One girl, one XT250, many kilometers from Australia to The Netherlands, Chick on the Chook Chaser

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Chick on the Chook, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. juno

    juno Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2,077
    Location:
    Jupiter
    Brilliant updates!! I have not read of anyone passing through those areas so it was a great treat!
    #61
  2. Ruud109

    Ruud109 Dutch in Barcelona

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    380
    Location:
    Barcelona, Spain
    awesome story and pics! Thanks for sharing again
    #62
  3. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    356
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    Some of the best entertainment. Thanks for the update. Always here waiting on another part of your adventure.
    #63
  4. motopoet

    motopoet The Moto Poet

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    228
    Location:
    New York
    Been following along, what a trip!

    Any plans on hitting the new world, say rida Canada to Tierra del Fuego, I'm sure it's been through your mind so I figured why not plant a little extra seed in there...


    Oh and by the way, how is your set up working out? Anything you regret not bringing? Or something you are glad you brought? What would you do different to the little mighty Yamaha? Or abo6uth your gear?

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing, ride on!

    P.S. congrats on the 55555

    @motopoet - instagram
    www.themotopoet.wordpress.com
    #64
    24moskito likes this.
  5. Simon Visser

    Simon Visser Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2015
    Oddometer:
    251
    Location:
    Perth Australia
    I met this beautiful girl on my RTW.
    I would marry her today if she would have me.
    What a woman!
    #65
  6. TheNetworker

    TheNetworker Been here awhile Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    273
    Location:
    Germany, Lower Saxony
    Thank you for the report. Pictures and text allow us to virtually with you on the trip.

    It's part of my daily wakup procedure to read the news you provide and wait for warmed and dryer weather to ride here too.
    #66
    Chick on the Chook likes this.
  7. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    As promised some more photos:

    From the trip through Myanmar:
    https://www.facebook.com/chickonthechookchaser/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1685693374988758

    And the first weeks through India:
    https://www.facebook.com/chickonthechookchaser/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1685714461653316
    Special thanks to Amsterdam to Anywhere ( https://www.facebook.com/amsterdam.toanywhere) for sharing both the experiences and images.

    Want to stay up to date? Like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chickonthechookchaser/

    PS. Please let me know in case the links don't work...
    #67
    10ecjed likes this.
  8. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Hey thanks for your support!
    Hitting the new world... Yes, thought about it, put it on the list, will make some proper plans after this year :)

    The set up is a constant point of improvement. I think I'm nearly there now. Modified the rack to bring the panniers (and thus the weight) more forward. Made a massive difference in the handling, particularly off the tarmac. Still looking to get a proper toolbox/toolroll mounted under the frame at the front of the bike, again with regards to weight distribution. The only real issue I've had with the little XT is the rear shock, the standard one doesn't deal with constant weight on it. Result, it sags massively when you want to park it while the load is on. Changing to a heavier spring ( a $10 job in Indonesia) solved most of the issue.
    Apart from that I should put my luggage on a bit of a diet... sure there are some things I could get rid off... The one thing I'd advise everyone to take is an e-reader. Being able to read the books I want to read has changed this trip massively. A while a go I saw a sign somewhere: The only difference between now and a year from now is the people you meet and the books you read. Couldn't agree more!

    Happy riding to all, and if you have any more questions don't be shy to send them, my facebook page is the easiest way of contact :)
    https://www.facebook.com/chickonthechookchaser/
    #68
    10ecjed and Mr.JAJA like this.
  9. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    April 13 2016

    Today we left Tawang. At 5 AM we had to get up to shift our bikes out from the office they were stored, which gave us a good reason for an incredibly early start. It was a beautiful day. Clear, blue skies ensured amazing views while riding back on the same road we came. Since Tawang is the north western end of Arunachal Pradesh, with the Chinese and Bhutan borders practically at walking distance, we could only backtrack the way we came. The road was so beautiful I wouldn’t have want to go anywhere else anyways! It was a complete photo fest, we all stopped nearly at every corner to capture the unique scenery of lush green and later bare but snow-capped mountains. Right at the top, the Sela Pass we met two German girls cycling all the way, what an amazing effort! They also told us that Juha, the Finnish biker we met last week, just rode past. Down the mountain we went on mainly gravel roads, still enjoying the scenery, the shrines and the flags. We reached Dirang around 4 o’clock and spotted a familiar 400CC Honda parked in front of the restaurant we planned to stop for food. Inside we found Juha, sipping some Indian milk tea. We busied ourselves with a meal of chapatti, dahl, and fried goods before heading to a lovely guesthouse. The place had a big courtyard where we worked on the bikes for a while. Juha had worn his brake pads to the metal (like I’d done last week). Peter’s immediate response was: “You should share a room together!”. Which, for budget reasons we were doing anyways. After the best hot shower in a week we went back to the restaurant for round two. We wondered how we could have missed each other in a town as small as Tawang, until Juha confessed that he had taken an off road track and got stuck in the snowstorm on top of the mountain, the same night we arrived in Tawang. Tough guys, the Finnish! Just as we’d finished dinner and were queing to pay the ground started to shake, immediately everyone ran out of the tiny wooden building. We later learned that the small earthquake we experienced was likely connected to the one that hit Myanmar that same night.

