Friday 16th February
Outskirts of Ratnagiri to Madban
Distance: 56.12 km
Total Distance: 19543.48 km
Ratnagiri Bar – ceilings are very low
We were sad to leave our rather nice apartment this morning but at least we’d had a good rest.
View from our terrace.
Daz was clearly more rested than me because I struggled to keep up with him today but I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be stronger or he’ll revert to his usual shabby form (just kidding). We didn’t see much today and were too far from the coast to see the sea.
We did pass numerous mango orchards and spotted a white and grey bird of prey and a monster kingfisher with a huge beak. I’ll be googling those when I get some Internet! Internet search complete:
Stork billed kingfisher
White throated kingfisher
Black shouldered kite – possibly
Black drongo with a long forked tail
Entertaining moment today was a bus driver pulling over and leaving his bus to take photos of us, whilst his passengers waited.
Saturday 17th February
Madban to Varachichawadi
Distance: 60.33 km
Total Distance: 19603.81 km
Yesterday Daz and I had decided we should make an effort to miss some of the heat of the day and so should start a bit earlier than our typical 9-10am starts. Daz always one to show his commitment to a new plan made sure we were ready for an early departure by ensuring we were both awake by 0530am. Nice! Last night, as we were finishing our end of day routine, we suddenly realised we were in the midst of a cloud of, what Daz called, flying ants. They were all over the tent and us, crawling through my hair and up our T-shirts. Vile! An emergency decamp into the tent was required which also contained a large number of the horrid beasties and was the temperature of a furnace. So as the sweat started to erupt we set about murdering the beasties and then discovered their wings all over our bed and sleeping bags. It’s the first time we’ve met this critters and hopefully our last.
Wings from critters all over our panniers.
So, as per the new plan, we set off at 8am to pleasant temperatures and scenery. By the time we stopped for an early, but absolutely delicious, lunch of Punjabi Thali at Devgad we had done nearly 30km.
Sadly the temperatures or the hills or our tough morning or our big fat bellies meant we were absolutely shattered after lunch and the going was slow, very slow. But we did attempt 2 shortcuts which are always an adventure because you just never know what to expect.
And neither shortcut was a road more a track of rocks or sand or potholes. But these detours into unpopulated areas means we spot more wildlife and today we saw a toucan amongst other pretty birds and we disturbed a group of storks or cranes paddling in a pond.
We also saw our first Indian snake. A green tree snake.
Finally we reached Varachichawadi and had just enough energy to buy some vegetables and get some water before finding a camping spot for the night.
Sunday 18th February
Varachichawadi to Outskirts of Venguria
Distance: 61.07 km
Total Distance: 19665.78 km
Today we achieved another early start – 8am on the road. We’re only losing our 2nd cup of coffee and a leisurely breakfast with extra Kindle time. What we’re gaining – an additional 2 hours of slogging away on our trikes.
No wonder by the time we’ve had lunch we’re so shattered. Today we detoured into Malvan which was truly unremarkable and lunch was in Parule. Before Parule we did circumnavigate half of the new airport currently under construction – Sindhdurg Airport.
The runways must be over 5km long – massive. (We later discover this is part of India’s corruption. A minister will buy land and then decide to build an airport and eventually resell his private land at inflated prices. Meanwhile an airport is built in the middle of nowhere without any supporting infrastructure – no big towns, hotels or restaurants). And our camping spot today is a quarry just before Venguria.
Entertaining moment: Road sign with following warning: Don’t mix alcohol whilst driving’.
Monday 19th February
Outskirts of Venguria to Moira
Total Distance: 19720.99 km
Last night I woke at 2am and my sleeping bag was really damp and this morning we find our tent is soaking wet. All our kit is damp and because the quarry is full of red sand we end up with bags, kit, tent and clothing covered in red dirt.
We fail to achieve an 8am start but do set off before 9am having had 2 coffees. The terrain is much easier today and we soon cross the bridge into Goa and it’s like stepping into a different world.
