Man down

Posted by on 25, Mar 2024 in 2024 - An Indian Winter, Asia, India, Tilly the Tandem

Man down

I’ve had trouble with my back all my life. I can pick a pair of socks up and then be unable to get out of a burning building as it hurts so much. Over the years treatments have changed from 2 weeks rest to have a cup of tea and carry on.  For the last few years this has worked fine, but this time it really didn’t make much difference so I was hobbling around our resort hotel looking like a 90 year old who’s just pooped himself. 

To make matters worse my knee, which again has caused me issue for a while now, has been playing up.  It needs a deep tissue massage and together with Lindas neck giving her problems and restricting her ability to peer in at people’s homes as we ride past and comment on the decor, we both headed to the  hotel spa for massages.

Unfortunately the next days cycle to Fort Kochi showed my knee is needing more than a hotel massage.  It was fine for the first 30kms but after that I had real problems putting any pressure on it to peddle.

So, we booked in for an extra night in Fort Kochi and booked a Physiotherapist massage for me on the other side of the city.

The young physiotherapist examined my knee in about 25 seconds and said both my legs were in need of serious remedial attention.  She said I needed to come back for 7 x 2 hour sessions to get rid of the pain and I told her, in my Captain Kirk to Scotty voice, we didn’t have that long and she needed to fix it in 60 minutes before the warp core breached…err sorry before we set off to Munaar in the hills.

To be fair to her she made a very good effort and used cupping – which made me look like I’d been savaged by an octopus, some electro tingling thing which felt like you were being clawed by a cat and then bashed my whole thigh with her elbow for about 60 minutes. 

I could feel the knots in the muscle when she started but they’d gone by the finish. Very impressive…

Getting to the appointment was a 17km, 45 minute taxi ride and cost £13, but coming back we stopped off at Lulu mall to go to the supermarket to stock up on supplies only to find the queue resembled the crowds at a football match and we gave it a miss.  People would have been in those queues for an hour we reckon.  The tills don’t scan like they do in the uk, they scan, then look up the item manually, select it on a drop down list on the screen then do the next item.  It’s very laborious and slow.  Not even strong cheddar and Heinz baked beans could tempt me to endure that and the enormous queue so we adjourned to Burger King for a Veggie Masala Whopper, and very nice it was too.

We almost went into Marks and Spencer to check if they had Cornish Cruncher Cheddar, but they didn’t have a food hall, and the whole shopping centre felt like being anywhere in western europe, except it was enormous. It had cinemas, fun fairs, a live concert, every brand name you can think of and a metro station. So we thought let’s get the metro back.

This, in true Indian fashion has 2 people selling individual tickets to individual stations. Our tickets were 30 rupees each (30p) and took us to near the ferry terminal. The ferry continued the Indian ticket experience with male and female queues for tickets with the uniformed officer sitting in his booth ignoring everyone, then making us all move 20m to the opposite ticket booth which he went and sat in and continued to ignore everyone until 10 minutes before the ferry departed. 

Obviously, by this time, there wasn’t a cats chance in hell of everyone getting a ticket and onboard before departure. We were at the front so went and sat on the ferry, which looked like it had seen better days. Then another ferry tied up alongside us and we all had to climb on that, some through the windows and others along the outside of the hull.

By now the ticket seller had given up and just let everyone on board without tickets then had to go around the ferry asking us all if we’d bought a ticket or not.

Whilst this was going on all the young lads in front of us were secretly trying to do a group selfie, but sneak us into the picture without our knowledge. So just as they were about to snap we both beamed and waved at the camera and they all cracked up and looked suitably embarrassed but very pleased they’d got their photo!

Disembarked, we hopped in to a tuk tuk and adjourned to the bar opposite our hotel for a G&T!  Our ferry cost 6 rupees and the tuk tuk 25 rupees each, so it was about 55p each back.

Fort Kochi is a western oasis of hippy cafes and shops, with loads of hotels of all classes and retains some of it Colonial past.  We had a walk about and tried the local Sadhya traditional meal.  This comprised of various bite size dishes on a banana leaf….again,very nice it was too! 

We also found an Italian Wood fired pizza place that did pizzas better than many we’ve had in Italy.  And no Italians worked there! It was so good we went back twice. I’m afraid the pizzas in India are very poor, but we do struggle having Indian for every dinner and sometimes lunch too, so the good pizza was a very welcome change.

Fishing at Fort Kochi
Saturday morning cricket match

After my magical physio, we decided to get a taxi to Munnar in the mountains rather than cycle up.  We would have done this regardless of my knee as the road is seriously busy, crazy , quite steep in places, is full of roadworks and its just too hot for that kind of cycle. And we’re wimps. It was scary enough in a taxi and the 130km journey took around 5 hours and involved going around every bend on the wrong side of the road and then looking annoyed that a bus nearly hit you!  There’s a lot of hooting and going around bends and lots of near misses. But no accidents yet, fortunately.

Our taxi had turned up with a roof rack and wanted to put Tilly on top. Errr… That’s not happening, so after a lot of umming and arghing we took Tilly apart and squeezed her in with just enough room left for the driver to get his belly in front of the wheel.

We’ve met a lot of people who are touring in cars with a driver and some have remarked that we are brave to do the trip on a bike. Well they are much mistaken I think. It feels sooooooo much safer on a bicycle than in a vehicle. They’re the brave ones!!

We reached the top of the pass just past Munnar in one piece and then the driver couldn’t get the boot open. “Broken” he said.  He then had to crawl over Tilly to take the back panel off to get it open, covering his nice clean trousers in oil from Tilly’s newly lubed chain ..we then reassembled her and began our 12km roll back to Munnar. Heaven.. and no knee strain whatsoever!

Ready to roll….


  1. The overtaking around corners going uphill is something we encountered as we descended a 12 mile hill, potholes on the inside so at most corners we came face to face with climbing buses. Not a lot of fun but luckily we are here. The physio must have been very good, hope the rest of your journey is problem free.

    • Knees not right, but the physio got it back to functional, so we carry on!

  2. Another superbly descriptive blog! Really transports you to being on the journey with you!
    Think we should adopt the slow laborious Indian till scanning method in Aldi!!!!!

    • 😂 I’m not sure that would go down well in the UK!

  3. A seriously eventful trip. Have really enjoyed reading your updates.It sounds like you’re having one of your best ever tours. Hope knee and neck ailments ease up. Invest in an e tandem?

    • I think you nailed it Leon, we agree this is our most enjoyable tour ever. We’ve absolutely loved it, it’s made by the people being so warm and welcoming and their non stop happiness. My knee is mendable – it just (k)needs a lot of physio which I’m putting off and trying to get by until we finish. E tandem – wash your mouth out…😉 We will eventually go electric, but you can’t fly them so it seriously restricts tours, or makes it very expensive as you have to buy new batteries everywhere.

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