mission impossible on the road to come. Shortly after Kota I discovered a sign: “Road constructions ahead for the next 83 km” and we cycled again through heavy dust clouds, over pot-holed roads, on sometimes perfect roads, and worst through the night. At 6.30pm it was pitch-dark, there wasn’t even a moon to shine on us and the (truck) traffic was as bad as before, cars, trucks and buses would overtake anytime and everywhere without paying any notice to two European cyclists. We often had to stop or get off the road onto the soft and unknown shoulder (as we couldn’t see anything anymore) to make sure we wouldn’t get run over by some other vehicle. VERY SCARY and we both swore to ourselves – if we survive this – and we obviously did – we’ll never ever cycle in the dark in Asia.


Some pottery business along the road

Some pottery business along the road

Some morbid companion along the road

Some morbid companion along the road

We arrived at our preferred guesthouse by around 7pm, completely shattered and frozen as we didn’t want to waste any time on dressing up during the last three hours and were welcomed by a friendly family. That evening we were still cold when we went to bed and Johan once more suggested to change flights and to leave India earlier to finally enjoy warm weather. With all his clothes on and a scarf around his head and neck once more he fell asleep.

Our mood improved tremendously the next morning when we shyly left our room to have breakfast, two heads first, then slowly one foot, then another foot, and two more feet, to discover that the open roof terrace was sun-covered. What a relief, we would be warm, at least during the day and had some time to recover – not only from the cold but also from two heavy cycling days (each time far beyond 100km) and Johan from his stomach bug. He ordered three different well-deserved breakfast dishes :-).

Johan’s mood improved even more when he discovered that his male hunting and protection instinct would be of enormous value and come to life during the day. As the guesthouse has another huge terrace we decided to do some laundry – there was just one problem, the monkeys. They steal everything they can get and Johan was really worried that we would end up seeing red arse monkeys sitting on the roof wearing his bike trousers or my bras. Which meant that we spent all day on the roof in the sun (we’ve had worse days), while Johan was equipped with sticks of all sizes, a strong male voice while performing wonderful acrobatic jumps across the terrace to protect our territory and scare the monkeys to death.

By now we spent three lazy days at our guesthouse to chill out, relax, eat, read, sleep and enjoy the sun. Today we’ll cycle to the countryside to see some waterfalls and prepare for our departure tomorrow. We’ll go basic again and will cycle through the countryside for a few more days. The weather is improving and they forecast evening temperatures of 15 degrees Celsius as of Sunday, perfect to camp in the wild again.




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