Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Ride Tales, Trip Reports and Stories > Ride Tales

Ride Tales An easy way to post your ride reports, whether it's a weekend ride or around the world. Please make the first words of the title WHERE the ride is. See the announcement in the forum for details on posting. Please do NOT just post a link to your site. For a link, see Get a Link.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

Like Tree1Likes

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #31  
Old 23 Nov 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: London
Posts: 130
Dubai

Dubai has been great. Very relaxing. The first thing we did was take the bike to KTM. I say the first thing: we went the following day after arriving. We also washed all our clothes properly for the first time for over a month, including our bike gear. I was so overjoyed that for the first time in my life I took them out the wash and just sniffed them!! My sister then explained how much we both stank, everything stank, our clothes, bike gear, helmets, everything. So we have spent time cleaning all of it.

Then we found out the good news from KTM – the problem with the bike was just a very very clogged fuel pump filter that was making the bike play up. The manager actually said he wanted to keep it to show people as he was surprised the bike could still run at all it was that bad! We were told the bike would be ready the following day but they could not get any tyres, and were not expecting any tyre deliveries for about 4-7 weeks!!!!



My Mum and Dad came over and it was nice to spent a bit of time as a family. We went out to the malls and to the beach, it was good to just relax for a couple of days after what has been a daily routine of simply covering mileage.

Whilst dad was here we went to Fujairah which is on the coast, its very pretty and we just spent the day snorkelling and chilling out. We have hired a car to get around, it’s very cheap and so is petrol so it made sense.

In the end it was my brother in law’s mate who came to the rescue regarding tyres: there is a company called Seb Sports who specialise in dirt bikes that came to the “half” rescue and had a set of TK80’s. As they were so helpful I’m letting them sort out the Sat Nav rewiring, order me a load of bits including a spare fuel pump filter and seals, and make some brackets for the panniers to carry the jerry can and other fluids. They are in the process of doing the work so I won’t sing their praises until its finished but the guys seem very competent and have a great workshop!

We are going to ship the half worn Scorpions to Nepal and try to leave them there with someone, then once we have toured Nepal and India, we’ll pick them up and fit them before heading down to South East Asia. I was losing about 30% of my tyre pressure every 2-3 days and I was guessing this was down to constant changing temperatures and altitudes, but it turned out it had a leaking valve, so we had to replace the tubes. It's not the ideal tyre situation but it's better than only having 1 half worn set on the bike in India, now I should have at least 15,000km worth of tyres – tyres have been an issue in every country, especially the KTM rear. Sorry to bore all you non-biker mates and family, but it’s worth a mention as it might help others on a trip with their planning.



So we have been going to the mall, beaches and cinemas, we have done some touristy bits and also went go-karting one afternoon. And we also met my old friend from work Mel who is running 2 fantastic bars on the Palm Jumeira. We chatted for ages and had a few drinks: it seems to be a much easier laid back lifestyle over here. Don’t get me wrong, Mel was busy and running 2 venues is never easy, but not having to worry about the fighting, drugs and general idiots must be a massive plus and make the whole experience a lot easier.

We took the hire car to Oman one day. We wanted a 4X4 but they were £180 a day to rent and that was out of our budget, so we decided in the end to just go in the rental car, and try to stick to the “2-wheel drive suitable” roads. So we left as it was getting dark and crossed the border into Oman, we then pulled off the motorway onto a smaller road and about 20k on that pulled off again and found somewhere to camp in the desert. It was nice to feel like travellers again and we just decided to light a fire and sat around chatting, it was pretty windy but it wasn’t cold, the moon was huge and very bright so it made star watching hard but it was a nice way to spend an evening.

In the morning we woke and decided to head to Hatta pools, but we got stuck about 4km into a gravel track, and we ended up having to use the help feature on the spot tracker as we had no phone signal! We started to try dig the car out and we did a pretty good job but it was grounded out on a big rock, and we couldn’t move it, then suddenly the phone rang so we managed to talk to Cat’s dad and then my sister who decided to try rent a 4X4 to get us out. As they were organising this, we were still trying and failing to move the damn car. Then after 2 hours suddenly 2 4X4’s appeared, the guy pulled over and opened the door laughing and introduced himself as the rescue squad, and 2 minutes later we were free! We called Jade and managed to get her just in time before she rented the car.



So we managed to get back on to the road but we decided to call the trip through Oman a day. The road we got stuck on was not even supposed to be a tough road, just a gravel one. On the way back we stopped at the Big Red sand dunes to hire buggies and had a go at dune bashing. Cat scared herself and impressed me by hitting one flat out that had a sheer drop on the other side, she managed to jump the buggy off the edge and flew out of her seat. Needless to say it scared her half to death but she managed to hold on and I think in the end she calmed down and enjoyed herself a little. I don’t think she enjoyed that as much as she enjoyed flying around the track in the karts though, that she did enjoy!

One Friday night we met up with Davina, one of my oldest mates, and her boyfriend Alan, we all went to Sandance festival on Nasimi Beach, at Atlantis on The Palm. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to drink and just relax and have a good time, it was a great place to throw a party on the beach, but it was really warm and muggy so everyone was very sweaty. Also the customer service from the bar staff is appalling, there are lots of staff on the bars, but they are poorly trained and it’s a case of too many chefs so to speak. I was gobsmacked when I paid for a round of drinks (about 150 DHS) gave him a 500 note which he put in the till and then just walk off without giving me my change. I was really angry and then the supervisor was also rude, then finally the guy came back and sorted my change. I don’t think it was him trying to steal I just think they have no idea how to serve well. This is something we have come across a lot in Dubai!!



Cat went back to the UK one weekend for her hospital check up, it was not ideal for her to fly back but the insurance company wanted us to pay for everything in Dubai and then claim it back, the total bill was going to be over £2,000 so we decided it was easy to just send her home and get it done on the NHS.

We’ve spent a lot of time organising the crating and flight of the bike, with visits to Dubai Cargo Village and emailing various agents. We have had emails from the Indian import office and the Nepal import and customs office saying they will help us clear the bike so we are confident that it's not going to be too much of a problem in whichever country we end up in. We have had a lot of help from Home | Horizons Unlimited, and think we’ve chosen Alta Cargo to ship it from Dubai.



The bike was finished and ready while Cat was in London. We have got a HD light fitted in case we have to ride at night, we also got some frames made up to go on the outside of the boxes, this can carry fuel, waterproofs or anything else small and light. They also re-wired the Garmin. They are nice guys but getting work done to a schedule is not easy here.

It’s my sister and her husbands wedding anniversary today – congratulations guys!!

Being here for a few weeks has given me time to reflect on the trip so far. It has been excellent but from Istanbul we did travel pretty quick so I’m looking forward to slowing the pace down again. I miss the UK too, you guys are not going to believe it but I miss the cold, I love leaving the house in the morning all rugged up and the cold hits your face and bam you’re wide awake!! But I cannot wait for the next part of our journey, India is somewhere I have wanted to travel to for over 10 years and I’m going to do it on a motorcycle!! I feel very lucky sometimes, but at the end of the day anyone can do it you just got to have the guts, thank god myself and Cat found each other because there are not too many people out there that are as bonkers as we are!!

So, on Thursday we got the bike packed and cleared of customs and if everything goes to plan then the bike should arrive in Nepal on Sunday. The crating and stuff took all day but I must give praise to Alta Cargo as they were very helpful, I don’t want to give them too much praise until the bike arrives but at this stage im very happy with their service. They even had a guy running around and getting all the paper work done for us which made our job a lot easier, all we had to do was clear it through customs.



I did get the feeling that everyone was learning as they went along, but I wouldn’t imagine flying a bike out of the country is something they have to do every day. There was some confusion in regards to whether or not we needed an RTA (Road Traffic Authourity) letter, all vehicals that leave Dubai need one, but as it was not registered in Dubai it didn’t need one, but everyone was confused and at one point the police officer we spoke to even suggested we needed to go and register the bike in Dubai! But we seem to have got it sorted, even though we were told they could stop it boarding without the RTA if they ask for it as it boards, the good news is the police said they would make sure that everyone would know it didn’t need it, the bad news was they would not put that in writing for me and put an official stamp on it, so I have to take their word for it which I’m not 100% confident in. Alta Cargo however said they would do their best to make sure we didn’t have any problems, and sort the RTA issue out if there were any questions asked.

