Transit from Los Angeles to the Madpacker’s Hostel in Delhi, India – Day Zero
It was a long and arduous journey as we make our way through the seven kingdoms… Sorry.. No, it was quite a nice trip considering it was over 21 hours of flight time (15 hrs to Hong Kong, 6 hrs to Delhi). Cathay Pacific’s economy class was relatively spacious and also had great food. They gave Häagen-Dazs for dessert! At Hong Kong’s airport I ate some braised duck and rice, then promptly got onto my flight to Delhi. Getting through customs kind of sucked considering there were hundreds of people and only a few attendants.
Once through, I needed to get an overpriced airport taxi which gave me a preview of the maddening roads that I’ll be traversing on a motorcycle. Turn signals and lanes are practically non-existent. The main way to get by is sonar. And by that I mean honking a fuck ton.
At the hostel I met up with my travel partner who got there a day earlier – Ethan!
May 18, 2017 – Day One
Woke up at around 3 am and couldn’t go back to sleep but couldn’t really do much without waking up the 10 other occupants in the room. Damn jet lag. Once the sun was up, as quietly as I could, I showered and got some stuff out to write this blog and do research on the following day’s activities. This whole trip is really unplanned but that’s how we like it – YOLO.
Breakfast consisted of Roti, chick peas, watermelon, and chai (milk tea). Afterwards we set off on a journey to rent a motorbike. We paid a tuk-tuk driver to get us close to where the destination was. He had only a clue as to where to go, the rest was stopping every couple minutes to ask for directions. About 15 minutes of driving was worth 60 rupees or $1 US dollar.. the wealth gap is insane.
After calling the owner of the shop, we finally managed to walk the rest of the way there. It was his house and he was renting out about 8 new Royal Enfields. Unfortunately our dates wouldn’t work for him so he had his driver give us a ride to his colleagues house free of charge about 45 minutes away. Named “Tony Bike Centre,” the place was legit as it gets for India, I guess.
After dealing with paperwork for about an hour, we needed to pay in cash. So we were escorted through the streets in search of an ATM. We needed about 20K for the rental and 30K for a deposit. The limit per withdrawal however, was 10K. Another thing we soon learned, was that the withdrawal per day limit is only 3 times. Also, these ATM’s aren’t very well stocked. So we had to go through about 7 ATM’s and various unintelligible error messages before figuring out all of the aforementioned. The ATM’s were getting sketchier as our pockets got fatter and the alleyways getting narrower.
With about 70% of the cash in hand we figure they’ll be lenient, and they do. While we were gone they prepared the bikes and the gear, which consisted of a helmet, gloves, elbow and knee guards, motor oil, 2 gas canisters, 2 spare tires, spare clutch and brake cables, spark plugs, and a tool set. We then went on an unnerving test ride with the assistants. By the way, I’ve never ridden on public roads or carried a passenger. Never mind the crazy driving that was occurring around me. Shit. Fuck it, I got on and owned it. It’s really not that bad because it’s madness in these streets. And as a result, everyone is on edge and looking out for their safety. So as long as you don’t do anything stupid, you should be alright… right?
Once we got back, as a result of us being the first idiot’s of the season to go out there, they put on a necklace of marigold’s on our bikes to symbolize good luck. Or something likes that, idk look it up there’s a lot symbology associated with it. We then began our first 45 minutes of driving.
Back at the hostel, we hung and chatted with the other residents. Everyone’s super chill and we all decide to go out to the clubs. A tuck-tuck packed with 5 people later, and we arrive at one of the very few places in India where alcohol is served. I mean shit, prior to this we had to go to the back of a sketchy alleyway just to get a beer. At the club, we did you know.. club stuff – dancing and drinking. To my delight, the energy level’s were pretty awesome. I learned some new Indian dance moves and had an overall great time.
May 19, 2017 – Day Two
Left way later than we wanted to. Shouldn’t have drank.
Went to markets for some necessary supplies for our journey. We took the subway and it was actually really nice – they had AC! When we got there though, it was HOT, they really need a Walmart out here yo. Lot’s of beggars around, kind of depressing but they ain’t getting a rupee out of me. (It’s known not to as it will just attract more.)
Back at hostel got some food, supermaret supplies, and found our last item- bungies.