    DSCF5632.jpg

    April 14 2016

    The morning started with a lengthy conversation about where we’d be going that day. We heard there was a road along the border with Bhutan. But none of our maps showed this road properly. Also, Sange, the tour operator who’d arranged our permits, lived somewhere down that very road, and had invited us to visit his village. So in the end we decided to just go for it and ask along the way whether it was ok to keep going. It was the best decision we could have made. First of all the road was great, no traffic, minimal amount of cows and goats, windy and sometimes gravel, and if possible, even better views then the last days. At lunch time we reached Sange’s village. Confronted with a total lack of cell phone reception, we managed to find him the old fashioned way. We sat down in the only restaurant-ish place ordered lunch, asked the lady if she knew him and waited. After 10 minutes Sange’s brother in law appeared, who then told us he’d go get the man in question, and another 20 minutes later the bop-bop-bop-bop noise of a Royal Enfield signalled the arrival of our host for the night. He took us on a little tour to see the valley and the local monastery. Then we had drinks at his place. Not much later his older brother walked in, who worked at the ministry of electricity. As it appeared the minister of power and electricity was visiting the town, and he joined us not much later. We were all challenged to keep our composure in front of this very important man, after half a liter of 8% beer, and to worsen the situation, were urged to drink red wine now too. The minister was a nice and composed man, who was very curious about all our adventures. Crazy how things go some times, we must have been the entertainment of the week! After this official visit Sange took us to his sister’s place. She had prepared dinner and there was warm, home brewed rice wine. What an incredibly warm welcome from people we’d never met before! Rather intoxicated we all made it to bed that night.

    April 15 2016

    In the morning we visited the ruins of a monastery mad out of mudbricks. Leonie, Peter and Juha packed their bikes to move on. Before they left the lady of the house performed a ceremony for a safe journey. Incense was burned, they received a scarf and all had to take three sips of the, by now well known, rice wine. It was hard saying goodbye to my travelling buddies of three weeks. But they had to keep riding. I stayed behind, and went with the family to visit traditional death ceremony. After one of the villagers dies there are a number of ceremonies throughout the first year after their death. Most of the people of the village get together at the monastery. There are prayers and everyone drinks tea and has lunch together. The older family members of the diseased are dressed in traditional clothing and sit in the monastery while the younger generations serve the tea and food. I felt privileged to be part of such a traditional and intimate gathering. Later we went for a drive along the astonishingly beautiful valley and went back to Sange’s sister for dinner.

    DSCF5667.jpg

    April 16 2016

    I was planning to leave today but heavy clouds gathered over the valley and by the time we had breakfast rain was pouring down. When by 10 o’clock the rain hadn’t stopped my host convinced me to stay. Today would become a true learning experience in cooking traditional food and alcohol. We started with the rice wine. To make this you first have to cook a lot of rice. Which is done on the wood stove in a massive pot. This rice is then strained, steamed, taken out of the pot, dried, and sprinkled with local yeast. This then goes back into the pot, is covered with cloth for a few days, until it is put into a vat with water to ferment for some months. The fermented stuff is then taken out and distilled using big an aluminium pot, another aluminium pot with cold water on top of it to condensate the alcohol vapour on, which falls on a dish with a pipe leading into a container. Alcohol making 1-0-1. Now it sounds very simple, but it’s not quite that easy. Having the right ingredients and a ton of experience is needed to actually get it right. So please don’t try this at home and blame my “recipe” if things go wrong ;) After playing brewery we visited some more family members, drank more tea, and I listened fascinated how they had political discussions in their local language. At night I learned how to make traditional dumplings, called momos, and were an absolute feast.

