Distance (DST) = 35km; Total Ride Time (TRT) = 1hr 52min; Average Speed (AVS) = 18.3km/hr; cadence = 70rpm
After a hearty breakfast, I hit the road at about 9am. It was an easy, leisurely ride to Konark: a slight cool breeze, temperature about 30'C, smooth, flat roads, little traffic - and surprisingly benign when there was some - and very friendly people along the way. The highway - NH203E - passed through two animal sanctuaries, over several rivers, along the sea shore, and by a place where blokes were carving statues out of sandstone. A fine road, albeit short at 35km, to cycle ... as the tired old phrase goes "it doesn't get much better ...." A great feeling to have finally started a bit of cycling.
As in the past, it's interesting watching the mind tick over as you sit in the seat pedalling away: wishing you were there already; thinking how great this is; will there be accommodaton available?; maybe I'll wash some clothes; I haven't been very hungry of late & feel tired ...hope I haven't got some disorder; what the hell was Felix ... well, you get the picture. All rather redundant, pointless, as it will all work itself out one way or the other anyhow, whether I spent time thinking about it or not, and in the meantime it involves quite a separation from what's actually going on.
The road to Konark
Eventually arrived at Labanya Lodge where I've taken a pretty good room for Rs750 (about $18 AUD) - I tried to argue the price down but the owner, a friendly but business-like bloke, wasn't budging. Relative luxury, with several windows facing in different directions, hot water & a ceiling fan, and the only place in town with the internet. For some unkown reason I booked & paid for 2 nights, whereas 1 might have been enough. The Sun Temple, about 300m away, is an very impressive temple complex, built in the 13th century in the fashion of a gigantic chariot for the Sun God, comprising twelve pairs of huge wheels pulled by seven horses. I took a guide & he explained it all fairly well over about 3 hours. He asked my profession at one point & when I replied went on to tell me about his poor sleep & excessive worry about his 2 daughters who were of marriageable age but how the family needed to pay a dowry for them in the range of about $7000 - a huge sum here (I cracked some joke about whether he was hoping I'd marry them but it went right past him - perhaps just as well). So he worries big time. They also have a small house - there are 5 of them (they also have a son) so they can't even all get to sleep at the same time. I gave him the "why worry" tip but I don't think it hit the mark. He seemed a little crestfallen when I gave him Rs320 for the 3 hours work (pretty reasonable according to my homework); later I thought maybe I should've deducted a bit for the free psychological advice. These are difficult matters here - whether to tip people e.g. a worker cleans your room at his request then puts out a hand & asks for a tip - like, isn't that his damn job? - or whether to give money to beggars (one neatly-dressed fellow in Kolkata presented me with a bad luck story & said he just wanted some food, no money, as he wasn't a beggar. We passed a stall & I was going to buy him something but they hadn't quite opened so I gave him some small change (Rs20) which he looked at rather ungraciously, took, & then walked off.) There are some extremely tragic looking cases everywhere but how to judge who's 'worthy' because you certainly couldn't afford to give to everyone who asked.
The Sun Temple is mostly made out of sandstone, with a few granite sections; there are heaps of human & other figures in various "amorous" poses around the temple - men & women, with one, sometimes two partners, having 'regular' sex in various poses, oral sex, anal sex, 'self-sex', lesbian sex... a dog was involved in at least one scene ... two elephants having sex... the one thing I didn't notice was male homosexual sex... what's the story there? I had to return to my room to lie down for a while after 3 hours of stickbeaking at all that ...
The mossies are pretty bad around here ...