I woke around 6.45am and listened to the early morning movements of others in the house, trying to work out whether it was appropriate for me to also rise for the day. When the man of the house returned to bed (the mat on the floor across the room from mine) I got the impression he was waiting for me to rise. I did as instinct told me and made a move to get up. He did the same. I toileted, changed and packed my bike before being invited back into the house where breakfast had been laid out. I was treated to flatbread, boiled eggs, butter, cheese, a glass of hot milk and chai. Despite the fact we didn’t have a shared spoken language, I managed to learn that the milk came from the family’s cow, and that the butter and cheese (courtesy of the same animal) were handmade. My host also successfully conveyed he was suffering a bad hangover. It was a little after 8am that I was ready to leave. The village was very quiet as I rode through it, with only a few very old men sitting about. I am sure there would be a lot of sore heads today.

I didn’t really make it very far in the first few hours of my day. I first rode to the top of the hill on the edge of Paladli where I stopped to complete my morning preparations: I sent a SPOT message to my family (which I failed to do last night), stretched, applied Vaseline to my crotch (blister prevention) and set up my dynamo system so I could charge my phone as I rode. With my phone battery dead and with many dirt roads criss-crossing through the hills, I was at a bit of a loss as to which track represented the right direction. I stuck to the most well used one that seemed to be heading the right way.

By 9am it was stiflingly hot and I was sweating profusely. I’d been climbing rolling hills that contained neither shrubs nor trees, just grasses and tilled soil waiting for new crops. At one point I stopped at a crossroad where there was a small hut next to a gate leading to a mine. The guy inside the hut offered me some tea. I tried to ask which was the right way for me to go, but he gave a very long answer that left me none the wiser. I tried turning my phone on but I hadn’t been moving fast or long enough for it to have charge. The guy said I could charge it in his hut. I got it to 10%, but it didn’t really help. Luckily two men and young guy turned up and after listing the names of the towns I expected to pass through over the next couple of days, they were able to give me advice about directions. I still have to be wary about advice though, as I want to stick to small roads through small villages so I need to be sure I am not being directed to any major, boring motorways. Later in the day when I stopped for a snack a passing truck driver gifted me with grapes and cold water.

Eventually, I dropped out of the hills and made my way to Qarasu, where I was invited by a couple of guys to have tea outside a building they were constructing. They sent me off with a cold water refill and a bottle of frozen water. I rode the main road for 2km before re-entering the dirt of another minor road. This took me across a shaky old bridge whwere two guys were collecting a toll from any drivers wishing to cross it. I had a beer at a makeshift café on the other side of the bridge after being waved in by a friendly looking guy, but the atmosphere was a bit weird so I downed the beer relatively quickly and continued on. By this time I really had to find a place to spend the night so I began looking for a suitable place to camp. I trusted my instincts as I explored a few options, in the end setting on a path that runs down the side of a canal. I haven’t had anyone come past directly, but a few vehicles have driven along the other side of the canal and seen me. None bothered to stop, which was fine by me. I’m feeling safe enough. Every now and then there is a big splash in the canal from some kind of animal. I enjoyed a delicious dinner (I’d picked a good spice mix to add to my pasta) while watching a nice sunset.

Camping by the canal

Accommodation Free-camp
Distance ridden today 67.53km
Average cycling speed 13.5kph
Total distance ridden 23,340km