So we sorted my tool and spares out, I took pictures of it all for those interested, I also took pictures of the bike being broken down and packed with all our stuff. It worked out pretty well: including the crate it weighted 370 KG, and the total cost came to about $1300 so we think we got a fairly good deal!!

We are now sitting in Costa coffee in terminal 2 of Dubai airport, Cat is reading on her kindle which she is very pleased with and I'm editing and updating the website. We are both excited and a little nervous. We just received an email from Alta Cargo that the bike left yesterday and is now in Bahrain and is booked on a flight to KTM on the 24th. Fingers crossed all goes to plan!!
__________________
Mr and Mrs Rixxy - London to Australia 2011 - 2012
www.jamesandcat.com
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 23 Nov 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: London
Posts: 130
Nepal - First few Days

We arrived after a fantastic view out of our plane window of the Himalayan mountains poking through the clouds. It was a hell of a site and got us both pretty excited! The airport was one of the smallest I have ever seen, but it was pretty well organised, except that the ATM upstairs didn’t work, so Cat had to run around to sort money out (they told me to go downstairs, but that was past the visa and passport control section, so they let me through, then I went through the baggage claim area, and the guy at the bag x-ray machine had to also let me past, and so did the security at the exit doors. And then all of a sudden I was actually OUT of the airport, and had to go into the arrivals hall, with the shops and the taxi touts and other passengers, to get to the ATM! And then I had to get back into the airport (the wrong way through) without a visa or a stamp in my passport! I had to do this twice. Extremely lax security, but what an introduction to Nepal!).



As soon as we stepped out the airport it was a culture slap in the face, people shouting and lots of people offering to help carry luggage, get you a taxi, offering hotels etc. We saw a guy holding a sign with my name on so we waved to him and followed him to a little Suzuki - it is about the size of an old ford fiesta but these death traps are the taxis here. No seatbelts either!


Inside the cab we met the guy from our hostel who was friendly and helpful and chatted with us on the way back. The roads are terrible, especially when you consider that you’re in a major city, bikes, cars, tuk-tuks are everywhere and it’s a hell of a lot to take in.



Once at our hostel we were given our room which was basic but clean and at only $20 a night I’m not grumbling!! We went for a walk in the town and to be honest it took me 24 hours to adjust, (I loved it straight away! It’s like one giant Camden Market -cross- astrological/hippy shop!). I didn’t NOT like it but my brain was taking a while for it all to sink in. The roads in the main area are tiny, there are no walkways so people, bikes, tuk tuk’s and taxis all share the same bit of road, it’s chaos!!


That evening we had some great food and a few drinks, and discovered some cute little bars with £3 cocktails and live music. Very quickly the charm of Nepal sucks you in and you begin to love it. You don’t get too much hassle here, in fact people are very polite. We did some small shopping and started to look around at the various treks you can do: there is a lot to offer and we are going to be here for a while. We had a walk to one of the main temples/stupas and had a look around, it was beautiful but at the same time a little unkempt, I suppose the reason being that it is still part of the community today and therefore it had kids playing on it and it was not such a historical monument.



We had a good walk around and we bought a few bits, I bought some sunglasses for £2, Cat bought a bracelet and a hat for £1. It’s very cheap for the most part, but like most places it’s starting to get the idea that tourists will pay more, so you have to be careful were you buy stuff.

At the moment we have decided to do the Everest Base Camp trek and the Annapurna trek. Things might change but that’s the current plan, we have been told that Annapurna is not what it used to be due to a road being built from about 60% along (12 days in) and that it is very busy with lots of tourists, but this sounds good for us as we plan to do it without a guide and we should then be able to keep our budget down to around 2,000 rupees a day (£18.00). The prices for guides and porters varies so much, we have been told from 300 rupees a day for porters and 500 a day for guides but we have been quoted prices as high a 1000 for porters and 2000 for guides!!



The fact is for most of it you don’t need either, we found some incredible and detailed route books that give you a daily breakdown of what you’re going to see, where to go, how many miles it is and roughly how long it all takes. So we are definitely going to do at least Annapurna independently.



It’s so colourful here, maybe because it’s the lead-up to Diwali (or Tihar as they call it here), but all the shops are bright, there are lights everywhere, and all the bars and restaurants use candles (in case of blackouts)! We had one blackout already, on our first night, but it only lasted about 10 minutes, and we were in a pub so it was all good.




There are lots of wild eagles, over the city as well as in the valley, huge birds! We’ve also heard there’s monkeys, but didn’t expect to see any except in a jungle. You can imagine our surprise when walking from the airport to the cargo centre when we came across a whole family of them in the trees right above our heads!



The bike should arrive today, no idea who we need to speak to or how we are going to get it out of customs, no doubt it will be an adventure in itself!! Watch this space!
__________________
Mr and Mrs Rixxy - London to Australia 2011 - 2012
www.jamesandcat.com
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 23 Nov 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: London
Posts: 130
Kathmandu, Diwali, and Some Exploring

So the bike arrived as scheduled, and we went down to the Cargo area of the airport in the afternoon but we were told it would not be ready until the following day. We did meet a young guy who was trying to help us out who said we needed to go to the main airport area first to get it released, he also said he would be back the following day to help us out.

The following morning we headed to the airport, got the release forms and then went to the cargo area. Sure enough the guy was waiting for us, and not wanting to get ripped off or muck him around I decided to talk money up front with him. He initially asked for 3000 Rupees (about £25) to get the bike out for us. I knew that was way too much (considering porters who carry 2 peoples’ bags up the Himalayas only get 1000 a day!), so I offered him 1000, and after a bit of haggling he accepted.

He told us it would take 3 or 4 hours. We entered the customs area (it was 11am) and it was deserted, there was hardly a soul around! We asked him why and what time they open and he said they open when they turn up and close when they have had enough!! So we were left waiting around. To cut a long story short it was a fairly simple process. There was a problem with the computer and we nearly got charged 80 euros we didn’t need to pay, but it was well spotted by the young guy who was helping us out. It became pretty clear he knew everyone and did this a lot and even told us he had another couple who were on a BMW coming to him later in the week.

Once the bike came out from the warehouse and before it was even cleared from customs, he got me permission to start putting it back together. I had lots of “helpers” and eager hands “helping me” unpack the crate and started trying to help with the bike, but I had to straight away ask them to please leave it alone and let me do it. We attracted a big crowd and it was at this point we realised Cat had forgotten the bike keys, so she ran off to jump in a taxi and get them. I spent the next hour putting the bike back together and in almost perfect timing Cat arrived as I hooked the battery back up.

We started her up to make sure she was working, I paid the unload fee and then we got the carnet and headed outside. I paid our guy 2000 Rupees instead of the 1000 we agreed as he did a great job, got all the paper work for us, did all the running around and saved us a small fortune by noticing the mistake on the forms. The whole process (besides his fee) was only 2000 rupees!

We then road back to the hostel and they sorted out parking in the foyer for the bike.

That evening we went out for some food. The food so far has been very good, some places are better than others and one of our favourites so far is a small outdoor kitchen with a bakery attached, called Weizen. We haven’t tried the Nepali Dhal Bat or Thali yet (local foods) because there’s so much choice on the menus, but we loved the Momo’s – little dumplings filled with either chicken, beef or veggies with a spicy dipping sauce. We do love our food.

The next day we went for a ride to Trusili Bazaar, in the north. Getting out the city was organised chaos and once we were out, the road was terrible! It was basically the size of one lane, but with buses trying to pass each other. Most of it was tarmac but poor standard, with potholes and lots of mud and sand, river crossings and random rocks. It was actually very fun riding but very slow, the average pace was 40kph (30mph) so our 200km day took us 8 hours. It was fantastic though, we got surrounded by a dancing roadblock of colourful village children, who wouldn’t let us pass until we had paid a “toll” and then they blessed us with their coloured paints (it was the main day of Diwali).



There were beautiful views and scenery and then we went totally the wrong way to our plan, and ended up on a REALLY rural road which was just rocks and sand, but decided to stop past a small town in a valley near the river. About 6 little kids appeared giggling and excited so we let them sit on the bike and shared some of our food with them, soon the mother and a couple of the fathers appeared, and then we rode all the way back the way we came. It was just an excellent day.

In the evening we returned and as it was Diwali, there was a lot going on so we had a walk around town and it was getting very colourful with people painting the floors and hanging flowers outside the shops. There were lights and candles everywhere, and big floor decorations being constructed out of seeds, petals, paints and even popcorn!



