A Travellerspoint blog

India by royal enfield

I hated to leave Manali. I made so many friends there, and there's just something so magical about looking out on those mountains. I left at the stroke of midnight, quite ominous, but the reason seemed logical enough. I was heading to Delhi with an Indian guy who swore we would have an easier ride if we rode at night. Wait Indian roads in the mountains at night! It was freezing cold which made it even harder to concentrate, as my teeth chattered and my hands could barely grip the handle bars, but it was a crazy fun ride, with sheer drop offs into ablivion as Tata trucks headlights on full beam blinding me, rumbled along on the wrong side of the road. We got into Delhi about 12 hours later after being lost of nearly 2 hours just in Delhi. My riding buddy who was supposed to come with me all the way to Goa decided it was too hard for him and he bailed out and put his bike on the train south.

After a week in Delhi i finally headed off to go explore Rajasthan. Its an amazing place, unique in India. It seemed like every 20km there was another impressive fort that had to be explored and history to be learned. the sights on the road really make you feel like you are in a very different place.
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Not all the things you see are what you want to see. The drivers in India leave a little to be desired.
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In Puskar the camel fair was in full swing. I ran into a couple of people Id known in Manali. Lots of others here too that were making their way to Goa.
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After I couldnt take any more camel farting I headed north to Bikaneer. Most people miss this fun town. The history here seems somehow more real, maybe because it hasnt changed in hundreds of years. The tiny alleys are just the way traders from the East would have seen them.

Next stop was close out to the Pakistan border in Jaisalmer, this is the furthest reaches of rajasthan and you really get a feeling that you are far out in the desert.
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Of course it was necessary to do the obligatory camel safari here. i did a day trip with one night out in the desert sleeping under the stars under a thick camel blanket, which was appreciated in the cold desert night. But wow what a great nights sleep. 3 other guys were in the group and 3 guides that lead the camels, cooked the dinner and after washing the pots and pans made an impromptu band and sung local folk songs in the still night air. IMG_6011.jpgIMG_6003.jpg

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Posted by Dodger 10.05.2010 01:50 Archived in India Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

India 3 months in

manali Himashal Pradesh

62 °F
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wow 3 months. As usual sometimes it seems like years, and others it was just yesterday i was arriving. I'm not going to make excuses for my tardiness at keeping up with posts here, between travel, Facebook and just not feeling like writing..wait im making excuses.

I arrived in Calcutta and took the train straight over to Delhi, from there a bus up to Manali.

loved Manali
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and almost immediately found the perfect bike. a 350 enfield.
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Took a few small trips to get use to the bike and it was about 3 weeks later set off with a couple of guys for Leh Ladahk. It was a pretty tough crossing of 4 days. one day spent in Keylong when gus got lost and then I broke two clutch cables in a row, we gave up relaxed a day in keylong. Next day we made it about 10km when i got a flat. Didnt have a pump or the right size wrench to get the back wheel off. Don and Chen two Isrealis that had been at our guest house showed up. they had all the tools and soon we were on our way. All 4 of us traveled the rest of the way to Leh.
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Ok see Im already bored of writing this. lets be brief.

I did what I set out to do this year. i rode a royal enfield through Ladahk over the worlds highest motorable passes and into Leh.
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I explored Ladahk and then went over to Srinagar. from there I came back to Manali and have been having a great time here the last month. Ive been riding the bike on little excursions and running a little, hiking and being lazy.

I'm leaving manali in a couple of days for a huge ride through rajathan, and down to Goa. I'll be leaving with a french guy and a local guy who runs an interent cafe here. Most of the locals have business's in Goa and now is the end of season in manali and everything is closing and the start of season in Goa and everything is opening, good timing!!

Posted by Dodger 10.10.2009 01:24 Archived in India Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Malaysia

KL and Melaka

sunny 89 °F
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Arriving at the KL train station and making my way to the LRT train was confusing in the hustle and bustle of a big city. But asking for directions from anyone you are guided in usually perfect English and lots of smiles. The train station i wanted was one stop north of KL sentral. Yes sentral is Malay for central. You find a lot of words in Malay that sound almost the same as the English equivalent. Malya is also one of those languages that is phonetic. What you see is what you say. From Pasar Seni I followed directions Id written down earlier to the guest house a friend Id met in India said he'd heard was a good place. It was right on the edge of China town and just a few blocks away. I walked straight past it and got turned around and turned around again and was sweating my ass off with my backpack and day pack all in the 85% humidity. I spied another guest house and thought Id check it out and maybe get directions to the place I needed to go. The Reggae Guest House is like an oasis of luxury. I walked in and thought wow nice place but its way out of my price range. The woman on the front desk was like everyone Id met in Malaysia, happy and smiling and helpful. Ok Im totally waffling.

