The ride to Munnar was beautiful despite the 40-odd kilometres of continuous uphill. Not a moment of flat ground, my poor “I’m nearly 30 you know” knees were killing me but I powered through to the views in front. The morning’s breakfast in the jungle at Monsoon Retreats was delicious even if it did delay us almost three hours, which us cyclists can cover a lot of ground in, especially before the sun rises. A few kilometres into our ride we were approached by a young lad who had run after us to chat on his way back from church. He was a delightful fella and invited us to his home nestled amongst a cardamom plantation just up the road.
Hugo was being a grumpy git and was worried about making good time but I like to grasp these rare opportunities so went to meet the family while he cycled on. The family were lovely and gave me fresh cardamom and pepper from their back garden, fed me and gave me a hot cup of tea. They were devoted Christians and I didn’t mind being preached to, I felt safe in their company.
I said my goodbyes and headed back up the road to find Hugo. The young lad ran along side me, like he did when we first met. We chatted along nicely.
“How is your sex life?”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“How is the sex life?”
Eerr I didn’t really know how to answer such a question especially one I was so shocked to hear. I cycled a bit faster and shouted “cheerio now” and just like that he grabbed my bumbag, kissed my hand and got a good grope of all the areas that I pretty much like to keep to myself. I was flabbergasted. He was only a harmless kid, obviously a little intrigued by life, but it was no excuse and I was a little shaken up by the time I reached Hugo.
Lunch consisted of fried snacks and bakery treats, just like most days on the bike as stopping for a proper lunch often takes too long. That night we fancied a bit of an adventure. We had been camping for the past two nights but could survive another without a proper shower so we took the opportunity to wild camp in a cardamom plantation. Hugo found a perfect spot a few hundred metres off the main road. Score.
Careful not to be seen, I waited at a roadside cafe talking to a man selling lottery tickets, which seems to be huge over here and you can win figures in the sum of 10’s of millions – that may explain all the wonderful grand houses I cycle past! Somewhat later Hugo returned and we quickly snuck into the bushes which were now in complete darkness. I was super careful not to step on the animal traps or huge holes covering the ground but I could barely see a thing. The night could be described as “sketchy” as we both kept waking up thinking we could hear things in the bushes.
It was a glorious feeling waking up in the midst of the plantation and emerge from the undergrowth to strange looks from those driving past. We picked up a 15p local breakfast in a shack, one we didn’t get to choose, but they had coffee so I was cool with that. We curved through tea plantations as far as the eye could see. It was one of the most beautiful cycle rides of my life on the smoothest pristine roads I have ever come across. It was a cyclist’s dream. Apart from the fact that people here don’t seem to understand that over taking on a sharp bend with a sheer cliff drop either side IS dangerous. Madness.
It’s ok, we always give the finger and shout our word of choice (dickhead for me, twat for Hugo) and more so than often “accidentally” kick their vehicle as they just about miss us. Then we cycle off as fast as we can just in case they comes back towards us. Teehee. Hugo got a puncture just three kilometres to Munnar, our planned stop for the night. One kilometre to go and it went flat again. Typical. This is the story of my life, welcome.
With no bike shops around, would we ever reach Munnar?……..