A Royal Enfield, a massive country and a 6 month Visa.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rogerdodger, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. rogerdodger

    rogerdodger Been here awhile

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    From Bangkok I took a flight into Kolkata. Last year I'd taken the same flight and been able to get a ticket for $50, this year I paid double. I was on a tight schedule to get to Manali at the foothills of the Himalayas and jump on the road to Ladahk. From what I'd heard the passes through Ladahk to Leh can only be crossed in a few brief weeks of summer. So far I'd timed it perfect, landing in the sweltering heat of early July, just as the monsoons hit!. But I still needed to get to Manali in the state of Himachal Pradesh, 1,500Km away on the other side of the county. And I still needed to buy a bike.

    Since this was now my 3rd time in Kolkata I was more comfortable finding my way around and heading over to a trusted travel agent to buy my train ticket to Delhi.
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    Then settle in at the tourists gathering point on Sudder St, The Blue Sky Cafe. There I met Honey, an interesting Filipino girl who had travelled extensively. She took interest in my train trip to Delhi and immediately announced she would come with me. Humm, ok cute girl why not. The next day we boarded our train for Delhi riding 2nd class sleeper for the 18 hour trip.
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    Not a bad time for an Indian train that was crossing this vast country. The train trundled along and Honey and I had long deep talks the way travelers do, opening our souls and spilling all the deep secrets. Our other carriage mates were a group of Muslims from Myanmar on a holiday and sort of pilgrimage.
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    They were a fun and happy bunch, pulling out a mat and laying it across one bed they did their prays one after another. i asked Honey how they knew which way mecca was and one of the pulled out a compass! We all shared food and made small talk and then slept the erratic sleep, lulled and shook by a train at night moving across a country that never sleeps.

    Delhi was hot. The train stops at New Delhi Station close to the tourist section of Paharganj. A area of dirt roads and crumbling buildings, beggars, filth, heat and sweat. This can't be a capital city? Cows roam the streets, eating plastic bags and rotting vegetables.
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    It seemed that Honey and I differed in our budgets for rooms. We'd agreed to get a room together, but she wanted cheap, really cheap. I like cheap too, but when its 42degrees I like AC too. After the train journey we were both tired. Honey found a place for some ridiculous price. So ridiculous I got my own room next to hers. I wasn't in a mood to be sweating and tired and trying to share a place with someone that had started to bug me. Earlier when boarding the train I'd offered to help her carry her massive suitcase onto the train, now it seemed it was my job to carry the damn thing at every stair and difficult spot.

    Karol Bargh is a area in Delhi I'd heard about from everyone to buy a bike. After I got settled in my room and taken 5 showers, I ventured out to find this motorcycle hot spot, Hell the whole town was a hot spot. It was crazy hot and the only reprieve was riding on the air conditioned metro train. I took the train to the Karol Bargh station expecting to find bike shops everywhere. Nothing! and no one knew what I was talking about. motorcycles sieb? no sir nothing here. Eventually I found someone that told me to just walk up this road and Id run into the shops. i walked for miles and found nothing and eventually, frustrated, returned back to my squalid hotel.

    Honey had been sleeping and I knocked on her door as we had early said we would get together and discuss our next plan. She about bit my head off telling me that she was use to men making the decisions and why hadn't I bought a ticket to Manali yet??? WTF! Were we dating? i don't remember any conversations about that, I certainly don't remember any sex, which if i remember correctly usually comes with dating. Its certainly usually the precursor to the shouting and arguments. I put it down to the heat which in our windowless rooms was unbearable.
    #1
  2. overlandr

    overlandr Dystopist

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    Before any one else asks, we need photos of Honey! Oh and BTW nice start this sounds interesting - I'm in! :lurk
    #2
  3. dutch2004

    dutch2004 Dreaming the dream...zzz

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    I second the need for Honey pictures.
    #3
  4. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    Yes , show me the Honey....
    #4
  5. arn

    arn Been here awhile

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    Lot about Honey, little about bikes, or enfields.

