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Old 11-20-2011, 09:29 PM   #31
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Thats it guys, you are now up to date, hope you are enjoying it, if there is any questions or anything you would like to know then please let me know!!

I will update it about once a week now, ride safe out there!!

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Old 11-21-2011, 01:10 AM   #32
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Just read the lot awesome guys,were doing a simaler trip at the end of next year,but leaving from oz
Keep safe guys,look forward to your next instalment
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:19 AM   #33
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Just read the lot awesome guys,were doing a simaler trip at the end of next year,but leaving from oz
Keep safe guys,look forward to your next instalment
You may be able to travel thru Myanmar next year,
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:24 AM   #34
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You may be able to travel thru Myanmar next year,
Ed
REALLY?? We tried this year but unless you part of a organised tour etc etc.

It would be great if they open the India border and let us in, i would be very very pleased!!!

Glad you guys enjoyed it!
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:47 PM   #35
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Sangroper,any more info on mynamar,it would be great to ride through one side and out the other
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:22 PM   #36
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Sangroper,any more info on mynamar,it would be great to ride through one side and out the other
its a start.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Globa...yanmar-clinton

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Old 11-22-2011, 01:41 AM   #37
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Yep you right,its a start,heres hoping
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Old 11-22-2011, 08:15 AM   #38
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would be fantastic if it opens up, all we need then is pakistan to make life a little easier and we will be able to ride just about the whole way!!!
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Old 11-29-2011, 02:44 AM   #39
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Lumbini (Birthplace of Buddha) and Chitwan National Park - BYE BYE Nepal!

After our off-road adventure we were pretty tired and decided to just chill out and relax for a few days. We found out Big Tom was heading to Pokhara to meet us and hang out for a couple of days and he turned up the next afternoon with his mum on the back of his BMW.

We all chatted and helped Tom unload and agreed we should go for a few drinks, so we went for some food and a few beers at our favourite restaurant, Moondance, then had a few more drinks at the Busy Bee while we played pool and darts and had a really fun night.

The following day we were a little hung over but we decided to go on the hunt to see if it was plausible to find Cat a Royal Enfield and to see how she felt sitting on them and maybe even hire a bike for a day to see how she got on with the traffic. We visited a few shops and she rode a couple of bikes up and down the road, but then we stopped in at the Bullet Basecamp just off the main road where we met Aussie owner Nathan.

It was about 2pm and we meant to just have one drink, but then they ordered pizza and said some more friends were coming later for a game of poker, so we didn’t leave until 11pm! We had a really good time with these guys and even found out about a fantastic charity project they were working on, building a house for the local street kids.

We returned at 10am (as agreed) the following day to see if we could help out but it was raining and no-one was coming in until 12 midday so we decided to leave it as we also had a leaking fork on the right hand side of the bike and I wanted to deal with it straight away. A – to see if I had spare fork seals (which I do) and B – see how hard it is to change those seals in our hostel car park – (very hard).
So the rest of the afternoon was spent in the courtyard of our hotel. I took the fork dust caps off and I cleaned them out as they were both very full of sludge and crap, I’m guessing from all the mud, dust and river crossings. Next I sprayed it with wd40 and put them back in, cleaned the fork off and bounced it to see if I was getting any signs of a leak which it wasn’t so I was guessing it was the dust cap being full of crap. I left the bike over night (but on the side stand not the centre stand) and then I check her in the morning and again no sign of a leak………… good news I thought.

That morning we had decided to move on towards Chitwan National Park, most likely via Lumbini the birth place of Buddha. We loaded the bike up and got ready to go, gave Tom a knock to let him know we were leaving and see if he wanted to grab breakfast with us before we headed off. He and his mum joined us in our regular Perky Beans café.



I started the bike up and rode out on the pavement and the whole bike went bonkers lights flashing everywhere speedo going up and down, rev counter up and down, neutral light going on and off, same with petrol light and everything on the dash, also a slight (only very) slight change in the revs as the injector seemed to be effected. I thought it couldn’t be a fuse as if it was it would either be working or not working, so I figured it must have been the already dodgy sat nav connection. I undid the battery area and removed the sat nav charger completely and now all seems to be working fine.

We rode 215km to Lumbini on small twisty and slightly frustrating roads (you can’t really get any speed up because you have to creep around corners, expecting something coming on your side all the time!) but we did make it by around 5pm, then we found a cute little place to stay run by Chinese ladies after visiting quite a few others, then went for a small meal in the little village.




