3 Months through Asia with an Royal Enfield Bullet (Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by petersjourney, Apr 5, 2019.

  1. petersjourney

    petersjourney n00b

    Mar 26, 2019
    This will be a slightly longer trip report. I am not a native english speaker, so please apologize my written mistakes.

    The story was posted in annother forum, but it was in german. This is the english version, which was never published before.

    In the year 2016 i decided to make an old dream of mine become true: a three month trip through northern India (Spiti Valley, Ladakh, Zanskarvalley)

    This is the story:


    The journey begun with a 5-hour delay because the plane could not land in Delhi due to a storm. We were diverted to Bombay and back again. By order of the captain, there was no food or drink for this time. (no idea why)


    Well, what a start. Rain. Me, out of the airport building and to the taxi and the lights go out. Power failure! Of course, I am intercepted by some people who want my prepaid taxi coupon. I become skeptical as they lead me to their mini car. The car does not have the right color as much as I can see in the dark. So I rip him the note out of their hands and try my luck elsewhere and ultimately it works with the taxi.

    The hotelroom is totally ok and there is a roof terrace. I am dog tired from the flight.I ate something quickly and then fell asleep immediately.

    Some shops still exist after 20 years.


    It was a good first day. The weather was mixed, but nice light. I found many nice alleys, unfortunately it was just raining there.

    It is still very "Indian", some things have changed: more traffic, but I do not think it is that bad and people more often have closed shoes on as my last visit

    Even though it has been 16 years since I was in India, despite cell phone and other technical achievements, it is still a world of its own.

    There are far fewer children begging than in recent years.

    The insults of the people who wants to rip you off are no better than before. They play more with fear than before "Do not go there, it's dangerous !!!" and we are talking about a bridge underpass 10 meters long. (Ok, the old man who shit on a sack was strange, but not threatening)

    On the other hand there is a bigger danger from the bar where I am sitting, because my eardrum threatens to burst causing by the loud live music. I still like it here. Oh, and they have damn good chicken tikka.

    The search for the right motorcycle:

    Today i went on luck to Karol Bag (a neighborhood in Dehli that is all about cars and motorcycles: vehicles, spare parts, workshops all in one pile) to search for an Enfield:

    At first I did not find any shops that were approachable and so i just walked arround

    Then I came across Jogamotors. They were nice and their offers sounded very fair. I was allowed to try the bikes. With the Enfields, a lot has changed !! Electric starter, injection or something like that, the gears flutter like clockwork. And under the motorcycles it was dry. No trace of oil. Everything has always worked. Good horns. Good tires. Working front brake (disc) A fair price. The 350 would cost cost around 500 US for two months. The 500 so around the 700 US. Also fair. The 500 is doing better, although the 350er is already doing well. It is not really necessary. Although, I always wanted to drive a 500cc. I'm allowed to test properly tomorrow, even try it for 2 days for free. I would get a spare parts package and I can also choose the carriersystem. Somehow almost too perfect. However, I do not know what the bail looks like.

    There are far fewer women on the streets than in other Asian countries. Much less. Almost all the selling, the cleaning(rather bad than right when I think of my hotel room), repairing is made by men , .... Except for ironing, that's pretty much done by women with coal irons.

    Behind my hotel begins another world. Very fascinating. Small streets, a lot of dirt, a poor area, I think. There is much more happening on the streets than usual. Like a little journey through time. As well as next to the Main Bazaar, but quaint, one may say: "wilder"? In the sense of orderly chaos ... somehow ... Hard to put into words.


    Today I have decided on a motorcycle. I have now thought about that the night . 500cc or 350cc. And today i made a test drive with both of them. Actually the 350ccm model is enough. And it is cheaper, too.
    Hmm...Maybe I'm already in the Mitlifecrises. The 500 is just more fun. More power and much more torque. Every time I turned on the gas tap, I had to grin. That gives a big punch, that makes sense. The grin has triumphed and the common sense had to cry in the cellar. :)) Finally, I pay around 10 € per day and actually I have rarely come so cheap when i was renting a motorcycle. The price for the rent is so low because i rent it for such a long time.

    And hey, the bike has not only an electric starter and a disc brake, no, the thing has indeed built in a USB charger! So I can charge my battery or whatever while driving. The front brake and the rear brake actually work, I'm blown away. Quite unlike my 350ccm Bj: 1964 which i rode 16 years ago from india to my hometown Vienna/Austria

    I am increasingly fascinated by Delhi. There are corners where time has somehow stopped. Hope the photos can reflect that.

    Religion is not nearly as noticeable and visible in Delhi as it was 16 years ago. Hardly anyone wears a bindi on the forehead.

    02.06.2016 Test drive:


    Well, the motorcycle went very well.. And that, although it was unbelievably hot and certainly a good 2 1/2 at hour stop and go traffic in the city. It had about 44 degrees celsius

    The engine always startet well. The suspension is also good and i had a lot of fun. It is really loud. It has an aftermarket exhaust, which you can here from miles away., It's just fun to turn the throttle and accelerate to 80 km/h and drive the other vehicles behind. Wrrruuummmm!

