Days 4-5 of my SUP trip to India
India SUP TRip - Days 4-5
Tuesday starts with a motorbike ride through the jungle. There are monkeys on the roadside and more cows on the road at every village or inhabited area. Long time since I rode a motorbike and animals on the road were cause of concern.
The road from Ramachandi Beach (site of the ISF) to the Rangers HQ (where all ISF organization takes place) is 12km of interesting but flat open plain with mostly jungle on either side.
We had a busy day with a press conference early afternoon with around 20 journalists from local press, TV and digital media. Then off to Puri to buy some bicycles which will be our main transport here.
We get 3 new Indian Atlas Bengal Tiger bikes for 400 Rupees each (around £43). These are classic 1940s style with big sprung saddles and steel wheels and frames. The bikes are built to last for decades with minimum maintenance – no gears, rod brakes, chain guards.
Interestingly the bike shop owner brusquely asks “why are you here in this place”, “why would you want to come here?” in a quite aggressive way. This is a rare experience in Odisha where most people are either friendly to Brits – or at worst indifferent. It’s quite a long explanation and there’s a lot to be lost in translation so I settle for “Why would I not want to come here? I have friends here and like the place” It seems explanation enough. We part on good terms – a handshake and he asks if we can be Facebook friends.
By contrast locals often ask if they can have their pictures taken with us riding a motorbike. I’m flagged down by 2 motorbike riders who ask if they can take a picture and the same often happens in random places.
I decide to ride mine back to Ramanachandi at night so get to experience a 12km ride through the jungle road. Patches of sea fog make it quite difficult to see the road in many places and a head torch makes things worse as light bounces back off the fog and I can see nothing. Lucky for me it’s a straight road and not very rutted. The Atlas cruises serenely over bumps and loose stones and I cover the 12km in well short of an hour. It’s around midnight so I have the road to myself except for a few gravel trucks heading for the local pit.
Wednesday starts with an 8km paddle on the lagoon. Felt nice to exchange rowers on the Thames for a few fishermen casting nets from dugout canoes which they pole around the lake. Then a few hours spent infilling geometric structures on the beach – getting ready for ISF.
But the high point of the day was a swim in the Indian Ocean. Last year there were many large dead turtles on this beach with lots of speculation about why there were so many (they generally come back to the beach to breed and then to die - but not in such numbers.
This year I was the only person on the beach which stretches as far as you can see in both directions. Clear white sand and gently breaking waves with water warm enough to swim in for hours. The only other people in sight were on a fishing boat far out at sea.