    It's moving towards a ride report, I'm not sure which kind.:evil :ear
    #5
  6. Chanderjeet

    Chanderjeet IndiYeah !!

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    Honey :amazon Yes, pics are necessary.


    BTW, paharganj is not the real delhi but its a budget travellers paradise.
    Depends where you are staying though. But anyways, please show us some pics.
    #6
  7. TripleTee

    TripleTee Over the river

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    Since you brought up sex, why are you and Honey sleeping in separate rooms? Pictures please.
    #7
  8. Northstar Beemer

    Northstar Beemer Been here awhile

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    :confused

    I'm sure this is going to be a heck of a trip...
    #8
  9. captodport

    captodport Adventurer

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    But no bike, and no Honey.
    #9
  10. Chukar

    Chukar n00b, n00ber, n00best

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    Sounds interesting. Which Royal Enfield did you get? Do you just sell it when you are done with the trip?
    #10
  11. Pine Sol

    Pine Sol Been here awhile

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    I just love this metaphor..:D
    #11
  12. rogerdodger

    rogerdodger Been here awhile

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    Geez calm down you horny lot. Don't worry Honey will be popping in and out of this story for a while.

    Its been raining here in Manali now for 3 days straight. One small road threads its way up the valley from the south through this small town, it continues, winding its way north west up into the mountains of the Himalaya, over the passes and into Ladahk. The passes are closed in with snow now, buses are stuck, the road south has been closed with landslides too. So here i sit in Manali with snows all around on the mountains.
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    But just a month ago it was sunny and hot. I had arrived at midnight with Honey still grumpy after 17 hours on a bus from Delhi, in which time I realized I was traveling with a deeply disturbed girl, and I needed to do whatever I could to get the hell away from her.

    In Delhi after my abortive mission the day before trying to find the bike shops of Karol Barge, at 5.00am Honey came knocking on my door to drag me onto a bus to Manali. It was probably the kindest thing she did for me, well other than the time we were out walking and she got really horny under the prayer flags in Mcleodganj. I'd met a guy in Thailand who had warned me about buying a bike in Karol Barge and told me the better deals were to be had in Manali. As it turned out he was totally right. I've met lots of travelers on bikes they bought in Delhi and they all paid too much, or bought bikes that needed major work done on them. Honey and I arrived in Manali at midnight. We'd left our guest house that morning trying to find the bus stand where the buses took off for the north. In the usual Indian confusion and miss information we found the private bus stand only to be told that the buses didn't leave until 7.00pm. Next hop in a rickshaw for a ride north to the government bus terminal and there we find also the nice luxury Volvo buses also don't leave until late in the afternoon, or we can take the locals bus that leaves in a couple of minutes. We look across in the direction of the bony finger pointing to our bus, a clapped out Tata, with puke still freshly dripping from the open windows. We climbed on board for what was to be a slow and arduous journey. Riding out of Delhi the carnage from the previous night was still strewn across the road.
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    Trucks and cars that had been involved in accidents were abandoned on the road and at the sides of the road. It doesn't help that although this is a divided highway the term "divided" seems to have been lost on the Indians plying this route. Our bus switched from side to side of the highway and traffic came past us on the wrong side of the road too. For a lunch break the bus driver saw no problem in making a u turn at a gap in the highway and then driving the wrong way down the road.
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    I don't want to harp on about Honey more than I really have to, so I'll just say that on the bus a strange argument broke out between us. I pledged that when we got to Manali she could go one way and I'd go the other. But seeing that we arrived so late at midnight, I felt bad just leaving her alone to deal with the guest room hawkers that were the only people around at this hour. We ended up getting a room together, things between us still a little strained. During the night the inevitable happened, there was snuggling, groping and then some wild thrashing around. Crap! had I just let my penis lead me into more trouble? Could I ever get rid of her now? In the morning we checked out of the over priced shitty guest house the tout the night before had led us to. I wanted to go up to Old Manali, a small village that the Lonely Planet said was the more laid back tourist area, and Honey was going to find a place still in the same area of Manali. Perfect! She came with me for breakfast into Old Manali and then when I'd found my perfect little guest house she decided she was now going to stay in a cheaper guest house just up the street. Ok I'll give ya a little shot of Honey for now
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    Old Manali was buzzing with Enfields. Thumpedy thump they went up and down the tiny crowded road outside the little cafe Id parked myself at.The riders an assortment, ranging from competent travelers to stoned hippies.

