I need a holiday. My six hour train journey back to Delhi in the lowest class of carriage made returning to Madpacker’s Hostel even more sweet. What’s more, Hugo had randomly returned at near enough exactly the same time from his stint up north which caused for a long over due catch up. I had plans. Big plans.
Four months in India has certainly taken it out of me and I was beginning to loose the enthusiasm to continue to explore this crazy country, especially now I am without a bike. There’s only so many samosas and curries, not to mention the social beers, I can consume without moving a muscle. I feel lazy. What’s more, I massively miss friends and family. India can be a lonely place to travel compared with my time in South East Asia and Australia, especially in off-season, as it is now.
With this in mind I decided to book myself a short vacation.
I only had ten days until my flight from Delhi > Kulala Lumpur > Perth (< click to read about my previous visits) but enough time for a quick catch-up with friends and family. I’ve managed to save enough carbon footprint on my bike to justify a few more air miles and money can always be re-earnt eh? I can’t take it with me. The great thing about my holiday is that it was a complete SURPRISE and absolutely no one knew, apart from Dad, who I told a few days before and my friends in London, who I planned to see on my way down south.
It was a combination of excitement, anticipation, nerves and the Pizza Hut (my last meal in India!) which left me feeling queasy on the way to the airport with Tom, one the lads I was with in Jaipur.
“Tom, do you think I will get food travelling with Saudi Airlines considering it’s Ramadan”
“Yeah, of course you will” said Tom.
“What about wine, Will I get wine?”
“Nah, I doubt it” Tom replied.
“Whaaat?! Why should I be made to suffer just because of Ramadan, I’m not even religious!” I shrieked. Tom laughed.
“Forget world starvation, you’re “suffering” because you can’t have a complimentary glass of wine”
OK. He had a point. Had I really returned to the spoilt materialistic life that most of us take for granted? Not yet. 😉
I never did get my glass of wine AND I had to wait over two hours for something to eat which resulted in me getting HANGRY. Not cool. I know those fasting were told they weren’t allowed to eat before Allah said his thing on the tannoy but we all had to wait until 8:16pm for the refreshment service to commence. I’m not sure whether it was because of Ramadan but MY GOD there was a HUGE amount of food served on both my flights. This I will not complain about. Waste not want not, even I struggled.
The message from Allah was really very interesting and I felt lucky enough to experience a Saudi flight during Ramadan and equally, one during sunset and sunrise while travelling west. This meant a few moments after the sun had set, everything would become light again and it would continue like this for a while. I was chasing the line between light and dark. Incredible.
After a wonderful five hours nap in Riyadh Airport’s Domino’s Pizza I was on my way to the bright lights of London. Yeeehahh! My tube journey was spent propping up a drunk guy who had passed out on my lap. Welcome to England! My London ladies were jetting off on holiday soon after my arrival so sadly I only had one day with half of the crew. Jill, Kate and I indulged in a few of our favourite things; Bellini’s, espresso martinis, Argentinian red wine, cheese, charcuterie board, smoked salmon and great coffee. And I said I was no longer spoilt!
After a few glasses of wine, Kate and I popped into Sainsbury’s supermarket on the way home. To my horror they were throwing the entire bakery aisle into the bin. There’s people starving in this world, I certainly don’t take lightly to people wasting food so I said my bit and took a bag of doughnuts. Shame on you Sainsbury’s.
As always I had a fantastic day with the girls in London but it was time to surprise my family in Portsmouth. How excited I was to travel on an English train which was fully equipped with loo roll, not to mention WIFI! Now off the bike, my panniers and sleeping bag (never did need that in the end!) was jammed into a potato sack which I bought off a guy in India for 50p. I had wrapped sellotape around the whole sack to prevent the contents from spilling out on the luggage conveyor belt, something which has happened to me in the past and I can tell you, it wasn’t fun, nor the most dignified experience.
Have you ever tried to carry a 15kg potato sack over 5km? It’s pretty awkward. I received some strange looks walking in flip flops in the pouring rain with a potato sack on my head. One thing cycle touring has taught me is that most unpleasant feelings don’t last forever. I have learnt to deal with being wet, cold, sweaty, hot and sleep deprived during my five months in Nepal and India. I’m working on hungry.
I’ve had a wonderful ten days in the UK catching up with family and friends despite England’s pitiful attempt of a summer, with cloud and heavy downpours most days. Although two family members shed a tear at my surprise, more “important” things occupied the news like the recent EU referendum which quite frankly, I am sick to death hearing about. As ignorant some may say, I choose to no longer follow world politics and UK news, opting for a life in my own little bubble filled with happy thoughts. I think it’s all a load of bollocks, especially when people start arguing on Facebook, but I felt I had to do my bit and vote for my country. After all,’people have died for our privileged democracy.
After three days of teaching myself the in’s and out’s of British politics, reading numerous articles, watching the news for an entire afternoon and debating the matter with friends and family, I finally made up my mind with just half an hour to spare. I threw on a hoodie, put on my slippers and walked down to the polling station. To my disappointment, my all important vote couldn’t be cast after my name on the electoral roll had the word “removed” next to it. It was something to do with me expressing an interest to vote by proxy, a mix up with the system apparently.
So apart from the weather and Brexit steeling my thunder, life at home is good. I joined my mother as a lady of leisure, dining out at my favourite eateries and rekindling my love of decent coffee, beer and wine. So long cycling body! Vanished in just a month off the bike. Unbelievable.
Just ten days at home, so what’s next, I hear you ask?
I have six flights over two weeks to reach my new home. I won’t reveal just yet, you’ll have to keep reading to find out. ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page to follow my journey. Exciting times are ahead.