5 PM departure time. Way too late but whatever, fuck it (As you read on you’ll notice that this was the theme of the trip). Friday night mad traffic, mad sketchy. Lost Ethan. Couldn’t stop to make an attempt at calling him. Decided to continue on until I got out of traffic but when I finally did, I found out he waited back in the city. I’m 45 minutes away. Riding at night is exhausting. UGH. Finally meet him. We get to hotel. Wrong address. Fuck. Finally get to the hotel at 9 PM. Nodding away while doing paperwork. Throw everything into the room and fall asleep.
May 20, 2017 – Day Three
Woke up at 7. Have breakfast with the owner who was a former doctor. Really nice guy and well traveled. Offer’s us 50% off for when we come back so he could hear our stories. Awesome.
Our destination today is Chandigarh. Let me reiterate to you how insane motorbiking through indian traffic is… Nobody signals, nor does anyone stay within a lane. The stoplights are only a suggestion and when you do stop everyone is just inching to the front so that the space is as densely packed as possible. Entire families of 4 travel on tiny mopeds with babies in the arms of the passenger. Remnant’s of exploded vehicles are found on the side of the road. The truckers take great pride in their vehicles by decorating the everyloving crap out of them and adding a funny little horn. It’s quite an experience.
By the way, this is how I was writing while traveling due to exhaustion:
Hotel is nice. Yeah yo. Got food. Crazy hot outside. Yeah yo. Went to sleep at 6 PM.
May 21, 2017 – Day Four
Woke up at 7 am (13 hours of sleep). We made the split decision to go the Srinigar route even though we heard there was terrorist activity. YOLO. Left without much of a plan. Bought a crappy $4 helmet because mine didn’t fit well.. Got gas, filled up canisters. Stopped at a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere. So odd, we haven’t seen one till now. I’m thinking corporate messed up the name of the town and just decided to run with it.
Traveled till about 5pm. Stayed at Kay Kay Resort -$30 in the middle of nowhere. A lot of money but whatever, lets pay more and not get our bikes stolen. Why does such a nice resort exist here? How is it paid for? I mean, we were seemingly the only one’s staying there. So strange.
May 22, 2017 – Day Five
Yo yo yo what up mann. Writing to you at about 9k feet in elevation. Anyway, lets recall the past few days shall we? Today was a fucking insane day. First off we decided to go the Srinagar route, and second of all we decided to up our daily hours to 6 hours. Third but not last we decided to go through the mountains and add an extra hour to our estimated time of arrival. Note: “estimated.”
Found an airbnb while still within the warm grasp of Wi-Fi at the hotel, he promptly accepted. We were given coordinates to get there. Odd…
Driving through the mountains, we passed by a marvel of engineering of a dam, by Indian standards.. Should’ve gotten some drone footage. Mountains were awesome but just a preview of what was to come.
Stupid cows caused a ridiculous amount of traffic which probably added an hour or two to our transit. Plus there was a one way bridge that didn’t help.
We went through a bunch of little mountain towns which had a lot of greenery before making our way over the tree line. By this time it started getting dark and we still had a ways to go. We didn’t eat anything since breakfast and didn’t dare stop because we had so much driving to do.
Finally at about 9 pm when it was fully dark out we decided just to quit about 40 km before our destination at this little village. Some guy came out with wide eyes at us white foreigners and you could see the money signs in his eyes. I didn’t care, I just wanted to sleep. He talked really fast and kept saying, “no tension no tension!”. He led me up a very sketchy, narrow corridor to the room which pretty much only had room for a bed. I said fuck it and he asked for 2400 rupees ($40). Ridiculous, I know but I was exhausted and talked him down to 1900. We then unpacked all our stuff. He wanted the money right then and there, so I went to the nearest ATM. It was dark and I was on full guard, hand on knife. ATM didn’t work. I told him I’d get it in the morning he reluctantly said okay. With all our stuff settled in I noticed the bed had no mattress then Ethan pointed out that we could only lock the door from outside. That bit of information plus everything that just transpired culminated in my mind to say, “Let’s get the fuck out of here.” We made sure all our stuff could be packed in one go because we knew they would not be happy. So we got our bags onto the bikes as quickly as possible (not an easy task) and luckily they didn’t do anything crazy. We re-packed our stuff down the road and then continued to the Airbnb.
