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2 Months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Red liner, May 14, 2021.

  1. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Damn @Red liner - that's nucking futs man!?! I had a solid laugh in you stating you lost a dress size in 6 days; didn't realize that's how measurements go in India :D

    Riding 6 days and 2k miles just to get to the off-road stuff is solid; and the schedule you guys kept to make it happen...woof. Riding in temps exceeding 100+ F is incredibly draining, glad you guys stayed hydrated - way too easy to suffer heat exhaustion or stroke.

    Look forward to seeing what comes next, glad you're keeping this going even if waiting for pics from your riding bud :thumb
    #21
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  2. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

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    984
    We realised we dropped a dress size when our riding pants became evidently slack around the waist when we reached day 6. Well atleast we know what the quickest way to losing weight is...ride across India!

    Haha, the pictures are in so lets go!
    #22
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  3. JoeBiker25

    JoeBiker25 Been here awhile

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    Aug 23, 2014
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    Location:
    Gilroy, CA
    awesome!!!
    #23
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  4. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    984
    Day 1. The day of bloopers, mistakes, errors, bad judgement calls - you name it, and it happened

    Erreur 1: Always leave early in the morning
    Ofcourse we botched up this simple cardinal rule of motorcycle travel. I was up and running by around 4.00 in the morning, but my pretty mate HAD to go out for a late night drink with buddies and finally arrived to meet me only at 6.30 am!

    The sun was already creeping out and we knew we had a freaking long tough day ahead of us.
    IMG_5055.JPEG

    This set us up quite nicely for the rest of the day. We had no fucking clue what was actually in store.

    Fehler 2: Assuming too much - especially about road conditions and directions - IN <HOLY SHIT> INDIA.
    Never ever assume things in India. Whatever the hell your assumption is, India will always, fucking always throw a curveball right back at you. I could not emphasise that any more.

    We had mapped out the journey from "after" this highway journey. That in itself was exhausting because we had never been to some of these places in the far east of the country and knew very few locals who could actually help us. We finally found one, a great friend to this day, but more on that later. Ofcourse, I mapped the whole journey apart from this highway bit - i handed over this "responsibility" to my mate, who promptly shat on it lol. (If my mate's reading, alright STFU I am equally guilty.)

    We "assumed" "this is a highway man", and we had done this route just two years back, i mean how much can change in that intervening period right? If anything the roads will probably only be better.

    Well, you assumed wrong mother fucker.

    Since we had no "google map directions" pre-done, we were relying on sign boards which were either wrong or quickly went extinct as we went down the highway.

    Blooper 1: Mate was ahead of me, took the wrong turn to another part of the country and jizzed away. I am a little more conservative, so I stopped, asked for directions at the junction, found my mate had gone on his own trip somewhere else. Called him, and asked him to get F back.

    Blooper 2: Fast forward 30+ kms, and he does the same fucking thing again! Now I was getting mad. We had already started late and we were way behind schedule! And it was just day 1.

    Now I tell him that we need google maps on, because this shit isn't happening again. So he puts google maps on his phone mount, keys in the end destination and starts riding - ahead of me so I can keep a fcking eye on him.

    Blooper 3: The thing with google maps is, you can use it two ways. You can either keep the internet on, and it keeps suggesting shorter routes, estimates traffic conditions and who the red head is in the car ahead of you.

    Spoiler: Okay, the only red heads in India are fat 60 year old men who dyed their hair all wrong. Its a thing amongst the large Muslim population and they use something called Henna.
    akash-72.jpg
    Is that orange enuf for ya pal?

    Anyway, lets not digress. We were already digressing a shit load on the freeway. My mate does it again - takes the fucked up inner town route instead of the highway that bypasses the town. I, ofcourse, follow him dutifully but realise this is not happening. So I stop, ask for directions again, and this time put MY maps on and find that we are riding right into a maze of 8 am town traffic in the Indian hinterlands. Our worst nightmare was coming true. Why did this happen? He had his google maps on with internet live, and the damn thing reorganised directions because we missed the turn and ofcourse the inner town route was shorter in distance but hell on time.