    April 17 2016

    Back on the bike today. In the few days I became quite close with the family and saying goodbye was even a little emotional. With a blessed scarf around my neck and my head full of great memories I rode off. The last kilometres of Arunachal Pradesh were as they should be. Stunning views, windy roads, Buddhist flags and a few military checkpoints. The bike reached the celebrated age of 55555 km as I started to descent of the last mountain. A full day of riding led into Guwahati. It was a big change to be in an actual city again. The hand-drawn map Sange gave me to find the guesthouse was pretty good… I made it to the right street, but once there no one seemed to know where it was. In the rain and the dark in an Indian city trying to use my phone to navigate to a place unknown to google maps… Doesn’t work! In the end a helpful man called the guesthouse and the host came out to pick me up. The bike was parked on the balcony with a view of the Brahmaputra river. Only to get there I had to take it down 6 steps of stairs. Going down was fine, stopping however a totally different thing. Since the marble floor was wet the front wheel blocked, the fully loaded bike slid two meters before it came to a stop only centimetres from my host’s legs. Oops! After all this the hot shower and a comfy bed were well appreciated.

    DSCF5688.jpg

    April 18 and 19 2016

    It was time for a little off time. Write about the adventures of the past weeks and enjoy the availability of internet. The only tourist obligation I imposed on myself was a trip to the market. I went to the market to get some fruit. They however seemed to sell everything but that! From 3 sorts of cucumbers to a lengthy assortment of chillies to life chickens, but not the bananas I’d been craving… A while ago I got in touch with a group of female Indian bikers. The good news reached me that some of them lived in Guwahati. So we arranged a meet up. We had some great food and they introduced me to the very sweet local sweets. Talking bikes is an international language and as women bikers we felt even more connected. It was great meeting you all!

    DSCF5770.jpg

    April 20 2016

    Today I met with two other female bikers from Guwahati. We went for a short ride, had lunch and then had tea at one of their houses. Her two little girls ran around being absolutely adorable. I’d mentioned that the food here in India is the most amazing I’ve come across on this journey. Unbelievably, not even two hours later, Jilmil, one of the bikers and me were in the middle of an extended home cooking class. All the yummy stuff we prepared. Pulao, dahl, paneer, kofta, some salad and all with amazing spices and sauces. A big thanks goes out to Jilmil for taking me here and Mitali for arranging the class at such short notice. We left close to midnight, our bellies filled with food, minds filled with new recipes and more great memories to cherish for a long time to come.

    For more pictures and daily updates check out and like the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chickonthechookchaser/
    #69
  10. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Now because some of you must be super curious what a wood-fired home distillery looks like... So here are a few pictures :)

    DSCF5724 (960x1280) (480x640).jpg

    DSCF5727 (960x1280) (480x640).jpg

    DSCF5728 (960x1280) (480x640).jpg
    #70
  11. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    356
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    That was cool.
    #71
    Chick on the Chook likes this.
  12. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    This week was more about the people then the rides. Living a life of constant travelling, you meet so many great and inspiring people!

    April 21 2016

    Somehow a biker working for a tv channel got news that there was a foreign girl riding through Guwahati. This is how today I found myself interviewed for the local news! I met the reporter at a school where another female rider would have a presentation. After my interview Sana arrived. A brave and extremely inspiring girl riding a Royal Enfield Bullet to every state in India to raise awareness against suicide and depression. She conducts sessions at high schools and universities to interact with students and help them with any emotional struggles they are facing. The Principle of the school, a biker himself, made sure that both us were taken care of extremely well. So a bit later we found ourselves, two late twenties long distance motorbike riding girls, having lunch together in the school kitchen. It took two minutes of talking to figure out we understood each other without saying a word. From common problems we face as women on bikes to the way we think about life. We just clicked. Later we went on a ride to see a temple and had to hide under a small overhang of a shop as the rain came plummeting down. We talked for at least half an hour. These simple and seemingly uninteresting moments become some of the best memories. Back at the Principle’s house he had gathered some of his biking friends for an evening of bike love and story sharing. What an unexpected day.

    April 22 2016

    In the morning I went back to the school. Sana would conduct a session and I was super curious what it was like. To good Indian tradition we first received an extended breakfast. Hereafter we roamed around the school a bit. Checking out the labs and library. Really quite an impressive collection of books they have, especially considering this is a high school. Hereafter Sana started her session. She touched many topics the students faced. Her approach was similar across all, a positive, forward moving way of thinking. Encouraging communication but mainly focussing on becoming a better person yourself instead of taking emotions out on others. She did such an amazing job. At the end of the session she asked me to add a little. I shared with the students that you can do much more than you think you can and told them the story of riding up a mountain in the dark and fog (http://www.pinkpangea.com/2016/03/a-climb-to-remember-kawa-ijen-indonesia/ ). It felt powerful to be there and share my life changing stories with these curious and information hungry kids. After the session the students had so many questions! What an experience to be part off! Then we met with some other bikers and both of us girls had our bikes fixed. For me it was the usual, the rack needed some upgrades, hopefully the last now.