The GPS led us off the main road down a few narrow streets with no lighting at all. At the destination we couldn’t find the place and about 6 teens came up to us asking us if we needed help. They seemed alright but we were still on full guard. One of them had a bat. Okay thank you, never mind, bye-bye!
So we went back to the highway where I remembered seeing a hotel a few miles back. There they were very nice and we got a room for 900 rupees. They even helped us bring the motorcycles into the building. Got a quick bite to eat then passed out at around midnight. Crazy day.
May 23, 2017 – Day Six
Today we rode through Srinagar without a hitch. A bit of traffic but no riots or anything crazy that we’ve been hearing about. We finally started getting into the Himalayas and subsequently, higher elevation. We passed through this little hotel town named Sonamarg where there were beautiful greeneries surrounded by snow covered peaks. Horses roamed freely throughout.
After stopping for lunch, we continued picking up elevation when suddenly there was traffic for as far as the eye could see. We later learned that there was a landslide and they expected the pass to be opened by 7 PM. It was about 4 o’clock at that time and we decided there was no way we were going to make it to our destination of Dras. So we cut our losses and turned back for the hotel town. On the way Ethan stopped and mentioned the idea of camping out. Not a bad one… We see this construction road going up about 100 m and quickly get up. No problems – lets do it. So we go back to town for some food and quickly come back to set up camp.
After setting up, we chow down and watch the sun set over the mountains. We then proceeded to retrieve some firewood which was about a 200 m hike. A bit of a waste considering it only lasted about an hour. Whatever, we need our rest anyway.
At about 1 am I woke up to do some astrophotography which turned out beautifully due to the new moon and high elevation. I took a composite of about 8 photo’s in order to capture both the full span of the Milky Way, as well as the mountains below. I wasn’t know if it would work out until I plugged them into Microsoft ICE weeks later. This is by far my proudest shot as an amateur photographer.
May 24, 2017 – Day Seven
After a breakfast of biscuits, banana’s, and instant coffee, we packed up and got ready to embark on probably one of the most dangerous public roads in the world. One problem though – my bike wouldn’t start. I tried hill starting it down the service road to no avail. Shit. After about an hour of hill-start attempts and troubleshooting we figure it’s a dying battery which lost its charge in the low temperatures overnight. Ethan rode to back to the tiny mountain town to make an attempt at finding jumper-cables. Luckily there was somehow an electronics store there and we were able to get about 20 feet of maybe 18 gauge wire. No way that would be able to transfer enough current. We split it into four pieces and spliced them together. After 10 minutes of charging we were able to get it started. Phew…
Our spirits were lifted right back up after we were treated with some stunning views. Almost distracting enough to make mistakes. Which I did make. I stalled out trying to avoid a puddle which, without any power to help, caused me to steer right into it. My engine (and feet) got wet, causing it to steam and, with the battery being complete crap, I couldn’t start it with the push-start. With me trying to kickstart it, traffic was blocked and I was getting exhausted due to the low air density. Someone got out of their car and thankfully kicked it back to life. Disaster averted.
These roads took us higher and higher in elevation until there was 40’ of snow on either of our sides. The road hasn’t seemed to have been paved in years, and as a result of the snow melt and enormous overloaded trucks passing through, it was incredibly difficult to traverse on a motorbike. Waterfalls flowed through the road. There were no barriers to protect you from the 1000’s of feet of shear cliff faces. The trucks practically took up most of the road and if you didn’t get out the way, well… I don’t think they would’ve slowed down in time. Through the intense focus and unending bodily micro-movements, we got to Kargil with very sore minds and bodies.
May 25, 2017 – Day Eight
Today we make it to Leh! We needed to jumpstart the bike again but besides that the trip there was fairly uneventful. Holy hell though were landscapes absolutely unreal. We were in the high desert. Did you know there are deserts at 12,000 ft. in elevation? Because I didn’t and I just couldn’t keep my eyes on the road.
We stop at a little Buddhist temple just for shits and giggles. These things were all over the place. The people living in the mountains were very Nepalese looking by the way. I couldn’t find any answer’s from a quick google search but my guess is that the geography and diet of Himalayan life has evolutionarily shaped their faces.
