Alibag to Mumbai via Mandve - Bangladesh + India x 2 - CycleBlaze

January 26, 2011

Alibag to Mumbai via Mandve

Republic Day of India

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Alibag's beach is just down the road from the Internet place that I used last night (if only I'd known) and there are various options to stay the night.

 It's a massive area of sand that despite the sunshine looks a bit dismal this morning with the tide being way out out of sight, but a formidable-looking fort that's long is clearly there on the horizon, standing up on the sand. Daytrippers are trekking across the wet surface to visit it. 

Me, I need breakfast.

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Today is India's Independence Day but it's not really is what people here tell me. Wiki calls it Republic Day of India and it's a national holiday, but everything is open as per usual it seems to me. 

Nevertheless, no doubt there'll be people from Mumbai getting away from it all and coming in my direction as I pedal up what's left of Highway 4 to the Mandve ferry.

I call in at a cafe that's crowded, which is always a good sign, yet after five minutes no waiter has come over to my table and given me a menu, or said a word, so I opt to up and leave and instinctively know that there will be other dining places along this main road heading north.

Off I ride.

What did I tell you... less than a K later a hotel with a uniformed guard at its gated entrance beckons me as it will have jam and toast for sure and that's what I get, plus a couple of fried eggs again. A man of habit, me.

The traffic is constant, but nothing too frightening and I cruise along the damaged and uneven surface wondering if there's a quiet alternative by the sea, and spot a couple of loaded cycles on the opposite side of the road and pull over.

Kory (Canadian) and Gemma (British)
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Kory (Canadian) and Gemma (Brit) have come up the coast the same as Yours Truly and are inevitably heading for the same ferry before flying to Nepal for some off-bike trekking. After conversing for a bit we set off together but within a K or so they've pulled ahead after telling me they'll see me there.

There are something like another 17 km to go.

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I stop soon after where there's a vendor selling sweets (candy) by the side of the road, not that I'm after them - even though I do purchase 20 for 10 rupees - it's just that his face is interesting and will hopefully fulfill my Today's Portrait assignment.

The man aged about 60 or so is more than willing to stand in front of my old 50mm f1.7 fixed Minolta lens while I press the camera's shutter release button. He's the type who poses formally, with a serious stare, and yet the snap has his eyes wide, like he's just seen an apparition. Maybe it's because of this that it gets my nod of approval.

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I make a sugarcane juice stop.

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There's not much shoulder to ride on. Thankfully the route isn't too busy. Heading so close to Bombay, I expected it to be manic.

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It's about 12:45 when my wheels roll onto the concrete jetty and the cycling couple on Surleys have gone, as I knew they would be, because I paused a couple of other times to take photos of stuff that caught my eye.

The ticket guy tells me the next ferry is 1:15 and I pay 65 rupees for a ticket. The seller says  the bike is okay and travels free.

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There are about 15 steps down to the boat and I lug my Brodie with all the panniers still on, as there's a crowd of passengers getting aboard too and it seems too much of a faff to take them off and make trips back and forth.

 The ferry is a rustic one painted white, tractor orange and sky blue that will obviously not be going fast.

I sit and keep hold of my bike to make sure it doesn't roll into the sea off the open back of the vessel and one of the attendants asks me for some money for the bike as it's baggage, but I refuse. Perhaps I'm just getting cantankerous or my mood is belligerent, or that I simply remember that the ticket seller said it was okay and nobody helped carry the bike aboard. 

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We argue for a while, then another man comes over and we have a similar conversation about not having a ticket for baggage, but expecting me to give them money. It's not just about the money.

Bombay - Mumbai. 

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The part around its huge stone Gateway of India is crowded with tourist and I wheel my way through the throng and find my way to a nearby hotel rated highly in the LP guide, but the Moti is full and so it's a matter of riding for a while - which seems fine - to get to another that I circled on the map.

The bedroom smells totally weird and after that experience the other day that made my towel pong for a while, I decline to pay 1,200 rupees as this one isn't just musty, it reeks of sewage.

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The Welcome is right next door. Its sign is small and its cheaper rooms ('cheap' used loosely here) are already gone, so I look at the next level up and like the room, but you'd think so at 3,500-or-so rupees, and take it as the guy says there'll be a 2,500 one available in the morning. 

My intention is to be here for three nights I tell him.

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What I'll be doing during the next three days is a something that confounds me.

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Today's ride: 25 km (16 miles)
Total: 3,635 km (2,257 miles)

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