This post describes my lowest moment in India, I urge you to read it in context, India was an amazing place to cycle through but not without some significant challenges. Challenges due, almost entirely, to sever inner city pollution, coupled with the respiratory nature of cycling:
‘I feel sick.’ That was what I thought after a week of India. I didn’t eat anything bad, I didn’t have food poisoning (although Ellie wasn’t so lucky). It was the pollution, it was the heavy, yellow, suffocating stench of half combusted diesel. The longer Ellie and I stayed in Mumbai the more our health deteriorated. After a week we felt weak on the bikes, running was strenuous and even walking up a few flights of stairs left us feeling dizzy and headachey – I never usually get headaches. Once, after climbing about six flights of stairs with Ellie in Bandra we reached the top flustered and breathing heavily. Ellie and I hesitated at the top and caught each other’s eye, our expression was identical; a mixture of Continue reading India; a second opinion and a small disaster→
I can imagine how many people from the west have journeyed out to India and have commented on its lively rhythmic culture, the sites of temples, smells of spices and other less appealing things. But, what I find most surprising and beautiful, and bear in mind I’ve only seen Mumbai so far, is how green the place is. Buildings are everywhere but flora bursts from every crevasse growing in brickwork and on the tops of buildings, the plants are fighting back against the urban sprawl and the activities of over 20 million individuals. Given this I’ve now got high hopes for rural India.
Mumbai has many British colonial buildings such as Victoria Station, now renamed ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus’ (there’s a popular movement to replace all British names with Indian ones) and many seem to be a graceful state of decline. Continue reading India; first impressions→
Walking around Istanbul essentially consists of stumbling clumsily from one United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) protected site to another. The city has a jaunty skyline punctuated by some of the worlds greatest mosques, it didn’t take long to realise that the city had more than it’s fair share of brilliance. Just one of the many sites of cultural interest would make a great city, a handful of them would even make a world class capital but Istanbul is bursting at the seams. It’s also bursting at the seams in other ways; the city is swamped by a population of about 16 million people – the road networks and public transport system are choked every hour of every day. Bodies teem through the vast network of bazzars, which are themselves of world heritage value. Istanbul it’s a highly crowded but highly stimulating and enjoyable place to be and I was absolutely thrilled be be there. Continue reading Istanbul, one big UNESCO site→
The ferry from Kos to Bodrum on the south west coast of Turkey was a brief affair. One passenger, a resident Turk, warned us that we should be very careful on the roads because Turks don’t think about or expect cyclists on their roads and their driving is dangerous and aggressive. It wasn’t the most warming forecast of what we could expect in Asia! We duly noted concerned gentlemen’s warning but kept in mind that many people had said the same about Greece, Bosnia and Croatia already and we coped just fine in those countries.
By the time we had reached Bodrum it was getting quite late; there was perhaps an hour of twilight left before we’d be forced to search for a camp by torchlight. I didn’t relish the prospect of digging about trying to find an unoccupied patch of land to pitch the tent on my first night in a new country. Especially using a new map and surrounded by people I didn’t know or understand so the race was on. Continue reading Amazing Cycle Touring in Turkey→
This morning I woke up to gloriously persistent sunshine, just like every other morning in the last 6 weeks. In England if there is a sunny day and I have to work I feel I’m missing out. If it’s sunny and I don’t have any excuses not to be outside then I feel deeply guilty for staying indoors, as though I’m letting a great opportunity for a run/ride/BBQ slip unhindered through my fingers. But now for the first time a single sunny day doesn’t seem such a big deal, if I stay in today it will shine tomorrow, I won’t feel guilty for closing the curtains and watching a film. It’s finally happened; I’ve become complacent…
I’m still enjoying the good weather but, like a second year student at university who has settled into their new highly social life and has sensibly decided to decline the odd bout of drinking in favour of some studying, I won’t be lapping up every last ray of light fearfully anticipating impeding darkness to follow.
Many people will look at Ellie and I cycling through Europe and think that, however we might dress it up, we’re essentially on holiday. Those people would be close to the truth. It may be grueling at times, just making and breaking camp every day is taxing without having cycled a mile, but so is reserving deck chairs with beach towels. However, the Greek island of Kos really was a shameless holiday right in the middle of our tour. We’d cycled keenly through Greece and had tackled some steep terrain and hot weather before reaching Athens. So, upon reaching Kos, a large section of the tour lay behind us and the faintly daunting prospect of Turkey ahead. It was the perfect time for a break. Continue reading Kos, a holiday→
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