Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Day 5 - Rajahmundry to Vijayawada

My mobile has successfully woken me up at 3:30. My main target for today is Vishakapatnam - 200+ kilometers away. I need to reach there for I have planeed that tomorrow will be a sight seeing cum rest day(meaning very less cycling).

First thing I note is that my left leg shin pain is gone. Yay! It has responded well to the "treatment" (cycling at constant pace and not exerting too much). The right knee is also better. There is a slight pain on the right shin as well.

I am off at 6:10; I say a silent bye to Biranchi, and say it loud enough as not to wake him up !

A tea stop happens as usual. People everywhere are trying to warm up, sitting around fires. However, I remain untouched by the cold - I'm cycling, after all! I do sense the fog - and can feel the cold wind on my face. An hour later, one more intended tea stop has turned into a mini breakfast. Vizag is still 190+ kms away! So near and yet so far...

I indulge in some night photography experiments, mainly to keep away from cycling too much! And in one particular place, I have everything lined up - camera ready, streetlights are on and offering a nice ambience, cycle ready for the shoot, my finger is ready to click... As I am clicking, the streetlights go off. Imagine my frustration at the result - a useless picture.

My estimates are that I can't reach there by 7 PM, so why hurry? But cycling in the dark is something that I don't relish, so I need a steady pace of around 15 kms/hr. The sun is already up and burning. After applying sunscreen, I feel a cool breeze.

The road is no longer the nice flat road it was till Rajahmundry. It now has ups and downs. I am constantly eyeing the Kolkata milestones. I stop after seeing "Kolkata - 1000" (Chennai - 700).
A short rest after breakfast motivates me to start again. Vizag is still 140+ kms away and the time is 9:20 AM.

Some kilometers later, I see a welcome sight - a cashew tree. The setting has suddenly assumed a coastal hue, with cashew, cocoa and mango groves. The hilliness of the road has also increased, sigh! The environment reminds me of my native place and I somehow feel happy. The hills cut down my progress. After Annavaram, the road becomes still more hilly! The rule for a cyclist seems to be : ups are mandatory and downs are complimentary!

A few churches are seen on the road - more signs of coastal area!

Near Tuni, I stop and much a few bananas. A couple of bananas also disappear at a short notice. At noon, I am still 100 kms from Vizag. Lunch at 12:45 brings some strength - but also a stomach ache! I rest for some time hoping that the ache would go away - but nothing of that sort happens. So I decide to make progress on the road at least. No idea what caused the ache - it continue to persist for atleast an hour more. After this I make a few stops - drinking water and eating oranges.

Near Yellammanchalli, NH5 work is going on, so welcome to bad roads. I race with a Victor for some time on the bad road - I don't win, but I don't loose either! Recovering from the effort takes a couple of tender coconuts. Sometime later, I see a college bus (Avanthi College of Engineering) overtaking me. The boys in the bus beckon me - and I oblige! The bus stops at a railway crossing. The general enquiries ensue. They just can't believe that I am a software engineer. I have to show them my visiting card at the end... I follow the bus for some more distance and give up after that (bus is going at 40+). I then pull over for a short tea break - Vizag is still 50+ kms away and the time is 4:20!

Post tea, I meet a fellow cyclist Rajesh. He is a X standard student, studies in a school at Anakapalli, cycles to school everyday (6 kms), and surprise: dreams of becoming a soldier in the army. Reason: desh sewa. Exemplary ! Aren't navy and airforce valid options ? Naah, he replies!

Light is fast fading and Vizag is slowly drawing near. 30 kms from Vizag (Anakapalli is the place), I stop for a dosa+tea. The general observation I have to make is that as you move north, the taste of dosas and chutney (in particular) is lesser. After the snack, it is time to switch on the headlights and god speed!

The toll booth (few night shots) signals arrival of city limits. Sometime later, a Splendour motorcycle overtakes me, and then falls back to maintain my pace (maybe 30kmph). Subhan is going to Vizag with his wife and daughter. He works in a chemical plant at Anakapalli, and visits Vizag every weekend to see his parents. I get to know more about Vizag (land rates included!). We stop at NAD junction. We get a snap together. And Subhan offers me orange juice - it is an offer that I can't refuse! I take general tourist directions, his address and cell phone number. His suggestion is that I stay near Gopalapatnam (which is nearby) since lodges in the city are costly. I take his advice and bid him goodbye.

I finally settle down in Kumari lodge. It is 8:30. Simhachalam(a famous temple) is also near to this place - and I intend to go there tomorrow morning. Kumari lodge is by far the cleanest place I've stayed in this trip - and also the costliest - 200/day. I book for 2 days.

I go around, shopping as usual, brush for washing clothes, ariel. Food at Guntur mess is OK, but nothing to talk home about. Asleep at 10:00 PM.

Today's birds-eye-view:
Time Odometer Place/Purpose
4:10 10185.0 Rajahmundry
5:30 10200.0 Tea break, change torch batteries
6:05-6:20 10205 Mini-snack
7:05 10219.2 Duggampeta
7:40 10227.6 Yerravaram
8:30 10240.2 Kolkata-1000 KMS
8:40-9:20 10242 Breakfast
9:50 10248.8 Kathipudi (yummy ice candy)
10:10 10255.4 Annavaram
11:05 10265.9 Bananas!
11:20 10270.6 Tuni(cross)
12:00-12:05 10277.1 Tea break
12:45-1:25 10295.1 Bhojanam
2:40 10303.5 Water!
3:15 10311.1 Yellammanchalli
4:20 10325.0 Tea
5:50-6:10 10341.7 Snack at Anakapalli
7:40 10359.3 NAD Junction, Vizag/Meet Subhan
8:30 In Kumari Lodge

Around 200+ kilometers of cycling - today has been a OK day - not too tough, but not easy, either!

Tomorrow will be a general rest day and fun - sightseeing : Simhachalam (SLV temple), Kailash Giri, Dolphin's Nose, Vuda Park, RK Beach are already lined up. So is washing clothes!

I can already hear my right knee appreciating the rest !


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