    Driving through Dehli is simply not fun. You just do not get on. I do not find it particularly dangerous (or more dangerous than in other major Asian cities) even though I do not understand the meaning of Indian driving:

    The constant honking, which has nothing to do with attracting attention, but simply a signal that you want to continue, although it is clear that the vehicles can not dissolve in front of you in the air. Everyone drives into the intersection until everyone gets in each other's way, then they chuckle.
    I have experienced something like that r only in Iran so far.
    Policemen trying to put order into chaos are studiously ignored.
    So everyone blocks each other's way and it goes even slower than it should actually.

    Somehow everyone is doing his own thing. A boy rides his bicycle against a vegetable stall, so that everything is shaking. The boy just goes on without apologizing and the greengrocer does not care at all.

    The man in the bar, who sat down to my table in the evening is a nice one. I'll give him a toast, he gives a toast. He gives me some of his beer, which I initially refuse, but he insists and I do not want to be rude. Also from his food (Chillie Chicken, damn good) I get something.He actually comes from Hyderabad and then there's this Australia / Austria misunderstanding and he has a friend in Australia. Then it gets a little strange. He really wants my WhatsApp name or my phone number. Then he wants to drink a beer with me, but I stay tough. Enough for tonight. Then he also tries to feed me as if I were a small child, which I also reject. The waiters step in. Everything remains fortunately friendly and polite. My beer is empty anyway. So I pay and leave the bar.


    I just wanted to have mounted the promised luggage rack! It took over 4 hours because they could not find one that fits. They threw everyone in the camp in a pile and could not tell apart which rack fits on which model. All other errands were suddenly a bit complicated. The tank bag, the canister; I needed a lot of patience this afternoon. Meanwhile, I wanted to do so much. And this heat in Delhi! The first days were not so bad because of the previous storm. But now it's bad, very much.

    Slowly it's time to leave Delhi ...

    P.S. .:

    How to get a prepaid SIM card:

    Go to an appropriate shop and first of all do the necessary formalities: a passport, a passport photo, and the address of a hotel (which is actually checked.) Then you pay 200 Rupees and wait 24 hours. Then you have to dial any number to activate the phone. But it is not charged yet. And you can not just buy credit via prepaid card. You have to go back to the shop. There, the shopkeeper calls, once more. He, then transmits my phone number and then, with time, i will get the SMS on my mobile phone. Now, i have to restart my cellphone twice and hurray...i am ready :)

    one of my favorite dishes; masala dosa

    a bakery in Delhi

    My bike for three month: Royal Enfield 500ccm, 27HP


    street impressions



    Saso, Balanda, 9Realms and 3 others like this.
  2. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

    Sep 27, 2015
    Tucson, Arizona
    I'm in. Great video.
  3. worldmotoadventure

    worldmotoadventure n00b

    Dec 11, 2018
    Gold Coast, Australia
    Awesome. In!
  4. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

    Jul 23, 2010
    Central Minn.
    Welcome, Peter.
    Another Fuji shooter, yes :clap
  5. petersjourney

    petersjourney n00b

    Mar 26, 2019
    Cro59, worldmotoadventure: Thank you very much :)

    9Realms: Yep, i like the Fuji Cameras very much. Especially when i am travelling. The cameras are light and compact and reliable. I really love the colors. There will be coming a lot more pictures ;)

    Balanda and 9Realms like this.
  6. petersjourney

    petersjourney n00b

    Mar 26, 2019
    06.07.2016: Mussori

    Haridwar was a strange place and the journey was a very dusty affair. The orientation at the start was not so easy. The streets are not properly marked and the signs are often only in Hindi and there are not many town signs. Good to have Google Maps. Glad i got an indian SIM card in Delhi. Then i got a puncher in the front tire. Luckily already in Haridwar itself, I could quickly find somebody to fix it. 60 Rs (80 cents) btw. The hotel was okay; It was not easy to find a reasonably priced one.

    But it's unbelievably nice to cruise around on Indian roads after 16 years. Love it ... :)


    In Hinduism, it is is one of the seven holy cities that should be visited as a Hindu. It is located on the Ganges, the holiest river in India.

    Haridwar crushed me in the beginning. I wanted to get out of Dehli to have a little more peace, but for that this pilgrimage town was the wrong place. Small streets crammed with vehicles and people. Permanent horn and permanent jostling. The first evening walk was not relaxing at all.
    The next day was better. During the day it was not so much going on as in the evening. Above all, less traffic. I could enjoy the activity again. I used a downpour for a shave. (30Rs / 40 Cent) It was fun watching the people of the Ganges doing their activities, who had more in common with having fun on a beach with their families than with religious rituals and it was nice to see their joy. Poverty was visible in every corner. Many beggars as always at Holy Places (in sacred places it is compulsory for pilgrims to give alms) They also want to be at least once in their life at this place of pilgrimage.
    The trip to the temple to the mountain was also nice. I did not go to the temmple itself I was not, there were just too many people. By the way, there is also a cable car up the mountain. Without apparent security system. Pull the rope down all tumble down. I prefered to walk up and down.