    DSCF5938.jpg

    April 23 2016

    Saturday morning was a sleep in. Yesterday night my mum and I had a long call to catch up and with the time difference I didn’t went to sleep until three or so. The perks of travelling and time differences. However, at 9 AM the guesthouse owner was knocking on my door in a manner that resembled a sledge hammer. When I opened the door in my pyjama she looked confused and a little guilty. “I disturb you?” “Mam, you ok, you always up early, now late, I am worry!” Upon seeing her face I couldn’t be mad at her for violently pulling me from my dreams. People here just want to look after you too well. Also the concept of personal space is totally alien, which is understandable with three or four generations living under the same roof. In the afternoon I met up with Sana and a friend of hers. We had a great lunch before starting our ride together to Shillong. About 20 kilometers away from our destination we saw the biggest thunderstorm ahead of us we’d ever witnessed. The sky was lit up by multiple lightning flashes at once. It was a beautiful natural spectacle to watch. Luckily it was a dry lightning storm so we reached our destination without any rain. We shared a room in the youth hostel and had a small pyjama & pizza party

    DSCF5984.jpg

    April 24 2016

    Tourist day. We jumped on the bikes to visit Cherapunji and the living root bridges. On the way we rode through amazing valleys. We saw over twenty waterfalls, dropping down many, many meters all the way from the top of the mountains. After a simple local lunch we descended with the bikes to the start of the path leading to the root bridges. Leaving the bikes behind we made our way down what seemed like an endless amount of stairs. But the reward was so worth it. These bridges are constructed solely from the living roots of the trees surrounding the river. A real display of skill and knowledge. There was one long bridge, and further along there was even a double decker bridge, two bridges just above each other. The whole thing looked like a scene from Lord of the Rings. Wow! The walk back up was a serious test of the system. Sana went back earlier and now I had just over an hour to cover about 3 kilometres of stairs, only up, before it would start getting dark. Miraculously The top was reached in 55 minutes, puffing and sweating like an animal in this 100% humidity climate. The first few minutes on the bike were pure bliss. Cool down was instant riding around with sweat soaked t-shirts and pants. However the ride back to Shillong became one and a half hours of really really cold riding, due to the same sweat soaked situation. Arriving in Shillong we found a place to eat where we both held our soup bowls to warm our hands.

    DSCF6007.jpg

    April 25 2016

    Unlike in many other cities Sana didn’t have any sessions pre-planned here. So we went to some schools to see what could be arranged in one day. In the first College the students weren’t there, it was study week. The next college the principle was absent, so no choices could be made. It was running close to midday by now, drastically limiting the window of time to arrange it all. Then I spotted a youth centre. Why not try to have session there. We went into the Christian centre and were welcomed by Father George. A nice man who ran the centre, he also had a master in psychology and was very involved in topics like depression in youth. What an unlikely coincidence. He assured to arrange a session, 4 to 5 pm. In the afternoon we exchanged photos and videos before heading back to the centre. The gamble move of going to the youth centre for a session resulted in an audience of about 300 students! Sana did her thing and again invited me to share some of my experiences. This time the response after the session wasn’t as overwhelming, but some very real issues did come up and could be addressed. After tea with Father George and meeting the founder of this impressive youth centre, we headed to the market for fruit and vegetables. The night was spend in our room with a healthy salad and mango dinner and a good dose of girl talk.

    April 26 & 27 2016

    Sana left early Tuesday morning. Not often do we meet people that we instantly click with, and then have to say goodbye to after a few days. With a hug and the promise that we will meet again in the future she rode off. For me these days were for “work”. Writing, putting presentations together, updating the blog, and sorting through pictures. These days are necessary to deal with all the impressions and challenging things you come across on a trip like this. Giving all the crazy memories a place, and recharge to make more!