In the morning we woke and decided to stay another night so we could have a relaxing day. We chilled out until around lunchtime which give me time to do the blog and Cat to go get a Chinese acupressure massage. I also left the bike on the centre stand last night and went to give the bike a check over and the fork does appear to be leaking, but at the moment it’s only noticeable when it’s left on the centre stand over night, there is literally no signs of a leak when its being used, so I’m going to clean it off and leave it on the side stand and see if somehow this helps, but getting the forks fixed might prove difficult as I don’t have the right tool to get the tops off with.

At about 1pm we headed off into the Lumbini scared park to see the birth place of Buddha. It was excellent for a few reasons, 1 being it was so quiet, 2 there was so many beautiful butterflies and other creepy crawlies, and 3 the weather was good.

There was lots of beautiful stupas/temples and even ruins from the 1st and 2nd century BC. We walked around then saw there was a ceremony going on with lots of monks. Cat went up to an American guy who was among them and he explained that this was the practice day for over a thousand monks from around world, being ordained in a big ceremony in a few days time. We asked questions about how the process worked and what it was like and we were soon up to speed on how to become a monk. (I have since learnt that monks are actually forbidden to talk to women, they can’t touch them or pass them anything directly, including money! I initially wondered why the older monk he was talking to had said to the young one “you can explain this…” – I thought he was giving the young one a chance to show what he knows, but I guess it’s because the older monk couldn’t talk to me, and if I had come a few days later when they were ordained, I guess the American wouldn’t have spoken to me either!)


After this we followed the footpath along the canal and went to look at some of the other monasteries set up by different countries. Some were absolutely beautiful and very very grand.

We had a nice long walk and chat which was only interrupted by a group of Indian guys who came running (literally RUNNING) over to take photos with us. I can imagine that India at times is going to be hard work, we get enough attention from groups like this so I cannot imagine what it will be like in some of the smaller towns and villages.



In the evening we went back to the little restaurant in the town and we had a small meal followed by a beer. We met a French guy and another Australian girl, both were taking breaks from their other halves after spending lots of time together. We have met several couples who have done this and it makes us feel very lucky as other than the odd afternoon when Cat will go off and do something on her own or I will go for a ride by myself we don’t really feel the need to be apart for too long even after 6 years and spending every day together for the past few months.

Anyway the French guy came over just after we ordered our food and said he had seen us in Pokhara and was keen to have a beer with us as he had seen us on the bike. We went over after our food and had a chat with them both, and it turned out we had inspired him to go rent a 125 cc bike and go riding for a week around Nepal. He had very little riding experience (in fact, he said he had just taught himself how to use the gears on you-tube the previous evening!) and no protective clothing which did worry me a bit, but I hope he enjoyed his journey!!



The following day we packed up and headed off towards Chitwan. We arrived early, around 2pm so we had plenty of time to look around for a place to stay. We went to about 10 places all at varying prices from about 300 rupees no breakfast or internet up to 2000 rupees, but we settled on a cute little place by the river with a beautiful room, breakfast and internet included for 1000. So we were very happy with this and the guy who ran the place was a great bloke, really friendly and helped us pick a good jungle trek and the staff were all really nice.

We met another biker on a Royal Enfield, it was his 7th time riding around Nepal and India on an Enfield and his 10th time here on holiday over all. I can easily see how it could be done, for the price of 2 weeks in Spain or anywhere else in Europe you could come and spend a month here, see more, do more, eat better and stay in much nicer places and surroundings. I must say that I’m really really growing to love this country!!!

Once settled in, we set about making a plan. We had 2 days and 3 nights, so the following day we booked a full day Jungle trek. I was really really excited, I cannot think of a better way of spending a day than trekking through a jungle, seeing all sorts of new and interesting creepy crawlies, birds, plants and small animals with the chance of seeing the long nosed Crocodiles and normal fresh water ones, Tigers, Rhino, Sloth Bears, Leopards, Elephants and lots of other very special animals. The only question mark was the weather as they were 50/50 on whether or not it was going to rain so the hotel owner said he would not wake us up unless it was clear and not going to rain as it would not be a good day if it rained all day.

In the morning I woke at 5am a bit eager and I could hear it pissing down, disappointed I went back to sleep and we woke up at 8am, and it seemed to be clearing up a lot. So the guy said grab breakfast and we could get out there for 9am, starting with our cut-out-tree canoe ride down the crocodile infested river.