Spirits were high again once we finally made it to Leh. Hotel’s here were expensive though! Someone asked us for 5000 rupees.. pshh okay. After about 5 attempts, we found this family run homestay named, “The 4 View Guest House.” Lovely people. We got a relatively nice room for only 1000 rupees, and the lady made us the best Chai we’ve had yet. After settling in we got dinner at a touristy noodle place then went to a tourist guide shop for advice on obtaining a permit to go to Nubra River, Pangong Tso, and Khardung La – the highest motorable road in the world. We would only be able to get it at 2pm the next day. Bummer.
May 26, 2017 – Day Nine
We took a much needed relaxed morning. No rush to back get on the bikes. I haven’t really portrayed to you how hard we’ve been riding. I mean everyday we would plan for about 4-5 hours of riding but it never ended up that way. We found that doubling that number was more accurate. So from morning till after sunset (most of the time) we would be riding on bumpy terrain with little to no back support. We were SORE. At about this point we began fixating on our plans to go to Bangkok for burgers, beaches, and bitc… Yeah.
After a lovely breakfast consisting of an omelet, roti and delicious Chai by our hosts, we left to check out the town. We actually found a nice coffee shop and got coffee along with an attempt at their Wi-Fi… no luck, apparently the whole town is down. Afterwards we paid a visit to the markets. Didn’t buy anything but it was interesting to compare the prices of what you could get there vs. America. Oh, and there’s no refrigeration? So there’s just meat shops with raw meat hanging in the open… Yum.
Once 2 o’clock hit, we went back to the tourist guide to pick up our permits. Problem.. they messed up our dates. It would’ve taken an hour to correct that so we decided to leave for Kardung La in the morning. Once again, bummer. Guess we’ll have to spend another night here. Oh well, we needed the rest. We also had no idea whether the road to Manali would open up so we wanted to take our time.
We just hung out in the room for the rest of the day. Blogged a bit, read a bit, played some phone games. It felt so good to just relax and be in one position.
May 27, 2017 – Day Ten
Khardung La, our goal, what we’ve worked so hard for, is within our grasp today. My mirror is cracked, battery case lock has fallen off, battery is nearly dead, the welding of my bag holding chassis is sheared, the kickstand holds the bike at too much of an angle, and my body is still sore. Mentally however, I’m so ready.
We set off and are briefly stopped at the base for permit and bike inspection. Technically the bikes are required to be in our names, but we rented ours and in the interrogation we slightly fumbled our cover, and nearly didn’t recover.
We made it passed though, and began the nearly 7000’ climb – starting at 11,500’ and ending at 18,300’. It got very chilly as we climbed and needed to layer up mid-way at a viewpoint. It took about an hour to get up and at the top the road became total crap. But once we made it to the top, all problem were forgotten. We did it.
An accomplishment tainted by the schools of families who paid to be driven up by the tourist companies. Like, shit what have these little kids done to earn that title. And then they have the nerve to nudge their way into getting a picture with the sign so they could quickly scurry their way back into the warmth of the vehicle. Posers is what they are!! But I digress… It really was a surreal moment to be here after over a year after the conception of the idea.
After the picture we climbed up about 30m up a snowy hill which had a rope for climbing support. Only then did I realize how much the altitude effected me. After about 3 steps I needed a break due to being so winded. We explored the little abandoned structure that was at the top then sledded back down on our butts. Lots of fun! GoPro wasn’t recording though ☹.
Time to go down, our destination was Sumur which bordered the Nubra River. Stunning views. I wish my DJI Karma was working but the gimbal somehow broke. Probably due to vibrations. Or dirt particles from my last flight which was by where I camped.
May 28, 2017 – Day Eleven
“Losing it. We made it to Pangong Tso but man everything is going to shit. Kickstand’s been broken, second kickstand is deforming, bag carrier is broken at the welds on one side, almost out of gas, battery is totally dead and I’m getting sick. Fuck man.” – in the moment George
Yeah, I kind of freaked out that day. I think it was the elevation that really got to me. The elevation of Pangong Tso is at about 14,000 feet. That, and the culmination of everything that has transpired within the last 11 days… We started saying, “It’s always something.”
Welp, I waited too long to write this (about 4 months) and now I don’t remember all the details. I do know that it was a once again a long and tough road through the high desert. The place I’m living at now – Mojave, CA – calls itself the high desert at 4000’… psh, we were at 12000’.