    DSCF6052.jpg

    April 28 2016

    Finishing and sending some articles in the morning I packed and set of around noon. The destination was Mawlynnong, Asia’s cleanest village. The road climbed up, first exposing the massive cliffs before it reached into the clouds. Driving here was a challenge, slowly, with visibility around 20 metres, I made my way through the fog. Once out of the clouds, it was clearly visible how majestic these mountains were. A turn off led to a viewpoint, a bamboo platform build in a tree, over a 150 meter cliff offered a fantastic panorama: a valley with 3 waterfalls and a river flowing onto the plains. Right at the river mouth was also the border with Bangladesh, I was looking straight across one of the few border I would see but not cross on this trip. When I arrived back at the bike some local men invited me to have tea with them. They smoked from traditional pipes and a hooka made from a coconut. Talking to the men about Europe and Dutch soccer celebrities while they were bellowing smoke and with their teeth red from the betelnut, is one of those authentique experiences. Now it was time to indulge in some un-Asian cleanliness. True to form I was sceptical, was it really possible, a clean village in Asia? But with bins all over the place and a sign threatening the people that they would get fined for littering, this village was spotless. The economy of the little town flourishes due to the numbers of tourist this cleanliness managed to attract. Once checked into the guesthouse the girls invited me to join them to the river. We all brought our laundry, and so it happened that this was the first time I’m washing my underwear in the river.

    To follow Sana's trip, and the great work she is doing, have a look at her page: https://www.facebook.com/suicidenoboner/
    #72
  13. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Apologies for the late updates! It seems that the best places to ride bikes are the worst places to get internet ;)

    April 29 2016


    Last night there was a big thunderstorm with lots of rain. Luckily I was dry and warm in the guesthouse is Mawlynnong... In the morning it cleared completely. I followed the raod along the Bangladesh border. From the mountain seeing the plains, down there was Bangladesh. On the Indian side the rain from last night came down in the form of many many waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. I reached Dawki and went to see the border post. Decided to ride back to Guwahati. Today the weather was much better then when coming down yesterday. So where yesterday the mountains were surrounded by thick clouds now there was only thin fog, which allowed the tops of these majestic rock formations to peak through the wispy white clouds. On the way back to Guwahati, I stopped at a petrol station, with my helmet still on walked to the ladies toilet. But the toilet is locked and man points at building at the back. I start walking towards him to get a key but he points again at the next building, turns around and walks away. Well it looks like I’ll have to go to the back building. As I turn the corner there are 4 men in only their underwear, washing themselves under the taps in front of the toilets. They all stare at me while I make my way into the toilet, still wearing my helmet. When I’m finished in the little room, I feel seriously awkward facing this half naked audience again. So in the hopes they don’t realise I’m not a man I put the helmet back on, go out, and walk straight to the corner, not looking at any of them. Then while I’m setting the GPS the petrol station guy, who clearly send me to the men’s toilet, walked towards me. He stopped 30 cm from my bike and almost put his face in my helmet while demanding: ”Girl or boy?” since there where no obvious signs of pregnancy around my abdominal area I could only assume he was asking which of the two options applied to me. A crowd started forming around the bike. When I said: “Girl”. There was disbelieve and confusion everywhere, as well as a hint of guilt on the face of the man who insisted I would go to the men’s toilet. This night I stayed with Jilmil, a female biker in Guwahati. At her house she dressed me, for the first time in my life, in a Sari and later we went for a real Assamese dinner. Together the petrol station happenings and the night’s experiences made for a very Indian day.

    DSCF6091.jpg

    April 30 2016

    The plan was to reach Siliguri today. But there was no way I could refuse the offer from Manashri, another female biker, to first have some tea at her house. Tea turned into lunch and lunch turned into a tour around the university campus where she works and lives. By now it was far too late to reach Siliguri so the plans were changed. Instead her daughter and me designed a logo for my trip. The picture has been in my head for a while, but to explain it to someone who then has to draw it is a totally different thing. With the help of google, a world map and tracing over images from the laptop we took until midnight to draw the logo. You’ll see the result soon ;)

    May 1 2016

    On the road again, it’s so good to be on the road again… The ride was about 430 kilometers, from Guwahati to Siliguri. The first 100 were big, 2 lanes each way, highways but then, slowly but surely, the amount of roadworks started to increase while the amount of lanes decreased. In the cities the highway usually lead straight though the main market. Here a forlorn traffic officer tried to whistle some order into the chaos, while everyone tried to go everywhere at the same time. In one place the market actually extended onto the half-finished highway bridge, as traffic was diverted onto a mud track into the mainly dry river bed. All while the iconic cows were lazing in the middle of the situation, forcing trucks to veer off the track which in turn forced the merchants to rescue their displayed veggies from being squashed. For those of you who have never been to India, this is not chaos, this is normal. I arrived in Siliguri and was welcomed by a fellow biker. We’d been in touch through facebook since the start of my journey. Santanu had arranged a good place to stay and we exchanged travel experiences over tea and dinner.

