. They were really scruffy and living in tents by the side of the road. I chased them around and they loved it, one of them unfortunately took a tumble and went face first into the dusty track. He got straight back up, dusted himself down and kept on playing. They were so happy but you wonder what lies ahead of them in years to come. They were probably old enough to be going to school, but like many of the kids we have seen today, will probably end up working the railways or roads from an early age. Many of the workmen we saw today were chewing the red pan which is a mild narcotic. They then spit out a red stream called betel juice which is pretty disgusting. Most of them seem completely out of it as they stare at you vacantly, shovelling the day away. The day went on, fairly good roads but too many hills for our liking at this stage. The scenery now changed as we approached Karwar. Everything became much more green, more jungle like and as we came down a hill into the coastal town we saw the first of many white beaches along this strip. It is exciting when you notice a change like this, you have cycled through another region and into a new chapter. As we entered Karwar we were waved down by a guy in his car. He was very friendly but as we spoke we realised it had turned into a kind of strange interview. He even insisted on taking a photo of us. We concluded that he was a local journalist but have yet to see our story in the local press. We needed a good lunch today, fed up of the limited choice of biscuits and crisps, we risked a locals place. Not feeling hungry because of the heat, we forced ourselves to sit down and eat a round meal. We have much more knowledge of the local foods now and ordered a vegetable thali, it was a winner with a good serving of rice to accompany the poatato, yoghurt and curry. Like the rest of Karnatika, it was very chilled out. People did not really take notice of us and we were free to sit and relax, so refreshing after being constantly in the spotlight in Kerala
. At this point we decided that we were going to go for it, the lure of a wonderful beach at Palolem outweighed the extra miles to get there. In fact, it would bring the days total to 65 miles but we were feeling good. Then came another wonderful boost. Almost mirage like, I spotted a cyclist coming towards us. Panniers loaded, it was clearly a fellow tourer. As the lone figure came closer, it was most surprising to discover it was a girl. Kate from Ireland had made her way down from China and was heading down the route we have just taken. She was great to talk to, we really wished she was heading our way as we would have enjoyed her company. We couldn't imagine how tough it must be to do this type of thing on your own but she looked so in control of the situation. We really hope she stays safe and as she is heading to South East Asia we hope to bump into her again someday. It made us feel really lucky to be doing this together and stopped us whinging, for the next 15 miles as we cruised over the hills, excited about getting to Goan civilisation. As soon as we crossed the state border we immediately saw the difference when bars appeared every kilometre or so. We also started to see white people whizzing about on motorbikes. We were talking about how this might be more fun than our bikes when we saw a the aftermath of a really nasty accident at the edge of the road. Stoppig to see if we could help, we saw one guy looking in really bad shape at the edge of the road with 3 other standing round in shock and a bike in the hedge
. They didn’t speak English so we carried on as the Indian police man with them seemed pretty angry and we could hear the ambulance coming. To be honest, it didn’t look like any other vehicle was involved and none of them were wearing helmets or even t-shirts so we felt very sensible that we always sweat-it it up in our helmets and take the greatest care. We were made insanely angry on approaching Cancona when just as we were over taking a gaggle of Indian school girls on a bridge, an enormous motorbike raced past, grazing our panniers with no regard for us and the children, and we saw that it was a young white couple on board. Totally unacceptable – they should know better and we agreed that if we caught up with them we would give them a stern lecture (although what we wanted to do was kick them in the face).Arriving in Cancona, Lonely Planet’s 2km off the main road turned into a 6 mile wild goose chase. The guest house we had planned to stay at did not live up to expectations so we headed onto the beach for a well-earned drink. Arriving at Hi Tide we discovered wonderful bamboo huts, we snapped up the one closest to the sand and sat back to watch the sun go down. The evening swim topped off a wonderful day, followed by pizza, chicken burger and chips, oh yes! We went to sleep with the sound of waves crashing below the hut, this is quite a spot and although it is not the real India we have been experiencing, it is nice to sit back and enjoy some beach luxuries. Surely we have earned it?
Not many photos today as ALL the batteries ran out as we reached Karwar – oops. We’ve not been keeping on top of stuff like that as we battle through India. Talking about it over our evening meal and several Kingfishers we realised that whilst in Europe we though a long day was 5 hours in the saddle, in India we always do at least 6/7. Long days which mean little time/energy to get out and about when we arrive somewhere.
The day started, as every day should, with a really good breakfast. After so many hot, hot Indian breakfasts, it was good to have Corn Flakes and peanut butter on toast. The drama of yesterday evening meant that the ride back to the main road was not ridiculous, only 6 miles and reasonably flat. It was a nice vibe as it often is at this time of day, kids on their way to school greeting us and workmen pausing to check out this strange sight. The early morning scenery was great, surrounded by rice paddies, there was a wonderful tranquillity which is a rarity in this mad country. On re-joining the main road we immediately hit a steep hill, the first of many today that we battled with in the immense heat. Struggling up the climb alongside us was a huge petrol tanker, it was going so slowly I saw an opportunity and grabbed on to its rear bumper. It pulled me up most the way, poor Pols being left behind to battle it out on her own. We were taking our time today, the heat making us feel pretty sleepy. At one of the drinks stops we played with some cheeky little kids