The next day we had planned to have a chill out day, as I was coming down with a cold, but we were woken up to very loud rave music and whistles, and at about midday our curiosity got the best of us and we headed out to investigate. Right in the main street, blocking the road and all the shops, there was a huge street party and parade going on. Turns out it was being broadcast live on local radio. It was a lot of fun with the locals going crazy, and there was a bike rally where all the guys on the 125cc bikes came riding through the party and then the big trucks followed with passengers dancing on the back. In the typical Nepal way it was organised chaos, party-ers taking it upon themselves to form human barriers to let the vehicles through. It was a great atmosphere!!

I was feeling a bit ill and getting a bit grumpy so I decided to head back to the hostel and take some cold and flu pills, and Cat decided to go for a walk to the Durbar Square and see what it was like on Diwali. (Lots more colours and road paintings, and another rave party in the street. I climbed to the top of one of the temples to watch the goings-on in the square and got some great photos!)



So now we have both had full blown colds, for the last 5 days we have been in bed drugging ourselves up. I was first to get sick and it was a proper cold, with the sweats, some hallucinating and the whole works, then just as I got better Cat took a turn for the worse but she does seem to be fighting it back better then I was (insert man flu jokes and insults here).

As we had to cancel our flight to Everest and now we have basically lost a week we have had to change our plans. We are going to go to Everest base camp still but we are going to go there on the Tibet side as we can ride the bike pretty much the whole way. There were 3 reasons for us changing our minds. The first was losing 5 days really didn’t help as we had a pretty tight plan and really want to see as much of this great country as possible, and trekking would be an added bonus! Secondly we would have had to buy lots of trekking stuff, including warmer sleeping bags, jackets, fleeces and another backpack, which was a lot of money to spend for just 12 days!! And third, we found out we can get to Everest base camp on the Tibet side and pretty much ride the bike the whole way, this is also the far quieter side and the views of Everest are apparently far better, so in the end we decided this would be the best option.



So the plan now is to leave to ride over to Pokhara and ride some of the Annapurna Circuit which is apparently rocky roads and mud J - then we head out towards India. We would still like to doing some trekking but 1 or 2 days at a time, not 20 days, and we hope we can get through Tibet and on into China with an organised group (we have now found out that only GROUPS can go into Tibet, but 2 people count as a group, so it will just take more planning that our usual “turn up and see”). So today I have to give the bike a small going over as I noticed that some of the electric switches on the bars were loose. We also managed to break a clip on the panniers (WE? “Someone” rode a wee bit too close to a signpost and ripped the left pannier off!) so I’m going to try get those fixed if possible by taking them to one of the little workshops here!

The guys at our hotel have been really nice, it seems a great shame to be sick in bed but I’ve got to remember that I’m not on holiday, I’m travelling and getting sick is gonna happen, but it does make you home sick!!



We had another day out on the bike. Just outside Kathmandu is Boudhanath, the biggest Buddhist Stupa in Nepal. You could go inside it and walk along the roof, and Cat got lost walking around this big one-way circle! (Not lost! Just confused that I couldn’t see the steps to get down, but then realised we hadn’t walked all the way around yet.) We then rode to the other side of the city to visit the Monkey Temple, which as the name implies, is a temple with lots of monkeys!

They were really funny, jumping up on people to try steal their food. We saw one actually eating an icecream on a stick, and a young monk boy trying to make his way through the path with 3 more in his hand, beating them off with a stick! There were great views over the city and the whole valley, and we loved watching the huge eagles circling over the trees and the city.

We then headed south with the intention of visiting the Chobhar Caves or Chobhar Gorge, and we got on the right road, but neither of these was signposted, so we sailed straight past, and since it was a great road, we continued on anyway. We made it to Pharping, we think, or just past (our map didn’t go that far), and discovered a temple down in a valley so we walked down and had an explore, then turned back and headed for home before dark.



On our last day I went and got the clip fixed on the pannier, it was actually a nice way to spend a couple of hours. I first went to Honda who told me they could not do it but a friendly guy there took me on the back of his scooter to meet a guy who had a small workshop almost underneath the building: it was the sort of place you would miss unless you knew exactly where it was.

Once there the guy looked over the pannier and started to get to work, it took about 1.5 hours but he replicated the latch perfectly and made a new one, I was so impressed when it came to paying I gave him an extra 500 rupees (£4).

In the evening we went for a few drinks, and I got chatting to a guy who owned a huge space on top of a restaurant. It was a great venue, kind of Shoreditch warehouse-y meets Camden rock. I watched as about 30 people walked up the stairs to where the band was playing, looked around this huge space and turned and walked away, it drove me crazy to see and I ended up chatting with the owner telling him how to get those people to stay and how to teach his waiters to be more engaging and how to overcome the big space. At the end he gave me his card and asked me to chat with him again as at the moment they only had a 10pm licence but they were going to extend to 1am and if they did they wanted someone who understands nightclubs to help out. It was nice to use my brain for a bit. Even if it was simple stuff.

We will hit the toad tomorrow after 5 days being ill and being stuck indoors in the hostel for 5 days has taken its toll on us both and we cannot wait to just put some miles underneath us. We are both getting homesick sitting around doing nothing as when Cat and myself have nothing to do generally talk turns to work and how we can make some money or what business we should set up when we get back etc. Then we start looking at houses to rent and cars to buy….

I find it very hard to turn off and take time off, it’s not something I have ever had to do. Most of you know we still have our fingers in a couple of pies but not to be out there every day hitting the pavement, cooking up projects is something I really miss doing. It also makes me feel how lucky I am to love my work so much, as I know some of the people reading this hate their jobs and wish they could get away, so I hope you don’t hate me to much for having “the best of both worlds”!!
__________________
Mr and Mrs Rixxy - London to Australia 2011 - 2012
www.jamesandcat.com
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 23 Nov 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: London
Posts: 130
Pokhara, Nepal

So we rode from Kathmandu to Pokhara yesterday, on the road which is supposed to be one of the worst in the country, and since the average road isn’t great you can imagine it was a little “fun”. It did take us 9 hours to get here, but this included 3 stops and it taking an hour to get out of Kathmandu. (We got a little lost). The bike is running well and it’s nice to be on the road and moving again. The scenery was good but it was very misty and for this reason it was a bit of a letdown as we knew in places that in the distance were beautiful snow topped mountains but we couldn’t see them!!

The ride itself wasn’t too bad, when I say this I’m talking about compared to what I expected - if I had a day like this in the UK I would have gone mental and never ridden a bike again. My pace has slowed on a massive scale, there is so much to look out for from livestock to kids, packs of dogs, other bikes cars, buses and Indian lorry drivers who have been up for 3 days!! Our average cruising pace on open road is about 60 KPH and in corners you’re crawling, being prepared to jam on the brakes and put yourself nicely in the hedge to avoid the oncoming bus(es) or lorry(ies) – both on your side of the road!



They do make it a little easy for you by having some interesting horns which normally give you some warning but we saw several close calls yesterday, not to mention the lorry down the mountain side on its roof and the bus on its side that was hanging over the cliff edge having smashed through the concrete wall.

But it’s all relative, our pace was down and I was constantly defensive so there wasn’t really any point that we felt in any real danger. We met a fantastic couple from Austria, our first proper bike travellers we’ve seen since leaving Europe. They had ridden together from Delhi, but Tom had been on the road from Austria and his girlfriend comes to join him every couple of months. They were saying that the roads here are very safe compared to India, but the roads in India are better as far as road quality goes!



The pollution is hard work, it’s given us both a cough and I’m sure in time we will both get used to it. We stopped at a great little café on the way to have a pot of tea, there were beautiful butterflies everywhere so I tried to get some photos as I know my mum loves them. There were more colours and sizes than I have ever seen before in the wild.

We also got chatting to two Welsh guys who were over here on holiday, one of the guys had family here and had been here a lot, he gave us lots of info on Pokhara and informed us that we CAN get into Tibet as myself and Cat are classed as a “group”. These guys were really cool, retired and just enjoying their travelling, they had lots of stories and we chatted for about 30 minutes.

On the Tibet subject, Tom also gave us some interesting news - he is getting though China in December with a guide, they hooked up with other people on a travellers site and split the cost, so it only works out at $2000 for the 2-and-a-bit weeks it takes to get to Laos, which is way above normal budget but only about $500 more expensive than flying and you get to see another country out of it. So we are going to look into this as we would much prefer to do this than fly!!!