    So I call him back YET again and this time, I decide to lead and have my maps on, with the internet OFF. Thats how I do it always, because I've been through this before. My mate however DOES NOT learn, and this keeping the internet on (he listens to music via apple) will come to bite him back quite a few times in the next few weeks.

    Well fuck me, but somewhere along the way, we had some good roads.
    IMG_5062.JPEG

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    Schnitzer 3: Never fucking over reach your targets on Day 1 of the trip. You have no idea what the conditions are like.

    This was our route plan, distance and time plan for Day 1.
    Screenshot 2021-05-28 at 11.26.55 AM.png

    It's not so bad. Many folks have done this distance in the past. We even did this once on the way back from another trip. That gave us some bravissimo confidence to crack this mother fucker.

    This is where we got to finally.
    Screenshot 2021-05-28 at 11.27.36 AM.png

    We actually reached this town by midnight. Since we had no intention of stopping here in the first place, we had no hotel bookings, and hadn't even bothered to look shit up earlier, because we were so busy navigating non existent roads and pleasant 40 degree C temperatures. Ah, perfect.

    This time, it was me who fucked up. I missed a turn and shot straight down the wrong road. My mate was busy trying to wave me down, but I could't see shit at 11 pm and 100 kms per hour. So he races ahead, catches up with me. And then. Proceeds to fuck things up EVEN further.

    Rule to using Google Maps: Never, fucking never allow it to re-route if you missed a turn. Go the fuck back, and take the original directions that were mapped out.

    We didn't do this. I was too tired to argue, and I followed my mate because he was so confident about google maps (man, do you NOT learn?), and we entered the most, fucked up, war ravaged, land mine strewn desolate stretch of road in existence. Until Day 1. We had worse later.

    It looked like an asteroid shat all over the place. We were destroyed. Now we just wanted to reach a hotel, we had no food, no water, it was a miracle we were still alive.

    Well, we got diahhriaed all over. The "hotel" my mate booked online in the middle of the night turned out to be in the centre of the most crowded market in town! What the fuck! We reached, and I had a terrible sinking feeling, much like how the poor boys felt aboard the Kursk submarine when it sank without a trace, god rest their souls. We looked like aliens there in our gear, landing in from outer space in the middle of the night. We had one good look at the hotel and knew it was nothing more than a freaking brothel. We quickly tried to hunt another place down, it had parking for our motorcycles and was just a kilometre away. Alright, lets do this and get this night over with man.

    So we went, and yep, this time the pictures and the hotel facade in reality matched. Never fucking trust the internet pictures (tinder and hotels). The rooms however were beyond redemption, but hey beggars can't be choosers in the middle of the night. We ordered in some really terrible food and called it a night.

    I was already having second thoughts about the trip now. I am not very good with "riding stress". Riding stress is defined as riding long inordinate, hours on a motorcycle, in bad fucked up conditions (not off-road!) in a third world country, and its beginning to seem more like work and less like a vacation. The ol' codger in the head made his appearance. If Day 1 on a regular freeway is this bad, man we are gonna get rogered in places where we can't even speak the language and there are no roads to speak of! Home's not too far? Fancy turning back? What kind of excuse can you give your mate? Think hard, you can come up with something legit. Had a long chat with my mate, let loose my worries. Ofcourse, he went down on his knees...shut it pervs. He was pleading to have me reconsider.

    I figured lets take a call in the morning.

    Post Script: Am I an asshole or what. Can't believe now I had such thoughts running in my mind, but I have toughened up a fair bit more now.
    #24
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  5. Chotu

    Chotu Lifan x-pect

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    What a read!!!

    Anxiously awaiting the next chapter!!
    #25
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  6. Added_Flavor

    Added_Flavor n00b

    Joined:
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    Brilliant stuff @Red liner !! Straight from the heart! And I think I like your this style of writing too :D

    Waiting for more eagerly!

