Our 6th day on the road was meant to be a short one so we could get into our destination in time to get Lily a checkup before we head into Nepal. We’ve been warned that they couldn’t do any major repairs to Rickshaws in Nepal so if we run into any serious issues we’d basically be screwed. Motivation enough to get from Faizabad to our goal of Padrauna early buuut we had the luxury of breakfast included which only was served from 7:30 am so naturally we “slept in” so we could take full advantage. Padrauna was only about 220km away so averaging about 28km/h including rests so was still meant to be about an 8 hour day.
Once we finally got out of Faizabad we hit the highway, nothing we enjoy doing as it’s kinda boring and you really do miss out on pretty much everything interesting by just going down a large, heavily used but characterless road. So like we usually end up doing is getting off these highways and hitting the small secondary roads which tend to also turn into one lane ways that have holes or entire sections of asphalt missing so couldn’t even call them potholes. Anyway, so over the day we encountered all phases of road building/decaying and sizes from large two way to ones so narrow it was meant for motorcycles. Of course they weren’t meant for that, or at least no one told the truck drivers so was used by all sized vehicles. Needless to say not only did it great an interesting day’s ride but also a little longer than anticipated.
Turned out to as not only the hottest day of our journey so far but also the windiest which added to the challenge. The downside of always heading west in an open sided rickshaw is that the sun is always kinda shining in the right side with the sun being south of us at this time of the year. We hadn’t really noticed any effects of this so far but today all three of us got slightly more color on our right arm and leg than the left. Should make for an interesting tan for when we get home. To correct it we’ll drive in reverse the next couple of days and let our left side catch up.
One weird and frankly not very attractive thing we’ve noticed is that a lot of men here have extremely black teeth, but most women have really good teeth. How could this be?! Haven’t had a change to check Wikipedia but we have our theories that seem to add up. Opium paste was very common in the west of India which they roll up in a small ball and place behind the upper lip for who knows how long. The paste is black so that was our first theory. That was kind of thrown out the window today when we made another chai stop in a small village. After a really cool demonstration of how the chai is prepared the chai master received a delivery… two small packages. He then combined the contents in his hand before placing it behind his upper lip in the same way as the gents using opium did. One pack contained a small quantity of chewing tobacco and the other something called Pan Masala which I hadn’t heard of before so of course had to try it. Naturally I had to try it but have to say, one time was enough. It tasted awful! A combination of tobacco (obviously) and a strange spice that taste wasn’t far away from the smell of mothballs. Every experience you can walk away from with minimal damage, especially when travelling, is always a good thing. Try everything you can while experiencing a different culture!
Back on the road we encountered some crazy roads, if you can even call them that. Being 3 big guys in a small rickshaw we have our big bags and repair gear on the roof rack, which already had to be repaired once a few days ago, that’s probably too heavy for such a vehicle. With Dani at the helm who apparently had a brief image of himself as a rally driver took Lily past her comfort zone for which we paid the price. Previously welded sections of the frame holding up the rack and roof couldn’t take it any longer and broke in a total of 5 places! Shit!!! All bags down to limit the weight which squeezed in the backseat we continued searching for the next welding shop. This being India that didn’t take long and repairs even shorter so with wasting almost no time we hit the road again.
One last thing we wanted to accomplish before hitting Padrauna was to find some kids in need of 1 of the cricket bag and balls Bram picked up earlier in the day. About 10km out we spotted the perfect group. There was about 10 kids playing near the road. On closer look noticed they were playing on homemade bats of a wooden board they’d carved the handle for themselves. Our mission on this trip is first of all helping the SOS children in Shillong but also trying to at least bring a smile to children we see along the way. Well, these kids are definitely gonna be a happy bunch tonight! After a few attempts at hitting and bowling (still not sure if those are the correct terms :-D ) we made the last few km’s needed.
Another day down… at about 1600km down we’re over the half way point now. Lily’s a little beat up so before hitting Nepal hopefully tomorrow afternoon we’ll take here to the doctor for the checkup we didn’t get a chance to do today. Hopefully they give either a clean bill of health, or at least give her the medicine she needs to make it to Everest basecamp ;-)