Once we arrived in Pokhara we noticed it was very different from Kathmandu, it’s more spread out rather than rabbit-warren-y, very hippy and lots of cafés and bars. We looked for the hotel recommended by the Welsh guys but at $55 it was a bit too expensive so we kept looking. We met another guy who took us to his place and he wanted 1600 rupees $20 approx. Cat said we would take it but I was not happy, I got the feeling cos he saw us come out the $55 place he put the price up. It was what we were paying in Kathmandu but nowhere near as nice, so I insisted we look around and in the end we found a fantastic little place for 800 rupees $10 a night with wifi!! Bargain!!

In the evening we were both tired but went for a long walk along all the shops to the very end, then turned back and stopped in one of the 20 places Cat had “got to try” J). The place was busy and the food was actually very good, I’m living on curries in an evening and Cat is trying all sorts but yesterday had a lasagne. After we finished we got chatting to the Australian couple next to us who were involved with sponsoring kids over here. We swapped stories and chatted for ages, they were really lovely and they said would get in contact with us and offered to call Cat’s mum and dad to say they had seen us but we explained to them that we have all the modern technology so we are not out of touch too much these days!!



We decided on Friday morning to be motivated and go for a day hike, so we made the plan to go to the World Peace Pagoda Temple on top of the hill overlooking Pokhara and the lake. We left the city and decided to walk the whole way, rather than taking the easy options such as a boat to the other side or a taxi to Damside. We followed a rather vague directional guide on the iphone World Travel Guide app, and came to a local map sign. We both had a read of the map and then in classic comical timing said at the same time, “I think it’s that way” both pointing in different directions! We asked a local passerby and set off into the wilderness.

There was a cable bridge over a river with lots of local woman washing themselves and the family’s clothes, and just past this was one of the (but only the first!) biggest of the Nepal tree spiders which are enormous and even made Cat have a small breakdown even though it was a good 6 feet above her head!

It was a hard but nice day. We met another couple from Holland, Herma and Berend, and we walked most of the trek with them. We saw spiders, butterflies, dragon flies monkeys and even cows up the mountainside in the woods!! The temple was nice and we spent 15 minutes chilling out there before we headed back down. The trek was pretty tiring as it was very slippy and steep. The walk back was easier as we decided to follow the road which was slightly longer but meant we got to go to the waterfalls as well. All in all it was a nice way to spend a day.



In the evening we played pool and Cat cheated so ended up winning, she’s actually very good for a girl and we are pretty evenly matched but yesterday she was just in a cheating mood!! (This is where I point out that Aussies and English play by different rules, and really it’s the English that are cheating… When Player 1 hits THEIR ball first, but throughout the ricocheting of other balls sinks Player 2’s ball, Player 2 only gets ONE shot, because they have already had the advantage. But the English seem to think that’s not quite enough and take TWO shots, even though they got the advantage, and Player 1 didn’t actually do anything wrong.) We had a few drinks in the evening and a terrible pizza with the worst white wine I have ever tasted!!!

The last couple of days in Pokhara have been very nice (we ended up staying 4 nights). It rained really badly one day and we spent most the day in the bar eating, drinking, watching the Moto GP and the football, and the following day I went out in the morning on my own and hit some of the offroad stuff while Cat slept off a headache. It was a great ride and involved about 6 or 8 proper river crossings, I was gutted not have had Cat there to play camera man!



When I came back we went to our favourite little café and had some coffee and planned the following day. We were told it was going to cost $300 to get the permits for the road to Muktinath; we were also told the road was very dangerous and so it may not be worth us even bothering. We had pretty much ruled it out which for me was a huge disappointment as I was under the impression that the road was hard but passable and as it was so new (only completed in Sep 2010) we would be one of if not the first people on a western 1000 CC motorcycle to get to Muktinath which is nearly 4,000 meters up but is dwarfed by the other mountains around it!!

In the morning we got up and packed and went to our little café to have breakfast and finally decide what we were going to do. We ended up eating outside and as we were next to the bike which was fully kitted up we attracted a little attention, the most important of which was from a guy from Holland who had just done whole Annapurna trek. He rode bikes at home and had walked part of the road we wanted to ride, so we had a good chat and he said it would be difficult in places but he thought it was do-able. He also told us the permits were only 2,000 rupees (£17) each not $300. So after talking to someone who knew what they were talking about, we decided we had to have a go as worse case scenario we could always turn back.
__________________
Mr and Mrs Rixxy - London to Australia 2011 - 2012
www.jamesandcat.com
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 23 Nov 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: London
Posts: 130
he Uncharted Road To Muktinath (altitude 3800m

In the morning after breakfast we headed to the permit office in Damside. On our way we stopped to ask for some directions and another couple of people came over to chat, this time it was an English guy who had just got here and he was planning to spend a few months in Nepal and India. We also had a good long chat which was great but not the most interesting part of this story - Cat had gotten off the bike to ask for directions and a big dog came over so I gave him a rub and a bit of fuss, and the next thing you know this huge dog is trying his best to get on the bike behind me! We couldn’t believe it and he didn’t give up so we had to keep putting him down again, very funny. Anyway we found the permit office in Damside and got our permits in only a matter of minutes.



We then hit the road and headed north. It was excellent to be honest, it was a lot of fun and the views were very good, even though it was still foggy so we were a little limited, but what we could see would still take your breath away. The road was mostly tarmac on the first day and it was nice to be out of the city. The other good thing was that there were not lots of people around and the roads for the most part were very quiet.

By the time we got halfway to Beni the roads got to a point where I dropped the tyre pressures, not sure where to set them due to having a pillion and luggage, but I decided to opt for a 24psi front and 26 rear. Well, from here out the roads got worse and ended up being the worst/most challenging I have ridden. Most of the time it was manageable but in places it was very very muddy and boggy and the bike did not feel grippy enough so I dropped the pressure again to 18.5 rear and 20 front which dramatically improved the grip that was available.



We were flanked the whole time by a cliff edge that has a huge river running though it and water is pouring off the mountain on both sides which when it’s opposite to you it gives you beautiful views of cascading water but when it’s on your side it turns the road into a muddy bog! At one point the whole road was held up due to the road just collapsing down the cliff side, traffic coming both ways was waiting and we were told they had been there hours. Luckily they had rebuilt enough that we could squeeze past (literally just enough for foot passengers), and the faces on some of the backpackers and trekkers as the mighty KTM came slipping and sliding past them in the thick wet mud after squeezing through a gap with less than 10 inches on either side was pretty funny! Cat later told me she forgot to take photos of this bit because she was too scared for my life!!

Cat also got a good taste of 2 up river crossings and I think Cat quiet enjoyed them, wet feet and all. (And while we’re on the subject of wet feet, the single most annoying mistake we made on this trip is substituting our proper bike boots for hiking boots, to save space. They’re fine riding along, until you get to river crossings!)



Just after this we had our first little off - we were going along on good packed down mud and it suddenly turned into sludge without warning due to a waterfall crossing ahead. I lost control slightly – at least I lost the usual reaction time for steering and I ended up having to jump on the power to bring the back end round but we were far too close to the drop off the edge, then we suddenly found grip for a moment and it forced us back straight at the cliff wall. Luckily I had scrubbed most the speed off and we came to a stop against the cliff wall, only bending the mirror slightly!!

Both breathless we picked the bike back up and checked for any damage. It was hard going uphill with so much weight on the bike and it’s even harder when the front end starts to go with all that weight behind it, but the good news is the KTM was fine and ready to carry on, so after a 5 minute break we moved off.

We started looking for a lodge after that, and came to Tatopani where we decided to stay for the night at the lovely Trekkers Inn lodge. It was VERY basic at only 200 Rupees (£1.50) but the food was excellent and they let me ride the bike right into the garden area where there was a bar and restaurant. As usual it attracted a bit of attention but the good type and so it was very safe.



That evening I wrote some blog and a young lad came over to ask me if I had any games, so I gave him the ipod which has the motoGP game and Sonic. I helped him out with the controls and he thought it was the best thing ever, he sat quietly next to me for about 5 hours playing the games until the battery went. I didn’t sleep very well that evening for one reason or another but in the morning we were woken to the first clear blue sky since we left Kathmandu, it was like someone had switched the views from good to jaw dropping and we got our first peak of a snowy peak as soon as we walked out of our room.

