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Old 12-27-2011, 09:05 AM   #46
Rixxy OP
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Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Traveling The world by Moto
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Finding the right rear tyre in India............. can it be done???

So our journey into India continues south Ė we are heading for Jagdalpur to see the 300m wide Chitrakote waterfalls which is called the Niagara of India. After an early morning start, we stopped about 10am to have a fizzy drink and take a rest, as usual we attracted a small crowd but not a brave one so it wasnít too much of a hassle.

The roads were good fun, but a little dangerous in places due to switchbacks climbing up and down a hillside, and there was one period where we hit a few pot holes but nothing for more than 5km at a time. Then we crossed a railway bridge with about 90km to go and there was a small speed bump which I slowed for, but as I got on the throttle again the bike felt odd, and I mentioned to Cat that we must have some smooth but uneven tarmac underneath us but she didnít really notice.

I came to a lorry and pulled out fairly far back to get a good view, nothing was coming so I beeped my horn for 30 seconds making sure he knew I was coming before pulling past. As I got on the power though I knew something big was wrong as the bike felt all over the place, but fully committed I got past the lorry before coming to a gentle rolling stop.

Bugger, I thought, puncture, and sure enough the rear tyre was just about flat. No problem I thought as I had a spare inner tube, so we got off the bike and took all the gear off. Having never removed a tyre at the roadside before I was a little worried but the worry soon got worse as I saw the 2.5 inch gash in the side of the tyre. Well either way the wheel and tyres needed to come off so we got to work,

I pretty much got it totally off, and got the inner tube out but could not quite get the last bit of tyre off and by this point we had attracted about 30 ďhelpersĒ - in the middle of the nowhere may I add!! Seeing I needed help, one guy offered to run me to a tyre man in the next village so I jumped on his moped and off we went. These tyre guys (bloke in tiny hut with worn tyres, a few tubes and some levers) are everywhere in India, as you donít change a tyre until you need to, which is not until it gives out!! This old guy appeared and looked at me like I was an idiot but he was impressed I had done, in rough translation, ďthe hard bit.Ē He just pushed it back on the rim and then fully loosened the opposite side before pulling it off with one hand.......................... man I thought I was doing so well!!

He looked at the tyre and shook his head, no good he said, no good. I explained I had no choice and needed a temporary fix, and he looked at it a minute before lining it with wheel liner and giving it to me, saying go slow.............. go very very slow. We jumped on the moped after paying the guy 30 rupees and headed back to the KTM. There was Cat with a still growing audience with cars parked on both sides of the road next to bikes and tuk-tuks and lots of people.... you would have thought there was a medium sized car-boot going on, not just two idiots from London on a battered bike!!

I put the bike back together as a few more people turned up before re-loading and heading off. Itís an amazing thing in India, as there are so many good people here who will genuinely help you expecting nothing in return; this said there are double that number of shitters here as well who want to make a quick buck off you, and 10 times that and possibly the most annoying category who just want to stand there with phones and cameras filming and often totally invading your space. I feel especially sorry for Cat who often gets perved at to a level where in England youíd be sporting a black eye, whilst here I have to be more understanding/flattered but itís very difficult for her!!

So we limped the bike those 90km to Jagdalpur. I took it easy and we checked often to see if the tyre got worse but it didnít. Once in Jagdalpur we found the place we were looking for (Hotel Rainbow) pretty quickly as it was not a very big city: much to my annoyance as I knew we had no chance of finding a tyre. I was tired and irritated and I was annoyed as I knew this would happen and wanted to carry spare tyres with us, but decided against it after talking it through with Cat who was insistent we could easily get it sent out if needed (obviously not thinking about Indian customs!)

But now we are in India, we both know this is never going to happen! India is a lot more messed up than we expected (organisationally/logistically/common-sensibly) - no matter how much we had read or talked with other people who had been here, we had not been expecting it to be as mental as it is. I was pissed off as itís at this point that I knew no matter how optimistic I wanted to be, that if I had trouble finding tyres in Turkey and Dubai then I had no chance in India. The good news was our hotel had a bar so we made a beeline to discuss our options and just take a break from it all.

In the morning after breakfast, we headed into the town to look for tyres, or any other way of sorting the problem. We discussed about 100 different options but found no tyres and went back to the hotel no better off than we left. What we did discover was that Jagdalpur was too small of a town to get us any help so we needed to head back to Raipur. So the next morning we headed down to the market area to get a truck sorted.

Itís amazing in a city where most things are so backward that itís so easy to get a truck to take you and your load 300 miles. I looked for a newish not beaten to death truck to take the bike to Raipur, and in less than 5 minutes we had 2 guys and a truck at our hotel helping us load our things for the 3rd time on this journey. They were going to take us to Raipur which is a 600km (round, for them) journey for about £40. Bike loaded and ready to roll we hit the highway, Cat in the front with the driver, and me and the helper in the back with the bike, much to the amusement of most of the passers-by.

It was actually a pleasant way to spend the day (bumping around ignored). I sat watching the world go by listening to my ipod or reading when the road was not too bad. Some people would catch the truck up and ask me questions about what was wrong and around 3pm we stopped for a quick bike to eat at the same place we had stopped at on the way down.