    PS: Oh this is my first post here and on a well-deserved thread! Cheers!
    #26
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  7. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    984
    Day 2 Getting back on Track
    Rajamundhry - Bhubhaneshwar
    Distance 620 kms~
    Stayed at: Oyo Town House Mancheswar
    https://www.oyorooms.com/104230/

    Screenshot 2021-05-30 at 3.46.38 PM.png

    Waking up this morning was tough. Getting out of the wretched room was easy.

    My mate decided to work out a good deal for me. He knew I hated riding long stressful highway miles the whole day and night only to fall into bed. I needed picture stops, local chats, and coffee along the way to keep me in the hunt. All these things were impossible on 1000+ km days on unfinished Indian highways.

    So his deal was this. We target 600 kms for the day. If we reach that point by 15.00, we will push ahead a little more to cover distance but will halt all riding by 17.00. This sounded like a good deal to me. And yeah, we'll make sure we spend enough time finding a good hotel online so we don't end up staying in dumps any more.

    So off we went by about 6 am. A quick word of advice my mate gave me and I think stands in good stead. When doing tough long miles, always make sure you crack the first session well. That means you try and make sure you do at least 40% of the distance by 10 AM. That gives you breathing space to wrap the rest up leisurely, or keep time for contingencies. Since we never did breakfast, our times that morning was pretty spectacular, and back again I was in the rider's seat.

    I did also realise that each of us have different stress thresholds for how much distance we can cover in a day. Some are happy doing 300 kms, some are good with 600-700 kms (like me), and some can muster 1000 kms a day like my mate. It's important that you either find riding buddies who have similar thresholds, OR arrive at an agreement upfront about what average distances can be done in a day together. I didn't;t do this, and paid the price on Day 1. Going forward, we did not exceed 600 km ride days as long as we were together.

    We hit an asteroid belt once more about 200 kms after we left. Instead of taking the inner city route (good roads, bad traffic), we risked the unfinished highway and paid a price again. Luckily however, we hit "off-road" in the day, we could see, we were well rested after the night's sleep, and thus could pin throttle and blow through everything. This would be a regular occurrence over the next few days. This time, we actually enjoyed it, because there was no "pressure" of a big hyper mile day ahead of us. Lots of learning.

    Finally we crossed over one of the many borders to mark our baby steps towards the East of India.
    IMG_5071.jpg

    We had just ridden past the Chillika lake.
    Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of over 1,100 km2. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the largest brackish water lagoon in the world after The New Caledonian barrier reef. It has been listed as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage site.
    It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. The lake is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilika_Lake

    Sadly, we had no time to spend here.

    I was having a good time, and since we made pretty good time, and my mate wanted to make doubly sure I was having myself a good time (he was still a bit nervous about my irrational behaviour from last night), we decided to stop for a well deserved brunch well after lunch hour.

    So we stopped at the famous Chilika Dhaba to savour some fresh water fish from the lake.

    IMG_5076.jpg

    As we sat waiting for lunch, we decided that we will stick with our halt point for today (thank heavens!). We quickly looked up hotels online and found an insane steal deal of 750 INR ($10) for the two of us in a good air conditioned room - the reviews stacked up well! So we booked it and chuckled at our good fortune as we dug into our lunch.

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    Well fed, we rode into the hotel and disaster. The "manager" at the front desk refused to entertain us for the price we paid "online". It's double that or nothing! Well, we booked it online so we called the website and gave them a piece of our mind. They fixed the mess we were in, and offered to pay the rest to the hotel. It took the better part of an hour, but I stood my ground and it paid off. We got into our room and it was absolutely worth more than double the price!

