Welcome back. These first couple of weeks in China are leaving me confused about what I want to say. Also try as I might, I can’t quite avoid comparing China with India so, to get it out of my system, and to buy me some time to write about China, here is one last salute to India.

And since I am often berated for sharing too few photos what better way than this, a belated rectification: a 50 photo overview of 9 months and over 6500km cycled on the Indian subcontinent.

The southern tip of mainland India. A symbolic paddling spot to start the pedalling journey.

Cycling with Surya

The afternoon commute.

Temple tradition and mobile modernity in Tamil Nadu.

Indian music and dance at a southern temple.

Games in a rural bus shelter…

… and cricket in a village school yard

Water!

The iconic, gaudy gopurams of southern Indian.

Life saving fruit on my first and unexpectedly hard hill station climb…

…And the thrilling freewheel down my second. 19th of 36 hairpins! (Luckily a stay in the ashram provided a gap between the two hillstations)

Ashram

Enforced hitch-biking out of a tiger park.

Busting A Gut To Bangalore

Police encounters near Mysore

India is big

A cycling friends chaperoning me out of Bangalore

One Spoke – Part I

Ringing the changes. Mobiles everywhere – including during a Jain temple ceremony

One Spoke – Part II

Lovely southern Goa in the monsoon

South of Mumbai – the new and sweaty impromptu comentator for an inter-village cricket match!

The refreshing modernity of Mumbai

Konkan

One of a million such stalls. At least I managed to remember to take a picture of one. This in Silvassa a lessor known former Portuguese possession.

The modern roads of the businessy state of Gujarat could get a little dull were it not for racing with these guys.

Everybody’s Business

Big infrastructure heading through the hills – I would overtake a number of identical lorries as they navigated their way through the landslide affected hills ahead.

Bursting

Rajasthan! The dancers of Udaipur

Reflections

Well I had to include one of me! The day I arrived the monsoon rain had brought an old house down in a nearby alley.

Classic! Later, in the residential suburbs of India I would see a monkey on a bicycle with another in the basket. Sadly I didn’t get a picture.

Almost everyone I met was friendly. Though not always to this extent.

Not all Indian roads are this bad. Yes it is a road although there is a river running through it. But let’s just say this didn’t come as a complete surprise after the monsoon ravaged asphalt elsewhere.

Sometimes though India just makes you smile. I spent only a couple of hours here but they were full of people: Indian tourists, locals biking up from nearby towns on surreptitious dates, a film crew, and plenty of monkeys teasing the many stray dogs.

There was a general fascination with what I was doing which made meeting people straightforward – and meant there were always willing helpers.

Not the deepest of the monsoon floodings but you get the gist. Life goes on.

Delhi ahead!

Jaipur – can you tell the locals from the tourists?

What brings you here?

Cycling teams, mopeds, elephants, and fast 4g

What shall I point out? Sunburn? Selfies? By now, some 4000kms after a moped like this accidentally crashed into me, I had learnt it was safer if I took the pictures.

And the mega sights near Agra approach…

…it was far from a disappointment – can you see the happy smile?

A nation out of a mob

Trekking through Nepal…

Himalaya I

…to the border of Tibet

Himalaya II – Excerpts from the Dear Diary

Preparations for the wedding

शादी

Up into the hills of Uttarakhand.

So Indian

A modern, likeable side to Delhi, Before the smog set in.

Today is Sunday

Amritsar’s golden temple and the start of my trunk road journey.

The Grand Trunk Route I – The Ache of History

I can’t quite figure it out either.

The far end of the trunk road near the border with Bangladesh.

The Grand Trunk Route II – Have Faith

Sunderbans national park. Tiger footprints, crab foraging locals, and a hand caught fish (The man waded it into a corner – we guess it was hiding from the river dolphins)

Ever traditional Kolkata.

Ubiquitous. Again I only remembered to take a photo late on in the journey. Behind me there are of course another 20 people.

West Bengal in the Harvest. Beautiful. Shortening days. Tractor harvested in one field, while hundreds of sickle wielding hands hunch over the next.

Harvest

Victorian life in rural India?

Caste About

Tea-picking in Darjeeling

Darjeeling, Bengal Presidency

Usually friendly but always slow beaurocracy.

The Spice of Life

Nagaland – Hornbill Festival.

Take-off and Nagaland

Elephant Safari at dawn. Kaziranga National Park, Assam.

 

Now, onwards to China…