We made it into Raipur in rush hour, the usual hustle between cars, 4x4ís, bikes, tuk-tukís, cows, goats, people and everything else was mental. We slowly made our way through with the typical interest from jaw dropped locals, and we were with 1km of the hotel we had stayed at before when the police told us we could not take a truck any further. Clearly other vehicles were going that way, and pissed off, I said we are going that way, he said you cannot, I said you donít understand we are going down that road, we have been driving all day and where we need to be is just 1000 meters that way and if you donít let me go that way with a truck we will park here, unload the tuck completely blocking the street and you will have to help me push the bike 1000 meters. Luckily he could tell I was just about serious enough to do it, so with a shake of his head he waved us though.

We pulled up outside our old hotel and the security guards helped us unload, while reception who speak perfect English asked what was wrong and said they were sad to hear of our problems but welcomed us back and as returning customers they gave us 20% off.

The following 2 days were spent throwing around the 100 or so ideas to fix this situation, as you do. We looked at second hand bikes, Enfields to start with but the running issues and high second hand cost made it not worthwhile. We were considering 2 pulsars, or something similar, if we had to wait for a tyre so we could continue travelling around. It would be so simple if India didnít have that silly 2-month rule, then I could just fly into Kathmandu, pick up my spare set, and fly back Ė problem solved in a matter of days!

Anyway, we met a nice Indian one day whilst I was falling out with a tuk-tuk driver who had agreed to take us somewhere for a fee and then 600 meters up the road pulled over to demand 5 times more money, that old chestnut. He really had rattled my cage as I had enough stuff going on and for the first time in a while I had decided that if he had the cheek to get out of the tuk-tuk I was going to really fall out with him - he was a nasty piece of shit swearing at me when we got out as I refused to pay the extra money, then he followed yelling at us before pulling across us and knocking Cat with the side of the tuk-tuk. I was well and truly over it and this twat had got me on the wrong day, he was about to cop a hiding just so I could take some stress out on someone, even Cat wasnít going to stop me, I think that shows what a prick this guy was (that and the fact that clumping people is not something I take a great pleasure in doing!) Then another voice started yelling at this guy and having even more of a go at him than I was: he got off his moped and walked towards him and with that this guy seemed to panic and ride off, seeing that we were starting to get some support from locals. The local came over and introduced himself as Deepak.

Deepak was great, he asked us what we were doing and then he parked his moped and demanded to help us out even though we told him we would figure it out. Soon he was waving down tuk-tuks with us and coming along, and refusing to pay more than the local price (which is a 6th of the best bargained tourist price!), he even paid for the first 2 and wouldnít take money off me. We told him about what had happened and what ideas we were throwing around and we told him we needed to find out how much stuff was so we could consider all our options. We had also had bad news that the tyres in Nepal COULD get couriered over but there was a very high chance they would get stuck in India customs or lost in the post. As the shipper in Nepal said ďthey will definitely make it, no problem, but you might be finished and in Australia by then.Ē

The market was open so we headed down to look at second hand bikes. Deepak was translating for us and helping get us an idea of what was a good deal and bad. We could purchase two 3-year-old 150cc Pulsars for about 70,000 rupees (£900) which was a good deal as we could sell them 2 months later for near enough even money as we were getting a 10,000 rupee discount per bike for taking 2. This was the first bit of good news, our India trip wasnít totally over as we could leave the KTM somewhere, ride around on these for 2 months, come back and get the KTM put on a truck and then head out back to Nepal.

We left it there for now, to see what other options cropped up. Sunday we went for a bit of a walk, where we got followed so much we jumped in a tuk-tuk and headed for the biggest mall in Raipur, which was rubbish, so we grabbed a coffee and icecream and read our books but soon we had about 10 guys sat nearby staring at Cat and making her uncomfortable. So we left and hid away in our hotel, while I posted online looking for travellers who might be coming from Nepal to India who could bring my tyres. In the evening we treated ourselves as Cat found out there was a Dominos pizza so we ordered that but nicely our hotel insisted they send a waiter to go get it for us as they were quiet.

Monday rolls round and Iím getting replies from adverts I placed offering various ideas. Steve from Kanha rang just about everyone he knew to see if he could find tyres, he was confident to begin with but was having no luck. I also rang KTM in Pune who were useless (I donít want this to effect KTM who have been generally good: itís an India thing) and I also rang about 5 other people who promised to get back to me: 4 of them didnít and the other said no luck.

We headed down stairs to take the wheel off, with the aim of taking it around the bike/tyre shops in Raipur. The security from our hotel came over and got the idea of what we were hoping to do, then the manager and a few business men also came and 1 guy spoke English. He said his brother was a tyres dealer, that my tyre could get a good temporary repair and they could get me a new tyre from Bombay. I left him making the calls, and then the hotel insisted I take a driver, helper and their 4x4 which they did for free just to help us out and we drove all around the city visiting mechanics.

We tried many places with no luck Ė the biggest tyre we could find in 18 inch was 120 and I needed 150! We came to a tiny shack, with very helpful nice guys there, and they said that the tyre should not be repaired at it was too badly damaged. But he insisted he had a customer who had 130x80 or 140x80 tyres and dug out an old worn one to show me. We had been to every big fancy looking tyre dealer and this guy who was covered in oil and dirt knew more than all of them!