    8b0e2b6a557e04b3.jpg 34f40849132cf24f.jpg

    We spent the evening heading out to buy us some fruits for the night, as well as masks and sanitisers for the journey ahead. We had a nice long walk, and spent much of the trip the same way. Bounce in a bit early, so we could walk around town, explore "local" culture and markets, and the nightlife.
    #27
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  8. Lesharoturbo

    Lesharoturbo Nerdly Adventurer

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    Nice start.

    Subscribed
    #28
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  9. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Day 3 & 4: Rocketing Ahead + Bring on the Shit!

    Day 3
    Bhubhaneshwar - Asansol
    Distance 500kms
    Stayed at: City Residency, Asansol
    http://citiresidenci.com/Hotel/the_citi_residenci_asansol

    Screenshot 2021-06-06 at 10.48.26 AM.png

    There's a big reason why I am putting down Hotel names out here. Finding good hotels ON the highway, without much of a deviation from our route was proving to be a HUGE ass challenge. Most great hotels are always inside the city or town and we desperately wanted to avoid the shitall traffic downtown. Now that we found these places, and have stayed here for a pretty reasonable price, we will always stay at these places if we ever get on this route again.

    Pretty average ride. Except when we got into this little town about an hour from our destination and it had the most rabid traffic we probably ever experienced in our lives.

    The bathroom in the hotel had a weird window open to the bedroom. Hmm.

    PXL_20210309_124755340.MP.jpg


    We desperately needed beers when we got to our hotel. The in house bar was crazy expensive for us. We walked out and the guard pointed us to the liquor vend inside the hotel premises. Goddamn score! We walked back to tip the guard but couldn't find him anywhere.

    Setting the focus on our auxiliary cannons
    PXL_20210309_123747240.PORTRAIT.jpg
    Building on the right is NOT our hotel.

    Day 4
    Asansol - Siliguri
    Distance 460 kms
    Stayed at: Yaksha Holiday Home

    Screenshot 2021-06-06 at 11.08.43 AM.png

    Since we had a pretty okay ride the past two days, the riding gods decided they will send a few thunderbolts down our way. 5 kms after we exit the hotel on the "highway", we come across a truck, half of it inside a crater and the other half sticking out like a sore thumb. We will look beyond it and find more trucks dismantled by some kind of aerial bombing. WTF?! I remember just stopping and checking my GPS to make sure we're on the right track. This is insane! We couldn't continue on the road ahead because it was complete devastation and trucks were blocking every inconceivable exit route. So we followed a local, rode through someone's backyard, and circumvented the landmine behind us.

    Thereafter the roads became a bit more calming. Or so we thought.

    IMG_5095-01.jpg

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    Then all our nightmares came to fruition at one go. We stopped. Ahead of us lay, the longest train of trucks, parked back to back, flush against each other on the highway. The only way through was again to ride through backyards, front yards, and between said trucks to make it to the border.

    Yes, we were between the borders of the two most infamous states of India, Bihar and Jharkhand. Both used to be one big mega wild west state where anything goes. Now they're two. Lets party.

    Its a pity I didn't have my goPro on me because this was one hell of us a border crossing. Never in my wildest dreams have I ever done something like this. At one point, I had to beg a good samaritan trucker to just budge his truck by a foot so I could squeeze through. We saw cars on the way side, having spent the whole day and probably the forthcoming night with no place to go. Motorcycles rule!

    IMG_5105.jpg


    In Bihar, we were due to meet a few friends. We decided against a full blown lunch and instead downed many glasses of Lassi.

    Lassi (pronounced [ləsːi]) is a popular traditional dahi (yogurt)-based drink that originated in the Indian Subcontinent. Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit. Namkeen (salty) lassi is similar to doogh, while sweet and mango lassis are like milkshakes. Lassi may be infused with cannabis in the form of bhang.

    We avoided the Bhang for obvious reasons.

    IMG_5106.jpg

    Hi & Bye
    IMG_5107.jpg

    We hit the hotel later that evening and got ourselves a well deserved hot shower each, some beers and hit the bed. What a day!

