Grand Total: £6,102.31
Gift Aid: £949.86
Total: £5,152.45
153

Gears We Never Use

"Life is like a ten-speed bicycle,
we all have gears we never use"

— Charles M. Schulz

29,803km

In February 2015 Gary Taylor, from Ipswich, set off to cycle around the world for charity. Keep up to date via this website and through the channels below!

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The Ritz

Country: India

It was dark when I arrived in the small town of Rangia and, hoping for a cheap hotel, I followed the train tracks until I found the station; usually the best place to find hotels used by individuals not known for having disposable income set aside for luxury accommodation. I was pleased to locate a manky looking hotel and arranged to sleep in their cheapest available room. Having paid two quid for the night, I was not expecting anything too flash.

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I had a shared bathroom, which is always a good way of keeping costs down. I dunno who I was sharing it with, but it was fucking disgusting even by my standards of cleanliness. Despite it being a tiled wet-room, the floor was caked in filth and the sink was stained with a muddy watermark. I was delighted to find that the water from the tap matched this stain in colour. I opted not to use tap water to clean my teeth for the first time in my life. Maybe I'm getting soft. The shower itself was a grimy old cement bucket under a tap with a jug in it, I splashed water over myself, soaped up, then repeated the bucketing. To be fair, finding showers of this type has not been uncommon at all since Turkey, and since my usual method when camping is to spray myself down with a bike bottle in a field, the privacy alone makes this superior. Carrying it out in a room so shockingly filthy however, was a new low.

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My room itself was pretty dilapidated. The door had three giant bolts on the inside, suggesting I was likely to come under full-scale siege during my stay, but as always I was more concerned about mosquito ingress. I attempted to close the window, but it fell about twenty degrees short of mating up with it's frame. I began to inspect what it was fouling against before realising the futility of my quest. One pane of glass was missing and another was smashed, the jagged remnants still hanging in the hole, possibly serving as some slight deterrent against further intrusions. My least favourite animals in the world swarmed mercilessly through this battered porthole, so I strung my mosquito net up over the bed to avoid spending the night frantically clawing my own flesh from the bone.

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Anti-air defences in place, I laid down to test my bed. The mattress was about an inch thick and soft enough for me to feel the metal frame of the bed through. Despite the discomfort, laying down felt good so I took some time to admire the large swathe of fairly serious fire damage smeared across my ceiling. I imagined meth addicts attempting to cook rocks with disastrous results. I wondered briefly whether the broken window was actually a burglary or someone trapped in my room, attempting to escape a fiery grave.

Eventually I summoned the energy to peel myself free of my bed and I set about repairing the day's puncture. Then the power cut. Not a problem, I've grown used to this. All the lights go out and the fans grind ominously to a halt, immediately sending temperatures soaring. There's normally some shouting from someone who is obviously too lazy, too important or simply too far away to flick the switch over to the reserve power source. Then you hear the trusty chugging of a diesel generator somewhere downstairs, or, if you're somewhere relatively flash no noise at all as a stack of truck batteries are used instead. After a moment the back-up power kicked in. A moment later, the back-up power died.

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Voices indicated that people were doing something about it. But all that was happening in my dark sauna was a brief stint of light, followed by a long period of blind sweating, followed by a brief period of the ceiling fan, followed by more sweating. I was beginning to question the wisdom behind me choosing chicken for dinner, the refrigeration in this place was probably not the most consistent.

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I fired up my head-torch, finished the repair and laid down with my book, inside my mossie net, my body probably covered in more bacteria from just touching the tap in the bathroom than it had been before I “showered”. It then dawned on me that my two quid had merely bought me the opportunity to camp inside a building. Like camping but without the outdoors. The good part of camping. And it cost me two quid.