Day 67 – 209 kms (15881 kms total)
We leave Agra in the rain and head south. The main road out is only 100m from our hotel, but its condition for the first 3km is atrocious. Some of the holes have been partly filled by house bricks, making a rocky ride, and where no bricks have been employed, huge puddles cover most of the road and everyone; bikes, buses, lorries, mopeds, taxis, rickshaws, tuk-tuks…is trying to skirt them. The road is bound on both sides by shops and buildings so there is very little room to manoeuvre.
30 minutes later we reach the newly built highway which runs to Gwalior. At least some of it is newly built!
As a dual carriageway it could be good, if herds of cattle didn’t roam it, goats were not shepherded along it, and because of the concrete central reservation, preventing people driving across it, we are commonly faced with oncoming traffic.
From Gwalior we turn south west and the road loses its dual carriageway.
As the rain eases off a green landscape unfolds, littered with rivers, dotted with palm trees, and of course numerous villages along it where our speed drops to almost nil, to dodge the bikes, buses, lorries, mopeds, taxis, rickshaws, tuk-tuks whose anarchy fills each and every village and town.
Coupled with abysmal roads in most villages, they evoke a sigh of despair as each one approaches. We learn the rule, the horn is king. Horns are used to mean a variety of things, but generally as a ‘Watch out I’m coming past’. Tailgate’s all display the words ‘Horn Please”, which saves them using their mirrors. This is lucky as most mirrors that exist, at least on motorcycles, have been upgraded to the vanity-version, where they allow the driver to look at himself or his pillion, much more interesting than the traffic behind you!
Our first night on highway 3 is spent in Shivpuri, where we choose to overnight in the ‘Delhi Hotel’, with its own restaurant!!
As the only customers in the tired restaurant, it’s a pretty grim affair. The food is okay, Aloo Mutter & Chak Masala, with rice and bread. The coffee was awful, though it has been poor throughout India so far.
Day 68 – 400 kms (16281 kms total)
Another early start at 6:25. We are driving along National Highway No 3. Not much of a highway. In the last couple of days we have seen the aftermath of 7 or 8 crashes between trucks or just trucks on their own. Amazing that anyone survives some of them.
We hear tell that the Muslim bus drivers sit on the wheel-arch and steer from there with one foot on the throttle and brake.They say that God is driving. Well, that’s OK then, we’ll be as safe as houses. The word that springs to mind is – idiots.
From Shivpuri to Indore, the road surface varies from excellent to ‘sub-Kazakhi’. Again everyone is fighting for the same space between potholes, and the battle is usually won by the loudest horn. As 90% of traffic is trucks, size also contributes where we are concerned.
The sun breaks through for a while and herds of buffalo make for water to cool themselves. This usually involves crossing the road in front of us.
At Indore, we are enticed into the smart looking ‘Hotel Baywatch’ which has both a restaurant and a ‘‘discotheque’‘.
However, the 500r rooms are as basic as possible: squat toilet, no shower, no hot water, no a/c (only double bed rooms have a/c), no TV, no soap, no loo-roll.
Having not brought our flares or medallions, we skip the evening’s discotheque for another early night.
Hi Guys – be glad for the “indian-style” toilets – more hygienic; bucket baths are the norm and the last bit in the bucket whooshing over one’s head is the luxurious finale; Indians do not like sharing intimacies like soap; loo-roll when there is water, a mug and your left hand? In a country where there is loads of load-shedding, be glad for a fan that works!
When you get back to Europe the first morning when you wake you will think that someone has made all other living creatures disappear – it will appear soooo quiet … unreal, unnatural.
Strangely enough the last time I paid £6 (500rp) for accomodation was in the UK and it actually had a proper bathroom, oh and a pub across the yard!
Doesn’t really come close to the genuine Indian experience though does it?
Great to follow your progress, fantastic blog and pics.
Now remember steer away from puddles and keep your hand on the horn..jan | 26 July 07 | #
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