We ate breakfast and got ready. We met our Guide for the day and we then headed down to the canoe where we met our other guide - yes we had 2 guides for just the two of us, one in front and one behind us. The guy in front was clearly the boss, he was very informative and once he found out we liked knowing about creepy crawlies, birds and plants as much as we were keen to see a big animal, he went out of his was to show us some very cool stuff.

We were told the weather was not great for seeing big animals so we weren’t expecting much. But we were going to see some stuff and straight away one of the main things I wanted to see showed itself to us on a sand bank: a long nosed fish eating crocodile and it was a big one as well at about 4 meters in length. We also saw 3 different types (colours) of kingfisher, we saw normal crocodiles and we saw herrings, stalks, and Canadian/Alaskan (can’t remember which) ducks.



Once in the jungle it was hard work. Yes, at times we were on trails but to be honest only rarely - we spent a lot of time beating through the bushes and making a path for ourselves. There was long grass which was over twice my height, trees with huge prickles, thick bushes and some places were covered in leeches so we were constantly flicking them off.

We came across some dropped antlers from a male deer, huge scratches on tress from tigers marking territories, lots of rhino and elephant droppings and then we soon picked up fresh prints from a rhino. We tracked it for about an hour but lost the trail in the woods on thick leaves. Gutted, we carried on and saw white monkeys in the trees and some deer running off into the distance.

Just after this we were walking through the forest area and all of a sudden there was a huge movement and rustle in the bushes next to us. We froze, obviously this was something big, but we had no idea what. The tracker slowly crept forward and I followed him whilst Cat and the other guide hung back so we didn’t scare it off with our footsteps. The tracker was whispering that he thought it was a sloth bear, very dangerous and known to run at you as often as they run away, and at 6ft tall and over 300lbs it was no joke!!

He thought it was hiding in the bushes about 20ft in front of us, so we crept closer. I had the camera ready, and he had his big bamboo stick poised to try get it to move out the bush in front of us. My heart was in my mouth, he swung the stick back, then suddenly a huge “Arghhhhh!” from behind us. I turned around in half panic, and there was Cat with her arm out in front of her and she cried out………

“A leech got me!!!”

I told her to just flick it off, but she was worried that his head would get stuck. “No babe, that’s ticks” I reminded her. By then the second guide had come over, sprayed the leech with some stuff and flicked it off. Unfortunately, thanks to the decibel level of the leech screech, every animal in a 5k radius did a runner!! Myself, Cat and the guides were laughing at the situation, so we moved on and found somewhere to stop for lunch. Sloth bear was well gone!

After lunch and getting pretty tired of jumping over fallen down trees and beating back tall grass, we stopped and waited for a while whilst the guide climbed a large tree to have a look into the grasslands in front of us to see if he could see anything. It took him a while and I thought I spotted some yellow birds in the tress making a lot of noise. Sure enough I had found some yellow song birds and I spent a few minutes watching two of them flitter around. It was just great to be amongst it all.

We also came across a beehive, and we had to wade across a river (well I did with Cat on my back) – yes there were crocodiles in it, we had seen a big one only 300 meters back. It was at this point I found a leech on my leg and he had been there a while as he was nice and fat!! After the river crossing we started to head back and covered some ground where the tracker knew a large male rhino was often seen. It was something I really wanted to see having missed it in Africa due to an ear infection!!

We did then see a few barking deer, they bark like dogs, the good thing was Cat spotted them (I’ll make a country girl out of her yet!) and the big male had a full head of antlers so it was great to watch them disappear into the woods!! Soon we hit the track road which was normally used by safari jeeps but wasn’t yet due to large mudslides not being cleared. We had about a 50-minute walk to get back to the river to cross over on the canoe.

About 2 minutes along there was a faint crashing in the distance, we all froze and stopped and listened, then another and another and our guide said Rhino Rhino. We quickly circled around being VERY careful and quiet. It moved very quick and at one stage I was sure he was heading the wrong way but then we caught a glimpse of him through the trees. He was very camouflaged, just a grey bulk behind the tree trunks and bushes. After a stop and a quick check we quickly crept further round and closer, we were about 20ft away and the rhino had stopped for a drink. He clearly knew something was up as he stopped drinking and lifted his head. We stood still and quiet and watched, half wanting to get a little closer and half preparing to run if it turned towards us.

We watched for about another 2 minutes as it drank some more and then slowly walked away. It was an excellent experience and feels so damn real to be hiding behind a tree whilst a rhino is only a few feet away. We were very happy with our guide/tracker and he was pleased for us. Then we walked back and after chatting in Nepalese they started to search the wood where they found fresh rhino pee, which they started to collect from all the leaves and plants that had been sprayed. We asked why and they said it was pretty valuable for making special medicine!!