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    did i mention pot grows wild here?
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    One Israeli kid had just rented a bike from up the street. he stalled it outside my cafe and was trying to start it. A local, kindly came to his assistance and showed him the procedure. I later found out that there is a technic for starting Enfields, and its nothing like starting a little jap bike. The local got the bike started but now the kid was revving the hell out of it and wondering why it wouldn't move forward. From the hand gestures, I made out that the Israeli was under the impression that this was a automatic scooter! the local was trying to explain that he needed to hold the clutch in while the local stomped it into gear. I could see what was about to happen and was frantically scrambling for my camera. I'm not callous but really I was too far away to shout "stop" and really if this kid was stupid enough to get on this bike without having a clue how to ride it, then he needed this lesson that was about to unfold. Sure enough he dumps the clutch and gives a big ole twist of the throttle. The bike lurches forward and he fights with the steering and turns directly into a food stand. Luckily no harm, but hopefully he wont be renting a bike in India again.
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    Indians like a fuss, so when this kid hit the stand within seconds he had a crowd.
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    During my time in Manali I couldn't believe how many times I saw similar things happening. Im amazed no ones been killed yet.

    I'd been in Old Manali a few hours there were Enfields everywhere.
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    and I started seeing posters of bikes for sale. Travelers finished with their trip and selling their bikes. I looked at one and still not really knowing much about them, was glad that a French guy I'd met earlier came with me to check the bike out. Alex actually runs one of the Enfield tour company's out of Delhi, a really nice guy and runs a top operation. It should be for 2 thousand Euro. But for people on a schedule with that yearly two week holiday these trips are the best way to go. There's no way I could roll into India, try to find a bike, and find all the information you need to take on this challenging trip to Ladahk in a couple of days. If you want to check out his site you can find it here. http://www.vintagerides.com/index.php?lang=en

    Alex, much to the annoyance of the big Israeli selling the bike, warned me off it. "Over priced and in need of too much work". Another poster I'd seen describing a '92, bullet 350 with disk brake and luggage racks looked good, but said that the bike wouldn't be available until the following day. I took down the number and called it a quits on bike hunting.

    In the morning I called the guy and amazingly got straight through to him. Richard an English guy was staying in a guest house just down the road, and I could come down now and check out the bike. I got that feeling from him, that he was someone I could trust in a deal like this. I rode it and thought these Enfields ride like pigs!. Gear lever on the opposite side was confusing at first with a few times hitting the brake pedal instead of the gear lever and worse hitting the gear lever when i went for the brake!. But the price was right, the bike had everything I wanted and I got him down a few thousand to 23,000rp, a price I found out later was a really good deal. She was mine and now the adventure could really begin.
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    #12
  13. arn

    arn Been here awhile

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    They do.

    So why not hire something that that does not?
    #13
  14. rogerdodger

    rogerdodger Been here awhile

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    As i write up the rest of the story, you'll see that as geriatric as Enfields are, they do grow on you. A big plus is almost every mechanic in the country knows how to work on them and has the spares to fix them. Originally I was going to get a more reliable Pulsar, but as a foreigner you can't come to India and not do your trip on an Enfield!
    #14
  15. Chanderjeet

    Chanderjeet IndiYeah !!

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    The eternal RE argumenter :lol3
    #15
  16. Northstar Beemer

    Northstar Beemer Been here awhile

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    :huh :huh
    #16
  17. arn

    arn Been here awhile

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    Like that 100cc thingummy grew on Nathanthepostie...:D

    But seriously, you will *NOT* find mechs or parts everywhere , unlike the Pulsars, better if you carry your own spares for safety! That's what the gargantuan panniers are for. I know a dyed in the wool enfield fanatic (even more than Chanderjeet:wink: ), who was actually toying with the idea of carrying an extra ENGINE:huh in one of them - apparently swapping an engine is a very straightforward job....