With a small smile I shrugged my shoulders and said where??? He gave my driver (sounds more posh than it was) directions to a tyre guy nearby who he said would help us. We turned up to another smart but slightly smaller tyre shop where a smartly dressed big shouldered Indian (I think he was sikh as he wore a turban) and he smiled as I went over to the counter and explained what we wanted.

Straight away he said this will not be easy as of the 18inch rim. But he sent his assistant to dig around and they came out with a 120x80 (the same as we had been offered 10 minutes before by the guy we met in our hotel whose brother could get it from Bombay for 5000 rupees) Ė and when I asked how much he said 2900 rupees. I told him thatís 2100 cheaper than Bombay, but he laughed and said ďno itís not but Iím just fair and not after your money!Ē with a big smile.

Then he said letís search and see if we can find better, as this is not the best for your bike but makes a good backup if we need and I will make sure we donít sell it to anyone in the meantime. Then he rang about 10 people before saying ok, I may have a tyre, itís bigger letís go look, so we all jumped in the 4x4 and he gave directions to the guys from the hotel who were still helping me out. When we got there he told me to stay in the car, otherwise it would cost a lot more. He went into what looked like a grocery store that had a few tyres, some batteries, spray paints, and spare parts: I would never have found this place on my own! He waved me over and had found a 130x90. It was a much bigger tyre and he said we would be very lucky to find anything bigger and the price was 2400 rupees, the cheapest yet!!! I said I needed to see if this was the best we could do and the guy said I love travel and have a lot of respect for you as a traveller on a bike, so pay for this, we will still look for bigger and if something turns up we will swap them over.

The deal was done. But just before I paid I saw a big-looking tyre across the road, on one last hope I though Iíd better check but the guy said no itís a Chinese tyre, I said so? and he said ďin India we say Chinese is not good quality,Ē and I said ďthatís funny cause in England we say the same thing about Indian tyres!Ē Both big men got the joke and laughed out loud and said oh no now its 3000 rupees! Finally I had found two very easy going decent people who were helping me out AND got my jokes! Anyway the Chinese tyre was only 15 inch even though it was a 150x80, so I bought the first tyre and the drivers took it to be fitted while I had a coffee with the friendly sikh guy from the tyre shop. We sat and chatted and I found out where he had travelled and we compared notes.

Later in the evening after I fitted the wheel back onto the bike, myself and Cat went back with the rumbling KTM to both the fitter and the guy who helped me find the tyre. I let them both take pictures on the bike and it drew a big crowd to both workshops. So the good news is we are back on the road, but we are not going to Goa as itís too far from other towns and from Nepal, so instead we are going to head north as there are lots of bigger cities around and we are close to the border of Nepal should we have any more tyres issues.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:00 PM   #47
Rixxy OP
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Joined: Mar 2011
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From the middle of India to Nepal


India is proving to be hard work. It has its plus sides but most of the time it feels like work: the constant invasion of personal space and sometimes disregard for the bike as people poke and pull stuff; the ogling at Cat and the constant camera phones on us; or the groups of people, mostly men who follow us around making us feel uncomfortable. Combine this with some of the most dangerous driving and roads I have ever ridden and it makes India a challenge, to say the least.

Myself and Cat spoke about putting it into words but itís so so so difficult, itís very hard to explain. We have thought about pulling out all together, but have to admit there are things worth seeing such as the tigers, and Iím sure the Taj Mahal will be worth it. And I know people at home will be saying oh boo hoo off traveling round India and itís ďhard workĒ - well until you been here you will never understand. Even we read so many blogs and met so many people who dropped us little warnings but itís nearly impossible to get an idea of what they are talking about, itís not something that is easily put into words, or to comprehend without experience it.


So the day after we got our tyre sorted, we rode slowly to Nagpur from Raipur. Cat got the small camera out to take some videos so we can give you a better idea of the driving in India. She got a couple of good examples of what we have to deal with on a regular basis, even if the more scary ones are the ones you donít always see coming and therefore donít get time to video.

We met up with Steve and Elaine in Nagpur as they are on their way to Goa. We were only planning on staying one night but decided to stay 2 as they offered to show us around the city the following day. We spent the whole day hanging out with them, we visited a shopping mall and had a coffee then we went and met one of their friends who runs a Pharmacy who kindly gave us some free cold and flu pills. In the evening we had Masala Dosa which is a sort of Indian wrap, which comes with spicy sauce. It was a nice evening as we sat around and chatted but we headed off fairly early as we planned to hit the road the next day early.

.......................

We have made it to Bhopal - I say made it as it was very very dangerous. Hereís what happened.

We are going along on a road that is big enough for 2 cars, IF they creep slowly past each other. The pace has been slow due to the large number of pot holes, and there is a small run off on either side which varies in quality, from dusty gravel to deep stones to deep sand, where the lorries have to pass each other and need the extra 2 feet either side. Itís been a hard day, lots of lorries on our side of the road and me having to move off out their way as their overtake is not complete before they reach me. This, as mad as you would be in England, does not phase me anymore as I get plenty of warning (unless itís on a corner) but this I can handle.

Then a lorry is coming towards me at a fair pace quicker than most of the others we passed. In between the middle of us there are a number of pot holes but they are distributed pretty evenly, and I have a small pothole-less track on my side of the road. Seeing an easy way through for the lorry, I figured he was going to pull off into his run off as it seemed the best route, but as he was about to do this, he suddenly changed his mind, gave me a quick flash of his lights, and the lorry was hurtling towards us!