After breakfast we packed up and left to cover the 75km to Jomsom, but the first 15km was a killer. We seriously considered turning around a couple of times – the road was mostly really rocky, sometimes dry and sometimes slippery. At one point, we caught up with some local guys on 125’s, but as I passed them we all hit some massive rocks on a steep climb, we lost control and went down and so did one of the bikes in front of us. The others ran over and helped us lift the heavy KTM up and then I rode past the worst of it solo and Cat walked 100 meters or so until it was rideable again. We also came across a great waterfall with a bridge across it – but the bridge was broken and had just a single plank of wood so a bike could do a trapeze stunt to get across. The big jeeps and buses were driving through the pool/river but it was too deep and bouldery for the bike. Luckily we saw a group of local bikes on the other side, who had obviously just made it across, so we threw caution to wind, Cat jumped off and walked (to take photos!) and I rode over.

We were told by the checkpoint guards that the road improved after Ghasa, so we got stuck in, and about 1km after Ghasa we came around a corner and there was our first big glimpse of the Annapurna range. It was totally stunning with the sun shining right on it, it made us both excited like small children and set a great tone for the rest of the day. The road kept changing from rock and solid boulders and half cleared landslides to mud to sand to compact sand and then suddenly mud again, and there was no fence or barrier or anything between the road and the edge, so I was trying to stick to the inside track as much as I could but often the outer edge was less ridden and so easier to pass on, but dangerously close to the edge.



We worked our way up slowly, stopping to admire the next incredible view, at times being surrounded by snowy peaks. It was getting colder and as we approached the 2800 meter lever harder to breath. We stopped for a snack at Marpha and had some of the nicest apple juice I have ever tasted, then we moved on and the road was slightly better. Once we got to Jomson Cat said she wanted to stop and spend the night there so we could acclimatise to the altitude, as the next day we would climb another 1000 meters in a pretty short distance.

Cat looked at 2 places but the second seemed busier and so we decided even though it was a little more money to go for that, plus the room was right at the front so we didn’t have to carry all our gear all the way upstairs and through the back of the lodge. It was a great place but the food price was about 1.5 times anywhere else and so we felt it wasn’t the greatest choice. The food quality was also pretty poor compared to other meals we have had, but it wasn’t by any means bad, it just seemed a bit of a “group tour” stop.

In the morning we had a good chat over breakfast with the Belgium couple we chatted with the night before, and also got chatting to an American couple who live in Abu Dhabi. We were advised the road to Muktinath was impassable on our bike (this has been a common theme) so we were a little worried, but it was Cat this time who was full of encouragement, so we decided to give it a shot. We also randomly saw Khem, who ran our hostel in Kathmandu, and he was on his was to the Temple in Muktinath.



We packed the bike up and left. The first 10km or so was flat riverbed gravel, and the iciest river crossing we have ever been through! The road started to climb up the mountain side, but it was good compact gravel and sand. In some places there was ice over the puddles and icicles next to the waterfalls we passed. The air was thin and the bike would struggle under 3000rpm to I had to keep the revs up.

We climbed pretty fast and we were treated to some incredible scenery spurring us on. And there were lots of amazed trekkers watching us go by. (That, or they were thinking “you evil ozone killing swine with a stupid loud bike” – but I like to think they were thinking “wow you’re so cool” – what can I say……. Baffle out!)

We reached the top (3800m high and the end of the road!) after about an hour and we both hopped off the bike and jumped for joy. From what we were aware, we are one of the first bikers of this type to make it to the top and do this route. The road was only finished in 2010 and there was a few local (125, 150 cc) bikes going from Jomson to Muktinath but that was about it.

We took a few photos and sucked in the view and I had a victory fanta. It was at this point I decided I was going to get back to Pokhara that day. I hate myself at times like this but the challenge was set in my head, as it takes some of the sturdiest 4X4’s 2-3 days! This was not announced to Cat as she was harping on about a hot spring which I had no interest in and delicious honey pancakes which I had a mild interest it, I figured I would just keep going and say I couldn’t hear her!



So we jumped on the bike and headed back. Now that I knew the roads a bit I knew I could open the mule up in certain areas. We were both high on excitement and the view on the way down threw more surprises at to what had been hiding in the mirrors (see random photo in gallery which proves my point well). We stopped at certain points to get some photos and soon we were back in Jomson where we had to check out with the trekking and safety police much to their surprise, since we only checked in 2 hours earlier!

Then we were back on the road and we headed back on ourselves. After about 3 hours we came to Tatopani (hot spring and good pancakes) and I got the knees in the back treatment so I pulled over. I explained the challenge to Cat and after some eye rolling and shaking of the head and an agreement that she could get a massage tomorrow once we were in Pokhara she agreed. I was also under strict instruction that I was not to go too fast, but to be honest I wasn’t pushing too hard, I was having fun, yes, but it wasn’t the place to make a big mistake!!

So we cracked on, we got to the very bad bit of road and other than being very cautious where it was narrow or where we were forced close to the edge by a landslide, or when I had to negotiate my way carefully up a narrow plank where the bridge had give away near the big waterfall, it was a lot easier. I think this is because it’s a lot easier for the bike to drop down big steps that it is to ride up them, after about 4 hours (about 3.30pm) we were back on tarmac and had 85 km to go of twisties and at times gravel roads to get back to Pokhara.

I increased the tyre pressure again and the bike felt like a million bucks to handle and ride. We flew back on good fun roads and got a pleasant surprise in the form of the great view of the Annapurnas in places which we had not yet seen at all due to bad weather. It was a great ride back and we got back to Pokhara about 5pm and our same hotel had a room available for us, so we showered and headed out to have a celebratory steak and a – pasta and cocktail for Cat!!
__________________
Mr and Mrs Rixxy - London to Australia 2011 - 2012
www.jamesandcat.com
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 23 Nov 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: London
Posts: 130
thats it, you guys are now up to date, hope you have enjoyed it so far and you will now hear from us about once a week, if you have any questions or comments then drop them on here and i will try get back to you!!

See you out there!!

James and Cat
__________________
Mr and Mrs Rixxy - London to Australia 2011 - 2012
www.jamesandcat.com
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 23 Nov 2011
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Fleet, Hants. UK
Posts: 7
Thanks for telling us of your travels so far and I am looking forward to the next installment,

Stay Safe

Dave
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 23 Nov 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Polygyros GR
Posts: 477
Thumbs up Ride safe....

Im in...........!
__________________
3mountainsadventure
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 24 Nov 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 19
Its taken me a couple of days, and many hours of enjoyable reading, and I am now up to date! I've really enjoyed the trip report so far, very interesting

Looking forward to the rest of the trip!

Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 29 Nov 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: London
Posts: 130
Lumbini (Birthplace of Buddha) and Chitwan National Park - BYE BYE Nepal!

After our off-road adventure we were pretty tired and decided to just chill out and relax for a few days. We found out Big Tom was heading to Pokhara to meet us and hang out for a couple of days and he turned up the next afternoon with his mum on the back of his BMW.

We all chatted and helped Tom unload and agreed we should go for a few drinks, so we went for some food and a few s at our favourite restaurant, Moondance, then had a few more drinks at the Busy Bee while we played pool and darts and had a really fun night.

The following day we were a little hung over but we decided to go on the hunt to see if it was plausible to find Cat a Royal Enfield and to see how she felt sitting on them and maybe even hire a bike for a day to see how she got on with the traffic. We visited a few shops and she rode a couple of bikes up and down the road, but then we stopped in at the Bullet Basecamp just off the main road where we met Aussie owner Nathan.

It was about 2pm and we meant to just have one drink, but then they ordered pizza and said some more friends were coming later for a game of poker, so we didn’t leave until 11pm! We had a really good time with these guys and even found out about a fantastic charity project they were working on, building a house for the local street kids.

We returned at 10am (as agreed) the following day to see if we could help out but it was raining and no-one was coming in until 12 midday so we decided to leave it as we also had a leaking fork on the right hand side of the bike and I wanted to deal with it straight away. A – to see if I had spare fork seals (which I do) and B – see how hard it is to change those seals in our hostel car park – (very hard).

So the rest of the afternoon was spent in the courtyard of our hotel. I took the fork dust caps off and I cleaned them out as they were both very full of sludge and crap, I’m guessing from all the mud, dust and river crossings. Next I sprayed it with wd40 and put them back in, cleaned the fork off and bounced it to see if I was getting any signs of a leak which it wasn’t so I was guessing it was the dust cap being full of crap. I left the bike over night (but on the side stand not the centre stand) and then I check her in the morning and again no sign of a leak………… good news I thought.