    I agree, bike tourism in India is supposedly incomplete unless done on an enfield. Hmmm. Just like a guy I know who went to USA and rode the "best" :deal brand there for a week, no prizes for guessing.

    Looking forward to the rest of your post!:ear
    #17
  18. rogerdodger

    rogerdodger Been here awhile

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    The next day was spent getting a few things done on the bike, oil change, check clutch etc. The first of what turns into a an almost daily chore when you own a Enfield. All my clothes have oil on them now, I know all the mechanics from Manali to Leh. There are 3 main shops that deal with Enfields in Manali. Tikey is a young kid who like a lot of the locals here spends the 4 month season in Manali then heads down to Goa to do the same thing. He was recommended by the last owner of my bike, Tikey had actually worked on the bike down in Goa where Richard had bought it.
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    While at the shop I met Robert and English guy who although having a motorcycle license hadn't ridden a bike in a few years. he was looking for a little Pulsar to cruise around on to get use to riding again before taking on an Enfield. We got talking and then made a plan to go ride the next day along with another guy he had met, a French guy Julian who had his own Enfield. The next day we set off down the Kullu valley.
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    Not making it far before Juliane's bike started acting up.
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    It took hours to get down to Kullu only 40 km away and then we spent 2 hours at a mechanic shop while he tried to figure out the problem. Not such a great days riding, but it got my feet wet and I was starting to feel comfortable with the bike. At least I wasn't hitting the gear lever every time I went to brake!

    Arriving back in Old Manali that evening I ran into Honey. I'd bumped into her a couple of times before and tried to give her a wide berth, but she was persistent and struck up a conversation putting on her little sweet girl act that she did so well. I left feeling like maybe I should be giving her a second chance. The next day I met up with a Danish guy that was in my guest house and a Russian friend of his, both with Enfields. They were heading down to Kasol in the Pavati valley and asked if I wanted to come along. Both had pillion passengers, two Russian girls, so as we were about to leave and Honey showed up I found myself asking if she wanted to come along.

    It was a great ride. Stopping for tea
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    We took some little back roads that wound up mountains and I got to try out the bike on dirt rock strew roads too. Honey was an awesome pillion, well she can only weight about 90lbs so its like not having anyone there at all. She was nice all day, but when I asked if shed take photos while on the back of the bike she said "take photos of what?" We were going through some great country, but this was typical of her, she doesn't even travel with a camera of her own.
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    With the partial success of the Pavati Valley trip I invited Honey along on a bigger trip to Daramshala with Julian the French guy and Rob from England. Rob was going to rent a Enfield for this trip, although with the rain of the morning he was a little dubious of his talents.Julian had invited a French couple along what wanted a ride to Darmashala. They didn't have a bike, but they made up for it in having a shit load of luggage. This was actually part of the reason I invited Honey. I could see their envious eyes checking out my bike and its capability of for carrying them and their shit.Inviting Honey put an end to that problem but began a whole new set of problems for me. Also along on the trip was a local guy Sandeep. He was going part of the way back to a remote village to see his parents. We were going to go with him to see what family life was like in a small village. "its only 20km off the route to Darmashala" he assured us. What he didn't say was that that 20km was on dirt roads that went over the top of a mountain. And by the time we got there we had to do it at night. we got a really late start, first with the rain delaying us, then Rob got about 15km down the road and decided a Enfield wasn't for him and we had to go back and trade it in for his trusty Pulsar.
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    Yes thats honey doing her best Klan imitation. After getting out of the mountains in Manali the weather turned into a beautiful day.
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    Eventually we made it to Sandeep's little village where everyone knew him and gave us a cheery greeting. the next day we walked around and looked at the hydro station before setting off for Daramshala.

    This is what we'd come over the previous night.
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    Why do the French always look so ...French?
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    And the English, well look English too
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    #18
  19. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Talk about a great adventure!! :clap

    :lurk
    #19
  20. arn

    arn Been here awhile

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    :clap :ear
    #20