Cat screams and I just automatically ditch for the extra run off but it was via a big pot hole into loose sand. The front of the bike goes ďvagueĒ, for want of a better word, and the bike lurches over the various pot holes and dips. Cat shouts out in a bit of pain as she hit her bum on the pannier rack and the spare tyre hits her in the back. Iím in deep sand but have stayed on the power thinking back to the conversation I had with Martin on our Georgia ride. The lorry just misses the back of the bike and I manage to get back onto the road. I close off the throttle and let the bike slowly slow down. Cat asks if Iím ok but Iím so angry I want to fucking cry, I want to go back and chase the lorry until I stop it and give him a piece of my mind, but I cannot because he just wonít realise what he did wrong, and that is more scary than anything,

I donít talk for about 30 minutes, mulling over it all in my head. All the blogs I read, all the research we did and this is what it is like, what am I doing this for? Iím not getting paid to do it. I think to myself about what happens if we have a big accident - we lay in the road for more than likely over a hour, and if we collide with one of the lorries then itís not going to be good. I have never been afraid of a bit of danger or a bit of calculated risk, but those risks are followed with rewards and the reward has to be worth the risk, but this is out of our control and so dangerous all the time.

At this point I start to tell Cat where my head is at, and she confesses she feels the same way and we both agree we have given India a lot of chances to impress us. We both agree we would feel a lot safer in a car or bus and we both agree we have had about as much of India as we can take. We have already covered 4000km and we have about another 2500km to cover before we reach the Nepal border. If youíre wanting to travel India, my advice is donít do it on a bike. Today I think we must have been forced off the road 8 or 9 times and thatís without all the usual pot holes and cows and everything else.

We found an old restored Moghul palace in Bhopal and decided to stay there as a bit of a treat, and because the bike caused a bit of a stir we again got a very good discount! We decided to take a second day off and just relax, before making plans to leave the country via Agra for the Taj Mahal and Red Fort. Bhopal is a pretty city and the place we are staying is very nice with amazing views. Bhopal, we found out, had a massive chemical/gas spill in the 80s which killed about 20,000 people and has meant for generations after children have been born with defects such as small or extra limbs. We also found out that this is the reason India are not participating in the 2012 Olympics, because Union Carbonide (the chemical company) are one of the sponsors.

We were thinking about going to Udaipur as our friend James tells us how amazing it is and how itís one of his favourite places, but I think with the state of my rear tyre itís not a good idea for us to do any more mileage then is necessary. Even though things are holding out at the moment I can already see cracks starting to appear in the rubber.

........................

Today we are in Agra and again it was a very eventful ride. What really bought it home today though was coming across a motorcycle accident. Clearly they had collided with something and that ďsomethingĒ had driven off. We werenít the first people there but that was because it happened in a small village, but to my horror the guy and bike where just lying in the road, this with about 50 people looking on. I stopped, got off the bike, and ordered cat to grab the medical kit. As I approached closer I could see he was in a very bad way as he had a massive head wound - clearly he hadnít been wearing a helmet. To be honest, I didnít really know what to do but trying to think back to the first aid course we took made sure he was breathing and hadnít swallowed his tongue. Blood was everywhere and I was trying not to get any on me, so by pointing and basically yelling, as I had to, I got couple of the watchers to help.

We moved him onto his side and carefully wrapped his head to try stop some of the bleeding. He was already going into what seemed like hypertensive shock, and I could see his head had taken a big blow on the left side. We were trying to find out if they had called an ambulance and they said yes and we figured out the hospital was 10km away but they said the ambulance might be an hour. I knew this poor bugger was not going to last that long so I took all the rupees I had in my wallet and tried to get someone to take him to the hospital. I had about 2,000 rupees which is about £25 which is 2 weeks wages for most people and still people refused to help, until eventually I got a guy with a taxi-bus to agree. It was at this point I saw the riderís passenger who had clearly got a broken leg but had been sitting out of the way leaning against a building. He was in a lot of pain so I gave him some pain killers explaining o take 2 and keep the packet and last 2 for later.

We loaded them both into the ambulance. Again, itís just heart breaking as really itís only an education thing, but I turned around and 4 guys were picking the guy with the head injury up by his arms and legs while his body and head dropped around. I quickly got them to support his body and head and carefully load them in. Just as we loaded them in the police turned up and refused to let me give the taxi any money and they got in the taxi and left. It really bought home how in the shit you are if it goes wrong in India, people do not even have the basic sense of what to do in these situations. I donít hold out much hope for the guy with the head injury, the last guy I saw like that was a few years back and finished with the guy dying as he reach hospital and that was in London.

We climbed back on the bike and the crowd at this stage was around 100 people who stood around and followed us. As I put on my helmet I pointed and said ďsee you must wear a helmet!Ē at which point lots of them nodded and smiled. We rode off again, talking the situation over as you do, saying we wish we knew more about first aid and saying how much it highlights the danger youíre in if anything goes wrong in India. It was at this point Cat realised that health care in India is probably not free and they only treat you if you or your family have got the money to pay, so my thoughts are with this guy and I hope he made it through and found the money to get fixed up!! At least his passenger was coherent and could give family details to try to raise money. We also saw 7 smashed up lorries and one totalled car that looked like it had been squashed by a lorry. The roads seem to be getting worse, from a traffic point of view, the further north we headed.