That morning we had decided to move on towards Chitwan National Park, most likely via Lumbini the birth place of Buddha. We loaded the bike up and got ready to go, gave Tom a knock to let him know we were leaving and see if he wanted to grab breakfast with us before we headed off. He and his mum joined us in our regular Perky Beans café.



I started the bike up and rode out on the pavement and the whole bike went bonkers lights flashing everywhere speedo going up and down, rev counter up and down, neutral light going on and off, same with petrol light and everything on the dash, also a slight (only very) slight change in the revs as the injector seemed to be effected. I thought it couldn’t be a fuse as if it was it would either be working or not working, so I figured it must have been the already dodgy sat nav connection. I undid the battery area and removed the sat nav charger completely and now all seems to be working fine.

We rode 215km to Lumbini on small twisty and slightly frustrating roads (you can’t really get any speed up because you have to creep around corners, expecting something coming on your side all the time!) but we did make it by around 5pm, then we found a cute little place to stay run by Chinese ladies after visiting quite a few others, then went for a small meal in the little village.


In the morning we woke and decided to stay another night so we could have a relaxing day. We chilled out until around lunchtime which give me time to do the blog and Cat to go get a Chinese acupressure massage. I also left the bike on the centre stand last night and went to give the bike a check over and the fork does appear to be leaking, but at the moment it’s only noticeable when it’s left on the centre stand over night, there is literally no signs of a leak when its being used, so I’m going to clean it off and leave it on the side stand and see if somehow this helps, but getting the forks fixed might prove difficult as I don’t have the right tool to get the tops off with.



At about 1pm we headed off into the Lumbini scared park to see the birth place of Buddha. It was excellent for a few reasons, 1 being it was so quiet, 2 there was so many beautiful butterflies and other creepy crawlies, and 3 the weather was good.

There was lots of beautiful stupas/temples and even ruins from the 1st and 2nd century BC. We walked around then saw there was a ceremony going on with lots of monks. Cat went up to an American guy who was among them and he explained that this was the practice day for over a thousand monks from around world, being ordained in a big ceremony in a few days time. We asked questions about how the process worked and what it was like and we were soon up to speed on how to become a monk. (I have since learnt that monks are actually forbidden to talk to women, they can’t touch them or pass them anything directly, including money! I initially wondered why the older monk he was talking to had said to the young one “you can explain this…” – I thought he was giving the young one a chance to show what he knows, but I guess it’s because the older monk couldn’t talk to me, and if I had come a few days later when they were ordained, I guess the American wouldn’t have spoken to me either!)


After this we followed the footpath along the canal and went to look at some of the other monasteries set up by different countries. Some were absolutely beautiful and very very grand.



We had a nice long walk and chat which was only interrupted by a group of Indian guys who came running (literally RUNNING) over to take photos with us. I can imagine that India at times is going to be hard work, we get enough attention from groups like this so I cannot imagine what it will be like in some of the smaller towns and villages.

In the evening we went back to the little restaurant in the town and we had a small meal followed by a . We met a French guy and another Australian girl, both were taking breaks from their other halves after spending lots of time together. We have met several couples who have done this and it makes us feel very lucky as other than the odd afternoon when Cat will go off and do something on her own or I will go for a ride by myself we don’t really feel the need to be apart for too long even after 6 years and spending every day together for the past few months.

Anyway the French guy came over just after we ordered our food and said he had seen us in Pokhara and was keen to have a with us as he had seen us on the bike. We went over after our food and had a chat with them both, and it turned out we had inspired him to go rent a 125 cc bike and go riding for a week around Nepal. He had very little riding experience (in fact, he said he had just taught himself how to use the gears on you-tube the previous evening!) and no protective clothing which did worry me a bit, but I hope he enjoyed his journey!!


The following day we packed up and headed off towards Chitwan. We arrived early, around 2pm so we had plenty of time to look around for a place to stay. We went to about 10 places all at varying prices from about 300 rupees no breakfast or internet up to 2000 rupees, but we settled on a cute little place by the river with a beautiful room, breakfast and internet included for 1000. So we were very happy with this and the guy who ran the place was a great bloke, really friendly and helped us pick a good jungle trek and the staff were all really nice.

We met another biker on a Royal Enfield, it was his 7th time riding around Nepal and India on an Enfield and his 10th time here on holiday over all. I can easily see how it could be done, for the price of 2 weeks in Spain or anywhere else in Europe you could come and spend a month here, see more, do more, eat better and stay in much nicer places and surroundings. I must say that I’m really really growing to love this country!!!

Once settled in, we set about making a plan. We had 2 days and 3 nights, so the following day we booked a full day Jungle trek. I was really really excited, I cannot think of a better way of spending a day than trekking through a jungle, seeing all sorts of new and interesting creepy crawlies, birds, plants and small animals with the chance of seeing the long nosed Crocodiles and normal fresh water ones, Tigers, Rhino, Sloth Bears, Leopards, Elephants and lots of other very special animals. The only question mark was the weather as they were 50/50 on whether or not it was going to rain so the hotel owner said he would not wake us up unless it was clear and not going to rain as it would not be a good day if it rained all day.



In the morning I woke at 5am a bit eager and I could hear it pissing down, disappointed I went back to sleep and we woke up at 8am, and it seemed to be clearing up a lot. So the guy said grab breakfast and we could get out there for 9am, starting with our cut-out-tree canoe ride down the crocodile infested river.

We ate breakfast and got ready. We met our Guide for the day and we then headed down to the canoe where we met our other guide - yes we had 2 guides for just the two of us, one in front and one behind us. The guy in front was clearly the boss, he was very informative and once he found out we liked knowing about creepy crawlies, birds and plants as much as we were keen to see a big animal, he went out of his was to show us some very cool stuff.

We were told the weather was not great for seeing big animals so we weren’t expecting much. But we were going to see some stuff and straight away one of the main things I wanted to see showed itself to us on a sand bank: a long nosed fish eating crocodile and it was a big one as well at about 4 meters in length. We also saw 3 different types (colours) of kingfisher, we saw normal crocodiles and we saw herrings, stalks, and Canadian/Alaskan (can’t remember which) ducks.

Once in the jungle it was hard work. Yes, at times we were on trails but to be honest only rarely - we spent a lot of time beating through the bushes and making a path for ourselves. There was long grass which was over twice my height, trees with huge prickles, thick bushes and some places were covered in leeches so we were constantly flicking them off.

We came across some dropped antlers from a male deer, huge scratches on tress from tigers marking territories, lots of rhino and elephant droppings and then we soon picked up fresh prints from a rhino. We tracked it for about an hour but lost the trail in the woods on thick leaves. Gutted, we carried on and saw white monkeys in the trees and some deer running off into the distance.

Just after this we were walking through the forest area and all of a sudden there was a huge movement and rustle in the bushes next to us. We froze, obviously this was something big, but we had no idea what. The tracker slowly crept forward and I followed him whilst Cat and the other guide hung back so we didn’t scare it off with our footsteps. The tracker was whispering that he thought it was a sloth bear, very dangerous and known to run at you as often as they run away, and at 6ft tall and over 300lbs it was no joke!!

He thought it was hiding in the bushes about 20ft in front of us, so we crept closer. I had the camera ready, and he had his big bamboo stick poised to try get it to move out the bush in front of us. My heart was in my mouth, he swung the stick back, then suddenly a huge “Arghhhhh!” from behind us. I turned around in half panic, and there was Cat with her arm out in front of her and she cried out………

“A leech got me!!!”

I told her to just flick it off, but she was worried that his head would get stuck. “No babe, that’s ticks” I reminded her. By then the second guide had come over, sprayed the leech with some stuff and flicked it off. Unfortunately, thanks to the decibel level of the leech screech, every animal in a 5k radius did a runner!! Myself, Cat and the guides were laughing at the situation, so we moved on and found somewhere to stop for lunch. Sloth bear was well gone!

After lunch and getting pretty tired of jumping over fallen down trees and beating back tall grass, we stopped and waited for a while whilst the guide climbed a large tree to have a look into the grasslands in front of us to see if he could see anything. It took him a while and I thought I spotted some yellow birds in the tress making a lot of noise. Sure enough I had found some yellow song birds and I spent a few minutes watching two of them flitter around. It was just great to be amongst it all.