    DSCF6158.jpg

    May 2 2016

    Time to get the bike checked out. The excessive backfiring in the mountains, along with stalling while cold and pulling in the clutch, made that it was time to get my ride examined. Having contacts here makes life so much easier. A reliable, English speaking, mechanic showed up at the hotel in the morning and I followed him to his workshop. They diagnosed the injector needed to be cleaned and felt something was off with the clutch. It appeared that my clutch plates were pretty much gone. Oops! Unfortunately there were no replacements in town. The plates were put back in and the idling speed was increased massively to take some strain of the clutch, especially in the city. Last job was to replace the oil seal in the fork. It was a long day of looking, giving slight instructions but mainly learning from these mechanics and waiting. At the end of the day, with the bike back together I met Santanu and one of the few female riders in Siliguri. Meeting girls on bikes is so much fun, there is always this instant connection!

    DSCF6102.jpg

    May 3 2016


    It was time to head to the famous Darjeeling. Leaving the city behind I soon found myself surrounded by hills and tea plantations. The views were just stunning. The road was good, for my liking too many trucks and 4x4s carrying tourists, but I guess this actually saved my life… When I stopped for lunch I noticed oil on the front fork. Not good. I removed the rubber fork protection and the oil dripped all over the front brake onto the ground where it formed a puddle… Clearly the seal didn’t do its job and it totally explained why my front brake felt weird in the last few corners, oil from the fork had made its way onto the disk! First tea and samosas, then, with a full stomach and a clear head I could assess the situation. It appeared that the liquid gasket they used because the right size seal wasn’t available, had spilled on the inside of the seal. This left room for the oil to come out… not good. The best option was to carefully make my way back to Siliguri. It went through my head that, somehow, there must be a good reason to be forced to turn around. I arrived back at the mechanics place, many apologies were made and within no time the owner of the shop and his best mechanic were cruising around town, my fork in hand, together on one motorbike, to find a fitting seal. Meanwhile I received a message from Juha, the Finish rider, he was in Siliguri looking for a good mechanic. So, there it was, the universe’s reason to make me turn around. My instructions directed Juha to about 50 meters from the workshop, from where the locals took over by silently pointing him through. It must have been obvious that white foreigners on strange looking, overloaded bikes should all congregate in the same place. Both our bikes were fixed that evening and the mechanic invited us to have dinner and spend the night at his place. That’s some serious customer service. Btw the oil seal fitted in my fork was for a car, this one should really hold :D

    May 4 2016

    Our bellies filled with mum’s breakfast we packed and went on our way to Gangtok, in Sikkim. I decided to change my route slightly to travel together with Juha. The road followed the river up to the border of the state Sikkim. This area borders China, Bhutan and Nepal. Enough reasons there to make you need a special permit. All which can be done at the entrance gate. The smart shop owner around the corner has a copier to make passport and visa copies. Some paperwork, a signature and an actual stamp in our passports later we were on our way again. We rode to Gangtok, the capital, and found a place to stay. The views from the dorm window were breathtaking and there was a hot water shower, such luxury! Then we walked down the hill to the incredibly western-looking, car-free city centre and enjoyed just walking around without being honked at by 4-wheeled machines.

    DSCF6207.jpg

    May 5 2016

    Mission permit. We knew we would need extra permits to travel to the north of Sikkim. This area is basically part of the Himalayas and incredibly beautiful. So we went to the tourist information to figure out how to get the paperwork. They send us to a travel agency, who send us to the Home Department. Here we got told that we could not apply for the permits, a travel agency needed to do that, and with some piece of paper we returned to the travel agency. There the message was that two lots of paperwork were needed, and basically, whatever we would do we were not allowed to travel without a guide and a support vehicle. He then send us to another agency, but their story was the same. Very helpful until you mention you want to travel alone and then it all stops. So that was that, North Sikkim was of the list, as the costs of such glorified babysitting did not match our daily budgets. We decided to head west tomorrow and spend the afternoon visiting the institute of Tibetology. A museum with all sorts of artefacts linked to Tibetan Buddhism. Very interesting and educational. There were prayers written on palm leaves from the 11th century and cups made out of human skull that used to be used in ceremonies. Pretty creepy, but cool!
    #73
  14. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,128
    Location:
    Out There Somewhere
    "These bridges are constructed solely from the living roots of the trees surrounding the river. A real display of skill and knowledge. There was one long bridge, and further along there was even a double decker bridge, two bridges just above each other. The whole thing looked like a scene from Lord of the Rings. Wow!"


