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Old 09-30-2014, 01:00 PM   #1
I.Will.Ride.On.Mars OP
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Solo through India: Jammu and Kashmir, Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling

Hello hello everyone! Tomorrow I depart to India for a five week motorcycle trip through the country. I'll land in New Delhi, head up north to Jammu and Kashmir (Manali, Leh, Nubra Valley, Kargil, Srinagar, Jammu) for 10-12 days or so, then head down south visiting Amritsar, Agra, Varanasi, Darjeeling and any other places that look interesting on the way.

Here is a detailed version of the route on google maps and picture below -> http://goo.gl/maps/97o13 <- It's about 5,600 km and I'll have 30 days on a bike so if I go about 200km/day I'll be able to make it. Of course some days I'll be going much further and others it'll be much shorter distances (Jammu & Kashmir).



The gear I have is basic riding pants, jacket, helmet, gloves, boots, tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Somehow I've been able to pack all of my riding and camping gear (except my helmet and boots) in my two bags plus all clothes, and everything else. Once I'm riding though, I'll be wearing my gear so the bags won't be bulging at the seams so much!


I was going to visit Japan, but since I'd already been there I decided to head somewhere else. At home, I have a beautiful photography book that is focused on India and it all looked so beautiful, so I decided to look into visiting India. After a little research I was convinced. Off I go!

I'll do my best to keep the RR up to date, but I'm not sure how often I'll have internet access and also be able to use the computer there to load my pictures online (I'm not taking a laptop, only a world phone).

Cheers and safe travels everyone!


EDIT: Preview Pictures!










































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Solo through India: Jammu and Kashmir, Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling

Seriously, I will ride on Mars
1997 DR350 SE

I.Will.Ride.On.Mars screwed with this post 11-10-2014 at 06:49 PM
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Old 09-30-2014, 03:54 PM   #2
Edmond Dantès
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Are you going to ride the Kalka-Shimla and Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling narrow gauge railways?

Best of luck with the trip, and looking forward to the RR.
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Old 09-30-2014, 08:53 PM   #3
I.Will.Ride.On.Mars OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edmond Dantès View Post
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Are you going to ride the Kalka-Shimla and Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling narrow gauge railways?

Best of luck with the trip, and looking forward to the RR.
I probably won't. I'm not really a train person. I read today that the ride on the one in Darjeeling is 4 hours. That's quite a long train ride. Maybe when I'm there I'll end up doing it, but probably not. I did read however that it is supposed to be excellent. But they say that about everything!

Cheers!
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Solo through India: Jammu and Kashmir, Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling

Seriously, I will ride on Mars
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Old 10-07-2014, 07:05 AM   #4
VeraU
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Laugh Hey

How do you like the bike? How does it compare with yours? Vera
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Old 10-07-2014, 12:07 PM   #5
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So Jealous!

subscibed and waiting impatiently for updates :-)
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Old 10-12-2014, 04:06 PM   #6
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Howz it going?

Hey Morgan! How are things? I hope you have time to visit some of the sights while you are there. The Taj Mahal, Humayan's Tomb, Red Fort, and several other places right in Delhi are cool. I could have lent you my SPOT or Katadyn too! You must not have good reception where you are cause I don't see any recent posts. Wish I was there with you! Should be a great ride. What bike are you riding. One of the millions of 200 cc bikes that roam the country?
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Old 10-12-2014, 04:14 PM   #7
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Looks like some serious elevation variation. Thanks heaven for fuel injection.
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Old 10-14-2014, 10:44 AM   #8
I.Will.Ride.On.Mars OP
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Day 1: London

I flew out at 6:30pm US time and arrived in London at 7:30am. When buying the ticket I accidentally got one with a 15 hour layover in London. As I was leaving the plane I saw the girl behind me, Anna, was reading Influence by Cialdini and we started chatting. Somehow out of all the people in the world she was into value investing and knew about all the big value investors and various readings. Pretty rare. In our talking I asked her how difficult it is to get out to see London. She said its easy so I thought I'd give it a go. I had 15 hours to kill after all. I wasn't sure how big of an issue it'd be to get out of the airport without visa but I asked around and for a US citizen it's not a problem. Onward!

I stored all my bags in a commercial storage place called "Excess Baggage". 10 pounds for the day. The guy working cut me a deal and let me attach my helmet to my backpack so I didn't have to pay for two items. Sweet!

Unfortunately the next guy was not as nice or helpful. The information guy at the Underground was so grumpy and rude. He acted like everyone was bothering him unnecessarily. I grabbed the tube maps and left for the city.

I got off at Hyde Park and came across the blue bike rentals. 2 Pounds for the whole day! That is such a deal! Needless to say I rode around all day. I didn't have my camera but saw a couple different things. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the rest of the palace grounds, the Arch, the big ferris wheel and probably a bunch of other stuff. Big Ben was quite impressive. Over 150 years old. Very nice shade of stones and ornate design.