Suddenly there are tourists everywhere, zipping about on mopeds, scantily clad clearly heading for the beaches. We stop for lunch in Mandram and realise a lot of the advertising boards are in Russian – I guess a lot of these tourists are Russian. After Mandram we head to Mapusa and then on to the small village of Moira. About a year ago when we were hot air ballooning over Cappadocia we met Sonny. He’s an architect, artist and house renovator who spent many years in LA but has now settled in Goa. He has the most stunning house with incredible pieces of art outside and some loft conversions and his Gallery, The Cube. And we’re staying here – how incredibly lucky are we. It’s just so beautiful.
later, chatting to Sonny we discover why the last few days have been so horrendously tough with moments when we literally felt as if our hearts were about to explode through our chests. We’ve been cycling through 37degC heat but the humidity now is around 88%. Physically this is probably tougher than the Pamir Highway and so unpleasant because we’re never completely dry. We wash at night but within seconds we’ll start to sweat and once we close ourselves into the tent to avoid the mossies it’s a full scale sweat eruption. And our clothes never dry out. It’s really unpleasant.
Tuesday 20th- Friday 23rd February
We are truly blessed by our stay. The apartment is stunning and Sonny’s man, Mutta, keeps bringing us meals. This is breakfast and lunch Day 1 of ………365… .if only:
It’s going to be tough to leave – perhaps Sonny won’t notice if we just move in……. forever. Tuesday we just relax, sort out our very dirty kit, and get our laundry done. We also finally finish Game of Thrones – series 7 done at last. Since we started watching Game of Thrones we’ve both read the books but the TV series goes beyond the books and OMG what an ending!
Sonny’s beautiful art and Gallery
Wednesday we head off to enjoy a ‘typical tourist day’. We visit Monjim Beach and then walk along the beautiful beaches to Ashvam Beach and Mandram Beach.
The sea is warm, the beaches well looked after with numerous food and drink shacks. We stop for food and / or a beer and watch all the sun-worshippers.
There’s a ‘thong’ thing going on with the Russians here so Daz certainly has numerous cheeky moments!
Finally we walk into Mandram Town and then head home.
Thursday – we had plans to cycle today but instead end up on a research frenzy of Japan. Japan wasn’t really on our radar until we met Maggie, the kimono collector, who hosted us on a workaway in Rivel in January 2016. She sparked our interest and from subsequent searches we’ve realised Japan is an incredible place, especially for cycle tourists. As a result a major plan change is afoot. Plan evolution:
- Originally we couldn’t find an easy way to get to Hokkaido (buses and trains aren’t trike friendly). So we had intended to cycle north from Tokyo for several hundred kilometres and then loop back south. A 3 month stay was planned, leaving Japan by ferry for South Korea, at the end of June. Six weeks in South Korea acquiring our Chinese and Mongolia visa from Seoul (always a ‘weak link’ in the plan when gaining a Chinese visa is so unpredictable). And then a ferry to China, cycle into Mongolia, back into China and then a detour into Taiwan and Hong Kong and finally into Vietnam.
- As above but we discovered a ferry from just north of Tokyo up into Hokkaido allowing us to cycle the full length of Japan.
- The ferry to Hokkaido meant either a possibility of skiing in one of the world’s top skiing destinations – admittedly at the tale end of the season, or seeing spring in Hokkaido. But a decision was required – an early ferry to Hokkaido to ski or cycle north from Tokyo to see the spring and then book the ferry south to Tokyo. Unfortunately we’d been told early ferry booking was required hence the extensive research. Whilst researching this decision we realised that a 3 month stay in Japan was depressingly restrictive. Plenty of time to cycle the full length of Japan but not enough to ski, experience several workaways, climb Mt Fuji, skidive and have time for friends who are coming over. So we’re hoping to extend our stay to 6 months.
The implications of this single change are considerable and have led to a very ambitious but complicated plan. Leave Japan at the end of September. Spend 2.5 months in South Korea. Leave our trikes in South Korea and fly to Hong Kong for Xmas/ New Year housesitting or workaway. Fly or sail to the Philippines for further housesitting / workaway or sailing adventure (there’s Internet sites for yachts looking for crew). Fly to UK, apply for China and Mongolia visa and spend a month or so seeing friends. Return East in March on the Trans Siberian Railway to Vladivostock and then take a ferry back to S. Korea. A crazy and convoluted plan but it’s so exciting.