Once we arrived in Agra we found a nice hotel and the manager was very excited to see us turn up on our motorcycle, then once he realised we had ridden the whole way he insisted we stay there and offered us the room for nearly half price, on the condition we had a cup of tea with him and showed him some photos. We of course agreed and were very pleased to see our room was stunning.

First thing in the morning we went to see the Taj Mahal. It is an absolutely stunning building and the surroundings and setting is excellent. We really enjoyed exploring and even though we got a few people come over and ask to take photos with us (ďsorry, but shouldnít you be taking photos of the Taj? We are not tourist attractions!Ē) we got about 99% less hassle than we are used to, so we felt we could explore for the most part relatively uninterrupted and in our own time.

After the Taj we went to the Red Fort which is also an excellent building and itís HUGE, in fact 90% of it is still in use by the military. They had monkeys there which kept Cat entertained and we explored all the rooms and had a good look around. After this we had a 20min walk around the local market but started to pick up a small group of followers so decided to hit it on the head and head back. At this point Iíll point out that sightseeing in Agra is really easy Ė tuk-tuk drivers will offer to take you around to whatever sights you want to see, and include waiting time, normally around 250 rupees for half a day. Our driver was really nice and didnít even try to take us to his ďuncleísĒ shop!


...........................

India really does have some amazing stuff to offer. I looking forward to getting out now but I look back and think about seeing tigers, Kanha NP, meeting Steve and Elaine, riding through some of the wildlife reserves and watching a big group of monkeys playing around us on the road, the Taj, the Red Fort, the old colourful temples, the food... there is so much to offer but at least from where travelling on a large motorcycle is concerned, itís not worth the danger.

India was the place I was looking forward to going the most before we came away, so to have left 2 months earlier than planned feels like a shame, but we did 5,500 km in a 4 week period and saw a fair amount of ďreal IndiaĒ so to speak, I think when I come back I will fly around and see the touristy stuff or maybe try to hire a jeep or car to drive around in to give yourself that little bit of protection and privacy. ďTouringĒ India on a large motorcycle is not a very wise idea if you ask me.

Agra was our last tourist stop before we bee-lined for Nepal, but it took us 2 more overnight stops, and it wasnít without its dramas, mostly in the tyre department. The inner tube blew out on the way out of Agra, annoying but I had a spare and there was a tyre guy about 100 meters back so I took the wheel off and went and swapped them over, but then I knew we would have to take it easy...... mega easy as the spare inner tubes were only 120x90, the size of a skinny Indian front wheel!


Anyway I swapped it over and we carried on, the ride itself was pretty straight forward, and far more pleasant than I expected, this was because of FOG believe it or not. Donít get me wrong, I would have taken rush hour in London any day over being on Indiaís roads as I was expecting total chaos in the fog, but more Indian drivers were going slow and using their lights than I expected so for this reason it was a pretty easy day. We stopped over night in Lucknow.

The second day was much the same, with two tyre changes in the morning, and towards the end of the second day about 30km out of Gorakhpur it blew again even though we were running on cold roads and keeping speeds under 70kph and stopping every 100km. So I had to find tubes, which I did in the middle of nowhere, and I bought 2 more spares as well. We had hoped to get to the border that night, but because of the delays, we decided to just stop in Gorakhpur and that night we slept in the first hotel we had stayed at in India.

The following day we woke up excited to be getting out, a shame I know. I have had a couple of emails and messages from people saying they were sick of reading other blogs that slag countries off and that they were glad ours was different, and reading back over this entry I think itís not going to be much good news for you, but Iím not here to write a great story, just to tell the truth, and the truth is I will never ride a big motorcycle in India ever again.

It was lucky we stayed in Gorakhpur the night before because we only made it 50km before we suffered our first blown tube of the day. By now I was keeping speeds down to 60kph but it was making little difference due to the weight of the bike 2-up with luggage. The small tyre was holding up ok but cracks that should worry me were starting to become clear, but with 450 km to go and only 30 to the border we quickly put the spare tube on and entertained our last large Indian crowed before heading off. Soon we reached the border and you will be glad to see that we took pictures for you this time so you can see just how easy it could be to miss the border posts. Getting out of India was pretty straight forward and getting in to Nepal was also easy, even though they seemed unsure about my carnet and whether the bike could come in twice, but in the end gave up and just let me back in.



Once in Nepal things started to change. Itís like a ďdietĒ India really and it makes it so much more fun to travel in. We headed back the way we came and as night approached us another inner tube went bang. Lucky not taking any chances I had stopped in a dirt bike shop just after the border that sold me some chain lube and asked the guy if he had any inner tubes and he bought me 2 so I was up to 3 spare tubes (or down to 2 now).

I changed the wheel this time with only the odd Nepalese biker stopping to ask if I needed help and was ok. It was actually a very pleasant experience not to have to keep retrieving tools and bits back off people who have let their curiosity get the better of them. We got back on the road and I noticed the new tube I was putting in was an extra thick one so I knew if I kept my speed down it should get me to Kathmandu.

