I guess my day went well. I’m just really tired. My ride out of Bangladesh went well until two motorbikes, each carrying two guys, decided to accompany for the last 8km. All I wanted was some peace and quiet so I could reflect on my time in Bangladesh as I rode to the border, yet they continued to hassle me the whole way. Close to the border, I hit a customs checkpoint where I was told I had missed an immigration office about 500m back. An immigration officer rode back with me and commenced the passport process.
I was promptly told I had to pay 500t departure tax. I wasn’t sure if it was a bullshit fee or not, and I only had 90t in my wallet, so I told them that I didn’t have enough money for the fee. After a bit of back and forth, the issue was forgotten as my passport went somewhere. After a while two officers dealt with me and said I had to either pay 500t or US$6.25. I again feigned that I didn’t have the money. They never let up and said I couldn’t leave without paying. After a while, a new guy dealt with me. By this time I had dug out the extra taka I had hidden on my bike, which included 500t. Fortunately, this new guy wasn’t around when I said I didn’t have the money so it wasn’t an issue when I handed 500t over. I got an official government-stamped receipt for the payment, which let me know that the fee was legitimate and I shouldn’t have been worried about it. Sorry guys! As I was leaving the building, two random officers called me into an office and told me there was a ‘port transport fee’ to be paid. It was clear that this one was complete bullshit. They asked me for 37t. The amount was so low that I didn’t bother kicking up a fuss. I handed over 30t (AU$0.40) and got out of there.
At Indian immigration I was interviewed for several minutes before my entry was formally recorded and my bags passed through an x-ray machine. And that was it – I was once again in India. The ride into Siliguri was short and sweet, but also dusty, dirty and busy. I stopped at one small ‘hotel’ down a quiet side street to enquire about a room, but discovered the name ‘hotel’ does not necessarily mean accommodation. By this time it was about 2pm and I was starving, so I ate there and enjoyed a very well presented rice dish.
Just around the corner I found an internet café and my first WIFI since leaving India twelve days ago. My phone went off with a million notifications. I did some research into places to stay and picked a couple of options that would represent a little treat to myself in that they had WIFI and weren’t the grottiest options available. My heart sank when I found my number one choice was full, as was the next two. I then just began riding down small side streets enquiring at various places. It’s incredible how much of a problem a bicycle poses to some accommodation. They don’t have issues offering rooms where every surface is covered by unidentifiable stains, yet the idea of a bicycle in a room is just too much. I was tired and short-tempered when I finally found my current home. I was lured there by the promise of a room with hot water and WIFI. I quickly discovered there is no hot water and WIFI only works in the lobby. Welcome to India.
|Distance ridden today||73.47km|
|Average cycling speed||19.2kph|
|Total distance ridden||15,050km|