    The "root bridges" are perhaps hundreds of years old, created long ago, cared for by generation upon generation of the same family or family member, over time. Each generational caretaker trains the next generational caretaker. Quite phenomenal, actually. It is a living bridge, trees' roots conjoined together from river bank to river bank. The roots are strong enough to withstand the seasonal rise and fall of the river waters.
    SO COOL!

    [​IMG]

    #74
    spokester and 10ecjed like this.
  15. 24moskito

    24moskito Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Oddometer:
    30
    Location:
    Fuckit - Phuket - Thailand
    coooool Chantal,
    its like riding live with you.
    looking forward to the next report.

    I am also a bit curious about prices for on the way hotels and visa, a hot shower now and than can be good after a couple of days in a tent, also if it is easy to get gas everywhere.
    :
    I heard its expensive as you dont let you go alone into some places and always giving you a "guard"
    you have to feed, taking care for his bike incl. gas etc and he will never leave you alone. ;)
    .
    Had no idea you are so far already, ride slowly, Europe is pretty booooring after all this :D
    #75
  16. Peter640

    Peter640 Peter 640

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,152
    Location:
    Sydney
    Love your work!

    Great RR
    #76
  17. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Thanks for the support! Always great to hear people enjoy my adventures :)

    With regards to prices... A bed can be found at prices between 5 and 10 USD. Hot showers... well I'm averaging 1 hot shower for every 3 cold ones. It really helps to share costs with a riding buddy, as I've done a bit over the past month. A "guard" is only needed for Myanmar and China. So far fuel hasn't been an issue. Even in Nepal, where fuel was scares for a long time, things seem to be back on track.

    Don't worry, I'm taking my time, won't be entering Europe before november ;)
    If you have any more questions don't hesitate to find me on facebook! ( https://www.facebook.com/chickonthechookchaser/ )

    Happy Riding,
    Chantal
    #77
    10ecjed and 24moskito like this.
  18. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    May 6 2016

    Because both north and east Sikkim were of limits, west seemed to be the best option. We heard good stories about a little town called Yuksom. So the name was punched into the GPS and off we went. It was a great ride. The scenery of Sikkim provides amazing views. Often there is a turquoise river separating one mountain from the next one and a cool bridge spanning across it. The road was good until the last 20 km. Here nice stretches of tarmac were interspersed with rocky and gravelly bits, but nothing our all-terrain bikes couldn’t cope with. At one point I was looking at the opposite side of the mountain, there had been a massive landslide. I thought: Wow, how would you cross that if you’d have to? About five minutes later I realised our course had taken a 180 degree turn and the “road” led straight through this frozen waterfall of rocks. Another one to add to the list, ride through landslide, tick! We reached Yuksom as the sun set. In the middle of town the monks were doing their rounds through the massive prayer wheels. The spinning of the wheels and the bell sounds they produced felt like a warm welcome to the town.

    May 7 2016

    In the morning we explored the little town. Made our own round through the prayer wheels, watched the local kids play cricket (it’s the national sport in India), and we visited the holy lake. Then in the afternoon we decided to do the short ride to another holy lake. Here we parked the bikes, stored most of our belongings in a little shop and hiked up to a small village overlooking the valley. The homestay was recommended by some fellow travellers and it was an absolute gem. Great views, beautiful people and amazing food! Well worth the hike!

    DSCF6233.jpg

    May 8 2016

    After a filling home-cooked breakfast we descended back to the bikes and set off to Darjeeling. As the crow flies it is only about 50 km, but the twisty road and some rules that force foreigners to exit Sikkim from specific places made it a 150 km ride. Again the views were amazing but a massive thunderstorm mid-afternoon made the riding a little less fun. On top of that the GPS wanted to send us down a non-existing road, while the road we had to take was not on the map. Eventually asking the locals got us to the border post which we reached 20 minutes before it closed. One more hour should take us to Darjeeling. Dusk set in when we set off. The road was curvy and almost deserted. The higher we climbed the colder it got. But then the view of the setting sun, the moon coming out and the lights of Darjeeling on the opposite hill made it all worth it. When we thought we were almost there when we rode straight into an army base (there are many of those around) With a bit of backtracking and some backroads we managed to get to Darjeeling where we were awaited by some friends we met earlier in Yuksom. After dinner we strolled through the town centre, a surprising mix of impressive old English buildings and typically unfinished Indian houses.