After about a hour it was dark and we still had 160km to do on very twisty roads. I estimated we would get there about 8.45pm and Cat texted her dad and asked him to keep an eye on the spot tracker to make sure we were ok. The driving in the dark was difficult but in a way not as dangerous as it can be at times in the day as 99% of the lorries have front lights and so you can see them coming, even around corners. I had the big HD light on so we had a good view of the road ahead.

I was feeling sick - the cold I appeared to be coming down with was getting worse but I had it in my head to just crack on. Then about 40km out of Kathmandu, on a bend climbing up a hill, the tube blew again! There was not a safe place for me to move to and so Cat had to walk back around the bend a little to try her best to warn the crazy lorries we were there, so they would slow down.

Then I left the front lights on so they could see me from the other way, but I was on my own faffing around in the dark, getting the wheel and tyre off, something I had never done before 2 weeks earlier and now I was doing on my own in the pitch black. I was forced to quickly jump out the road (trying not to fall down the cliff, too) a couple of times as lorries came steaming round the corner.

It took me about 45 minutes but soon we packed back up and hit the road again and found ourselves in Kathmandu. Feeling the worst was over, we both had a sigh of relief and went for a steak dinner and a couple of drinks to celebrate, but it turned out the bad luck hadnít quite finished yet!!!

(As some of you may have seen on Facebook, our Christmas wishes were sent from hospital!)
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:51 AM   #48
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great stuff! more!!! more!!!

Keep up the good work, if youíre ever in Adelaide, drop me a line, Iím more than happy to show you my home town.


Take care and best wishes to you Regards, Arek


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Old 12-29-2011, 01:02 AM   #49
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Thanks Arek, the feedback from the community means alot, esp in times when your cold and changing your third innertube of the day, you get to think, man i hate this fucking bike and country but its going to make a great read from the comfort of someones sofa!!!

It keeps me smiling!!! Looking forward to the next bit as it involves the beach, and my theory is anywhere that has a good beach is good, as its sunny here but bloody cold!!
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Old 12-29-2011, 03:21 AM   #50
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Yeah your right Rixxy its one hellva read from my sofa and apreciate you writing it and being honest,were gonna be doing india are selfs,were dreading it and excited at the same time are you keeping any gps points of hotels and the like?
Keep safe
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:54 AM   #51
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Hey Pirate,

no gps logs but finding a hotel is petty easy in the big areas or areas where they expect tourists, i have got the number of a very helpful english guy and fellow biker who lives here. So if you want a list of hotels or want his number drop me a PM.

rixxy
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:23 AM   #52
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Awesome thread !

I live in India (near Mumbai aka Bombay).
Any plans to ride to south India ?

I'd highly recomend that.

If anyone needs any info about India I'd be more than happy to help.

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449366

Good Luck for Tyres.

Jashin screwed with this post 12-29-2011 at 09:36 AM Reason: Added some info.
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:15 AM   #53
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I Did It Back in 1971

I have just started reading you trip report & looking at you blog.
I did a similar trip back in 1971 on a Triumph 250 Trail Blazer with an English guy (I'm OZ living in Canada) riding a detuned 650CC Norton SS. We did it straight across Europe, France, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India. Flu the bikes to Bangkok then down to Singapore & a ship to Fremantle & I rode back to Sydney.

The issues you had with drivers hasn't changed since then, a motorcycle doesn't have the right to be on the road & this started in Yugoslavia, I think we were run off the road many times. And border crossing are also the same.

Good luck on your trip looking forward to reading more.

Attached image is me on the hwy from Meshed to Afghanistan border.
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:32 PM   #54
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Epic Trip

Wow, what an amazing ride report! Thank you for posting it to Adv.
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:48 PM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bighopper View Post
I have just started reading you trip report & looking at you blog.
I did a similar trip back in 1971 on a Triumph 250 Trail Blazer with an English guy (I'm OZ living in Canada) riding a detuned 650CC Norton SS. We did it straight across Europe, France, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India. Flu the bikes to Bangkok then down to Singapore & a ship to Fremantle & I rode back to Sydney.

The issues you had with drivers hasn't changed since then, a motorcycle doesn't have the right to be on the road & this started in Yugoslavia, I think we were run off the road many times. And border crossing are also the same.

Good luck on your trip looking forward to reading more.

Attached image is me on the hwy from Meshed to Afghanistan border.
I tip my hat to you mate in a big way, nowdays we are so lucky to have forums like this and communication and Sat Nav even though i wasn't using the maps for a while at least you can figure out if you are heading in the right direction. Back then it was you and the bike and a well i think it will take about 8 months to the family and off you went and in 8 months you might turn up the other end!!

I met a guy who rode from London to Egypt and back in the early 80's similar story made me feel like a idiot really!! Would love to see a few more pics and compare notes one day!!
I'm actually over in Canada for my mates wedding in Winnipeg in June!

Glad you guys are enjoying it, Happy New Year!!! Flights booked for Bangkok should arrive with the bike in Tuesday .......... cannot wait for this next bit!!!

Rixxy!
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Old 12-31-2011, 04:20 AM   #56
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Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!

