Before we share our thoughts and first experiences of India, we will briefly talk you through our last 48 hours in Oman.
We were invited by friends of our family who live on the outskirts of Muscat. Hamdam, Gunni and their daughter Sara provided us with great hospitality and conversation.
The second day we took the chance of visiting the university Gunni works at (great piece of architecture), before preparing our bikes for the flight.
Talking about that, Gunni managed to gather a lot of cardboard boxes so we just had to focus on disassembling the bikes in a correct manner, make sure we don’t lose any bolts & nuts and encase the bike in cardboard. The panniers were put into 2 big plastic bags for check-in.
That same evening we were brought to the airport to catch our 00:30am flight and with the help of Hamdam, who knew one or two people, we were able to skip a few lines ?. Once again thank you Hamdam, Gunni and Sara for everything you did. We had a great time in Oman which ended on a high note.
Although we were able to sleep a little on our 2.5 hours flight to Ahmedabad, we arrived in a drowsy state. However, both our bikes and bags arrived and we managed to reach our hotel for an early check in. From 07:00h -11:00h(Indian time) we took a nap as we were invited to visit the IPR (Institute for Plasma Research) at 13:45h and we still needed to reassemble our bikes.
At IPR we were warmly welcomed by Ritendra Bhattacharya and his colleagues. After a small introduction by Mr P.K. Atrey it was our turn to talk about our journey and explain the bikes. Last but not least we were given a tour through the Cryolab, where Demaco has been delivering the cryogenic test facilities for the ITER Cryolines.
It was here, where we met with Nayan Pandya who is a business friend of Ronald.
Together with him and his colleague we were taken to the Vishala restaurant in Ahmedabad.
This restaurant serves a great variety of authentic Gujarat (the region Ahmedabad is part of) food which is delicious. Not only do they serve food, but there are dance performances, a Marionette theatre and a utensil museum showcasing a vast selection of ancient Indian utensils. What an incredible first day this was!
The next day we visited the Gandhi museum who lived in Ahmedabad between 1918 and 1930. It was here where he prepared the so called Dandi March. This was the non-violent resistance against tax on salt. All in all a very special and inspiring place.
We then headed to our hotel in Gandhinagar and this was a special ride for us, as we surpassed the 10.000km mark!! ??
Yesterday has been a very remarkable day for us as we were able to play our part in the ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ (clean India mission). A group of 21 cyclists is currently biking from Kashmir (a city in the North) to Kanyakumari (a city in the South) to create awareness about this movement. This is a well organized event and the group of cyclists are flagged off and welcomed in the cities they stay. Yesterday we joined them for a 140km ride from Gandhinagar to Vadodara.
We were flagged off at 10:00h in the morning by a group of 2000 exited people. Ronald was given the podium to talk about our tour and show his support to the ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ movement. As a result of that everyone wanted to take a picture with us. We definitely set up a new record when it comes to the amount of selfies ?? We felt like celebrities, really!
Now to the ride itself… this was a great experience and well organized. Every 30km or so we had a small break with refreshments.
The time was flying as we both found ourselves in good conversations with the 21 cyclists.
It was dark when we arrived in Vadodara where we were welcomed by both the local rotary club, sponsors as well as colleagues of Nayan who joined us too. Hats off for that Nayan ??.
For dinner we had home made oven backed pizza and they were just finger licking good!!
This morning we woke up early to flag off the 21 cyclists. To our surprise we were honoured with a medal and a certificate for biking with the group. After a couple of photos we headed back to Nayans place as we had an interview appointment with the national TV. This time we felt like actors who share their thoughts on their new movie… we were sitting in the garden namely with our bikes in the background talking about our trip, the do’s and don’ts, what to think of etc. In the afternoon we had a Traditional Ayurveda massage appointment which was a great way to relax our muscles and mind.
As you can see, we have been a little busy the past few days hence why the post is a bit longer. India is, as they promote themselves, incredible and we are extremely grateful to experience all of this. We can’t wait to see what still has to come…
PS: cycling in India is a bit different…