Next up I stopped at a nice little restaurant that happened to have free refills on all coffee drinks until 12 noon. I got there at probably 9 and had a breakfast and a couple of cappuccinos while sitting out on the patio watching London go to work. There are so many different people in London and it's great. Everyone is also in good shape and well dressed. At noonish I went and rode around some more and found another cafe. Funny enough I think Delhi Belly got to me early because I definitely had London Belly. Needless to say I was very glad both cafe's had good facilities. Eventually I made my way back to the airport and waited for my flight. I had trouble staying awake, despite all my cappuccinos, as I had been up for too long at that point. Finally I boarded and slept for about 6 hours. I've never been big on seeing London but this little day trip changed my mind some. At some point I'll visit properly.


Hopefully I'll be able to post the up coming posts with pictures. I don't have a laptop here so it may be tricky getting them from my camera to the net.

The bike I have here is a Honda Stunner 125cc. It's light, reliable, gets good milage but does not have enough power to climb the big mountains properly. More in this later!
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Solo through India: Jammu and Kashmir, Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling

Seriously, I will ride on Mars
1997 DR350 SE
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Old 10-14-2014, 10:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mnritz View Post
Hey Morgan! How are things? I hope you have time to visit some of the sights while you are there. The Taj Mahal, Humayan's Tomb, Red Fort, and several other places right in Delhi are cool. I could have lent you my SPOT or Katadyn too! You must not have good reception where you are cause I don't see any recent posts. Wish I was there with you! Should be a great ride. What bike are you riding. One of the millions of 200 cc bikes that roam the country?
Hi Mark! I totally should have grabbed your SPOT for this trip. Would have been smart for these crossing these mountains alone.

I'll be seeing quite a number of sights I think but right now I've been having such a good time in Leh up north I may not have time to see everything I originally planned. But we shall see!

I just got back on the internet a few days ago. There was nothing from Delhi to Leh, about ten days worth of travel.

It'd be so fun to have a crew of us going on trips like this!
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Solo through India: Jammu and Kashmir, Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling

Seriously, I will ride on Mars
1997 DR350 SE
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Old 10-15-2014, 08:43 AM   #10
mnritz
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Solo Riding

Riding solo has it's merits for sure. But riding with another person or two can really add to the experience, or if the wrong people can severely take away from it. I have enjoyed both. Sounds like things are going pretty well for you.
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Old 11-10-2014, 07:17 PM   #11
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Day 2: Arrival in Delhi

I arrived at 11am, went through customs, picked up my bags, etc, etc and found the guy from Hotel New King who was going to pick me up. I wasn't too tired from the flight so I cleaned up and got a driver and went exploring. First stop, food. We stopped at Odeon Sweets and I had an obscenely delicious bread and chickpea dish. It was so good I went back the next day and got it again. I later learned the dish is chhole bhaturey. Of course it was dirt cheap. 80Rp ($1.30) for the chhole bhaturey and a drink. Seriously, this is so good. Get some.

Odeon Sweets (not my pictures)





We continued along and stopped at an old temple which had been built over a long period of time and had four different styles of construction. It was quite beautiful and there were big gardens that went along with it. Here was my first interaction with an Indian unofficially giving tours for tips. The information provided was nice and so was he, but sometimes it feels like the only reason they're nice is for a tip. After that the hotel driver took me to a local tailor shop just to have a look at the items and ask a few questions so he could get the commission just for bringing a potential customer. I thought they got paid only when a customer buys something, but I guess it's also just if they bring a customer in. Scheming on day 1!

I needed hire a driver to take me to pick up the bike the next day so we went to the tourist info center and they arranged for an 8am pickup. In hindsight, they charged me way too much for the ride. It was 2,500Rp when it probably should have been 1,000Rp max. I wasn't used to negotiating so I didn't at all. Oops. The hotel driver and I were going to continue exploring but I was so tired I was falling asleep in the car so we called it a day at about 5 or so and I hit the hay early. Not very many pictures from today either. That was a mistake not to take more pictures.

Hotel Room at 255Rp/night! Free WiFi too!


More of the Room. It was fairly clean, but at 255Rp it was a steal.


Hotel Bathroom


View from the Room.
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Solo through India: Jammu and Kashmir, Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling

Seriously, I will ride on Mars
1997 DR350 SE
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Old 11-10-2014, 09:05 PM   #12
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Subscribe to the ride report. Can't wait to ride there Jun next year as I will do a 8 weeks solo trip to similar places with Mumbai as my base. Bike will be Hero Impulse 150 newly purchase in Mumbai for the trip.

Heavenly beautiful and deliciously dangerous route at the Kashmir & Jammu and Himachel Pradesh provinces.
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Old 11-11-2014, 05:17 PM   #13
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Day 3: Delhi & bike pickup

The driver to take me to Gurgaon to get the bike came at 8am India time, which meant he showed up at 8:40am. The hotel attendant laughed when I asked if we should call the guy and said this is India. So the driver came and we left and to get the bike. It was about 35-40km to pick up the bike from Rehman in Gurgaon but it took about two hours. We could not find the place and kept going around and around until we were able contact Rehman and he met us on the road and took us to the place.

The bike!