To celebrate we watch Dunkirk – good movie.
Friday. Today I’m successful and we’re out the door by 0730hrs. Why so early? Well we’re heading to the Salim Ali Bird sanctuary and the birds are at their most active before the serious heat of the day. From Moira we cycle to Pomburpa Jetty crossing to the Chorao Jetty.
Then we head off and eventually find the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. The guide recommends a boat trip so off we go with the Goan Forestry Commission into the Mangrove swamps.
Our guide spots so many birds we’re like 2 crazy tennis fans unable to keep pace with the action and often unable to spot the bird in question – frustrating for us and the guide.
But we see so many birds and it’s fantastic :
Common Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White throated Kingfisher Black capped Kingfisher, Osprey, White bellied sea Eagles, Brahminy Kites, Storks, Grey Heron, Green Heron, Sandpipers, White breasted Waterhen, Eurasian Curlew, Long necked Curlew, Black Headed Ibis, Cormorants, Great Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Intermediate Egret, Terns, Snipes,
We also see shoals of small fish leaping from the water – amazing!
From the Bird sanctuary we get the ferry to Ribandar and then cycle into Old Goa. Old Goa, this city was constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century and served as capital of Portuguese India from the 16th century until its abandonment in the 18th century due to a plague.
Under the Portuguese, it is said to have once been a city of nearly 200,000 where from, before the plague, the Portuguese traded across continents. The remains of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Old Goa contains many churches including the Se Cathedral (the seat of the Archbishop of Goa), the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Church of St. Caetano and, notably, the Basilica of Bom Jesus which contains the relics of Saint Francis Xavier, which is celebrated every year on 3 December. These churches were built by Portuguese Catholics. Nowadays the city is more of a village and is quiet except for the tourists visiting the churches.
From Old Goa we get a ferry to Piedade on Divar Island, cross this small flat island and catch the Diwar Ferry to Naroa. From there it’s an undulating ride home our progress hampered only by a long wait at a train level crossing we have to wait at it’s an undulating ride back to Moira.
In the evening Sonny has arranged a ‘Breadism’ event in his Gallery and we have offered to help as a thank you for his generosity. Daz helps run the bar and I provide emotional support. There’s a stringed duet providing a classical flavour whilst a chef expounds the value and joy of real bread. And the ‘real’ bread tastes amazing – if only we had a loaf each. And the red wine isn’t too shabby either.
Saturday 24th February
Moira to Odxel
Total Distance: 19809.32 km
Well it pains me, more than you could ever know, to leave Moira but that’s what we must do. We say farewell to Sonny, his 2 boys, Miles and Ki and of course our ‘feeder’, Mutta.
Off we go into Mapusa, buy fuel, and despite Sonny’s advice head to the ‘strip’ between Baga and Candolin.
It’s packed with bars, restaurants, hotels, tacky shops and tattoo parlours. We even check out Candolin beach but it’s absolutely packed with sun loungers and tourists.
This 8km of beach ‘paradise’ is clearly a tourist mecca with numerous jet skiers and para sailing experiences. It’s a bit naff to be honest but I’m sure it has a wild night scene. From here we detour considerably to a Big Bazaar – we love a spot of super shopping. Then we cross the bridge to Panjin and Miramar beach. It really is rather pretty; beautiful old buildings, statues, and a harbour with several casino boats. We’re stopped by some journalists, filmed and interviewed.
Here’s a link to the TV news we appeared on
Seeing the strip and sports’ bars earlier had reminded us that we had planned to watch a 6 Nations Rugby game. Today it’s Wales v Ireland. Unfortunately Miramar is the wrong place to be, no bars and certainly no Sports’ Bars so we resign ourselves to a quiet Saturday night and eventually manage to find a small beach to camp.