Happy New Year Friends, Family and Followers, thanks for your great support in 2011, there are so many people who have helped make this year great and given us support and helped make this possible. We hope you all have a good 2012, its nights like tonight where we miss our London mates so much and it makes this so hard, but we will be having a few beers somewhere talking about you telling jokes and talking about seeing you when we get back!!
All our Love
James and Cat xxx
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:22 AM   #57
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Bye Bye Nepal

So we are back in Kathmandu and we decided to stay in the hostel Big Tom stayed in as it was a bit cheaper than our place, problem was there was no power (Kathmandu has 10 hour day blackouts at the moment) so if you had no generator you had no power, and it was FREEZING cold especially at night. So the following morning we moved back to good old Elbrus House who then gave us a discount for staying there for the third time.
I was not feeling too productive, the last couple of days my mood was all over the place and the stress of the last few days was really catching me up. I could not concentrate and small things would play on my mind until I felt like killing someone, then I suddenly felt a bit better before an hour later getting very very ill. It hit me hard, I was shivering, sweating, having crazy dreams and feeling sick. I wasnít hungry and I was having night terrors which would carry on when I woke up, but the hardest thing was going to pee: it took ages, there was no power in my pee so to speak.

Cat rang the hospital in the middle of the night but they said it would be ok to wait until morning. When I first woke I was feeling a bit better, this lasted about an hour before I started to get worse so Cat took me to the hospital worried I might be getting Malaria. We arrived at the Ciwec hospital in Nepal, one of the best hospitals in Southern Asia. They took me in really quick as they were quiet. They drew blood and made me pee in the cup, my pee was a bit of an off colour and they told Cat they were worried I had Malaria, Dengue fever, or any other of the really bad bugs you can catch in this part of the world.

I was feeling pretty down and we were sure we wouldnít get to Dubai to see my family for Xmas. That night I needed to stay in hospital and I got the news that I had some sort of urine/kidney infection as my white blood cell count was up. They gave me some antibiotics and tried to get my vitals down (heart rate was 135, temp was 39.4 etc) to normal which took until about 10am the next day. The good news was the next day I felt a lot better, and in the morning the doctor gave me another big shot of antibiotics and he told me it if took it easy I could go to Dubai, provided I came back in a few days and gave another urine sample so they could see if it was killing the bug well enough. So it was a mad rush around (taking it easy of course doctor) to get the last couple of small Xmas gifts and then head to the airport to jump on a plane.

We spent a few days with my family, it was of course especially nice to see little baby Martin and my grandparents. Grandad was very taken back with Dubai, being the country boy that he is, but he liked it. Going to the markets and seeing them trade is what he really loved. It made me realise where my love for that kind of stuff comes from and it was nice to spend a few days in their company. Little baby Martin has grown so much, even in the 2 months since we last saw him and it was nice to be there for his first Xmas!!
So we came back to Nepal after spending a few days in Dubai. We have decided the bike should be shipped out on the 2nd of Jan and we are flying out on the 4th. Iím really excited, I mean I love Nepal but I have felt a little stuck here now unable to move on due to waiting for flights and stuff. One thing that has made us feel stuck is the current (and ongoing) fuel situation, basically there is hardly any, and it means we cannot go anywhere on the KTM as it needs fuel.

We didnít realise this when we first got back until we went and hired 2 Royal Enfields. We planned to do a 2 day lightly packed trip in Northern Nepal to see the mountains for the last time. Cat loved the bike, she was taken back with how much she enjoyed riding and I think the size of the Enfield really suited her. We hired the bike from Himalayan Enfielders who are supposed to be one of the best and the biggest companies in Kathmandu, but Iím less than impressed. They failed to mention there was a massive fuel shortage and so we picked the bikes up in the evening with the plan on returning them New Years day in the evening. Our NYE was going to be in some small village somewhere and we thought it was a nice way to spend NYE.

We woke up on NYE at 6am, packed our bags and off we set. We rode around for about 2.5 hours searching for fuel but no one had any so in the end we had to turn back! We took the bikes straight back but they werenít open. We hung out until about 10am when someone turned up but their boss was not coming in that day so he told us to come back the following day to get our money back, agreeing that itís not our fault there is no fuel around and we should be entitled to our full refund. So we left the bikes and headed back to the hotel, we hung out in town and had a coffee before heading back to get some sleep, thinking maybe we would go out for a few drinks in the evening and watch the football.

In the evening we got up and went to Tom and Jerryís pub to watch the football and have a few drinks. The TV there was playing up so we headed to Paddy Foleyís where they have big flat screens and we watched the rest of the Man U game there and much to our joy they got beat. Happily we headed back to Tom and Jerryís to watch the Arsenal game. Tom and Jerry had a lot of Westerners in and so Cat got talking to people and soon we were part of a mixed group of lads.

A couple of the lads were on holiday, 2 of them were based here in the army training Gorkhas and the other lad was an American backpacker. We ended up spending our evening with this group of lads, it was fun, we both got a bit drunk and ended up in some random club. The thing was, every place we went too had tickets on the door but we never paid, we just moaned and had a grumble and then they let us in. At one club Cat convinced one doorman to give her a stamp, we rubbed wrists, and then convinced the first doorman we had already been in! Midnight came and I got a kiss off my wife and not long after that we decided we had had enough and so headed home, leaving the American guy to fend for himself.

The following day was spent in bed recovering and watching Only Fools and Horses on the laptop. We then got KFC as it was around the corner and makes great hangover food. I read some blogs and sent an email to another bike traveller who had just gone through Indonesia to get some info about ferries etc. I also found some great blogs on Thailand and a website called www.gt-rider.com (or something close) and he has lots of info on that area.