After this we slowly made our way back along the jeep trail. We saw some other trekkers, some had seen nothing others had also seen a rhino and one had even seen a sloth bear. We are very keen to check out other parks around March time when the grasses are much shorter as seeing animals like that is such a good experience. The whole day with 2 guides cost us £40 which is a lot but it was a great experience and compared to some of the cheaper jungle treks we heard about, we had a great day.

For our second day we planned to have an elephant day. In the mornings at around 10am, elephants come to wash in the river right out the front of our hotel. We could see it from our balcony and there was even a big croc sitting on the opposite bank. We went down to riverside and it was a lot of fun to watch. The elephants and the people getting sprayed by them really seemed to enjoy it.



In the afternoon we went to the elephant sanctuary/breeding centre. To be honest it was very run down and even though they are doing a good job with breeding and rehabilitation, and we got to see the babies, they had no fencing around the enclosure and so the elephants were being chained up to a 12ft long chain around one leg. There were lots of people there but there was something that just didn’t quite sit right for me and I felt a little bit sorry for the animals, they just didn’t seem as happy as the elephants that we had seen that morning, even though they came from the same place.

The following morning we headed out and back to Kathmandu on the “squiggly road.” It was a hard ride with a lot of switchbacks, there was not a lot of traffic but the total came out at over 300km which is a long day at 40km a hour!! The best part was going over the beautiful mountains at 2500m high and getting a great view of Mount Everest!!! Once back in Kathmandu we looked at a couple of guesthouses but got harassed so much we decided to go with what we knew and headed back to Elbrus House. They were very happy to see us and made sure we got a big room.




We have now applied for our Indian visa and have to wait a few days more to see if we get it – which we should. So we’ve spent our time just relaxing and catching up on blogs and photos, and visiting our favourite Kathmandu bars and restaurants.

On one day we went to Pashupatinath which is a sacred temple and river where the Nepalese bless dead bodies, cremate them and then throw the ash in the river – all in clear view of you. It’s the closest I have been to dead bodies, and it was a bit of a sobering experience to say the least. Cat found it a little harder than I did, but it was a beautiful thing to see it anyway as you will see from a couple of the pictures, and you can tell it’s a very spiritual and important part of peoples’ lives. But it was hard seeing people rub down the bodies of loved ones and we even passed a body lying on a stretcher right next to us, of a old man. It’s all dealt with very quickly – death I mean, sometimes people may have only been dead 2 hours before this takes place and in most cases the longest they have been dead is a day maximum. The cremation itself takes 3 hours, plus all the preparation/blessing time beforehand. The temple itself was very pretty and there were a lot of tourists around. I was careful of what I took photos of and made sure there were no uncovered bodies or people being blessed but as you can see it’s pretty sobering stuff.



One evening we spent with Tom – www.bigtomsride.com - to bleed his brakes on his BMW. We talked a lot of crap and had a good day, and finished off with some great food at his local favourite. We loved the buff chowmein (took us ages to figure out why they call beef “buff”, but then we realised it’s for buffalo!!) and also the roasted soybeans with chilli and onion, kind of like spicy popcorn. It was a very pleasant evening!

Another day we spent working on the Mule. Tom is a whizz with electronics, so we have re-soldered the sat-nav and HD light, which was really poorly fitted and I’m actually pretty disappointed in the work carried out by Seb Sports in Dubai. You could see it was such a rush job and at the end of the day it didn’t even last 2000km, very annoying.



Tom helped me sort it all out, but it was a very easy, albeit time consuming job. I’m very surprised at the lack of care given to motorcycles by mechanics and servicers. I kind of understand why they “cut corners” if it’s for a local biker and the bike is being ridden around good roads where they can come back if anything goes wrong, but even this should not be acceptable to us as bikers!! But when a bike is being ridden around the world, not to do the best job possible for that person seems like a slap in the face to every biker out there, I bet if they were riding the bike they would have done things very differently. Anyway we got it fitted much better and so everything works again. I also adjusted my clutch as it was playing up a little. I don’t know if it’s fixed as I haven’t taken the bike out on a big run but I will soon, I would imagine everything is fine.


So Friday we had to go get our India Visas. The plan was to get 6 months double entry but they only gave us 3 months single entry which was a disappointment, but we did meet a really cool couple and chatted with them and even met them for a few drinks later (a few too many in Cat’s case). We had a great evening, Rolf and Helen work as crew on luxury yachts and cruisers and go all over the world looking after the rich and famous, sounds like fun work huh!!