    Said friends have been in this area most of their lives and knew routes well. So we discussed our next few days with them, and I will be thankful to them for suggesting we take a particular route a day or two later. That was by far absolutely fantabulous!
    #29
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  10. Toe

    Toe Grab your gear

    Joined:
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    462
    Location:
    W London/Kent, UK
    Great report so far and will be following on!

    Nice to see the Adventure Spec jacket too
    #30
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  11. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    984
    Day 5
    Siliguri - Mangaldoi
    Distance 475 kms
    Stayed at: Hotel Madhuban
    https://www.google.com/travel/hotels/s/3ZC9r
    Where you should stay: Hotel Blue Orchid
    https://www.google.com/travel/hotels/s/3ENVw

    Armed with the route tip from Day 4 with our friends, we marched on to this little town called Mangaldoi, to stick to the upper head of the mighty Brahmaputra.
    Screenshot 2021-06-07 at 11.53.18 AM.png

    About 500 kms from Guwahati, the capital of Assam, but we weren't going there.
    IMG_5115.JPEG

    A Piss Photo break to save time. What you see in the background are the famed Tea Estates of Assam. Some of the best tea in the world originates from Assam.
    IMG_5118-01.jpeg

    On the Coronation Bridge where you can split to go in two directions. One goes North to Sikkim, and the other goes further east to Arunachal Pradesh.
    IMG_5123-01.jpg

    The Coronation bridge (I have better pictures and a bit of history later on in the trip report) was built over the Teesta River which originates from the Sikkim Himalayas.

    The Teesta River originates from the Pahunri (or Teesta Kangse) glacier above 7,068 metres (23,189 ft), and flows southward through gorges and rapids in the Sikkim Himalaya. It is fed by rivulets arising in the Thangu, Yumthang and Donkha mountain ranges. The river then flows past the town of Rangpo where the Rangpo River joins, and where it forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal up to Teesta Bazaar. Just before the Teesta Bridge, where the roads from Kalimpong and Darjeeling join, the river is met by its main tributary, the Rangeet.

    This is where we are.
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    We spent much time on this bridge before we decided to get going again. We still had a full day's ride ahead of us. To make sure we had time for picture breaks, we skipped breakfast for good measure.

    IMG_5127-01.jpg

    IMG_5129-01.jpg
    #31
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  12. Chotu

    Chotu Lifan x-pect

    Joined:
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    Florida
    VERY interesting about bhang lassi. My Bangladeshi girlfriend had no idea what that actually was until reading this thread.

    she later showed me a couple Bollywood scenes where they were having bhang, but since she was a child when she saw the movies, she always thought it was alcohol.

    One of the really REALLY old movies shows a bunch of children in a field with a teacher singing about it getting a hold of them.
    #32
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  13. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
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    984
    Haha. That stuff can be lethal in high doses. I once OD'ed on this Bhaang Lassi in a city called Varanasi, India. I think Varanasi invented the whole Bhaang Lassi concept millennia ago. Anyway, the Bhaang (cannanbis) was free and the lassi was charged. WTF! So I just gobbled it up, and trust me I was out like a bat for the next 3 days in my room lol!

    Head still swims thinking about it.
    #33
  14. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
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    984
    Day 5 - Continued.
    To be or Not to Be. Tis the Question.

    As we continued down the bridge and beyond, we came across the Indian Army training. I have never seen the Indian Army training like this before.
    PXL_20210311_022826436.PORTRAIT~2.jpg

    Tanks and Big Guns. Wow!
    IMG_5131-01.jpeg

    We stood by, gazing at them and taking a couple of pictures - trying to respect their privacy or the lack of it and not zooming in too much with our pathetic phone cameras.

    But the pristine roads beckoned us further. This stretch we were on was absolutely amazing, and we quickly forgot all the troubles we faced getting up to this point. How short and fleeting is human memory!
    IMG_5134.JPEG

    We stopped for a little "Chai" break by the way side.
    PXL_20210311_033306476.PORTRAIT.jpg

    We were now well and truly off the main monstrous highways and into the more rustic, quiet, and simple parts of the Indian hinterland. We were absolutely loving it.

