After the two punctures and a tube change, we eventually reached Munnar which is a busy town, not nearly as scenic as its surroundings. We were only there one night but I got a good feel by it. Maybe it was all the homemade chocolate shops but being a food connoisseur, I didn’t rate them enough to send them back to Mum – sorry Mum! After a days cycling in the heat, trying to find accommodation when we reach a town is the last thing I want to do. So we have devised a routine where we head to the local bus station or taxi stand and wait for some tout to approach us “tourists” asking us to see their room. We then barter down the price to £1.50 each and go and take a look. As we enjoy camping wild, we really aren’t that fussy when it comes to accommodation so have landed up in some right shit holes but have equally nabbed some bargains too. Just a note to those travelling in India: wifi does not mean wifi. Hot shower does not mean that there’s a shower at all, let alone a hot one. Accept what you are given.
It’s nice to have a wash and a fan once in a while – AC is never going to happen on our budget! I never thought I would appreciate a bucket and a tap so much. Spending the night out of the tent also gives Hugo a chance to plan our route. This has been devised in accordance to the no go “wolves roaming” area on the map. This has been circled after undertaking detailed research into the risk of running into an animal we are both terrified of.
I could have stayed in Munnar’s refreshingly cool air forever but the next morning we headed back down the mountain in the direction of Kochi. Guess what, something wasn’t right with my bike. After another short decline my rear chain cassette completely disintegrated leaving me unable to pedal. Unfortunately the road wasn’t completely downhill so Hugo tried to tow me using a tree branch we found. That didn’t work too well either so we decided to walk the 120km to Kochi. We always discuss whether travelling cross country by foot would be better but after pushing my bike 20km in the blistering sun, I decided I love my bike.
The next town had a bike shop so I paid £4/$5 for a new rear cassette. My back brakes and bottom bracket had also come to the end of their days so I ended up spending the whole afternoon and £8/$10 (bargain) on getting my bike back on the road. Looking at the state of my worn parts the bike man said I was very lucky to be alive as they could have snapped at any moment. That evening I took the chance to rejuvenate and indulge in a huge curry before laying flat out under the fan in our room.
Due to the issues with our bikes, we had over 110km to cover the next day. I thought was more than double, especially after the best Indian breakfast I have had so far and my revamped bike. Little did I know that my bike wasn’t exactly “fixed” and although I was moving again, the noises it now make are so loud it scares birds out of the trees. My chain also slips off every 10km or so which isn’t too much of a set back time wise, it just leaves me with constant black hands. That bike is both the bane and love of my life.
I was super pleased to have covered 100km by midday especially on our broken bikes. It was hot hot hot. The last 20k or so into Kochi nearly killed me and I had to stop at the side of the road twice to fill up on fresh watermelon and pineapple juice. We couldn’t find a Couchsurfing host and was desperate to socialise so we headed in the direction of the top hostel on Hostelworld. We had reached Fort Kochi and I was glad to be stopping off and exploring somewhere more than just a night. We shouted “look white people” which we often do when cycling into a tourist town. The story continues……