We also came across a beehive, and we had to wade across a river (well I did with Cat on my back) – yes there were crocodiles in it, we had seen a big one only 300 meters back. It was at this point I found a leech on my leg and he had been there a while as he was nice and fat!! After the river crossing we started to head back and covered some ground where the tracker knew a large male rhino was often seen. It was something I really wanted to see having missed it in Africa due to an ear infection!!

We did then see a few barking deer, they bark like dogs, the good thing was Cat spotted them (I’ll make a country girl out of her yet!) and the big male had a full head of antlers so it was great to watch them disappear into the woods!! Soon we hit the track road which was normally used by safari jeeps but wasn’t yet due to large mudslides not being cleared. We had about a 50-minute walk to get back to the river to cross over on the canoe.

About 2 minutes along there was a faint crashing in the distance, we all froze and stopped and listened, then another and another and our guide said Rhino Rhino. We quickly circled around being VERY careful and quiet. It moved very quick and at one stage I was sure he was heading the wrong way but then we caught a glimpse of him through the trees. He was very camouflaged, just a grey bulk behind the tree trunks and bushes. After a stop and a quick check we quickly crept further round and closer, we were about 20ft away and the rhino had stopped for a drink. He clearly knew something was up as he stopped drinking and lifted his head. We stood still and quiet and watched, half wanting to get a little closer and half preparing to run if it turned towards us.

We watched for about another 2 minutes as it drank some more and then slowly walked away. It was an excellent experience and feels so damn real to be hiding behind a tree whilst a rhino is only a few feet away. We were very happy with our guide/tracker and he was pleased for us. Then we walked back and after chatting in Nepalese they started to search the wood where they found fresh rhino pee, which they started to collect from all the leaves and plants that had been sprayed. We asked why and they said it was pretty valuable for making special medicine!!

After this we slowly made our way back along the jeep trail. We saw some other trekkers, some had seen nothing others had also seen a rhino and one had even seen a sloth bear. We are very keen to check out other parks around March time when the grasses are much shorter as seeing animals like that is such a good experience. The whole day with 2 guides cost us £40 which is a lot but it was a great experience and compared to some of the cheaper jungle treks we heard about, we had a great day.



For our second day we planned to have an elephant day. In the mornings at around 10am, elephants come to wash in the river right out the front of our hotel. We could see it from our balcony and there was even a big croc sitting on the opposite bank. We went down to riverside and it was a lot of fun to watch. The elephants and the people getting sprayed by them really seemed to enjoy it.

In the afternoon we went to the elephant sanctuary/breeding centre. To be honest it was very run down and even though they are doing a good job with breeding and rehabilitation, and we got to see the babies, they had no fencing around the enclosure and so the elephants were being chained up to a 12ft long chain around one leg. There were lots of people there but there was something that just didn’t quite sit right for me and I felt a little bit sorry for the animals, they just didn’t seem as happy as the elephants that we had seen that morning, even though they came from the same place.



The following morning we headed out and back to Kathmandu on the “squiggly road.” It was a hard ride with a lot of switchbacks, there was not a lot of traffic but the total came out at over 300km which is a long day at 40km a hour!! The best part was going over the beautiful mountains at 2500m high and getting a great view of Mount Everest!!! Once back in Kathmandu we looked at a couple of guesthouses but got harassed so much we decided to go with what we knew and headed back to Elbrus House. They were very happy to see us and made sure we got a big room.




We have now applied for our Indian visa and have to wait a few days more to see if we get it – which we should. So we’ve spent our time just relaxing and catching up on blogs and photos, and visiting our favourite Kathmandu bars and restaurants.



On one day we went to Pashupatinath which is a sacred temple and river where the Nepalese bless dead bodies, cremate them and then throw the ash in the river – all in clear view of you. It’s the closest I have been to dead bodies, and it was a bit of a sobering experience to say the least. Cat found it a little harder than I did, but it was a beautiful thing to see it anyway as you will see from a couple of the pictures, and you can tell it’s a very spiritual and important part of peoples’ lives. But it was hard seeing people rub down the bodies of loved ones and we even passed a body lying on a stretcher right next to us, of a old man. It’s all dealt with very quickly – death I mean, sometimes people may have only been dead 2 hours before this takes place and in most cases the longest they have been dead is a day maximum. The cremation itself takes 3 hours, plus all the preparation/blessing time beforehand. The temple itself was very pretty and there were a lot of tourists around. I was careful of what I took photos of and made sure there were no uncovered bodies or people being blessed but as you can see it’s pretty sobering stuff.





One evening we spent with Tom – www.bigtomsride.com - to bleed his brakes on his BMW. We talked a lot of crap and had a good day, and finished off with some great food at his local favourite. We loved the buff chowmein (took us ages to figure out why they call beef “buff”, but then we realised it’s for buffalo!!) and also the roasted soybeans with chilli and onion, kind of like spicy popcorn. It was a very pleasant evening!

Another day we spent working on the Mule. Tom is a whizz with electronics, so we have re-soldered the sat-nav and HD light, which was really poorly fitted and I’m actually pretty disappointed in the work carried out by Seb Sports in Dubai. You could see it was such a rush job and at the end of the day it didn’t even last 2000km, very annoying.



Tom helped me sort it all out, but it was a very easy, albeit time consuming job. I’m very surprised at the lack of care given to motorcycles by mechanics and servicers. I kind of understand why they “cut corners” if it’s for a local biker and the bike is being ridden around good roads where they can come back if anything goes wrong, but even this should not be acceptable to us as bikers!! But when a bike is being ridden around the world, not to do the best job possible for that person seems like a slap in the face to every biker out there, I bet if they were riding the bike they would have done things very differently. Anyway we got it fitted much better and so everything works again. I also adjusted my clutch as it was playing up a little. I don’t know if it’s fixed as I haven’t taken the bike out on a big run but I will soon, I would imagine everything is fine.



So Friday we had to go get our India Visas. The plan was to get 6 months double entry but they only gave us 3 months single entry which was a disappointment, but we did meet a really cool couple and chatted with them and even met them for a few drinks later (a few too many in Cat’s case). We had a great evening, Rolf and Helen work as crew on luxury yachts and cruisers and go all over the world looking after the rich and famous, sounds like fun work huh!!

Today we were planning on leaving, but due to a rapid deterioration of Cat’s health we have decided to stay another night, I think the happy hour cocktails got to her!! So now we are sorting out our stuff and waiting to leave tomorrow. India here we come!!
__________________
Mr and Mrs Rixxy - London to Australia 2011 - 2012
www.jamesandcat.com
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 29 Nov 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: South Africa
Posts: 42
Safe travels ...

Hi glad to see another 990 Adventure rider out there on the roads... good luck on the trip. We are also on the same KTM bikes and in Egypt on our way to China. We'll keep a lookout in case ourpaths cross.

Rupert & Fanny
Rupert & Fanny's Big Bike Trip | Facebook
www.bigbiketrip.net
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 29 Nov 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: South Africa
Posts: 42
Safe travels ...

Hi glad to see another 990 Adventure rider out there on the roads... good luck on the trip. We are also on the same KTM bikes and in Egypt on our way to China. We'll keep a lookout in case ourpaths cross.

Rupert & Fanny
Rupert & Fanny's Big Bike Trip | Facebook
www.bigbiketrip.net
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 29 Nov 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: South Africa
Posts: 42
KTM Fuel filter

Just reading your blog about Iran and the problem your 990 Adv. S had which I'm sure you have worked out is the fuel filter and as you put it "shitty"fuel. We have replaced our fuel filter a couple of times now on our adventure.... a bit of a faff... but although dear they are small to carry and until KTM design in a pre filter in the fuel filter that can be swapped in easily and cheaply its going to be one of three KTM Achilles Heals.
Also, most importantly, we filter all fuel going into our 990 Advs with the "Steve Thomas" filter which was made in Kenya ....and really makes a difference. Details in our Kenya Chapter of our diary.

Go well.....
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 30 Nov 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: London
Posts: 130
Thanks,


We also fliter all the fuel aswell now before it goes into the tank, India seems to have pretty good stuff but who knows.

I will get it changed again once i get to Bangkok!

See you guys out there!
__________________
Mr and Mrs Rixxy - London to Australia 2011 - 2012
www.jamesandcat.com
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 12 Dec 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: London
Posts: 130
Introduction To India

Introduction to India

The madness of India started at the border. We could tell we were getting close because there were so many people (and buses, lorries, rickshaws, bikes and cows) coming and going. We carried on ahead, expecting big long queues at the border posts. But all of sudden, above us was a great big “Welcome to India” sign. Had we left Nepal? Where was customs for Nepal?? Where was passport control??


