Indian bike trip or 'how shit are Enfields?'

So, many months ago Mssrs Martin and Carr started planning a motorbike trip across north india. Carr's idea really, sam bought in quite quickly and I was interested. I'd seen people riding around india on these beautiful old British bikes (now made in Chennai, India) and thought 'what a bunch of wankers' but secretly wanting to have a go. Sadly my contract didn't end in Lanka until October, and when they were planning it, would be term time for me :-( I thought about it for a few days and thought "fuck it", handed in my notice at work and agreed to join them. Mr Carr then rang the bell of C**t and pulled out due to some pathetic excuse that had something to do with large amounts of poo in his pants. Sam n I decided to go ahead. Nearer the date, I bought mr Carr's enfield 350 bullet from him for way too much money, cos it looked lovely on facebook and I was a bit drunk at the time.
I arrived in Delhi, to find the disastrous commonwealth games preparations well under way, in that the city was a bomb site with rubble, deep holes, large pools of mosquito breeding grounds, part finished metro tracks/stations and lots of 'workers' sat round drinking tea, while large machinery sat idle. I'd been looking forward to it, as I hadn't been in Delhi for 8 years and it used to be one of my fave places to wander around. This was my first view of pahaganj!

Not as I remembered at all. Went to pick up my new bike the next day, and it turned out to be a bit older than I'd thought (should have asked really!) but still a great looking bike!

Trip back to new Delhi from old Delhi was a bit of a mare, everything in the wrong place, gears on the wrong side and going the wrong way, back break not where it should be, and it stalled at every set of lights and had to be kicked back into life in the heat of a Delhi day. Not a good beginning.
Sam arrived 6 days later and we picked up his rental bike, and prepared to set off the next day.
First stop: Shimla, in the foothills and once prize hillstation of the old British army days, where the entire Indian administration used to move to en-mass went the heat if the plains got too much.
What a shit-hole! I'd been years before but had forgotten how much I hated it. I have no pics as it rained for the first 2 days of the trip and I wasn't getting my DSLR out in the monsoon. This is sam not far outside if shitla the following day, we were both caked in mud for this entire day.
On to Narkanda, a hard days ride through rain clouds and mud. Visor up, too dirty to see through, trucks splashing thick mud all over us and into our helmets. A woman at one point decided to jump from a low wall directly in front of my slow moving bike, the result being me on the road, cuts and bruises and giving her evil looks. This was maybe the first time of very many that I had to man-handle this heavy bastard bike upright after it lay in the road, often with sam's help.

Narkanda was lovely but we over indulged in the local apple wine (himachal pradesh is famous for its apples).
The 3rd day took us to Reckong Peo, place of permits to enter the valley beyond, our destination Spitti valley, high in the himal and close to the Tibetan border.

Our first view of the snow capped peaks from Reckong P. We had a rest day here and (in theory) got the bikes prepared for the rough roads and high altitude to follow.

Sam waits for bike repairs/maintenance to finish.

All a bit hazy around here, Tabo may have been next, I don't remember. We were heading for Nako, that much I do remember. This is where the brown smelly stuff starting hitting the spinny wind machine, and shortly after Pooh (yeah really) we failed, or rather the bikes failed to climb a hill. We returned to pooh, in the poo. After failing to get the bikes fixed for a day and a half we took out air filters, cleaned plugs, cursed a lot and attempted the incline again. We managed to get to the top and arrived in Nako. A fantastic little Buddhist Himalayan village adorned with prayer flags, prayer wheels and walls, with a nice little gompa to boot.

Walls full of carved slates, Om Mani Padme Hung (praise to the jewel in the lotus) a Tibetan chant/ prayer referring to the buddha's rise from the shit of life to enlightenment.
Part 2 to follow soon.

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Into the hills

So we left Arugambay and headed into them there hills. First stop Ella, famous for a gap! And the view from there down to the plains. Stayed in a nice place but sadly owned by a nut job, who seemed to hate everything and everyone in Lanka, give Ravana guest house a wide birth, don't think he's in 'the book' anymore....he hates that too.

Ella and half its gap, shrouded in rain cloud.
We then decided to treat ourselves to a few days in the Tea Factory, as the name implies, an old tea factory converted to a luxury hotel. It was nice to be cold for once in Lanka, but it did rain consistently.

Not a great pic, but the only one I have from around Nuwara Eliya, where the tea factory is.
We then headed back to Colombo, which was a hideous 7 hr drive along some of the worst roads in SL, which is crazy as it's the No. 1 tourist destination for the locals.
What follows are some just for fun shots I took on the trip, a bit random, but pics I like anyway.

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New lens

Finally bit the bullet and traded the two lenses I got with the Canon EOS500d for this beauty:
Not perfect I'm happier overall; I don't have to continually change lenses, and it all fits in one smallish shoulder bag.

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Last trip round Lanka.

I took over 300 pics so selecting just 5 is going to be hard. We started in Dambulla, famous for its rock cave temples. Photographically not that interesting, but worth a visit. We took in Sigiriya on our way to Polunaruwa, which features in some old Duran Duran vids, and has some very old rock paintings, which they claim are not restored, but I have my doubts.

We moved onto Polunaruwa once an ancient and important city, but now a sprawling mass of fascinating ruins, built over many hundreds of years, containing both buddhist and Hindu temples and architecture.

I've just realised that this is the only pic I have on the iPhone and you don't really get an impression, but I like the pic anyway. We headed up to the east coast and Trinconamalee next and spent some time chilling on the beach. Easily the best beach in Sri Lanka for many reasons, sadly I caught a cold the day we arrived, so the first opportunity to dive on the east coast in 25yrs due to civil war, was lost to me :-(

We then took a lovely drive down the east coast to the south and Arugam bay, and spent some more time chilling, also a beautiful and deserted beach, apart from hardcore surfers.

Cathy and Laura blending in with the sunset.


So, long time no blog, been very lazy and have been using facebook instead. So what've I been upto. Well... Where to start?
I suppose finishing work is a good place. 1st July I stopped work, and have been on holiday ever since. Hired a car and did one last tour of Sri Lanka, which was great. Some highlights of that to follow. Then a bit of time in Colombo bumming about and sorting out my stuff ( giving most of it away ( you lucky bastards you). Then headed off to Delhi, bought an enfield 350 bullet from a friend, met up with another before heading up to Spitti valley, some of the hardest motorbiking to be done in india, if not the world. Was a very hard trip, and came to an end when my mate came off and dislocated his shoulder, though we had been on the road for 11 days by that stage. So very near the end. Will post pics next. This trip was followed by a trip to a trip to the Maldives, and then a trip to Hong Kong, which was awesome, and I'm sitting in a place called Moalboal, Cebu in the Philippines, where I've been doing lots of diving. Today I passed my 50 dive landmark, rescue diver soon I think. Pics of all of these to follow soon.