    Gazing down a village road going absolutely no where, and possibly somewhere.
    PXL_20210311_035708085.jpg

    An open Indian farm and its citizens going about their daily life, uninterrupted.
    PXL_20210311_035810394.PORTRAIT.jpg

    We had to get going again. But before that, let me indulge you...

    I love stopping by the way side on such rides. It needn't even be scenic or breathtaking or anything. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the above two pictures. But it was exactly that which captivated me. Every day life. Local cyclists going about to their daily work. Cows grazing along fresh grassy meadows. A hen teaching her chicks where the prized worms lie. Birds flitting about overhead. Overhearing gossip at the chai shop which could very well meander into national politics. You're just standing there, observing, taking it all in, breathing in everything that particular moment has to offer. Suddenly you feel You're not just a tourist passing by. You feel integrated and connected, even if it was just for that fleeting instant in time. These memories are etched in you, far better than some snow capped mountain, or wild waterfall. You realise that Every day ordinary moments are worth stopping for, worth cherishing, worth absorbing...and then you just disappear.

    I do plenty of this, much to the annoyance of my mate and others I ride with. For most of them, its always about how quickly we can get to the destination, and spending maximum time taking those amazing poser snaps at awesome vantage points. I get it, I like to do that too, but in doing so, we forget to do the most primal of things we're meant to do - to see, to observe, to understand, to breathe, and to just...Be.

    As I was lost in my thoughts, i heard my mate fire his bike up and I knew it was time to go. As we rode on, we suddenly came up to the border of Bhutan! The forbidden country! Damn! How to train your dragon anyone?
    PXL_20210311_044016957.PORTRAIT~2-01.jpeg

    Bhutan was forbidden then, and is sadly still forbidden now for international travel because of Covid Restrictions. Even their own citizens stuck abroad aren't let back in! I met one such girl in Gangtok, Sikkim, who has been stuck for over a year outside her own country. I felt sad, her family was sitting in Bhutan, and she was here right across the border working in a hotel who takes care of her like family all the same. More on her later.

    As we were riding down these fabulous roads, I came up to a guy riding on a Royal Enfield Himalayan. A closer look from behind and I noticed he had the same number plates as from my province. For all my inherent introspective introversion, I get quite giddy with excitement when I meet other solo travellers on the road lol. So I waved him down and proceeded to have a little chat.
    PXL_20210311_060229129.jpg

    Little introductions done, we realised we would be on the same route for a little while longer, and decided we would ride together as long as we could. A little further on, my mate who just couldn't keep to the national speed limits had disappeared ahead and had stopped at a little hotel to get some coffee and snacks. We decided that would be a good halt point to get out of the noon sun which was beating down quite fearlessly.
    PXL_20210311_064036406.jpg

    I will lay out a brief introduction about this gentleman before us. A sound engineer from one of the bigger cities in India, Bangalore, he decided he wanted a change in career, life, and his future, and decided to go teach kids in the tough but beautiful neighbourhood of the upper Himalayas, Manali. Some of you will know this once picturesque village, which is now dangerously careening into a bustling homogenised tourist trap town catering to loud drunk Indians from Delhi. But thats a story for another day. He was now riding towards Meghalaya, and maybe further east to volunteer with a friend's school for a while, because of the lockdown restrictions in his part of the world. I also think, he just wanted some fresh'er' air and explore this yonder side of our country. Its only when you travel, that you meet such people.
    PXL_20210311_072107012.jpg

    Two wheels for the soul. Does it matter which two wheels they are?
    #34
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  15. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    984
    Day 5

    We split from our dear Himalayan friend and let him trundle on to this destination for the day. We were off to our own manna for the night, but not before a few poser shots at a nondescript spot on the highway.

