Saturday, March 12, 2005


Back in Mumbai after 2.5 months - seems less overwhelming now having been travelling around India on my bike.

Yesterday, while still in Udaipur, I cycled to the Monsoon Palace, atop a nearby hill. It was a tough ride (return trip from Lal Ghat 15.9 km; average speed 12.66, but maximum speed back down the hill was 48 km/hr. Fabulous!). The Palace is not all that spectacular, but the view from the top makes it a worthwhile cycle.

The bus trip here from Udaipur was not very pleasant. The ticket was Rp 500 for me & Rp 100 for the bike, which travelled on the roof. And frankly, I wouldn't have minded swapping places. I had a sleeping compartment which was really like a big sardine tin ... I even found myself for some of the journey imagining that I'd died (which would have been a sweet release) & was being transported to Mumbai in a coffin. What was odd was that when I first got in & lay down I seemed to fit OK lengthwise ... I certainly didn't several hours later. I began to wonder if I was in one of those rooms in the old horror movies that slowly closes in, squashing its victim. Then I began to wonder if I was expanding! Around about this time I realised that I was slowly losing my mind in this perversely-named deluxe sleeping compartment.

Still, both I & my bicycle are here largely in one piece. We're (see how attached I've become to it ... I'm not sure how it feels about me though) here for a few more days, during which I'll poke around Mumbai on foot & by bike. I also need to find or make a big cardboard box to put the bike in for the journey home, to satisfy Qantas' absurd rules.

Today I saw the caves on Elephanta island, which all relate to the god Shiva. I thought they were well worth seeing, despite the annoying demand to pay 25 times what Indian residents pay to see the caves (Rp 250 vs Rp10).

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