Monywa to Monywa 80km
The day started well. I'd had a great sleep, found some eggs for breakie, and was on the road by 7.30am. The smoke was pretty thick, but traffic not so. And then, not 5km, a sinking feeling, and you know, when you've got green slime in the tube, it's not a good sign. My second flat tyre, in 18,000km. Tried all the magic tricks, pumping up and rotating, but it wasn't going to happen. Before I had the wheel off, I had a helper, lovely guy, and meaning to be so helpful, but sometimes they just get in the way. Threw my last tube in amongst all the leaked green slime, and stashed the tube for mending later. Just about to put on the wheel, and in barges No 2 helper. I think he's a bike mechanic, and he forceably but nicely takes over. Neither will take any money, just a hand shake, photo and a smile.
Not 10km later and there is a very large detour sign, about 200m before my turnoff. Every one else is going that way.....so. It's a bumpy, well used farm track, passing behind houses, and ends up in the middle of the biggest, busiest market I've ever seen. All the other vehicles are stopped, but police and army wave me through. Not that I can hardly move. Oh wow. Too busy surviving to get photos.
I'm finally through, and not 10km down the road is another roadblock. This one is manned by a determined little man with a whistle. I stop and try to enquire about which way to go. He storms up to me and blasts the whistle in my face, pointing. Okay, guess it's to the left. Sorry to annoy you officer.
I stop a while later for a break. A teacher approaches me and makes sure I have everything I want. We then sit an chat. Very pleasant. I mention needing a Tyre repair kit, I've run out of glue, and he gives a mate a yell. His mate turns up 10mins later with all I need.
I haven't gone 10km, and a scooter sides up beside me. Please mister, stop for a rest at this shop. Okay. I'm hot. I stop. Another teacher and his friend. They have seen a photo and story about me in a local paper, and wanted to meet me, get photos and chat. No idea how I got in the local paper, but they show me a photo.
Less than 10km later, I have a Police escort. He doesn't talk to me, just into his radio. He disappears as we approach a check point. Three Policemen walk out into the middle of the road, and wave me through, talking into their radios.
I'm stopped again, drinking and chatting with a new friend, a vet, when the man with the Immigration cap sits down with us. Passport please. He looks at it. He photographs it. He copies details on to a form. He makes phone calls. I need to follow him to his office.
I'm ushered into the bosses office. He is just a little aggressive. I'm forbidden to cycle this road. I can not stay in the townships. I plead my Permit from Seven Diamonds. Not good enough. They are just a Tourist Company. He is Government. I need to respect the law. I can not cross the border into India, because it is not an International crossing point. I must go back to Monywa. The more I question, the more annoyed he gets. He will put me in a "car" for the return trip. Eventually, out on the road, realizing I'm doing what I'm told, he gets chatty. In particular wants to know whether I have any $US. Hmmmm. Perhaps that might have helped.
They stop a big old truck, and Fiona is thrown on the back. I'm to sit in the cab, above the exposed gearbox and road. It's bumpy, rough, loud and fumey. After an hour we stop for a pee, and because the gear box has clapped out. The mechanic, climbs off the back of the truck and strips the casing off, and makes adjustments. I climb up on the back. I'm feeling as crook as a dog, just wish I could vomit.
And then we stop. Truck is going no further. It's 10 miles to Monywa. It's dark, smokey and congested. The driver finds me a tuktuk who want too much to take me into town, but I'm feeling decidedly seedy, so agree. We pass through the market. It's still huge and congested, but he fights his way through. Eventually we reach the hotel. I climb out and empty my stomach. Not pretty on the hotel steps. ......
So a problem to solve. How to get to India. And the trailer got pretty bashed about on the truck. Almost a whole roll of duct tape used to hold it together. I'm unsure how much further it will be sharing the road with me.