Today we were planning on leaving, but due to a rapid deterioration of Cat’s health we have decided to stay another night, I think the happy hour cocktails got to her!! So now we are sorting out our stuff and waiting to leave tomorrow. India here we come!!
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:42 PM   #40
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Talking Great write up

We want more ...
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:46 AM   #41
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We want more ...
Thanks mate, working on the next one, saw tigers in the wild 2 days ago, very very lucky as we got a huge 25 mins sighting, the guy we where with had been out 8 times and only seen a glimpse!!
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:45 AM   #42
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Introduction To India

Introduction to India

The madness of India started at the border. We could tell we were getting close because there were so many people (and buses, lorries, rickshaws, bikes and cows) coming and going. We carried on ahead, expecting big long queues at the border posts. But all of sudden, above us was a great big “Welcome to India” sign. Had we left Nepal? Where was customs for Nepal?? Where was passport control??


We pull up and ask some casual guards our questions, he points me towards a quiet looking, run down building and says that is passport control and customs for Nepal is over there, pointing toward about 50 lorries lined up which I cannot see past. The truth is I could have just ridden in and no-one would have known or cared and let’s be honest we’re on the rumbling KTM so it’s not like we go very unnoticed, but maybe that helps give you an idea of just how busy it was.



Cat waits with the bike while I clear the Nepalese side pretty quickly thanks to the usual friendly Nepalese staff, who at the end say a simple bye bye from Nepal and good luck in India! I jump on the bike and we ride past the welcome to India sign, we are both looking for the India customs and passport office on a street with lots of shops, and thousands of people, vehicles and all the other things I listed before on a street no wider than Brick Lane in London. Then all of a sudden an Indian man jumps out and shouts PASSPORT CONTROL!!!! I jam the breaks on (I was only doing 10kph) and come to a stop and there it was, passport control for India: 4 guys sitting at a table with some stamps, on a busy crowded street. They reminded me of the telephone card sales guys you get outside some shops.

We sorted the passports with them and then I went over to another shop with a small sign that said “India Customs”. They are on lunch I was told, I asked how long and the guard shrugged his shoulders, then the door flung open and the senior looking guy signalled me to enter. I gave him the carnet and he told me to sit. They seemed to have finished lunch but they were sitting around having a chat, and in the process sorting my paperwork.

Lots of people kept banging at the door and once my carnet was done they let everyone in and what was a quiet room with 5 guys chatting became a room of 35 people all pushing and shoving and shouting over each other and I was glad to be leaving!!

Once we cleared everything I waded back to the bike past the crowd of about 50 people to get to Cat, we jumped on the bike and headed out. Things were crazy, so many people and not even 50 km from the border the traffic and roads were horrendous! It was getting late (about 3pm) and we wanted to hit Gorakhpur before dark but it wasn’t looking like it was going to happen. We pushed on, the roads were busy but we were excited to be in a new country and were noticing some BIG differences to Nepal.

We found the town as it was getting dark. The traffic was gridlocked, and I mean gridlocked: every conceivable bit of space was used bumper to bumper and both my panniers resting against other bikes or cars. I was having to use the panniers as battering rams to keep people from cutting me up. We had been caught out, we didn’t know where the hotels were and moving through the town was very slow, after asking people and riding around we finally found the main area and settled on what looked like a half decent hotel. (but it turned out it had lots of bugs, the free wifi didn’t work, and instead of the usual paper-thin walls, it actually had a grill/hole in the wall between ours and the next room. So we were pleasantly woken at 6am by our neighbour hocking and spitting, and I think even being sick. Nice.)





Tired, we went for a small walk, grabbed some dinner and went to sleep with the plan to leave early due to wanting to get out the town before the traffic starts.

In the morning we woke early as planned and went and tried to get some breakfast (tried, because the “included breakfast” hadn’t started yet), then saddled the bike up and left. To begin with it was easy going but it got worse and worse. We had a big day planned, around 470km, so I was keen not to waste time. We soon hit the “highway” and it was actually a half decent bit of road with a central reservation, but don’t be fooled into thinking a little bit of pavement, grass and concrete barriers mean anything over here!

