After 13 days straight riding from Chiang Mai to Calcutta we needed some rest! The day before yesterday we didnt quite reach our planned rest destination, a little beach side town called Puri that’s described as “a golden sandy beach” in WikiTravel… undeterred we left early next morning and rode through a craft village (where they make mostly lamp shades, yawn), and then went to see the Temple of the Sun on the way to Puri. It was 10 rupias entry fee for Indians, and 250 rupias for anyone else… we’ve seen a lot of temples by now, so we skipped it and headed straight to the golden sandy beach.
Arriving there was the usual debacle of finding somewhere to stay, made more difficult by me needing space to dismantle the carburettors to fix a flat spot that’s developed, so a shady secure parking spot was needed. Eventually we forked out for a ncie hotel and crashed a bit before hitting the sand.
Now if there there is a hell, and if hell has a beach, I think we found it.
The sun almost blocked out by the haze of cook fires and pollution, rubbish washed up all along the sand, a long stretch of beach just up from our room where the locals go to poo, yes shit – EVERYWHERE. A few hundred metres south of poo point a small river flows into the ocean, a river of untreated sewage… (this is not an exaggeration).
There are black crows all over the place picking through the rubbish, fighting and crawing like a ghoulish scene from some hitchcock film. Cows roam the beach too, adding to the smell, along with goats and camels that have been dressed up in lurid colours, which somehow make the whole thing look even more crazy. Indians swim in the water, (in between the poo river and the poo point), and they ride the camels too.
To make matters worse there is no alcohol allowed on the beach, but some entrepreneurial guys are selling it anyway, they put the bottle into a plastic bag so no one knows it’s beer, but we spotted it from 100m away…
“that guy has a frikkin beer!”
“are you sure it’s beer?”
“it looks like beer, and he’s a fat old white guy, it must be beer”
To say we were expecting more would be a slight understatement. Anyway, we made the most of it… in search of a gin and tonic we walked up the beach 5km past the poo river to the next town where hundreds of Indians were eating on the beach, we asked in every hotel on the foreshore there if they had a bar… but everyone said “NO” while waggling their heads in a very disapproving way. So eventually we gave up and walked back to poo point this time along the road, with crows and cows and car horns for company.
Nearing our area we passed a super luxurious hotel…
“this place has got to have a bar” cried Sally!
“ok lets check it out”
and sure enough, there was a bar, with overpriced Bombay Saphire Gin, and Schweppes Tonic, and a billiard table and… 2 bowling alleys… random! But anyway it was good!
That night I passed out mid sentence and woke to the sound of horns and crows early the next morning. The work on the bike took me half the day, not easy dismantling a pair of carburettors in the the parking lot of a hotel, where small children come to play with your tools and grown men appear at regular intervals asking…
“how much the bike?” or
“where is it here?”
or they just stand half a meter away and stare at me without uttering a word, not even when I say hello to them…
I did meet a very nice French guy though, (hi Bastille!), and we had a beer with him and his family later that afternoon on the golden sand beach, eating peanuts and admiring the camels while trying to hide our bottles.
We reluctantly decided to push on from Puri this morning, aspecially since the Indian prime minister was visiting this afternoon, and we didn’t want to get caught in the crowd. Today we rode almost exlusively on the highway and it was actually pretty easy going for the first time here. Not too many oncoming buses and generally manageable traffic.
Tonight we’re in a little town called Annavaram, famous for nothing in particular, but the restaurant in the bus station serves great dosa and idli 🙂
3 more days to reach Kerala, our first real stop.