On the way to Pangong Tso now, there was a particularly rocky spot next to a river where I fell and it took me quite a while to get up. Ethan was in front and didn’t notice so I needed to wait about 5 minutes until a car behind me stopped and help pick myself back up. These bikes are about 500 lbs, okay!
I believe we stopped at a military town on the way for lunch. Cho mein for days baby! Continuing on, we finally get to the checkpoint of Pangong Tso where they check for our permits. We were getting pretty tired at that point and were hoping that we were nearly there… nope, another 2 hours will pass before we get to our campsite 😐.
We passed through a surprisingly green valley with multiple various wild horses and cattle roaming around. All while gaining elevation and using up gas. Oh yea, we used up all of our canisters by the way. Its okay though, the view of Pangong Tso distracted us from our woes. It took another 30 minutes of traveling along the lake to get to the main village.
The first cottage we tried was about 5000 RS ($77)… Judging by our looks the owners told us to find a different place before even mentioning the price. And so we continued our search to a tiny little 50 sq. ft. room that smelled funky and had no electricity or another amenities, such as heating. That’ll be 1800 RS please…. Meh, dinner was included and she cooked us a delicious feast. Afterwards, we took some photos of the lake and called it a night. Exhaustion is setting in.
May 29, 2017 – Day Twelve
I slept well but Ethan didn’t. The 14,000’ elevation got to him as he explained that he kept waking up gasping for air. After another solid meal and delicious chai it was time to go. Oh yea, the battery is totally dead. No problem, we’ll just charge it with Ethan’s battery and jump-start it like we have been doing for the past 5 days.
2 hours later…
Frustration is a word that pales in comparison to how I was feeling. Nothing was working. The owner of the cabin and his friends spent a while helping us out. We checked everything – the spark plugs, fuse, gas… Pushed it all the way up giant hills to push-start. Not sure what exactly we did, but it finally started up and we promptly said our goodbyes and thank you’s before the bike could get a chance to die again.
Finally on the road again. Today’s destination – back to Leh, and we were low on gas. We would be traveling through the second highest pass today as well, and we didn’t even know it at the time. We just kept climbing and climbing up this mountain with no end. At the top we were treated with some of the most beautiful views of the trip – A very prominent and steep valley leading to a lusciously green city.
After a bunch of pictures we were hit with reality. My bike was starting to sputter. I just put it in neutral and let it coast because there was no way to the city but downhill. On the way down, some guys stopped the momentum I had to ask for gas. Then insisted that I was lying about not having any… Later, about mid-way down the hill I lost Ethan. After about 20 minutes of waiting, I decided to get off the bike and start walking up because there’s no way my bike was getting up there. I find out that the deutschbags that were begging me for gas earlier, decided to stop in the middle of the path around a bend and cause Ethan to fall. He sprained his hand pretty badly and broke his headlamp as well as his mirror.
Moving on, we get to the bottom of the hill where the village begins. The gas station is about another 15 km away though so Ethan continued on as I hung out, ate chips, and got stared at. I noticed that the gas station was in the direction of the downhill gradient though so I decided to continue on. Without GPS, I was really hoping that I was on the same road that Ethan took…
After about 10 km of rolling Ethan spotted me!! I filled up my tank and off we went back to our sweet, sweet, home-stay.
May 30, 2017 – Day Thirteen
I’m pretty sure we did absolutely nothing today. From what tiny bit of internet we could muster, I downloaded a stupid game on my phone and just sat and played that. We were beat up and needed the rest.
May 31, 2017 – Day Fourteen
We spend today fixing up our bikes and preparing for the journey back to Delhi! I bought a battery which was a liquid cell. Unbeknownst to me, a liquid cell needs 24 hours of charging prior to use. So we brought it back to the guy and we left it with him to charge for the night.
We also weren’t exactly sure as to whether we’d be able to get to Manali at this point. We were getting many mixed reports from people and no confirmations. Just that it would be open within the next day or two. We decided to continue with our YOLO roots and head out the next morning. Not knowing whether we’d have to turn back at a certain point. Next destination – Sarchu.