After settling in I took a trip up to Batu caves. The buses are efficient and drivers mostly knowledgeable and friendly. Caves were interesting, but to be honest I enjoyed the little tourist stand in the mouth of the cave that had Hindu goddesses playing some funky little tune that rang through my head for the rest of the day.
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Kl is a modern city with Mono rail, light rail, and buses. There are some older inner city areas and they are now starting to realize they need to protect these areas.
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KL is a shoppers paradise. I hate shopping, but it was worth going just to see the amazing malls. Times Square is the daddy of them all.
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After a few days in KL it was time to head out into the rest of the country. No easy task to leave the comfy guest house. Melaka is south and a 3 hour bus ride. I arrived and found Ringos Guest house, run by Howard. The reviews had said it wasnt a particularly clean guest house, but Howard was a fantastic host. When I entered and was met by Howard, the first thing I noticed was his two mountain bikes. After a little chat it turned out he was going to be doing a bike ride with the local mountain bike club and said I could come along. Two of the other travelers came along too. The ride was 47km into the countryside, down small streets and out in the dark. These guys were great. It was just like a group ride at home, but in blazing heat and we started out at 9.00pm.
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After doing the big road ride on wednesday they told me about another ride that was all off road in the jungle on Friday. i couldnt miss that one, so stuck around in Melaka and went out in the middle of the night again. Flat tires are just part of a ride, these guys are pretty efficient in changing them.
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Ciggy breaks on a ride!! How serious can they be.
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Still a great ride, and good to get some exercise.

Doing the tourist things in Melaka
Big fake Portuguese ship, that houses a pretty nice museum with all the history from the Portuguese through the Dutch to the English. All had their turn in Melaka and turned it from a successful trading port to a forgotten about backwater.
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Old town center
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Melaka at night really puts on a show.
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They love their food here, all the influences of China, Europe and Asia come together. The food markets are the best places to eat. large open courts with food stalls on the perimeter and seating in the middle. walk the stalls and give them your order, sit at your table and they bring the food.
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I'm so bad about reaching places and then not being able to leave. eventually it had to be done. Pack the bags and say good bye to a wonderful time in Melaka. The bike group have tempted me to come back to compete in what they call a jamboree. A 12 hour bike race in October. Next stop Penang.

Posted by Dodger 06.06.2009 18:43 Archived in Malaysia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

New Zealand to Malaysia

sunny 90 °F
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well good to see I'm starting this trip out the way I will probably finish it. That is to say, I'm failing miserably again at reporting anything. I left Rotorua after getting a pretty good plan together for the next 7 months. the campervan is taken care of and so is the road bike. the mountain bike i took with me first by bus to wellington then by plane to Perth, via connecting flights from Brisbane to Melbourne and finally in Perth 10 hours later where I had a perfectly timed hand off of the mountain bike to Greg who is taking care of it until I return back though there in December.

Lugging the bike wasn't too bad, but wouldn't want to do it on a regular basis. In Brisbane it was raining and the box got water in it. Hopefully it should be ok
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From Perth domestic airport I had a bit of a drama with the shuttle bus driver who refused to transport me to the international terminal because I did have my itinerary. Tiger Air couldn't print out the itinerary because they were domestic and thier system didn't connect with Tiger Air International. The shuttle charges $8 to transport you from domestic to international, so what this drivers problem was i don't know. i got into a pretty heated "read, called him him a few choice names" when this big Aussie guy walks up who had been hearing what i was trying to do when I was at the Tiger counter. He tells me, "nah mate you can't get anywhere talking like that to someone, this is Australia" he then proceeds to politely and tactfully find out why this is such a problem for the bus driver to take me. After going round and round with no result the Aussie looses it and starts yelling loud enough that everyone in the terminal is looking and telling the driver what a prick he is and is making Aussies look like idiots. I went off to find a cab and found a Pol and a Jap! polish guy also going to Singapore and Japanese girl also going to Singapore, all of us on the same flight! Had a lovely time with them, but they were going straight on more connecting flights and I was going to take a rest in Singapore for the day. It was now 2.00am, but the airport was pretty much closed and I had to hang around until 5.30 when the trains started.
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Singapore airport is not only huge, its spotless and quite palatial.

I really enjoy the Singapore trains. Clean, on time, and easy to use.
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Oh wait, I think I took this shot because contrary to popular belief there actually is litter in Singapore.I haven't seen anyone chewing gum yet or spitting! I arrived out in the suburbs at the hostel i stayed at back in February. Its a ways out, but its cheap, quiet, and Yang knows everything there is to know about Singapore. he gave me the full run down on how to take the city bus across the boarder to Malaysia where I would catch the train to Kuala Lumpur. This I would do the next morning after i got a good day and nights rest.

Next day was easy peasy. Everyone speaks English in Singapore and Malaysia. The bus driver gave me instrutions as we came to the immigration check points and i sailed through to pick up the bus on the other side to carry me to the train station all for $1sing!

Buying my ticket was almost too easy. It didn't even feel like i was in a foreign country. But then these English tourist showed up talking to the ticket counter lady like she was deaf and stupid, "Which platformy do the chew chew come to? you understandy me?" They congratulated themselves on making themselves understood to the foreigner with the funny head scarf. But then continued to ask everyone on the platform if this was where the train to KL would pull in. Geeze there was only two platforms.

My first experience of real Muslim women and a train ride in Asia!
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The train showed some signs of long service, but was kept immaculately clean by the train porters.
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Asians are known for not being openly touchy feely in public, but this doesnt seem to be the case in Singapore and Malaysia.
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And so finally after 1 bus, 4 planes and two trains I arrive in KL
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Posted by Dodger 04.06.2009 07:56 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Tongariro Crossing 2nd time

Yup second time at the Tongariro crossing.

rain

Strangely, I've just realized that its almost a year to the day that i did the Tongariro Crossing. Last year it was much better weather. As I drove up from Wellington through lovely sunshine, little did I know as I lazily made my way to Tongariro National Park that the sunny days were about to end. Last year I blasted through the crossing in some ridiculous time, brought on by two Americans guys who between all three of us decided we had a unannounced race on. By the time we stopped to chat to each other, we had past pretty much the whole trek in about half the normal pace, and we'd also missed out on climbing Ngauruhoe. This time I wanted to rectify that.

I woke at 6.00 and got ready in the cold cold morning. Because of the low cloud not many people were doing the crossing. About 50 of us from various buses congregated at the drop off parking lot. Some had already set out when i got there. So rather than be at the back behind everyone, I quickly took off down the track.

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The bus driver had given us all the spiel about how we could die and how its a long trek, and DO NOT climb Mt Ngauruhoe because the weather is bad and you really could die. Winds were forecast for 60km per hour and freezing rain expected by mid day. There was no way I had come to do this hike for a second time and not try to Climb Mt Doom.

When I reached the base of the mount, I headed straight up before i could give my self a chance to think about it and wonder if it wasnt such a good idea. The weather played games with me. The cloud would come down and Id think this isnt good, then out of no where crystal clear skys would appear and Id think Im gona do this.

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Bloody hell this thing is steep. Its a shear volcanic cone, and the climb is up volcanic ash that is as fine as sand. In places Id take 6 steps up and slide 5 steps down. The wind howled and as I got higher there was ice on the rocks and small flurries blowing around. Worse was the rocks that came tumbling down out of the clouds, hurtling down the cone face sometimes only a few feet away from me. At first I thought maybe they were coming down from some other nut climbing, but I realized it was the wind gusts sending them down.

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Im not sure if this picture does justice to how steep the cone is, but I had to scramble up on hands and knees in places where I was really exposed to the wind.
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But then the clouds cleared again for a brief second and I got this fantastic view.
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I'm not sure I even saw the summit, but when the ice was forming on my hat and the cloud was getting so low I only had about 10meters visibility I decided it was time to turn back. figured I needed to take this shot, in case I did die up there, then someone could at least say, well he made it to this point.
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Back down on the track conditions had deteriorated too. I started to catch up with some of the slower walkers that really looked like they shouldn't even be up there. And I later found out that some actually did turn back.
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At red crater you come to a narrow ridge that the wind was just howling across. It's a shear drop off on either side, and one side drops straight into an active volcano. It was here that people were turning back. Although this crazy French guy was having fun.
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this better shows the narrow ridge
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Reaching the view point that looks down onto to the Emerald lakes. Didnt look anything like I saw it last year.
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And last year
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This was the highest point and after that we were much more protected from the weather as we descended back into sub tropical jungle.

So now I'm back in Rotorua and waiting out still yet another cold front. If it passes and the weather clears in time, I may drive back down to Tongariro and try yet again to climb that volcano. At least this time my legs will be in even better shape to tackle it and I'll know what to expect. The day after the climb on the drive back to Rotorua I stopped at Kerosene Creek for a well earned dip in what was the best hot springs yet.
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Posted by Dodger 07.05.2009 03:48 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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