    PXL_20210311_074901299.PORTRAIT~2-01.jpeg

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    PXL_20210311_074924942.PORTRAIT~2-01.jpeg

    I had only been parked a few minutes when...
    PXL_20210311_075030572.PORTRAIT~2.jpg

    That should give you a hint of how frightfully hot it was that day. And we were in the first week of March! I dreaded what it would be like in May.

    As we kept riding, I felt pain in my palms. I needed a short halt. This was why.
    PXL_20210311_091227330.jpg

    After a full 5 days and 3000 kms on the trot, this was the state of my hands. My palms weren't yet accustomed to long days in the saddle until this trip on this bike. When you let go off riding for a while, it takes the body and mind some time to get re-accustomed to being on the road for days in a row. I wasn't complaining though. Okay, maybe a little bit haha.

    We had ridden through some of the worst parts of this province or state called West Bengal. Now we were riding through some of the most picturesque parts of this place.
    PXL_20210311_051354592-01.jpeg

    So much so I re-christened it "Best Bengal".
    PXL_20210311_112425187-01.jpeg

    We reached our hotel without much ado. And as usual, we spent the evening exploring this little town Mangaldoi.
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    It was also festival day, Shivratri.

    Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of the god Shiva. The name also refers to the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance. It is a major festival in Hinduism, and this festival is solemn and marks a remembrance of "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in life and the world. It is observed by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as honesty, non-injury to others, charity, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva. The ardent devotees keep awake all night. Others visit one of the Shiva temples or go on pilgrimage.

    We spent some time in a local temple to get some positive vibes for our very own pilgrimage. And then walked out into the nightly celebrations.

    PXL_20210311_135226907.MP.jpg

    The sun rises far earlier in the East of the country. Actually the Sun rises exactly when its supposed to ride, but India has a single time zone for the entire country. India is almost 3,000 km wide but has one time zone. India lies east of the Greenwich Meridian line between 68.7 degrees and 97.25 degrees longitudes. Since every 15 degrees of longitude corresponds to one hour, there is a time difference of almost two hours between the western most and eastern most points of the country. This means that if someone living in the western end of the country (Gujarat) experiences sunrise at 6 am, the other end (Arunachal Pradesh) has already seen it at 4 am.

    Insane. So we were up by 4 am without delay and went walking out for a cup of tea.

    PXL_20210312_004055943.jpg

    It was soon time to roll.
    #35
    steved57, 78er, liv2day and 13 others like this.
  16. bjor1978

    bjor1978 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2019
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Cromwell, CT
    Loving the report. Writing and photography styles are right up my alley. Interesting to see your new found teacher friend sporting a retro England goalkeepers jersey! Please continue.....
    #36
    Red liner likes this.
  17. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Cool landscapes, thanks for this. Google maps plays it on you constantly. Best to export the route calculated into a GPX file and then follow that instead to avoid shady recalculations. This service works great https://mapstogpx.com/
    #37
    liv2day, 9w6vx and Red liner like this.
  18. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    8
    Great report. Your vacation started off as a grueling labor, but glad to see you settled into a groove that you could both enjoy. I'll probably never have the opportunity to tour east India (love the tea!) so I'm enjoying this vicarious adventure you are documenting. It's helping to motivate me to do some adventure touring in my own country. Plenty to see here for the rest of my days, without the hassles of border crossings and language difficulties. My adventurous spirit has waned as an old man, but it's not gone.