    In the evening there was the daily religious main event: The Ghats on the Ganges are full of people. Together prayers are held during sunset. Small boats made of dried leaves, decorated with flowers and a flame are sent down the river. I went to a bridge early to get a good view and a good photography spot. But it didn´t work out like that. They just pushed and pushed and it just did not stop. Young and old people pushed me against the railing in the same intensity for several minutes. Women, men and children literally glued on me. I could barely reach my pockets or take the cameras out of my pocket. I lifted a leg to relieve it, and had to fight, to get enough space to put it down again. A permanent fight for every millimeter. There was also no attempt to communicate ala: "Hey, you're taller than all of us, let at least the children over." Whereby I had two before me. Communication is often only within the family. All others are ignored. Sometimes it feels like the families live in their own bubble.

    It is not the first time that I am in India; All in all, I have spent 10 months in this fascinating country, but this intensity of people surprised me once more. It seems like i will need more time, to get used to those habbits again.

    It's like when they drive a car: It is a fierce fight for every inch. What really surprises me is, that it does not end in violence more often. I wonder what that means for the future of this society. After two nights it was time to continue ...


    The journey is the destination.

    Yes ..... Eh ...... unless it rains. And it rained. Fortunately, it stopped, as the nice, though busy mountainroad to Mussori started. It was fine and with the motorcycle it was a lot of fun. I really like the punch at low revs. Many curves, great views, good asphalt.

    Mussori is a so-called hill resort for wealthy Indians who want to escape the great heat in front of the Monsoon. Since Mussori is Delhi's closest hill resort, it is also popular and expensive. It lies at 2000 meters.

    The chosen, reasonably affordable hotel iwas closed and by chance I met Toshi, an Indian tour guide, who has lodged me at the Sein Hotel (Domas Inn) for a special price. Still expensive but it's peak season in Mussori, prices have risen 3 times for basic rooms. For one night I can afford Toshi's offer (2000 Rs, normally 3800)

    Oh, this Indian bureaucracy. What a mess! Everything is super complicated. I'm annoyed:

    In Ladakh, you can not make excursions off of the main route with rented vehicles that are not rented in Leh (capital of Ladakh); that was enforced by the local taxi company last year. For the Rothang Laa Pass, which you have to pass if you come from Manali and want to continue to Ladakh, you need an online permit.
    Unless you come across the Spiti Valley (this saves me this pass), For the Spiti Valley you need another permit and you must be at least a group of two. And then the rumor that you get really in trouble with vehicles hired by car from Delhi in Manali, because you should rent in Manali. And the rumor of slashed tires, etc. The Internet is full of it. Most worried me the video in which tourists in a rental car of Manali come in an ambush of taxi guards and they hit with big stones the windows of the car. The local police does not mind.
    Supposedly they leave solo travelers alone, but you can not count on it.

    The alternative route via Chakrata towards Shimla does not work either. Because there you also need a permit that you hardly get as a foreigner, because there is a military practice area. So far, not much works. :(

    Today, I also had my firs accident at an intersection. Nothing, no reaction, but a consistent looking away from the driver. Fortunately, nothing happened to my bike. My steel luggage rack damaged a turn signal on his car, but the driver did not care at all.

    Toshi, the guide has also made me aware of the whole mess with rented vehicle in Ladakh, when they are not rented in Ladakh. I did not know anything about it until yesterday and my 2015 guidebook did not mention it at all. Actually, I thought that it was a marketing gag of him, because he also arranges motorcycle tours and has suggestedt, to ride in a group with him around this aera. But the internet speaks a clear message. It will not be easy.

    After two beer and a little bit of writing down all the frustrations, I'm feeling a bit more optimistic again. I stick to the original plan: Spiti Valley and then to Ladakh. Manali does not interesset me . I would have liked to take the notorious Rothang Laa Pass, but it does not have to be.

    08.06.2016: Nahan

    Finally: a good day !!!!! A woke up with a hangover. But: finally a quiet night. No honking, no traffic, only dogs barking, rats on the roof and the muezzin at 4 o'clock in the morning. Today i drove a very nice route. Finally, less traffic, finally friendly people and beautiful scenery. Finally i took a small road, even if it was a detour of 3 hours. It really paid off. The weather has also lasted.

    Nahan is also good for a surprise: It's very nice. Friendly people and small streets which are too narrow for driving. Relaxed atmosphere, with old shops dipped photogenic in different colors. It's just fun to walk through the alleyways. I wonder if that also has to do with the fact that a large Sikh community is shaping the life of the city.

    orientation is not always easy :)

    luckliy i found someone to repair my puncher

    usually they do not remove the wheel for doing so.

    one of my favorite dishes in India: Thali. Really love it!






    finally a nice road to ride: between Mussori and Dakpatthar on the way to Nahan
    Balanda likes this.
  7. petersjourney

    petersjourney n00b

    Mar 26, 2019
    one of those noisemachines :)


    a weapon smith



    the route so far:

    Neu Delhi  Delhi  Indien nach Nahan   Google Maps.jpg
    kiwial, IndiBiker, Saso and 3 others like this.
  8. Balanda

    Balanda Been here awhile

    Mar 30, 2013
    In !! Always great to read a ride report from the sub-continent.