Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bhubaneswar - Sun 14 Feb 2010

(..this will be interesting -the letters have worn off half the keys on the keyboard & the space key keeps jamming - this, in one of the main internet cafes in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa state...)

Day 2 cycling: Konark to Bhubaneswar
Distance (DST) = 62.7km; Total Ride Time (TRT) = 5hr 20min; Average Speed (AVS) = 18.3 km/hr; cadence = 70rpm Total Distance (ODO) = 98

I spent a few hours in the morning on Friday with Mr Dhruba Nayak, Sun Temple guide from yesterday, who drove us around on his extremely old motor scooter to a number of Shiva temples where various procedures were taking place. The big deal about this was that it was "Shivaratri"- a day of celebrating Shiva. At one of these temples Mr Nayak presented me with a bhang (= marijuana) lassi, which, spoil-sport that I am, I declined after a brief sip. All around me the locals were puffing away on their ganga. A visit to the Archeological museum & a meal at the Sun Temple hotel completed the day. 
Saturday's cycling started at 9:30am; the roads were OK, mostly through agricultural areas (rice, sheep, goats, cattle etc), villages and a few towns (eg Gop, Pipili) & up until Pipili was quite pleasant. Between Pipili & Bhubaneswar the road degenerated into a fairly typical Indian road - honking, disorder, lack of any courtesy ... the alarming sight of oncoming vehicles swarming out to fill the entire roadway, sweeping toward you in one unruly mass when a gap in the traffic permits...

I arrived at Hotel Upasana in Bhubaneswar at1:45pm. Not cheap at Rs1000 (reduced from Rs1200) & not very spick & span but a very spacious room. It was probably a classy place 20 years ago, but like so many places in India, little or no maintenance or cleaning gets done & so a general air of neglect & tiredness sets in. The paperwork is excessive - more than is required to get into the country: the hotel ledger with visa & passport details, another form requiring exactly the same details, & then a special book thrust at me by the overly punctilious security guy - who, chastened after I told him to get off my bike that he'd commandeered while I was checking in, gave me a hard time when I wanted to keep the bike in my room (I prevailed) - that he wanted me to sign.

A saving grace here has been meeting a young Columbian woman Andrea here while changing money - nice to have her company - last night had a meal at Venus Inn, a decent local Veg restaurant & then today did a massive 8 (eight!) hour organised tour of the sights of Bhubaneswar- numerous temples, Udayagiri & Khandagiri caves, the State Museum, the Shanti Stupa at Dhauli, Nandankanan Zoo (where we did the lion & tiger safari: saw some of the famous blue-eyed white tigers). So, I've now 'done' Bhubaneswar but I think tomorrow I'll rest as I feel quite fatigued from today's touring & will start pedalling again on Tuesday morning (after I've figured out exactly where I'm going ...). On the whole, Bhubaneswar is not an especially engaging or pleasant city - you don't feel you can easily hangout anywhere or comfortably just wander about & there are very few other western tourists about. In some places that's a blessing, but not here.

Rhino at Nandankanan Zoo

No comments: