Sorry if you’ve been on the edge of your seats, checking for updates every other minute, I said there’d be more news tomorrow; then left it 3 whole days! You may think we’ve been too busy swimming in the sea, jumping waves hysterically, eating delicious tikka King fish watching the sun burn red as it sets…. (That was the case up until Mon, rest assured.) But the reality is i’ve been struck by a case of Delhi belly, so it’s yoghurt, plain rice and porridge all the way, when Joel can get me to eat it that is 😉 . Devastating, but really no better place to be under the weather!
So, I’ll resume the story…
You’ll recall our friend Abhinav, who was kind enough to put us up in Mumbai? Yes, well he headed down to Goa with Silvia, the sweet Italian hitchhiker who’d been staying with him when we were, leaving us alone in his apartment – so kind of him.
We gave him a call from our favourite Cookie Walla (best value thali, run by sweet Nepalese guys) and he was in the cafe next door! Bit of a coincidence, considering he could have been anywhere in Goa! So we popped in… He was sitting with a couple of Israeli guys and a German girl he’d met when they’d all been travelling up north in the mountains. Not long after we arrived, one of the guys and Mira, the girl, got up and said they had to go to Panjim, Goa’s capital. They stepped out, and we began to tell the others about our problem, which to recap, is this:
Our plan was to arrive in Mumbai and cycle down the coast, taking in the beautiful places Joel’s been hearing about continuously since we met, and was looking forward to finally seeing! Then we’d turn north and ride from the tip of India way up to Nepal; a grand total of 3000kms. We’d really been looking forward to the pressure being off in India as we’ve been racing for various visa deadlines along the way. A six month visa would allow us plenty of time, even to cover just 150km a week, spending the rest of the time sightseeing and relaxing. Enter the problem… As we applied for our visa in Dubai and not in London, we were given only three months (even though the clerk had assured us six would be fine, so we’d paid for six), which really threw a spanner in the works. This meant that we’d have to be out of India by Jan 15th. NB: the Indian government have recently introduced a new rule – you must leave India for two months before they’ll allow you back in. Now consider my best friend Loren’s flights out here she’d booked (completely non-exchangable, and inflexible – of course, of course…) to Mumbai for Jan 23rd.
Gah! So we had some rethinking to do…
If we pushed really hard we’d make it all the way around, by bicycle, but that would mean cycling long days, every day, and having no time or energy for sightseeing. Seeing as this part of the trip was meant to be more of a holiday, we ruled this out. Plus that would mean cycling in the cold North in winter. Another option was to stick the bikes on trains. Public transport was something we’d categorically ruled out when we’d been discussing the final leg of the trip whilst awaiting the visa in Dubai, we really wanted to ride it all.
We thought for a long time about options… Whilst talking one evening, Joel and I decided we needed to make this trip suit us, and not just about our plan that we’d made; which was now out the window. We knew we should see everything he wanted to, seeing as who knows if/when we’d ever come back. He said he thought he would like to come back one day, to buy a motorbike and ride around the country, as so many people do. I said to him that if that was really what he wanted to do, why leave it ’til next time? So we started thinking about that. The feasibility and the expense. Whether it would work. Also weighing heavily was our agreement with Rainbow Zebra, and whether the cash they’d pledged for The Siddhartha Foundation UK would be out the window, seeing as we wouldn’t be cycling. Unfortunately the main man at their end, was out of the country, so we couldn’t even discuss it with them. We really felt lost, searching for a solution.
So back to the cafe: We explained all this to Abhinav, concluding with our idea of continuing by motorbike. (The expense of buying one would be outweighed by half the number of nights needed in hotels, and a helluva lot less food – cycle-tourists are renowned for their huge appetites!) He leapt up, “You know, that’s what they’re going into town to do, sell Dekel’s Enfield!” He ran out and delayed them. The excitement made our chests tight, Dekel explained he was flying to Thailand tomorrow and needed a quick sale, so the price was low: Rs 22,000 (£293). But we’d need to decide within half an hour, as he was on his way to meet an Indian who was interested. Ahh… I was unsure, and didn’t want to rush such a decision. Joel went for a ride with Dekel, on the back, and came back gleaming! Abhinav and Mira had been discussing it, and concluded that if we didn’t buy it, one of them would, just to sell it on when the full-season began, it being so cheap and all.
Travelling by Royal Enfield in India is something I’m familiar with, and it’s a great way of getting around. Same experience as cycle-touring in that you get right off the beaten track, but without the sweating up the hills. (I might have mentioned previously that Joel has been dehydrated almost continuously since we arrived in Mumbai, no doubt adding to the lure of the engine!) Dekel told us that she would need 5000-8000 Rs spent on her to get her up to perfect condition. This was still a good deal, remembering we’ll be able to sell her on no problem.
So we bought her, and named her Dorothy.
Dave hired a fancy new Yamaha with only 40k on the clock, and we took them for a spin. Dorothy cut out on a hill, after 80kms of smooth sailing. We got her going again, Dave being quite the expert on motorbikes, having raced them in his (extended) youth!
Back in Arambol, we checked her into an Enfield Walla, Dekel’s quote of 8000Rs was pretty accurate. We’ll get the final figure today.
Dave left a couple of days ago, bright and early. He’s heading down to Sri Lanka, totalling up incredible daily mileage no doubt. That’ll be the end of his trip, flying back to NZ for xmas. He had some incredible tales of his time in China, Vietnam and Thailand. His blog is on crazyguyonabike.com entitled: Dave’s Chillout Tour of South Asia. You can read about all sorts of adventures there and see the pics, including whatever he’s written about us! I better check actually! We had a great time with him, and hope to meet him somewhere again one day. Thanks for an awesome time Dave! (A drinking buddy for Joel!)
We plan to set off in the morning, guts and Dorothy dependant. 🙂