Sunday 25th February
Odxel to 4km before Agonda
Total Distance: 19879.00 km
Last night’s camping spot turned out to be party central so whilst we’re trying to sleep there’s people arriving, car doors slamming, car and moped lights shining into our tent and then very loud chatting right next to our tent. Daz politely asked the closest group to give us more space and possibly overcome by guilt they soon drove off to find another spot. However that left a smaller group who got louder as the beers and rum were consumed. I think they finally left at 11pm. Any plan to make up for lost sleep was rudely shattered when the young lads who’d watched us set up the previous evening came over at 7am to play footy with empty beer cans until we made an appearance and they could watch us cook and pack up.
There’s also the fishermen already in from a night’s fishing, sorting out their nets.
So both very tired and grumpy we headed off for the day. After taking the Highway to skirt the estuary above Vasco de Gama we returned to the smaller coastal roads from Cansaulim to Cavelossim.
Then, due to route disagreements, we pushed on but unfortunately found ourselves with hills, no water and no viable camping spots. Our early finish, much like this morning’s lie-in, failed to materialise and instead desperation found us picking a naff camp spot next to the main road at about 6pm and cooking in the dark.
Monday 26th February
4km before Agonda to Agonda
Distance: 8.72 km
Total Distance: 19887.72 km
Our ‘naff’ spot last night wasn’t actually too bad. The parked bus that we’d hidden behind did leave at 7am but we still managed another dozing session. Today we start with a very, very ambitious ride – 3 km down the road to Kola beach. Recommended by Vikki. Our route in is probably the less popular of the 2 two access points. Once off the main road we do find ourselves on a very rough track which leads to a very small area where a few several mopeds are parked.
We’re actually above the beach and having abandoned our precious trikes and luggage descend some steps to an incredibly beautiful beach. This is ‘PARADISE’. There are just 2 small beach hut complexes here. Definitely an exclusive, tucked -away piece of paradise.
After several hours enjoying the sun, sea, fresh-water lagoon and beer we eventually summon sufficient motivation to head into Agonda. Obviously another tourist hot-spot because there’s a street full of hotels, restaurants, shops and beauty spas.
Having stopped for lunch we then head off to the most southerly point of the beach – a spot marked by I-Overlander. It’s obviously well known because there are several camper vans already parked up and it’s here we set up for the night.
Not a horrendously taxing day but it’s our last in Goa so we just want to enjoy it!
And what a fantastic sunset!
Tuesday 27th February
Agonda to Todur
Distance: 58.91 km
Total Distance: 19922.68 km
This morning, slightly the worse for wear (yup too many beach beers), we head off leaving the camper vans and their residents to what appears to be a very lazy schedule – yes aren’t we the judgemental ones.
Yesterday evening when Daz went back into the village for water he was flagged down by an Indian who showed him an Indian news article. Yup those journalists from Miramar have only gone and got us on Indian TV – fame at last. He was also flagged down by a Geordie who we met last September on the Langtang Trail. Today we return to the Highway 17 because there are large river estuaries that we need to loop round.
After 20km we leave Goa and enter Karnataka which we’ve been told is even more beautiful than Goa and flatter. So fingers crossed. Our temperature gauge hits the 40s today but we need to check the humidity.
After passing miles of land fenced off by the Karwar Naval Base we finally find a little piece of land for our tent. Sadly no nearby beaches for a dip.
Wednesday 28th February
Todur to Vannalli
Distance: 54.52 km
Total Distance: 19977.20 km
Today we continue on the Highway for about 20km which is a huge construction site. We turn off for Ankola and the remainder of the day is on back roads with 2 ferry trips to reach Vannalli.
For one of the ferries we have a bit of a wait and we still haven’t had lunch yet. Finally the ferry arrives but lands on the sand bar beside it. So we cycle down a rocky ledge onto the beach then up onto the landing ramp. Bit like being on exercise with the Royal Marines!
On the other side there’s still no food just another hill. It’s not until 4 pm we manage to find somewhere to eat!!
For most of today’s cycling we have been videoing large segments so that we can put together a “video day in the life of”. Hopefully Daz will be able to put something together from the 4gb of video!! Finally we find a small rocky track leading to a private Cove.
Private until about 630pm when it looks like we are surrounded on both hillsides by people out to see the sunset! Once they disappeared we head for a refreshing and cleansing swim.