Sunday, 13 January 2008

Preparation for the BlackSLOG – Rajasthan Vol.1

When Mrs B first mentioned India as a destination for cycling, little did I know how much trauma this would involve and that was before we even started the journey. For starters we have been punctured by more needles then a porcupine lothario and enough tablets to make us rattle almost as loudly as our bikes. We had very similar responses from most people whenever we mentioned that we were going to cycle around India.

Most People “How much do you want?”

Us “Sorry?”

Most People “How much do you want us to sponsor you?”
Us “Nothing”

Most People “Aren’t you doing it for charity?”

Us “No, no, just for fun….”

Most People “Nutters !!!”

The malaria tablets were a saga all on their own. I had not realised that there was such a wide choice.

Type 1 malaria tablets
Cost – Cheap, take for six months before you travel, a pill every 30 seconds while you are on holiday followed by daily tablets for 10 tears after your return.
Side effects - whatever you want: excruciating cramps, headache, joint pain, fever, sweating, nausea and vomiting, intense muscle spasms, kidney failure, low urine output, less than 400 ml per day (One),fluid in the lungs, labored breathing, and frothy sputum. Sounds like you are actually paying for the privilege to get Malaria.

Type 2 malaria tablets
Cost - Moderately expensive, i.e. you might still afford to eat once, possibly twice, a week for the rest of the year.
Side effects – very similar to above but as you feel very drowsy all the time you don’t notice the rest of the side effects.

Type 3 malaria tablets
Cost - Billionaires only
Side effects - instant poverty, although this can be considered a bonus for people on a diet, through the considerable weight loss when you can’t afford to eat. For £20 we got a bit of paper saying “You can take this to the chemist and pay for the tablets”. OK, so what is it for a prescription these days? £7? Sadly not. The bit of paper we had just purchased allowed us the privilege of emptying our bank account as we enter the financial black hole that is the world of private prescription…… The main benefits of type 3 seem to be that you are now so poor you no longer worry about illness.

If I had thought about it, we probably should have done it for charity, at least it would have paid for our flights, accommodation, bikes, food and medical expenses. Sadly, I would have had difficulty finding a charity that would cover the shortfall…….

Just some of the tablets that may have accounted for breaching our baggage weight limit.

The bikes
While I have moaned about our bikes for as long as I have been blogging and in truth since about 20 minutes after we purchased the damned things, I was as surprised as anyone when we ended up taking them with us. To cut a long story short it was the easiest and cheapest way or would have been before we had the damned things serviced. When the bike shop staff finally finished laughing (I should never have told them that we were taking the bikes to India to cycle with and not to scrap), they set about rebuilding them. This would have been great if the cost had not been twice what we paid for the bikes in the first place (and if they had let me know before just doing the work).

The Bikes had never looked so good sadly once we got to Delhi and unpacked them they were back to their same old selves. We should have probably brought the tolleys instead….

Getting there
When flying, I can't recommend highly enough the advantage of travelling with a large unwieldy box. We found ourselves ushered to the front of the check-in queue. At one stage I thought we were even going to get upgraded, when the girl attending to us vanished to go and talk to her supervisor. It turned out she was trying to work out how much to charge us for being 10kg over weight (Two) (personally I think it was mostly Mrs B as she has been so busy at work that most of her fitness training has gone out the window, leaving me to take up the slack). As I felt the check-in girl had us banged to rights (especially as I had told a fib about the weight of our bikes, which were closer to 20kg rather than the 16kg I declared. I was just quoting what I had read in the Exodus literature about the average weight of a boxed bike, and just happened to forget to declare the 20kg worth of tools, spares and energy bars that I had stuffed into the two boxes - figuring the removal of our mudguards would more than compensate). Fortunately, she mistook my quite patient silence, as I waited to find out how much we would have to pay, as a hard bargaining position and crumbled before our eyes. She waved us through before the mob could lynch us for pushing in and then holding them up. It had been a queue when we were ushered to the front of it, but was now definitely showing signs of transforming itself into a mob. Some of the people at the back were now starting to hand out pitch-forks and flaming torches. (Just how do these people expect to get that stuff through security......?)

My hard bargaining look, the poor check in girl never stood a chance

(1) This actually sounds like a bonus, none of that awkward trooping to the toilet all the time…. (you will probably be pleased to know that Mrs B put a ban on any toilet photo’s) (Return to text)

Even I have to admit that this is a crap picture. Apparently they collect the dung and use it for fires. Thankfully it’s such a warm country.

(2) I had made every attempt to keep the weight of our luggage down, even going as far as taking only one belt; I mean what can happen to a belt... Hmmm, the one I specially selected for the trip did not even get me through Airport security at Heathrow, falling out of the tray and getting chewed by the conveyer belt, now that’s just plain nasty, belt cannibalism. I certainly didn't see that one coming…….. (Return to text)

I think I might have overdone the weight loss a tad. I didn’t manage to sell much water either…..

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