. The place was clearly very popular with the locals and we had our first proper Indian breakfast of a large pancake filled curried potato and onion, two curry sauces and something which looked like a donut but tasted like fish! I was very proud that we managed to eat nearly all of it despite feeling sure that it was not the way to start a 54 mile cycle. Delicious, sweet coffee went some way to washing the taste away before we set off. We took the 47 road we had been on yesterday which would take us all of the way. It's quite wide and has a hard shoulder and relatively few potholes. We were really pleased that we did 14 miles in the first hour, reminding me what we can do on a plain and just how ridiculously hilly and slow the Bulgarian roads had been. Seeing a bike shop we stopped and had a fantastic hour in the shop while an amazingly wizened, fairly toothless, friendly old man completely revamped Mikey’s bike. First sorting his totally buckled wheel, then getting to work checking on the rest of it, finishing by attaching a back rack to the front as his friend explained that the weight of the panniers was too much. We had a massive audience by the end, and the old man was very chuffed with the attention and challenge. He laughed so much he nearly cried when he found out we were going all the way to Bombay. Another 10 miles down the road (now the bike’s better doing 16mph) we stopped to visit the Krishnapuram Palace Museum, a restored example of Kerulen architecture. It was great to do some sightseeing as part of our day, but the absolute best and funniest bit of the experience was the guide who insisted on making us photograph every (fairly dull) exhibit then grabbing the camera himself so he could take a photo of us posing by it
. My favourite was when he made us lie on a table and wave! He also insisted we wade into an indoor pool with some very suspect looking water which he said was lovely. We saw a turtle and several fish swimming in it though. Back on the bikes, we continued to make good progress. We’ve sorted the WC situation, realising they always have them in garages. No chance of nipping behind a tree here, there are people EVERYWHERE. AT one such stop we had a long chat with a man fascinated by our gear, inspecting everything, especially the helmets. We have also solved the lunch problem by discovering bakeries. We had some delicious pastries filled with either curried vegetable or egg, better than samosas and far less worrying than actual curry. The baker also sold freshly baked butter cake –Yum. He was so pleased that we loved his food so much he gave us some cashew nuts as well. After the lunch the sun came out from behind a cloud and it got extremely hot, and it seemed to goto the bus drivers’ heads and they became a lot more annoying and careless. Mikey shouted at several who came too close, however the big hard shoulder and dirt track at the edge of the road means we still feel better than on that road to Timosoara, Romania. 6miles before the town we started to lag a bit in the heat so stopped for an ice cream and some mango juice. Good to be rested before entering a town as they are always hectic and needed lots of concentration. We were really happy to be approached by a man from the very rooms the guide book had recommended and he brought us to an absolutely lovely room – Mosquito free! An excellent improvement on last night when I was too scared to go in the bathroom. They even have free bikes and internet. After a cold shower, we have arranged to do a canoe tour of the back waters tomorrow, chatted with lots of other people here about what we’re up to on the bikes, and eaten most of the butter cake. It’s now 6pm and we’re going to find something to eat before an early bed. Mikey has just attached a moped mirror to my bike – looking good.
Managed to drag ourselves out of bed at 6.45am, ready for our first full day of cycling since we arrived. It was actually lovely and cool outside the hotel when compared to our stifling windowless room. We headed straight to the ferry dock hoping to get a short ferry trip across the backwaters before starting cycling to Alleppy. The tour guides on the dock were incredibly helpful and friendly, but said there was no point getting the ferry, much quicker to cycle. They gently tried to persuade us to take the 8hr tourist boat trip to Alleppy, and even showed us exactly where our bikes could go. It was very tempting, but we both felt that we really needed to test out the cycling and make sure it was possible. Both men shook our hands and enthusiastically said "Good luck, you are strong!!" when we told them we had decided to cycle. The lack of pressure to do things has been a refreshing change from the constant demands in Turkey. The tour guides also showed us a hotel just up the road where they said we could have a delicious breakfast before we set off