Iím keen to do an off-road trail, I read about one called the Smugglers trail in Cambodia. As you can guess it was used by smugglers back in the day and itís deemed pretty much impassable but I have read about bikes doing it. I saw one guy did it on a 950 so Iím sure I would get through it, but itís 2 days riding and so I would need to spend one night sleeping in the open in the hammock. I think Cat will sit this one out unless she decides to get a 250 dirt bike of some sort in which case she will find it a lot easier than me!!

Yesterday was a good day, we had to pack the bike for Bangkok. Getting proper excited now, trying to put my back pain to the back on my mind, hoping the warm muggy weather and the lots of swimming I plan to do will help. We turned up to meet Jeewan from Eagle Eyes cargo at 10.30am as there was going to be another biker there and he wanted us to guide him to the cargo section of the Airport. We turned up and straight away recognised the guyís face, it was Miano (www.australiatwin.com) who I met about 3 months ago in the visa office for Iran in Istanbul.

We were pleased to see each other, even if a little confused as he had made it into Iran a good week before us and therefore I guessed he was long gone. Straight away we started to swap stories and I could tell he had a very different experience from us that also was not without its mini disasters and I think his blog will be worth a read. Heís doing it on a smaller budget and one of the biggest reasons is he is using the couch-surfing website and so accommodation has never been a financial issue. A great way to travel if youíre on your own but probably more difficult if youíre a couple.

Well after a 20 minute ďhow you been, where you beenĒ, chin wag and the obvious jokes and comparisons and head shaking about India, we headed to the airport. At the airport I was a little disappointed: this was Mianoís first flying experience with the bike so he had a new crate waiting for him, but our crate had been in storage and so was being bought by a truck, but didnít arrive until 4 hours after we had been at the airport! They also supplied us with 1 bubble wrap only, no tape and no shrink wrap and this was for 2 bikes and all our stuff!!

The first few hours was spent helping Miano, and we showed him how we packed our bike the last time, trying to make the bike as small as possible or you will get nailed lots of extra money, as the freight is done on volume weight or actual weight whichever is greater. But to our disappointment it took a bit of an argument for them to cut his box back a bit, and it was a full 20cm or more too long which would work out to be a fair amount of money extra.

To be honest we were very disappointed with Eagle Eyes cargo, especially after our experience in Dubai, and makes me realise how good the shipping and packing really was from there. Then once Mianoís bike was just about done my crate turned up and the guys who were supposed to help build it all disappeared. In the end I was there bending out nails and trying to get it ready with 1 guy helping me. I was annoyed as it was one thing to be 4 hours late but it was going to take another 4 for me to get the bike taken apart and created up on my own with only Miano to help as Cat had left to collect the refund from the Enfield Rental company.

In the end and again after I had a bit of a grumble, other helpers turned up and eventually they even gave us some more foam wrap and we got the bike crated and ready for them both to go. Thinking the worst was over I sat back and took a sip of water whilst sharing a joke with Miano who agreed he was also disappointed in Eagle Eyes especially when you read their 5 star reviews on Horizons Unlimited: we both expected a far more professional service.

But then to our amazement they called us over to help lift the crated bikes onto the weigh machine. Yes thatís right, 300+ kilos of expensive motorcycles and our stuff and these idiots wanted to lift it and carry it by hand! In fact both bikes where 350+ kilos and Nepalese guys are not the biggest guys in the world. In the end we convinced then not to be lazy and go get the forklift, they had a moan but we insisted and so they went and got it. It sort of sums up their entire attitude really: very cut-corner-ish without thinking about the consequences of dropping the bikes, cracking the crates or worse - damaging the goods. You would think once the fork lift turned up it would all be ok, but even that was a rushed job and we both thought that the fork lift was going to drop the bikes at one stage.

After it was all sorted we headed back to the office to tie up the loose ends and pay, Jeewan himself is very professional and so I feel bad saying that I was not impressed with the overall day, but I feel I must tell the truth. I WOULD use him again as I feel itís the lesser evil, but make sure you go over exactly what you want and are there yourself for the packing, and make sure your crate is a snug fit as all that extra space is very very expensive!!!!!

In the evening we took Miano to Cafe Solu, a small hidden Nepalese place that Big Tom showed us a month or so before, we all ate great food and had a couple of beers and the total bill came in at less than £8.00.

Now we have some last minute things to grab, and then its bye bye Nepal, one of the best places I have ever been in my entire life. If you come to this part of the world, do see as much of this great country as you can. Kathmandu is ok for a pit-stop and shopping,, but the rest is just fantastic. I feel lucky to have been here, eaten such good food and met such amazing people and at some stage in my life I will definitely be coming back to this great place!!
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:07 PM   #58
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It is good to see that you are feeling better. Have fun in Thailand.
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:30 PM   #59
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Fantastic RR, can't wait for the rest.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:07 PM   #60
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Hi Both
Wish you all the best for your ride inThailand, if you are passing into Laos call into Mukdahan NE Thailand, you are more than welcome to stay.
For riding in the Golden Triangle Area try Ride Asia. Net, Phil another down south Guy, runs a Guest house and Rider Corner Bar in Chiang Mai. Great riding weather here in thailand at the moment not to hot and not humid.
Would like to catch up while you are here, have many questions for my ride next year from Scotland back to Thailand.

Eric
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