Meanwhile, back on the 'open' road - at the gates of the Golden Temple, Amritsar, NW India....
I'd picked my way through the ever narrowing streets following locals' gesticulations towards the temple. I'd read that it may be possible to stay here in an area within the complex set aside for foreigners. Sure enough, I was ushered in by an imposing Sikh and, having handed over 'cigarettes, alcohol and drugs' was led - bike and all - to an enclosed courtyard where, amazingly, I was given a private room.
I unpacked and joined the pilgrims walking clockwise around the Golden Temple which is set in a large ornamental pool. Steadying myself for a photo I was handed an empty bucket and promptly swept up into the daily cleaning ritual. Later that evening I was invited to join them in the communal eating halls. Attendants went from row to row ladelling food out of metal buckets as we sat cross-legged in lines on the floor - painful at the best of times for Euro-man and food from buckets? Not for the faint-hearted. My request for the A la Carte menu was met with a blank expression.
The end of a long day, and I would have slept well but for the incessant wailing, chanting and gnashing of teeth together with the constant comings and goings throughout the night. I contemplated a call through to reception in my half sleep....
From Amritsar my route took me North East to Mcleod Ganj, home of the Dalai Lama (he was out), on to Delhi and from there to the desert region of Rajasthan. Spectacular scenery, spectacular forts and spectacular driving conditions awaited me on my journey south.
For the full story, click on MORE below....
Delhi. With extended visa in my pocket - more easily said than done - I zig-zagged my way through the debris down the roads towards Jaipur and Rajasthan.
Ah yes. The roads of India. Everyone has their tales and I've done my best to catch the drama in a cartoon.
A typical scenario: I pull out to overtake a bus. Straightforward. I then realise he's overtaking a slow moving truck which is moving out past a spluttering rickshaw who's overtaking a camel and cart which is avoiding an old man on a bicycle. Change down and gun it through the ever shrinking gap between me and the deep gravel on the right hand side. I look up to see that the same sequence of events is going on - coming at us. Never a dull moment. I had considered welding the front of a bus to the front of my bike to give me a little more 'presence'.
Original cartoons from my journal.
Life on the roads was always intense and 'in your face'. You constantly needed your wits about you as an accident was waiting for you around every corner - and on the straight bits. But fortunately, despite the seeming chaos of the narrow streets there was always an 'oasis of calm' waiting for me behind courtyard walls. I just needed to find them - not always easy. The Cosy Guest House in Jodhpur was one such example. By the time I found the doorway I swear the cylinder heads were scratching on both sides of the alley walls....Narrow, yes, but it was worth it.
Happy days spent sightseeing and lounging on the terrace overlooking the magnificent Meheranghar Fort with Ray, Chris, Tam, Jack and Joleen. Brief friendships that were much enjoyed by the 'Lonely Biker'...What are you all up to now?
It's impossible to tell every tale in this limited space but....Christmas and New Year were spent in beach huts in Goa. There was romance and sunsets, sunrises and hangovers. There was undelivered tyres, an Indian Christian wedding party, good coffee, bad alcohol, dramatic temples of doom and Shakespearian weather leading to embarrassing electrical failure despite serious amounts of 'The Elixir of life' - WD40.
But despite these highs and lows, I finally rolled up on the southern coast. Made it! This must be photographed...Me, the loaded bike, the Indian Ocean as back drop. I could picture the final enlarged photograph above the fireplace at home...The stories I would tell over dinner... " Sir! Photo?! No problem.I can help you.."
Travel Tip No. 303: Take a tripod when travelling solo.
Next. The route North and the Nepalese border
Posted by Simon Roberts at April 26, 2009 08:42 PM GMT
Next HU Events
- Brazil: Feb 22-23
- Germany: May 29-June 1
- HUBB UK: June 19-22
- NEW! Canada Maritimes: July 4-6
- USA Colorado: July 11-13
- Ireland: July 18-20
- Canada West: Aug 21-24
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 14-16
Horizons Unlimited DVD Special - it's time to Get Ready!
Northerners! The weather outside is frightful, so what better time to start planning your next adventure! To help you get started, for February we're taking 30% off the Get Ready! DVD in the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'GETREADY' on your order when you checkout.
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!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
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.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
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!
Books & DVDs
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.
Membership - Show you're proud to be a Horizons Unlimited Traveller!
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 such as this one (18 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.
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!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!