It was early and quieter when we started and Cat decided she wanted to ride for a bit, so she hopped on and for about 50km she was pilot and I was co–pilot but traffic got busier and we started to hit towns so we swapped back. Around 8.30am things were getting very busy and the idiots were out to play (side note on idiots – the tv ads for bike tyres actually say “the roads are full of idiots”!): people overtaking each other and leaving you no room, and all manner of rickshaws, bikes, lorries and jeeps coming towards us when there is nothing wrong with their side of the road! At one stage I had a lorry to my right coming towards me, one pulled out towards me on my left, with a car in front going the same way and a guy behind me not wanting to slow down trying to overtake whilst heading straight towards the lorry on the right! It was fucking crazy and we didn’t feel safe.

The whole place was an assassination on the senses and my natural road sense was freaking out. After 400km we realised we wouldn’t make our destination if the roads continued like this, so decided to get to a big city and “re-plan” as we could not do this bit of the trip with our usual happy-go-lucky-no-planning-turn-up-and-find-a-hotel attitude.

So we headed for Kanpur. Again the traffic was mental, no pavement so everything mixed together, again I was having to be a bully on the bike and make it known I would push the smaller bikes around if I needed to. We got stuck at a railway crossing and everyone surrounded us, there must have been 200 people around us, I could hardly see and the Indians are not like the Nepalese. It’s not in their culture to be polite: they like to touch and poke and grab and lift so you have to be strict or soon they are trying to climb on the bike with you. After about an hour of battling through town we found a good hotel with fast wifi so we could get on google maps.

We went for a walk and found a shopping mall, it was a medium sized mall but it was modern and was like being on oxford street, except for getting followed around by an ever-growing pack of Indians, but from time to time the security would come and they would all go away. Anyway this mall had a KFC and McDonalds, and we decided we deserved a treat, so Cat got KFC and I headed to Maccy D’s thinking about my Big Mac, then to my horror realised they serve no beef – NO BEEF IN MACCY D’s!!!! so I changed tactics and went back to KFC.

We ate our chicken then headed back to the hotel. We had decided we need to plan out our route more carefully and keep the mileage down to 250km a day but still give ourselves the whole day to get there, leaving bigger cities before 7.30am to avoid traffic. We also planned to use google to screenshot areas with hotels in each stopping point so we know the area we needed to be heading. This took us the whole day and we planned the first 50% (month and a half) step by step, fingers crossed tomorrow it pays off.

........

Well today was a different India! We got up early and set off and we were on the road by 7.30am, the town was starting to surface but was no busier than London would be at peak times (if London had wild cows). We got out the town pretty quickly as we knew what roads we needed. Soon the city was behind us and we were battling pot-holed roads with lorries - we still faced the same challenges with cars and lorries on the wrong side of the road but my pace slowed a lot and I was feeling a lot more laid back knowing I had, if needed, 10 hours to do the 272 km.

We stopped by the road side for breakfast and had a nice banana, some watermelon and some potato cake. Then got on the go again, and things were still very hectic but I felt I was managing a lot better. We were following our road plan, but after about 150km we found a tiny but great bit of road, signposted right to our destination Khajuraho, the home of the Karma Sutra temples. (Signposts are another of those mystical implementations of the west that India hasn’t quite adapted to yet.)

We rode around the town looking for a hotel. We could see it was a touristy place and there were quite a few touts about, but after looking at about 10 places we found a good place that was up to our standard and fitted our price range (£5 a night). We settled in but as we had planned things so well we decided to go look at the temples that afternoon as it was only 1.30pm.
The temples are absolutely jaw dropping, the workmanship and detail was amazing and I was blown away! We went into the Western group of temples, I think there are other ones but these are the main. They are all set within walking distance around a lush green garden, and as the sun started to lower it made them go a beautiful orange colour and this just added to the atmosphere even more. At the base of each temple, you just take your shoes off and you can climb up to look closely at the engravings, or make a prayer. I hope from the pictures you can get an idea of just how good this place was and it is definitely up there with my favourite historical sites that I have been to.
So three days in India has already brought us the mad roads, great roads, crazy cities and complete non-common-sense of other road users; being followed by curious Indians; Cat practising her big-bike riding in the most dangerous (road-wise) country yet; some beautiful historical temples; and a complete senses overload of sights, sounds and smells as we drive through villages, beautiful and sometimes filthy countryside Our next mission..... Tiger Hunting!
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Old 12-12-2011, 05:51 PM   #43
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Tiger Hunting..........

Eye of the Tiger

We had originally planned to stay two nights at the Khajuraho temples, but we figured being a day ahead was only a good thing so decided to move on the following morning, plus if needed it gave us an extra day at the Bandhavgarh tiger reserve. The ride to Bandhavgarh was supposed to be 300km but it ended up being 450km, this is a little down to maps not being correct and a little down to Cat “having a good idea” half way there so we ended up going a lot further than needed.