    I use OSMand for offline navigation. Download the Open Street Maps map files and the phone does the route navigation without sending it to some company's server. You can set the destination and it'll autoroute for you, or you can plan the route you want in the app. It's a very full featured navigation app, and the crowd sourced maps are open source and far more than just streets. There are all sorts of trails, and you can upload your own information. You only need cellular data or WiFi to install the app and download the maps. You can plan your route entirely offline, and you only need the GPS turned on to navigate. Sometimes, to save power and keep it simple, I'll engage navigation then turn off the phone to disable the display. I put the phone in the inside breast pocket of my riding jacket and it's Bluetooth connected to either the helmet intercom or wireless noise canceling ear buds so I have audible navigation prompts and never need to take my eyes off the road. I have the ADV Bike mode in OSMand configured to avoid highways, so it will automatically route me on secondary roads. If I want specific roads, I can plan those portions and have OSMand autoroute the rest of the trip.
    #38
    78er, Veselko and Red liner like this.
  19. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    984
    Day 6 - We cross the Gateway into Mysterious Lands

    The sun rises early in the east.
    PXL_20210312_003722469.PORTRAIT-01.jpg

    I for one, was happy with the sun rising this early. He brings me a sense of new. A new day, new possibilities, new chance encounters, and new opportunities to be foolish. I love being foolish. This whole trip was one big foolish one from the get go. I couldn't be happier, even when I am sitting here thinking about it. Are foolish people the happiest? Do they go about trying to perfect every silly part of their lives? I didn't want to live my life with the mechanical precision of a bank account or by measuring all my lines and angles with rulers and protractors. Now that would be silly.

    I think the world would be a far better place if we all tried being foolish far more often.

    The bike was ready to move on from my foolish day dreaming. With or without me by the looks of it.
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    The roads were great. I have to give it to our friends we met on Day 4 or 5 for making us take this route. Sublime farms, double carriageways, village people ambling along with their dogs or cows in tow. Life felt far less mechanical. Life shouldn't be mechanical.

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    Indians love big flashy motorcycles. The baby KTM adventure isn't and hardly attracted any attention at all through the course of this trip. It reminds me of me. I could sit in the background and just observe everyone without anyone noticing me. The green versys however had a big fan following wherever it trundled to a stop. I have to say my mate loved all the attention he was getting for his bike. I felt happy knowing he was happy.

    PXL_20210312_025724457.PORTRAIT.jpg

    A little further on and we come across another solo motorcyclist on a Hero Xpulse dual sport bike. Tiny little guy, I had no problem getting a bit ahead of him and forcing him to stop. This dude is from the Kerala province/state and was on the road since October 2020!

    PXL_20210312_042747607.jpg

    He quit his job in Bangalore and decided to explore the whole of the North East of India on a small capacity dual sport bike, which was cheap to buy, cheap to run, and cheap to fix. Smart decision. We would run into him once more a couple of weeks later.
    PXL_20210312_043238893.PORTRAIT.jpg

    The borders between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are mostly forested, green, and fresh. This was Nameri National Park.

    PXL_20210312_050030840-01.jpg

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    We were riding right along the Kameng River.

    Screenshot 2021-06-12 at 12.44.04 PM.png

    The Kameng River (previously named Bharali River, now called Kameng in Arunachal Pradesh and Jiabharali (Jia Bharali) in Assam) in the eastern Himalayan mountains, originates in Tawang district from the glacial lake below snow-capped Gori Chen mountain(elevation 6,300 metres (20,669 ft), on the India-Tibet border in South Tibet and flows through Bhalukpong circle of West Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh and Sonitpur District of Assam, India.

    Since it was a very short ride, and the roads were fantastic, we took plenty of time to breathe in and absorb everything we had around us. As we were riding along the river, I came across this little embankment, which I figured I could ride into with a little off-road thrown in. And just like that I was standing by the river bank. The Kameng river eventually flows into the Brahmaputra.

    PXL_20210312_052037055-01.jpg

    Gazing at the distant mountains in the east of India.
    #39
  20. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,833
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Your RR dropped off my updates/radar @Red liner, so glad I came across it again and now catching up. Quoted this as it should be quoted IMO; or simply resonates with me as a rider and individual in general. Just Be...exactly.

    Totally enjoying getting caught up on your report man. Outstanding writing style, truly capturing the essence of the trip.

    Keep it coming!
    #40
    Red liner likes this.