June 1, 2017 – Day Fifteen
Today was the big day, the moment of truth. We said our farewell’s to the best hosts ever, retrieved and installed the battery, saddled up, and headed out. Good bye Leh. Man, we were seriously considering just dumping our security deposits and flying back… But no, this was supposed to be by far the most scenic route of the journey; and there’s no way we’d be missing it.
Our first point of interest was the second highest road in the world at 17, 582 ft – Taglang La! We spent a good deal of time up here appreciating the scenery with little to no-one passing through.
Once at a lower elevation, we passed through some huge plains that made the journey just a little less aerodynamically efficient as the headwind was crazy strong! Once we got through that there was a huge canyon that we were just absolutely in awe of. An absolutely incredible site to see. What followed were many switchbacks that were hard to concentrate on as the scenery was jaw-dropping.
Our highs of the scenery came crashing down as we got to the next rest stop and realized that one of Ethan’s bag was missing. He rode back and attempted to find it while I sat, read and had tea. About an hour and a half went by before he arrived. No luck.
Continuing on… it was getting late, the sun was setting. I wish we could ride through that area again in full sunlight as it was just such a cool area. We were making it down another set of switchbacks when my bike suddenly powers down. Gas? No way. Shit. We’re practically out of daylight. Upon further inspection the battery wires somehow sheared off so we needed to splice off some wire to repair it. SHIT, the starter wires were in the bag that got lost… It’s always something. Somehow Ethan quickly and quietly figures out a solution before I even realize it. I forget what he did but whatever.. we’ve got to go.
At this point we’re absolutely exhausted, its pitch black and we’re riding on very rocky road. One lapse in concentration later and my tire hits a large rock causing my body to fling right off the bike and into the rocky road. I lay there taking inventory: my helmet might be cracked, shoulders definitely bruised, anything else? No. I slowly get up, and try to get the bike back up. Too heavy, too tired. Ethan was ahead once again, but there was another rider behind me. He helps me up just as Ethan gets back. We start the bike up and continue on.
Fortunately we weren’t too far. We got a little “bed and breakfast” for 200 RP ($3) each. It was a little shack with a row of beds with no spacing in between. Four others were staying there. They had big blankets that were probably never washed. Oh well, I’m done. I need sleep. Not before some chai though. 😊
June 2, 2017 – Day Sixteen
Today, we aim for civilization!!!! Although we did have some skepticism as the four people who stayed at the shack warned us of hell ahead. It snowed as they went through the pass and as a result, they all fell multiple times and took much longer than expected. We don’t really have a choice though and decided to proceed.
This day was by far the most beautiful of all days and we were treated with amazing weather to enjoy our ride. We passed through some very high and snowy valleys that were only recently cleared of snow. We actually went through a point where only one vehicle could pass through at a time. So I had to backtrack as the vehicle went through the narrow pass, resulting in me slipping in a pile of snow and falling. I could barely pick up the bike as we were at a very high elevation (~12,000’). Once again, the people in the car helped me up and we were on our way.
Continuing on, we reached lower altitudes and warmer weather, where we were greeted by the beautiful Suraj Tal Lake. Disregarding my insistence that we have little time, Ethan decided to take a dip. It was a really photogenic resting area so meh, whatever.
Next, we were treated with green valleys with snow-capped mountains, a marvelous area of which we couldn’t resist continually stopping and taking pictures; even though we were very limited on time, once again! As the elevation continued dropping, it got greener and greener – what a site for sore eyes.
We passed probably our sixth checkpoint, where I couldn’t resist getting a picture :p. While waiting for that to clear, we talked about how ironic it would be to get a flat tire at this point as nothing wrong had happened in a while… Welp about 10 km after the checkpoint, you could guess what happened. I used the little CO2 canisters I had, filled em up and had no choice but to continue on. The repair will have to happen in Manali.
With the temporary repair done, we had one more mountain pass to get over before reaching civilization. Reaching the top of this pass, we came across a truck which had nearly skidded off the side of the road. I’m sure the driver needed to change his underwear after that.
A seemingly endless amount of switchbacks later and we were through the pass. At this point it was 90% dark out but I really wish it wasn’t. This area was also amazingly scenic – filled with pine trees, waterfalls, and snowy mountains. It was completely different than anything we’ve seen yet but hey, maybe next time.