We’re starting to notice two types of roads: fantastic bit of beautiful road that puts a smile on your face as you waltz along at 100kph, or busy pot holed dusty roads with a fair amount of traffic and lots of lorries and buses! We saw today how bad these roads are from a danger point of view - we photographed 4 smashed up trucks which had all had either head on or rear end collisions. That’s 4 separate incidents on 120km stretch of road!!! This said I do feel a lot safer after having a few days to get used to it, and (bar the shadows cast from the trees over the road which hide pot holes in the afternoon and has therefore put a small dent in my front wheel) I’m a lot more comfortable than when I first started.






We arrived at the Bandhagarh tiger reserve and expected a fairly big place with lots of tourists, kind of like Chitwan in Nepal, but instead we were greeted with a small dusty town with a couple of shops and fruit sellers, no independent bars or restaurants, and about 10 hotels/resorts. Again the searching began and again we found a place for under £5 a night. We booked in and went straight away to see a “tour agent” to book our trip in the reserve for the morning. This is when we met an Israeli guy called Yaron, he is a professional photographer and had been out 8 times already and seen only glimpses of tigers twice. He was looking for other people to travel with him in the jeep to keep the costs down, and he was keen to go to the second area which was much cheaper. So after a chat we agreed to meet him and his driver at 6.00am the next morning.

It was an early and cold start but the driver turned up 5 minutes early which I actually like, we went straight off and sorted the permits and were soon in the park. Now, I like my nature, bird, deer and everything else and I soon came to realise why this was a “tiger hunt”, because they only ever wanted to stop very briefly to see anything else! But to be honest I cannot complain as after about an hour we got to see a huge male tiger! Not only did we see him in the bushes, but he walked onto the track in front of us. He wandered around the jeeps for a bit, then headed into the long grass. Our driver was very good – he drove around to try to cut the tiger’s path from the other side, and then we got another good 20 minutes show.

It’s something else to see one of these in the wild, and I feel very lucky to have been able to do it let alone see one on our first outing. They are big and powerful and they look every bit the big cat you imagine. When you go to the zoo you get a good idea of the animal but it’s just not the fit healthy strong beast you see in the wild! We were very pleased and so was Yaron who said we were very lucky and to be honest we are often very lucky like that. Pleased with our success, we decided we would move on the following day so again we got another day in the bag to stay somewhere else.

This time we headed to Kanha, another national park and tiger reserve but it was supposed to be one of the more beautiful ones. It was about a 350km day, again on some roads which I would have happily been riding my fireblade, and some which were dust, rocks and pot holes with trucks passing past us. It was a total mixed bag!! Cat rode in the morning and did the first 40km until the road started to get a bit more complicated and we hit a big town, but she did learn some cow-manoeuvring. (I actually really enjoy riding, but I’m happy to let James do most of it! From my little experiences, I have developed such a great respect for his skills, reading of the road, and control of the bike even when i’m moving around on the back!).

I hit a cow with my pannier at one point, there was a big group of cows and I was making my way through when one stepped backwards and got a bit of a clump on its leg. I didn’t stop as it was not that hard and the cow seemed fine. Some of the roads today were really nice, we are discovering that a lot of the “State Highways” are better maintained than the National Highways, which are very hit and miss, more miss really!!

We arrived in a Kanha and found two towns near the park gates, Khatiya and Mocha. We rode around for 1 and a half hours looking at hotels but we could not find anything for less than 1000 rupees a night (£12) which is not huge amount but it is for India especially when we are trying to get by on less than £40 a day between us including fuel and accommodation (and managing to, so far!). Anyway just as we picked a place another English guy came over and started chatting with me while Cat was sorting our room. I thought he was another guest but it turned out he lives here. His name was Steve, and he and his wife Elaine spend the winters here and summer in the UK.




We chatted for a bit and he asked where we had been etc and then he invited us to stay with him at his place down the road. I was keen and Cat came back just as he was about to go (he didn’t want the hotel to cotton on to him stealing customers!) and got a brief introduction. I told her his offer, but she was tired and dusty and just wanted to settle plus she had some laundry to do and didn’t want to feel like she was taking the piss. So I quickly unpacked the bike and then went to meet Steve and explain the situation. He was fine with it and said he understood and invited me back to his place for a cup of tea so I went.