    May 9 2016

    Darjeeling is world famous for its tea. So what better to do then visit a tea plantation? One of the plantations is at walking distance from the city. They give you a free tour of the factory, explain everything about the process of tea making and the differences between black, green and white tea (yes there is a thin called white tea). And at the end there is a small tea tasting. A great way to spend the morning. Hereafter I made my way to the other iconic attraction in Darjeeling, the world heritage train and train station. Fully functional steam trains takes tourists for a ride along the old Himalayan railway track.

    DSCF6292.jpg

    May 10 2016

    Time to head back to the city of Siliguri. Tomorrow I would have a presentation about the trip so to organise everything we headed back to town. Following the familiar road, I’d covered this stretch twice last week because of the leaking front fork, we slowly descended. The clouds surrounded us and most of the way we were riding in the rain, only stopping to hide from a massive thunderstorm. When we left the mountains behind and entered the city the rain stopped. We were welcomed by Souvik, the mechanic, who was our host for two more day. And were spoiled amazing food cooked by his mum.

    May 11 2016

    It was a quiet morning, catching up on laundry, email and writing. Then Santanu (front man of Xkmph biker group and organiser of the presentation) and Sangashree (all-round amazing person and female rider) showed up around lunch time. We shared stories about our recent visit to Sikkim and Darjeeling and made plans for the rest of the day. I prepared for the presentation by looking at the slides once more. Then, geared up in freshly washed bike pants, we rode to the venue. Some of the bikers were already waiting at the brand new university. Like the university I visited in Guwahati this was another example of un-indianness: clean, white, manicured lawns and sports fields. Inside the building were large lecture halls and it was a bit unusual to find my face, 10 times life-size, projected on the screen in front of more than 100 chairs. But my teacher instinct kicked in (I taught at university in Australia before) and soon, while the crowd started to fill the room, I felt perfectly at home. The presentation went for about 30 minutes and the questions after this for at least as long. It was incredible to see at least 70 riders curiously watching my slides and listening to my stories. Never had I imagined that my crazy adventures would entertain and inspire so many people. It was great to have Juha (my Finish riding buddy for the last week) and some inspiring Indian bikers there to add to the presentation. Afterwards there was a lot of selfie taking and handshaking. I’m so grateful to Santanu for bringing us all together and giving me the opportunity to share my experiences! Later that night Sangashree had planned a little party. Juha and me were “kidnapped” and transported to a hotel where we joined the after of someone’s grandparents 50th anniversary. Twelve people in a 2 room hotel room, a few bottles of alcohol and loud music. It was a great night, one of those experiences where you go: “Wow how did we get into this!”

    DSCF6306.jpg

    May 12 2016

    With a slight hangover and a profound lack of sleep we arrived back at Souvik’s house in the morning. Luckily a powernap and shower worked miracles, so after lunch we set of to Nepal. An easy ride and rather quickly resolved border formalities and 2 hours later we entered the next country. We kept riding for another 3 hours before reaching Inaruwa. Here we met a 14 year old overlander enthusiast named Genius. He had been urging me to come over to Nepal, sending daily messages since Myanmar. He turned out to be a funny, ambitious kid, aspiring to meet as many overlanders as possible. He already planned his first trip for when he would get his license in 3 years.

    DSCF6312.jpg

    May 13 2016

    An early start and a long ride led to Kathmandu. Rain and sunshine swapped places every hour, rendering rain suits absolutely useless. The inside got as wet from the sweat as the outside from the rain. Nevertheless the drive was really nice with curvy mountain roads and impressive valleys. Upon reaching Kathmandu I decided it would be handy to have a Nepalese sim card. However, the process of obtaining this plastic piece of 21st century convenience proved more complicated than entering the country. A copy of my passport, a copy of my visa, a passport photo and fingerprints were all needed to complete the application. One and a half hours later, dusk setting in steadily, the phone was up and running again. We found our way through the city to Thamel, the tourist area, and managed to navigate all the way to a recommended hotel. Here we met up again with some of the group who I went through Myanmar with. It was good to see each other again and catch up on the stories from India!

    In Nepal I’ll be a real tourist for a while. My parents, who I haven’t seen for 1.5 years, are coming over and together we will explore the beauty of the country for 3 weeks. So it will be a little quiet on the riding site of things… But I will upload some pics, this country is too beautiful to keep those from you!
    #78
  19. * SHAG *

    * SHAG * Unstable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2001
    Oddometer:
    5,336
    Location:
    Bradford, Pa
    :super Awesome trip reporting :wave
    #79
    10ecjed likes this.
  20. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    356
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    Fantastic. I can't wait for more. Have fun.
    #80
    AdvenatureMOTO likes this.