Day 3 & 4 by Paddy... - 12/04/2012

Welcome back dedicated furball followers. After the outstanding commentary provided by the good ship Alesbury over the last couple of days the blog torch has now been passed on (we like to keep things varied for you) so, your blogger for today is Paddy (well, he’s typing but it’s a team love-in every time. Where to start then? How about Mysore where we last left you waiting with baited breath for your next fix? <\p>

We dragged ourselves out of bed and made it downstairs for 0530 where, much to our disappointment, the buffet breakfast that we had been promised was nowhere to be seen. As the staff awoke from their night’s sleep on the floor of the dining room (yes, you did read that right) they proceeded to emerge with the most random, drawn-out breakfast ever seen. Such delights as corn flakes with warm milk were wheeled out in slow motion and the bread ran out thanks to some pretty rubbish portion control. However, the job was done and we finally emerged in to the rising sun to head off on our travels and, just about, successfully nav our way out of the city. <\p>

The going was good for quite some time as smooth roads and smooth engines carried us on apace. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for the standard of driving. This leg showed us our first major crash when we passed what was left of a 4x4 that had ploughed in to the back of a truck. We later learned that a woman was killed in that one. Speaking of 4x4s, it turns out that the people who drive them over here are just as much of a bunch of arseholes as the people who drive them around Chelsea! <\p>

The next leg had us heed the advice of everyone we came across and route around, rather than through, Bangalore. This was easy on the map – less so in the real world. We made it though and the corollary was escaping the steady drone of the highway and testing the handling of our furry beasts on twisty, rural roads that passed through stunning hills, hand-chipped granite quarries and around ancient Hindu temples. One stop led to a great photo opportunity and the Girls discovering the ‘Wee Tree’, an amazing creation of nature that looked like a decoration from the set of Lord of the Rings (or something). This was almost on a par with Na and Smally taking a formation pee break against the wheel of a truck whilst the driver was in it! <\p>

We eventually emerged to the North of Bangalore and hit the NH7 – India’s longest highway. The miles really rolled on from then on, but not without event. The driving out here is nothing short of terrifying and you have to see it to believe it. Vehicles overtake and undertake at the same time, constantly cut each other up, lean permanently on their horns and pay very little attention to what is going on around them. Not only do they create their own (pause – I’m typing this in the back whilst Smally drives and I feel I ought to mention that a bus just tried to overtake us in the face of oncoming traffic and missed running us off the road by a matter of inches…fun) lanes but they create their own direction of travel too. A common sight when travelling down a major road is to find yourself being overtaken on the right by a huge and insanely driven bus whilst a truck bears down on you coming the wrong way down the road flashing his full beam headlights… whilst dodging a herd of goats - absolutely bonkers. Whilst this often provides us with baffled amusement it also hits home the harsh reality of life in India, as we passed a stark reminder of how dangerous these roads are. In the distance we saw a truck stopped in the right hand lane, assuming it had stopped to change a tyre we pulled left to pass it. We were then faced with the wreckage of a mangled motorbike under the front wheels of the truck and its very recently deceased owner in a similar situation. The most incredible thing about it was that the truck driver and the small group that had gathered were more interested in us than the poor guy that had just been mown down. I guess it just goes to show how regularly this sort of thing happens. In a country the size of India, new lives are started every day, but many are lost too. It’s reassuring to see that the government is making a huge effort to improve the situation by building better roads and swamping them with signs carrying driving advice and safety instructions but they have a very long way to go. <\p>

As the sun set we pulled in to a one-cow town in the middle of nowhere and Na and Smally managed to secure us a hotel whilst a really annoying guy with an incredibly loud and extremely close drum kept demanding money for his efforts at converting energy to noise. He didn’t get paid. We supped down a bottle of ‘Knock-Out’ beer (for real men…apparently) and headed in to town where we witnessed a stag-do parade, stocked up on supplies (mostly biscuits crisps and water melons) and chowed down on a tasty plate of egg fried rice from a street stall – brave, I know. A squat under the tap for a shower in the, erm…bathroom, watched closely by a little lizard friend. And then to bed. Our basic accommodation was less than ideal as the few hours sleep we could grab were constantly interrupted by kids knocking on doors, traffic in the street, some old guy hocking up enormous spit balls all night in the room next door and various other distractions and disturbances. On the up side, we eventually managed to get the rickshaws locked up behind a shutter to defend them from the enormous crowd of kids pulling at the fur. <\p> Wed 11th