Their place is beautiful, I also met Steve’s wife and we had a good chat for over an hour. He is a big fan of the tigers and that’s why they got a place out here, and by the time I left had planned to go back there tomorrow for a cuppa tea in the morning with Cat in tow. Once I got back to the hotel Cat was a little worried as I was out for over an hour and it was now dark, but she had got chatting to an English couple from Bristol and an American couple from Utah.

We and the English couple then decided to go for a bite to eat round the corner at a vegetarian restaurant (most of India is vegetarian, to my mates who just raised an eyebrow). It was a nice evening and we sat and chatted, they had been travelling in Africa for 7 months and were now in India for 3 months. Africa sounds very interesting and possibly the only place more backwards and crazy than here. We ordered some food and Cat’s “Indian food translation” list which she was given in Nepal from a fellow traveller proved to be very handy, and the food itself wasn’t bad especially when you think 4 of us ate for £6 total!!!

The next day we woke early, got some food inside us and chatted with the really friendly Americans before we headed off to meet Steve and Elaine. The plan was to pop round and have a cup of tea but we ended up having a fantastic day in their company. We chatted about work among other things and found out Steve used to run a successful company in England and that he had retired (kind of) about 10 years ago.

We met his security and helpers and in the early afternoon decided to go for a jungle walk along some of Steve’s favourite routes. It was really nice to be out in nature and taking in some of the amazing views. We did see lots of birds, some deer and the mighty kingfisher and India roller (please google this bird to understand just how beautiful it is, especially in flight). We had some river crossings thrown in and it was just a very pleasant day and great to hang out with other English people and have some relative normality.

After the jungle walk Elaine invited us to stay for dinner and cooked a great butter chicken. It was really good and again we chatted more and found about a lot about some of the electrical restrictions which they have to adhere to and how if the local government feel they use too much they can just walk in and take electrical items from their house, even though they pay their bills in full and on time!! We also found out about poachers and how it’s still a problem and that the park is now a lot harder to get into as well as a lot more expensive and it’s having a bit of a negative effect on tourism, which apparently, is what the authorities WANT! It was a very insightful day and finished with us taking a tour of a new resort close by that had a great restaurant where we had a beer.

The following day we had decided to do an afternoon safari. Steve had come up to our hotel as we were chatting with the two Americans Tom and Nancy, and everyone got introduced and got along so we all decided to share a driver and gypsy jeep, and thanks to Steve’s local knowledge he got us a very good deal indeed. So we all met about 2.30pm and went on our evening tiger search. We didn’t see a tiger this time but the park itself was very pretty and we did see some beautiful owls and deer, and we came close to seeing what the guides though was a leopard as the monkeys were sending out lots of warning calls, but it was thick grass and trees and we simply could not see what was moving around and making these monkeys so upset.




After the safari we went to Steve and Elaine’s again and had a cup to tea and some biscuits (it was heaven to have some original twix and Cadbury biscuits!). We all chatted for a couple of hours before me and Cat headed off early as we planned to be on the road the following day by 7am taking advantage of the cool weather. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the vegetarian restaurant next door, the food was really yummy and then we hit the sack.

The following day we woke early as planned but as we were not in a city with lots of traffic, there was not the urgency we expected, so we decided to eat breakfast at our hotel. As we packed the bike, we drew the usual crowd and I moved it round to the front of the hotel in view of our breakfast table. Tom and Nancy joined us and we exchanged details and will go see them if (or when) we do our American trip. We ate breakfast looking at maps and then the owner of the hotel gave us better directions – very detailed and he even wrote it in English and Hinid. It meant the first 7km would be muddy road, but would save us nearly 100km! We left waving goodbye to everyone who had gathered and bit the dust road!! There were 2 river crossings and the road was quite sandy but it was nice ride. We rode through small villages until we got to the state highway, then followed it all the way, easily, to Raipur.

Our hotel for the night was just a halfway point, as we were heading for the Chitrakote waterfalls, still another 300km away. We found a nice hotel, actually the nicest standard we’ve had so far with very friendly and English-speaking reception staff, so we gladly checked in and bedded down for the night, again with the aim of an early start.

Thinking back over our day’s riding, I was pleased with the journey, the better quality of tarmac, and I had a smile on my face, thinking that maybe I was finally getting into the rhythm of India.
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:45 AM   #44
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Good going james and cat,looks like your enjoying India so far
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:21 PM   #45
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Brilliant report of an amazing journey.....!

Just read up to now during a night shift - thanks very much.

Ride safe mate

Rob
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