India 🇮🇳: Motorcycle diaries – Ripped tyre, no petrol & the benefit of people everywhere (day 7)

Today: 348km | Total: 1,871km

I guess it had to happen at some point. After getting away with 2,000km cycling the Sultan’s trail last year and almost 3,000km through Vietnam this year … I had my first flat tyre. Not just flat, but ripped. I guess i didn’t stop quick enough to prevent that big a damage. Only stopped when it felt very shaky on the back wheel and by then it was too late.

Soon after i got to Serfanguri (ca. 40km from where i started), a bunch of mechanics took care of the bike. The rental agency surprised to hear, as the tyre was relatively new. Well, Rp2,600 (U$37) ain’t the end of the world. Within 50 mins of my arrival they had organised a new tyre and repaired the bike. Bigger issue now was that i had no cash and the closest ATM was back where i started this morning – so 40km backtrack.

In all my hurry i forgot that i was low on petrol. Well, i assumed that there was a reserve. What i failed to realise is that i run on reserve mode since i rented the bike. Right on top of a motorway bridge the bike stopped. I left it to find petrol. Now it was not without a sense of irony that i run out of fuel literally in front of a big refinery of India oil. Must have been 50 petrol trucks there… But no station. A guy in a moto shop nearby gave me a lift to a petrol station 5km away. Thank you very much. Problem solved and my ride towards Siliguri could continue.

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I stayed on the highway to make up time though probably spent an hour talking to family with Easter wishes. So it wasnt until nightfall that i reached a small city close to Siliguri and got stuck in extremely heavy traffic (stop and go on a sunday evening). Unbelievable but true… i run out of fuel a second time. 🤷‍♂️

Just one of these days. Friendly locals helped again in a heartbeat, which leaves me with an overwhelmingly positive feeling at the end of the day and shows the positive side of literally never being alone almost anywhere in India.

Now just a little more to go back to Siliguri and off to Mumbai – my last stop in India and with some familiar faces waiting.

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India 🇮🇳: Motorcycle diaries – Full throttle 😈 in Meghalaya, the ‘Scotland of the East’ (day 3)

Today: 298km | Total: 686km

India just doesn’t stop surprising and show off its tremendous differences. Today was just another example as i reached the state of Meghalaya – the 3rd state on my motorbike trip and the 10th overall (just 19 more to go, one day 🤣😂).

First up a few snaps with the Royal Enfield Classic posing across Meghalaya (the 📸 was busy today)

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Get me out of here

I woke up late in the run down hotel i booked late last night. I didn’t sleep well despite having been supertired yesterday, as i was fighting off mosquitos all night, was without ventilation (energy-saving or power cut 🤔) and with the entertainment of an Armageddon type thunderstorm all night. Despite the relentless efforts of the resident muezzin and his adhans, nothing happened before 9am. I also skipped breakfast and left this hotel and city as fast i could.

Adhan – muslim call to prayer

The muezzin calls six times for prayer starting with sunrise. Means the times change every day and are location dependent. Check your times here.

Hello Meghalaya!

My general direction was south-east, further towards Bangladesh. On the border is a national park i want to visit, but that is for another day. First up, i wanted to get to Meghalaya’s capital – Shillong. And that was quite a few km away…

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The scenery improved significantly once i was out of Goalpara and even more so once i crossed from Assam into Meghalaya. I became more hilly (the highest peak in the state is almost 2000m and it did get cold late afternoon) and very, very curvy with many tiny villages wayside. So let’s bend it like Beckham!

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Topographical map shows hilly Meghalaya surrounded by the planes of Assam & Bangladesh

It just didn’t stop… Must have been close to 200km of relentless turns and twists today as i yanked my moto up and down the hills. The roads here are good meaning in good condition and with two marked lanes. Not much traffic either and generally decent driving (well, cutting corners remains popular). Absolutely a dream for any biker.

A Christian state with woman matter

The whole state felt different in general. 75% are Christians (vs. only 2% countrywide, one of three states with Christian majority), english is the main language (no more Bengali though there are several spoken native tongues) and people look different (more akin to people from Myanmar than your typical indian look if there is such a thing). There are little churches all over Meghalaya and seemingly a complete lack of Hibdu temples or shrines not to mention mosques.

The state is also referred to as the Scotland of the East due to its hilly and green countryside and i guess the rainfall too, which is nowhere higher than here in the world (12m annual rainfall!). I actually felt like in Cairngorms national park at times and like in Colombia in others.

Different to most india, the women carry the family name and inherit the wealth (matrilineality) – a tradition stemming from the three key tribes (Khasis, Jaintias and Garos) and by far not the only place in the world with such customs. I guess that makes local woman a tough match for muslim admirers.

This time i reached my destination before nightfall and after refreshing in a fantastic homestay (Rockski B&B), i enjoyed some continental food in Shillong. Great place this city – while very busy traffic wise, it is clean and organised. What a difference to Assam (well, lets not judge so quickly).