Civilization is finally here though as we reach Manali! And you know what comes with civilization? Traffic! Impatience got to us though so we just cut through it all. Once in the city, we couldn’t find the destination of the hotel we decided on. It took us about an hour of riding through this packed jungle of a city until we found a place that was suitably priced for our taste. Quite frustrating as you could imagine. Oh yea, and I’m practically riding on rim at this point as my tire is completely flat.
June 3, 2017 – Day Seventeen
One more town until Delhi… We really want to get to Thailand at this point. Not before repairing my tire though. It was about 2500 RP ($40) for a tire and tube, and 50 RP ($1), yes $1 in labor. I have no idea how that’s possible but I guess that’s what you get when you’re a mechanic in sandals.
There was nothing of note that I remember on this journey but I know we hit jungle territory and it was getting quite swelteringly hot. We found a hotel in the middle of nowhere, got a cheap place to stay that wasn’t very clean but hey, it had a balcony and running water. It’s not India though if you don’t get bombarded by a family for pictures. After that we unpacked our stuff down 3 flights of stairs, then dinner and bed.
June 4, 2017 – Day Eighteen
Delhi, here we come you beautiful shit-hole. Not before getting lost in the damn jungle. Maybe we didn’t get lost, I don’t know, but it took us waaaay too long of being on shitty and hilly roads before reaching an actual highway. Ethan was in bad shape at this point. His back really, really ached and we needed to stop numerous times.
It was smooth sailing though once we reached the highway. Well, except for the fact that it was 115° F and it felt like we were being bombarded by an industrial hair dryer. We stopped at a McDonald’s for air-conditioning and food. Another hour of driving and we needed to stop again, for more McDonald’s air-conditioning and ice-cream this time. We weren’t exactly sure at this point if we would make it to Delhi. .
Back on the road, I ran out of gas and Ethan wasn’t answering my phone calls. I was only about 1 km from the next gas station so I just walked it. Completely sweat drenched and feeling quite dehydrated, I got a bottle of water and continued on to the next station to see if Ethan was there and luckily, he was! Apparently, he nearly passed out while riding; the gas station attendant put him in front of the fan and gave him water. That was scary to hear.
We were only an hour away at this point and decided to push on. We reserved a room with the nice old man that we stayed with last time. He offered us the deluxe room for half-price, awesome!
June 5, 2017 – Day Nineteen
Ethan’s not doing well. He’s having horrible stomach cramps and can barely say a word. Unfortunately, we were going to have to delay our trip by a day.
So I just sat in bed that day with him and took full advantage of the WiFi. Do you have any idea how satisfying to be plugged back into the net after 2 weeks of virtually none? It’s kind of scary actually. Society as a whole is in this irreversible state of technological integration which has so many implications, of which I won’t go into now, but just think about it.
June 6, 2017 – Day Twenty
Ethan’s feeling better today! We reserved plane tickets for Thailand then went to return the bikes back. At the bike shop we got totally ripped off by having to pay about $200 each in repairs for the bike. Super shitty, but whatever.
Next, we went to the train station to try to figure out how to get to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, all train tickets were booked for when we wanted so we gave up as we had already gotten our plane tickets.
Back at the hotel though, our boy hooked us up with private rides to Agra at a not so cheap price ($70). Come on though, when will we ever see it again? And for a full-day trip for a private car, that’s nothing compared to what you would be charged in the states.
June 7, 2017 – Day Twenty One
Early in the morning we were greeted by our driver who was about 15 minutes late. We then filled up on gas which actually wasn’t gas, but compressed air, huh. We stopped once for breakfast and then made it to the entrance of the Taj Mahal.
Tickets in hand, we made it through the entrance and walked towards one of the seven wonders of the world. It was a pretty amazing site to see; only barred from perfection as one of the minarets were under construction. There was also very few people there as we were there during the off-season and it was early in the morning.
I was a bit disappointed inside the dome as I was expecting it to be much larger, like Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. The level of detail however was absolutely stunning.
Outside we observed some monkeys playing in the pool, fun! After soaking the whole place up in our minds, we continued to the next point of interest – the red palace. Not before being driven by Ethan who bribed one of the tuk-tuk drivers!
The red palace was alright – more detailed sculptures of stone. After walking through it all and getting some more pictures with the locals, we headed for our driver’s car.