Rehman and I went out for gas and to stop at an ATM. It was my first time riding in India on a new and different bike and with a passenger. It was pretty nerve wracking for the first bit but we finally made it back from the errands at noonish. Rehman made a good lunch of scrambled eggs and toast. I was planning on leaving right after that but decided to take a quick rest but promptly fell asleep until dinner time. Apparently I was still jetlagged. Andy, the owner of IndiaBikes.com, came in that night because he was meeting up with a group of riders to go to Leh on Wednesday. I almost stayed so I could go with them, but in order to make my schedule and go to Kargil, Srinagar and down to Jammu I needed to head out ASAP. I decided that I would leave the following morning and head north.







That evening Andy and one of his good friend arrived after a two day drive from Mumbai. Looking back, I can imagine that that drive would have been pretty difficult. Later in the evening Andy and Rehman made egg curry and chapati and it was really, really good. As the evening progressed we all chatted and discussed what they all do for work, different facets of Indian and its culture. Quite an interesting conversation. There would be many more good conversations to come with others in the coming weeks. Later, we all set up tents and went to sleep under the miraculously clear and dark sky.











The next morning I left to head north!
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Solo through India: Jammu and Kashmir, Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling

Seriously, I will ride on Mars
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Old 11-15-2014, 07:55 AM   #14
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Day 4: Ride to ambala

DAY 4: RIDE TO AMBALA (8 hours - 240km)
I woke up with the sun and everyone else was already up! Breakfast was going to be ready soon so I packed up and got ready to head out. After breakfast I did my last check of the bike and packing and headed out. Going from Gurgaon to Delhi was pretty pleasant and the GPS took me through some small streets and it was a pretty nice and easy ride. Getting into, and through Delhi was absolutely terrible in terms of traffic, despite being on the outer ring of the highway. There was construction everywhere, and people too of course. It was absolutely bumper to bumper and side to side everywhere. I mean you were 6" away from another vehicle on all sides. Needless to say, I didn't get any pictures.

Once out of Delhi the road was basically a straight shot north and the roads were in good condition. This is where I had the highest speed during the whole trip. A whopping 91kmh! I made pretty good time! The scenery was just flat and straight and on forever and ever. Everyone drove pretty well in hindsight. They'd honk politely to tell me to move over so they could pass. There also weren't many crazy drivers either. A pretty sedate day of driving. Especially when looking back at other days.

In Ambala I got a nice hotel for 1200Rps. Clean, AC and a great restaurant next door. Next door I had the best chicken tikka masala I have ever eaten. And I have eaten a lot of chicken tikka masala. It was perfectly blended and just sweet enough and just spicy enough and the garlic naan was excellent. Definitely the best meal so far. Today was definitely a good day!











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Solo through India: Jammu and Kashmir, Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling

Seriously, I will ride on Mars
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Old 11-17-2014, 07:44 AM   #15
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Day 5: Ride to aut

DAY 5: RIDE TO AUT (11 hours - 270kms)
Today was both crappy and fantastic.

the Fantastic:
Going up the mountain the roads were pretty good. The really good part though was the scenery. On the sides of the road there were little patches of flowers that looked so out of place amongst all the cars and TATA trucks flying by. In the valleys of the mountains there were nice big rivers flowing through. Very pretty scenery.

















Up one of the mountains I got lunch at a little roadside stall and the Dad and I think three sons were working there. Or at least three young guys were there working with the older guy. I chatted with them as best I could. Mostly it was just pictures though! The food was really good. I had chipatis and some daal dish (I think).













On the way the little town I saw the hotel sign in was Aut. A very small town that seemed only to be a town to stop in for travelers. Sort of a midway point to Manali. It was very small indeed. There wasn't much there at all. Just some hotels, food stands, and a temple.





















The Crap:
Near the end of the day I decided I was going to make it to Manali no matter what. That was stupid and I paid for it. The sun was setting and I had about 85kms left and I had just hit the best section of the road all day. Good quality roads, limited traffic and just the right amount of twisties to make it a fantastic ride plus the scenery was amazing. I wish I had stopped to get pictures. It was National Geographic level scenery and the moon was nearly full and just holding over the tops of the mountains. Unfortunately, I continued riding. Everything went to super crap. Indians drive just as insanely at night on super tight mountainous roads, with road work, no guard rails and no street lights. I can barely see the road in front of me and there is a huge tour bus honking and honking as usual for me to speed up despite being 5 feet from the huge gas truck in front of me so he can pass while traffic does the same thing coming the other direction. I was so tired and hungry at this point too. And my butt was so sore after 11 hours of riding. Finally there was a spot to pull over and I miraculously saw a guest house. The first one I had seen in at least an hour. In my quest to get to Manali I passed right by many, many guest houses. The one I ended up at is 300Rp ($4.95) and was pretty gross. I would gladly pay 1200Rp ($19.80) again for the one I had last night. Even the first one in Delhi was 250Rp ($2.15) and was way better than this. Anyways, so that was the bad today. Lots of grippin lol India is still worth it.

Despite the super crap riding for the last hour or two, the rest of the day was really good! Riding from Ambala to the crap-zone was very scenic and I didn't miss any turns, ate some great food and met some really nice people.
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Seriously, I will ride on Mars
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