Road to Udaipur

From Udaipur the plan was to drive to Vadodara to stay over night, but I couldn’t find the hotel. This is the second time I have tried to stay at a Holiday Inn but have been totally unable to locate it. Either my navigation is rubbish, or their directions leave something to be desired. Given that I have found my way over 8,000 miles successfully I think my navigation is reasonably average.

Anyway as there was still plenty of time I decided we should strike out for Pune, which was to have been the next stop after Vadodara, some 250 miles further on. Unfortunately the road surface deteriorated again making progress painfully slow and it soon became obvious that to reach my destination that day I would have to drive in the dark, something I had avoided doing previously. Then to make things a little more interesting the heavens opened and it poured. When it does this in India it really is extreme. As I found out a couple of days later Pune received 74mm of rain in 24 hours leaving much of the town under some 2 feet of water.

Anyway, although it was only 5:00pm in the afternoon the storm made it so dark that it was just like driving at night. This is when I discovered that 85 out of every 100 Indian HGV’s don’t have rear lights. Most are broken but some are just painted over! I had noticed before, to my amusement, that many trucks have ‘hand painted’ bodywork and often the ‘artist’ has found it easier and quicker when doing the rear to just paint over everything, doors (if they are still there), hinges, number plates and lights.

After struggling for a couple of hours through this nightmare I decided that if I continued I would wreck the car because it is impossible to see the pot holes in time to avoid them so I started looking for a hotel. I found a suitable looking establishment in a town called Vapi and stayed the night. All things considered it was the right thing to do.

The following day I found Pune and a totally different piece of India. Within the city limits they have built a complete Italian style village. There are several large modern industrial complexes either built or nearing completion and they are identical to the modern complexes that are all over Western Europe. This is the software capital of India. Most of the big names are based here and that means there is a large inflow of foreign investment which shows in lifestyle of the local population.

Still I wanted to press on to the state of Goa and some R&R. I have had a very heavy cold, heat bumps on my legs, and I feel generally run down. I am sure that it’s the constant stress of scanning the road for danger in addition to all the other things driving in this part of the world demands that has tired me.

The drive from Pune to Candolim, in Goa, started far better than I could have expected. We joined National Highway 4 just outside Pune and headed south following the signs for Bengaluru. The condition of the road was good for most of the 200 miles to Belgaum where we turned off towards Panaji. I guess after that I shouldn’t complain but most of the next 100 miles was absolutely diabolical. The exception was one short stretch of road, of around 5 miles, over a mountain range. The surface was not perfect but the road is one of those that MG’s were built for. I have included a piece of video called ‘MG’s are made for this’.

As we were nearing Panaji, the state capital, we hit another unmarked ‘speed breaker’ as they misguidedly call them; ‘suspension breaker’ is far more accurate and they are totally unnecessary as the general condition of the road surface prohibits speed of more than 15 mph anyway. Fortunately, this time there was no permanent damage but another wheel cap has disappeared.

We arrived at the hotel in Candolim at around 4:00pm. Goa was once the capital of Portugal’s eastern empire and evidence of its influence is all about, particularly in many of the buildings. It gives it a sort of Bahamas flavour. The people here are warm, friendly and genuinely hospitable, being only too happy to assist in any way they can.

Three days R&R is what was ordered and that is we are going to have, then it will be onto Chennai and pack-up for Australia, the second leg of our journey.

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