Same, same….. But different.March 6, 2008
There is a few similarities between bicycle and motorcycle travelling.
The most important one, and why I like it so much, is you’re free! You can come and go as you please without restrictions.
Both motorbike and pushbike have a couple of pro’s and cons;
With a motorbike you can…
… Take people with you for a day.
… Go at the same speed as the rest of the traffic so it doesn’t seem too hectic.
… Ride through sand, although it’s not easy.
… Not smell roadkill like you do on bicycle.
… Get rid of people following you easier.
… Go 20 or 30km more if you need too.
… And of course, look super cool
But, with a bicycle you can…
… Push it if something breaks, or fix it yourself.
… Hear the birds singing and see every flower and butterfly.
… Travel 5 times longer ’cause you don’t spend more on petrol and oil then you do on food and accommodation.
… Easily stop to take a picture or have a chat.
… Go anytime, even when there is no petrol.
… Eat as much chocolate as you like without the need to feel guilty.
All together I have to say I prefer to travel by bicycle but go on shorter trips by motorbike.
Good thing that this is exactly what I am doing
India continues to surprise me. Such generosity and friendliness of some people I’ve met. I hadn’t expected.
Prime example Would be the friends and family of Hermant in Mount Abu and Abu Road.
Sanjay, who showed me around and promised to get my mobile fixed that hadn’t worked since I dropped it in Delhi. When it couldn’t be repaired he gave me another one! Sadly that got stolen 3 days later.
He also showed Wouter, a cyclingdutchguy you’ll find on http://www.wprinsen.web-log.nl, and me a temple up a hill where a Gujarat family where on a pilgrimage and invited us into the temple with them to take photo’s. Afterwards they offered us lunch.
Then there is Hermants sister-in-law, who made me many cups of tea and dressed me up in her sari’s. She even gave me one to keep!
The rest of the family who live in Abu Road invited me to stay with them two nights.
I visited the school where Hermants brother works and try to teach the kids there a dutch song (hoofd-schouders-knie-en-teen..) I failed miserably. Lucky I missed my calling to become a teacher.
One of the girls from the family decorated my hands with ‘Mahendra’ a henna-tattoo that woman usually get when there is something to celebrate.
In the evening we had a nice gathering of family and friends singing and dancing along on Bollywood songs.
I shared a room with 22-year old Indu and we spent half the night chatting away ’bout things girls chat about; “Do you have arranged marriages in your country…?” …. ” So, what if you don’t find love?” …..
When I finally managed to drag myself away from Abu I slowly started making my way back north. Via small desert roads, half of which weren’t even on the map at all, where tulbanded men ride camels or invite me for tea. I got to the small village of Khudi, I never planned to go on a camel-safari after I did one 5 years ago in Morocco. Just can’t be bothered bargaining with hassling touts and being stuck in the desert with sleazy camel-men…
But then I arrived at Badal Singhs place, A lovely quiet and honest men that runs a family guesthouse and organises camel-treks for a price you can’t bargain for.
He was very surprised when I showed him the way I came on a map. “That road is illegal for tourist!, to close to Pakistan border..”
So there I found myself on a camel. In a desert together with Marc from France who happened to know a lot about stars, and you can REALLY see many stars when you sleep out there in the open, I even saw the Milkyway!
And there was a lovely Italian couple who only stayed with us one night.
And of course Vikram, our saviour in times of trouble..
I rode a 9-year old male camel named Saha. He was more interested in the female camels then listening to me. He showed it by gurgling up and bubbling his insides out of his mouth while making a disgusting sound, all to impress the girls. One morning Saha started running and wouldn’t stop, I almost thought this was gonna be the horse episode all over again but luckily I managed to stay on this time. But men it’s a bumpy ride!
It’s nice that, unlike Morocco where all the camels were tied together and follow a guy walking up front, here you are free on your own camel or choose to have a driver sitting behind you. I didn’t, but borrowed Marcs after Saha decided he wasn’t gonna listen to me.
You can’t beat the scenery of the Sahara-dunes. But the whole relaxing atmosphere, cooking your own meal and being in good company made this trek much nicer. I wish I could’ve stayed longer.
Even talked about swapping my motorbike against two camels… But will have to leave that for next time…
It’s more and more fun riding as I’m getting used to the traffic here.
One particular surprising experience is crossing a railway.
When the crossing arms are closed, usually about half an hour before the train actually arrives, all bikes, scooters and bicycles push forward and occupy both sides of the road… On both sides of the track. Some crawl, with bikes and all underneath to cross before the train gets there. Then, when the train passes with an enormous noise, everybody starts up and let the engines roar. As soon as the crossing arms move the tiniest wee bit you try to get further up front to charge for the other side when they open…. and on the other side they do exactly the same. The art then is to get through unscattered and preferably as one of the first.
I love this game! getting pretty good at it too
I had a great day in around Bikaner where I took a cool Belgium chick for a ride.
We headed for the ‘world-famous’ Karni Mata temple a.k.a. the rat-temple… hundreds of rats run around freely and get well looked after since they’re the re-incarnated souls of dead story-tellers.
It’s supposed to be good luck if you spot the white rat. And we did! It worked immediately…
We took the bike over small sandy roads to the village of Koyalat. Mick had told me how to ride in sand… just don’t stop basically. So we pushed through with my wheel swirling all over the show but we managed.
In Koyalat we ran into this Sadhu, a holy man, with seriously long dreads and a pot belly. He took us for tea to his place and offered us to smoke ganja with him. I kindly refused the ganja since I figured it
might not improve my reaction-speed while riding. But the tea was lovely.
Now I’ve just come from Amritsar where I witnessed the India/Pakistan border ceremony. It’s completely mad! People running around with flags and spontaneous outbursts of dancing and shouting. Then the guards walk about kicking their legs up so high you’d think they’ll break their nose. After a good while of carrying on and both sides of the border trying to be louder and more ridiculous than the other, the flags come down and the border is closed for another night…
Amritsar itself has a great feel, the traffic is worse than anything else I’ve seen so far, but I love being in the middle of that madness.
As I came into town and asked directions I got invited to drink some more tea, and got shown the way to a hotel.
Wondering around town a men urged everybody passing into his temple. apparently it was lord Shivas birthday and because of that he got food for two- to three-thousand people. That included me.
Today, for the first time in India I rode on a road with a serious WOW-factor. Approaching the mighty Himalayas again, it’s my favorite place…
I just arrived at Mcleod Ganj. The headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile and home of the Dalai Lama. Not sure if he is at home, but I’ll find out and let you know.
A bit like Tibet…. But different.