10 very tired furballers emerged in the morning and set off north as the sun came up. Charlie had a particularly emotional start to the day as he began to regret trying some vegetable creations from a different stall. Within five minutes he had to swap driving duties with Cate so that he could empty the contents of his stomach all over the road. Fair play to him though, he did it at speed hanging out of the side and didn’t get a drop on the fur. The advance cannot be stopped! <\p>

Overall, this day went as intended – an event-free, big-miles catch-up. The roads were smooth, the cabs were running well and we settled in to a slick convoy routine. No random pee breaks, just a stop every 100km (about two hours) to gas up and empty bladders where necessary. The long journey and blazing sun combined with the lack of sleep made it hard going after 10 hours in the saddle but we finally arrived at the southern outskirts of Hyderabad. Our original plan to skirt around and stay to the north of the city was scuppered by the fact that rickshaws weren’t allowed on the ring-road so we took a deep breath, manned up and charged headlong in to a city of six million people. Oh…My…God. You have to see the videos, driving in this place was something else and, probably the most fun thing we have done so far. We pushed in as far as we could before we realised that our city map was just not going to cut it so we grabbed a local rickshaw driver, Craig and Cate hopped in and we asked him to take us to the hotel that we had found in the ever-reliable Lonely Planet book. Naturally we chose the only rickshaw amongst thousands that had no fuel but we eventually got underway. With beaming grins and filming cameras (whilst choking on the thick pollution) we ran the gauntlet of downtown Hyderabad in rush hour and then, within 500m of the hotel, Nelly caught elephant flu and gave up the ghost on the wrong side of the biggest, busiest road in town. Whilst Simba ran blocking duty Nelly was pushed across to the saf(er) side of the street for further investigation. The classic Indian mentally of wanting be helpful then kicked in as we got directions to a mechanic ‘just around the corner’ that didn’t actually exist. There followed a considerable amount of carnage as we were moved on from one blocked entrance gate to the next until we made a stop and the helpful chap fixed the problem by cleaning the spark plug. Katie Pants entered in to heated debate over the 2 pounds that he had asked for (it’s all relative) and off went Nelly with a trumpety trump. We pulled through the massive entrance gate to discover that, not only had we accidentally paid him twice but our trusty local guide had led us to the wrong hotel. The complaints subsided rapidly when we discovered that we were much further North through the city (a far easier escape route for the morning) and that we had arrived in 5 star luxury. Team Money rides again as we laughed off the somewhat Western prices and supped down beers and gin and tonics whilst check in began. God only knows what the other gusts must have thought of us. We were dirty, smelly and dressed like tramps especially Smally who had managed to leave her flip flops at the last petrol station and had yet to dig her other shoes out of her back. This was made somewhat worse by the fact that she was involved in pushing Nelly through the streets of the city. Committed to the cause she pressed on in her bare feet and hoped that the puddles were just water. <\p>

Nevertheless, the hotel staff were incredibly welcoming and took a great interest in our exploits. After check-in we headed to swimming pool/shower/amazing rooms with really cool electric blinds then dressed for dinner. A selection of flowery dresses, tweed, linen and cravats headed off for a great feed at a nearby restaurant and then a great sleep coma fell upon us (for the standard 5 hours available anyway). Right, I’m going back to helping Smally spot the myriad of oncoming dangers as we push ever-northwards up through the middle of this amazing country. I wonder what the next 24 hours will bring. Until next time furball fans. Now go forth and collar everyone you know and anyone that you don’t and make them sponsor us so we can help supply clean fresh water and save some lives. (if you want to sponsor Gareth, Craig, Paddy and Kathryn then go to www.justgiving.com/furinyourcurry , or for the Alesburys go to www.justgiving.com/naomiandrich <\p>

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Posted : 21/04/2012

Falakata: One thing Paddy did miss out of his blog was the way in which the fur ballers were informed of Na’s collapse; a young lad with very good English poked his head around the corner and announced ‘Sir, I think your friend is in an extreme situation!’ This was pure comedy on looking back, alt...

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