We pull up and ask some casual guards our questions, he points me towards a quiet looking, run down building and says that is passport control and customs for Nepal is over there, pointing toward about 50 lorries lined up which I cannot see past. The truth is I could have just ridden in and no-one would have known or cared and let’s be honest we’re on the rumbling KTM so it’s not like we go very unnoticed, but maybe that helps give you an idea of just how busy it was.



Cat waits with the bike while I clear the Nepalese side pretty quickly thanks to the usual friendly Nepalese staff, who at the end say a simple bye bye from Nepal and good luck in India! I jump on the bike and we ride past the welcome to India sign, we are both looking for the India customs and passport office on a street with lots of shops, and thousands of people, vehicles and all the other things I listed before on a street no wider than Brick Lane in London. Then all of a sudden an Indian man jumps out and shouts PASSPORT CONTROL!!!! I jam the breaks on (I was only doing 10kph) and come to a stop and there it was, passport control for India: 4 guys sitting at a table with some stamps, on a busy crowded street. They reminded me of the telephone card sales guys you get outside some shops.

We sorted the passports with them and then I went over to another shop with a small sign that said “India Customs”. They are on lunch I was told, I asked how long and the guard shrugged his shoulders, then the door flung open and the senior looking guy signalled me to enter. I gave him the carnet and he told me to sit. They seemed to have finished lunch but they were sitting around having a chat, and in the process sorting my paperwork.

Lots of people kept banging at the door and once my carnet was done they let everyone in and what was a quiet room with 5 guys chatting became a room of 35 people all pushing and shoving and shouting over each other and I was glad to be leaving!!

Once we cleared everything I waded back to the bike past the crowd of about 50 people to get to Cat, we jumped on the bike and headed out. Things were crazy, so many people and not even 50 km from the border the traffic and roads were horrendous! It was getting late (about 3pm) and we wanted to hit Gorakhpur before dark but it wasn’t looking like it was going to happen. We pushed on, the roads were busy but we were excited to be in a new country and were noticing some BIG differences to Nepal.

We found the town as it was getting dark. The traffic was gridlocked, and I mean gridlocked: every conceivable bit of space was used bumper to bumper and both my panniers resting against other bikes or cars. I was having to use the panniers as battering rams to keep people from cutting me up. We had been caught out, we didn’t know where the hotels were and moving through the town was very slow, after asking people and riding around we finally found the main area and settled on what looked like a half decent hotel. (but it turned out it had lots of bugs, the free wifi didn’t work, and instead of the usual paper-thin walls, it actually had a grill/hole in the wall between ours and the next room. So we were pleasantly woken at 6am by our neighbour hocking and spitting, and I think even being sick. Nice.)





Tired, we went for a small walk, grabbed some dinner and went to sleep with the plan to leave early due to wanting to get out the town before the traffic starts.

In the morning we woke early as planned and went and tried to get some breakfast (tried, because the “included breakfast” hadn’t started yet), then saddled the bike up and left. To begin with it was easy going but it got worse and worse. We had a big day planned, around 470km, so I was keen not to waste time. We soon hit the “highway” and it was actually a half decent bit of road with a central reservation, but don’t be fooled into thinking a little bit of pavement, grass and concrete barriers mean anything over here!

It was early and quieter when we started and Cat decided she wanted to ride for a bit, so she hopped on and for about 50km she was pilot and I was co–pilot but traffic got busier and we started to hit towns so we swapped back. Around 8.30am things were getting very busy and the idiots were out to play (side note on idiots – the tv ads for bike tyres actually say “the roads are full of idiots”!): people overtaking each other and leaving you no room, and all manner of rickshaws, bikes, lorries and jeeps coming towards us when there is nothing wrong with their side of the road! At one stage I had a lorry to my right coming towards me, one pulled out towards me on my left, with a car in front going the same way and a guy behind me not wanting to slow down trying to overtake whilst heading straight towards the lorry on the right! It was ****ing crazy and we didn’t feel safe.

The whole place was an assassination on the senses and my natural road sense was freaking out. After 400km we realised we wouldn’t make our destination if the roads continued like this, so decided to get to a big city and “re-plan” as we could not do this bit of the trip with our usual happy-go-lucky-no-planning-turn-up-and-find-a-hotel attitude.

So we headed for Kanpur. Again the traffic was mental, no pavement so everything mixed together, again I was having to be a bully on the bike and make it known I would push the smaller bikes around if I needed to. We got stuck at a railway crossing and everyone surrounded us, there must have been 200 people around us, I could hardly see and the Indians are not like the Nepalese. It’s not in their culture to be polite: they like to touch and poke and grab and lift so you have to be strict or soon they are trying to climb on the bike with you. After about an hour of battling through town we found a good hotel with fast wifi so we could get on google maps.

We went for a walk and found a shopping mall, it was a medium sized mall but it was modern and was like being on oxford street, except for getting followed around by an ever-growing pack of Indians, but from time to time the security would come and they would all go away. Anyway this mall had a KFC and McDonalds, and we decided we deserved a treat, so Cat got KFC and I headed to Maccy D’s thinking about my Big Mac, then to my horror realised they serve no beef – NO BEEF IN MACCY D’s!!!! so I changed tactics and went back to KFC.

We ate our chicken then headed back to the hotel. We had decided we need to plan out our route more carefully and keep the mileage down to 250km a day but still give ourselves the whole day to get there, leaving bigger cities before 7.30am to avoid traffic. We also planned to use google to screenshot areas with hotels in each stopping point so we know the area we needed to be heading. This took us the whole day and we planned the first 50% (month and a half) step by step, fingers crossed tomorrow it pays off.

........

Well today was a different India! We got up early and set off and we were on the road by 7.30am, the town was starting to surface but was no busier than London would be at peak times (if London had wild cows). We got out the town pretty quickly as we knew what roads we needed. Soon the city was behind us and we were battling pot-holed roads with lorries - we still faced the same challenges with cars and lorries on the wrong side of the road but my pace slowed a lot and I was feeling a lot more laid back knowing I had, if needed, 10 hours to do the 272 km.

We stopped by the road side for breakfast and had a nice banana, some watermelon and some potato cake. Then got on the go again, and things were still very hectic but I felt I was managing a lot better. We were following our road plan, but after about 150km we found a tiny but great bit of road, signposted right to our destination Khajuraho, the home of the Karma Sutra temples. (Signposts are another of those mystical implementations of the west that India hasn’t quite adapted to yet.)

We rode around the town looking for a hotel. We could see it was a touristy place and there were quite a few touts about, but after looking at about 10 places we found a good place that was up to our standard and fitted our price range (£5 a night). We settled in but as we had planned things so well we decided to go look at the temples that afternoon as it was only 1.30pm.
The temples are absolutely jaw dropping, the workmanship and detail was amazing and I was blown away! We went into the Western group of temples, I think there are other ones but these are the main. They are all set within walking distance around a lush green garden, and as the sun started to lower it made them go a beautiful orange colour and this just added to the atmosphere even more. At the base of each temple, you just take your shoes off and you can climb up to look closely at the engravings, or make a prayer. I hope from the pictures you can get an idea of just how good this place was and it is definitely up there with my favourite historical sites that I have been to.
So three days in India has already brought us the mad roads, great roads, crazy cities and complete non-common-sense of other road users; being followed by curious Indians; Cat practising her big-bike riding in the most dangerous (road-wise) country yet; some beautiful historical temples; and a complete senses overload of sights, sounds and smells as we drive through villages, beautiful and sometimes filthy countryside Our next mission..... Tiger Hunting!
__________________
Mr and Mrs Rixxy - London to Australia 2011 - 2012
www.jamesandcat.com
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 4 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 4 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
London to Cape Town, November 2012 Tfoy97603 Travellers Seeking Travellers 56 4 Sep 2012 16:51
London to Istanbul billyedit Travellers Seeking Travellers 4 2 Aug 2012 14:48
Melbourne to London 2011 - 250CC nickandrabbit Welcome to HU 10 5 Dec 2011 12:20
Dakar to Nairby - best route? Wheelie sub-Saharan Africa 0 17 Nov 2011 13:39
Plotting a route through West / Central Africa Equatorial Matty sub-Saharan Africa 2 6 Nov 2011 08:36

 
 


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




All times are GMT +1. The time now is 14:29.