The idea - to ride around parts of India, mainly Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to film, photograph, write stories and share them with the world through a book and DVD
where do i begin to tell a story of how great an adventure can be…..
The trip to the airport was quite uneventful really as I headed towards Newcastle ready for my flight to Dubai, well, when say uneventful…….that was apart from the tractors cunningly disguised as cars because just about every car we came behind I am sure was pretending to be a tractor due to the speed the coffin dodger was driving at without a care in the world, braking at every bend even though they were doing no more than 30mph, but it was impossible to pass due to the roads and bends…..must confess it drives me nuts that people like this are on our roads.
Arrival at the airport and the queue was astronomical even though the aircraft was due to leave at 1300. Here I was at the end of a queue convinced it would take longer then the 2 hours remaining. A chap stood next to me was also very perplexed as every time he had flown this route by 1100 there was no queue at all…….the wait began……..
Sure enough by noon I was through and heading up the stairs towards…..yes you are ahead of me aren’t you…..another gigantersorus line of people in various levels of undressing as we headed towards the security gates. There were in front of me 5 gates that could happily be used but only 1 operating along with 2 scanners operating . From the queue of people in front and behind me you could almost hear the BAA BAA as we were herded like sheep going to slaughter.
I was dressed in my motorcycle clothing with boots, carrying my helmet and on arrival at the belt of doom I placed everything into the plastic trays and thought I would leave my boots on and see if I could sneak through….”Oi” i heard “you will have to take your boots off” said a cheeky lady, so was taken to one side to undress my feet, to the whisper of “you can take the rest off too if ya fancy”…..”best offer I’ve had today” said I “it is the only one you are getting as well” the cheeky smiling security dolly replied. It made us both laugh and lightened the mood as I explained the boots were worth than me.
Everything was of course fine and taking my boots and everything from my 3 trays redressed and headed off to the boarding area. This had taken so long so far on arrival at the boarding area it was straight through and onto the aircraft, a Boeing 777, finding my seat I was thrilled to learn that whilst I had an aisle seat there was no one going to be sitting to my right and it was as if someone had undone their belt after a large Sunday dinner to allow for expansion……bliss.
The flight left on time and off up into the sky way above the clouds so high we went and headed for the stop over destination of Dubai and I would like to say at this point the flight was the smoothest I have ever experienced it was as if we where floating on fluffy clouds all the way. I would also like to point out that flying with Emirates has always been pleasant experience especially the distraction of gorgeous girls moving back and forth up the aisles providing thoughts that I thought had long gone !.
Food was very nice indeed and nothing was to much trouble. Partaking in two films along the way, one being the new ‘legend of Tarzan’, superb story and film very good indeed and the other being an Indris Elba movie who’s name escapes me that just passed the time.
It wasn’t long before “please fasten your safety belts” was announced as we descended to the landing strip with a bounce that whipped the tail left and right as we touched tarmac making the eyebrows raise slightly and onwards to our arrival slot. Then sitting there for what seemed like hours waiting for the stairs to join up and being allowed to disembark. What I do like about travelling with Emirates is there is no panic to get off the aircraft it is all done very calmly with a nod and a wink to the trolley dolls on the way passed to the arrival area.
Walking through arrivals heading towards the next departure lounge with enticing brightly lit shops tempting you to look at their offerings and indeed I did look at some G Shock watches but being unable to work out how much any of them were I moved off very quickly to the food area and thought to myself…….mmmmm I am a tad peckish lets look at what is on offer. My eye was taken by the pizza slices so up I went and chose to partake in the offer of 3 slices, bottle of water and packet of crisps for 65 Durams……surely that can’t be much can it……….’CAN IT’.
I will have one of those, one of those and oh yes one of those too please, smiling to myself that I was using universal language of point and mutter……..”you do take British pounds, yes?” of course sir was the reply that will be…………..$16…….how much I thought to myself $16…….I didn’t see the highway mans mask when I ordered or the horse tied up on the tree nearby. Then having given a £20 note my change was in Durams……what in gods name am I going to do with bleeding ‘Durams”. Lesson learned so moving on I will not make that mistake again.
The wait before boarding was to be 4 hours 30 minutes but it passed quite quickly enough and onto the aircraft at 0430 to find this time the trip from Dubai to New Delhi was not going to be as comfortable. Being wedged into a seat with no leg room and being sandwiched between the incredible hulk and fecking batman was simply awful. So much so I didn’t even partake in the spicy food offering for breakfast as there was no elbow room whatsoever……talk about a cattle truck and this was also going to take 4 hours……..I was in the deepest of joys I can tell you as Delhi could not come soon enough.
Sure enough it arrived on time shrouded in terrible air quality which was due to a couple of things. Firstly Diwali had just taken place and this festival is a festival of light with fireworks resulting in that many crackers being set off and there being no wind the resulting firework smoke was lingering over the city. Then in addition to this the surrounding states where burning straw in their fields making a toxic combination that all the newspapers and social media are writing about saying things along the lines of children lungs will be as bad as if they had been smoking. The air quality surely made my eyes sting and could ‘taste’ the air too.
Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia.
It is also the occasion for celebrations by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus. The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word deepavali, meaning "rows of lighted lamps". Houses, shops and public places are decorated with small oil lamps called diyas. People also enjoy fireworks and sweets too, so it's really popular with children.
What's it all about?
Hindus celebrate the return of deities Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after their 14-year exile. They also celebrate the day Mother Goddess Durga destroyed a demon called Mahisha.
Sikhs particularly celebrate the release from prison of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh in 1619. But Sikhs celebrated the festival before this date. In fact, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the most holy place in the Sikh world, was laid on Diwali in 1577.
The founder of Jainism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (nirvana, or eternal bliss).
- Many lights and oil lamps are lit on the streets and in houses
- People visit their relatives and have feasts
- Fireworks and festivities are an essential part of the occasion
- Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, is worshipped as the bringer of blessings for the new year
I have also heard the air quality issue is not just around Delhi or Gurgaon but as far down as Jaipur. The other result you get is sand in the air that sand blasts your throat area whilst riding so it is important to wear a neck protector and there are some exceptionally good ones from ‘BUFF’
Eventually passing through customs at Delhi airport I must also say that the way they handle everything is superb being very good at their jobs also making it a very pleasant experience. Once passing through you make your way to the conveyor belt and it never seems to take long for your luggage to come through….placed on a trolly and off to get a cab where for 650Rs or INR650 (£8) I would be taken some 25 miles to my hotel for the first part of the adventure.
Formule 1 hotel in Gurgaon, where I have stayed before and knew what to expect. On arrival they knew I was coming and got booked in quickly and then up to my room on the 7th floor. The rooms are not massive but a good size for 1 person with a super shower always hot and powerful too which I perfect for me with everything in the room you need, including free WiFi.
On arrival I was to make my way to Eagle Rider New Delhi, as they where providing a bike for my companion on this journey, my friend Digvijay, who is a thoroughbred Indian and would be riding a Royal Enfield Himalayan. So we made our way to be greeted by the owner and passionate motorbike rider….. Samar. He has linked in with the brand Eagle Rider who are a worldwide brand offering motorcycle rentals and tours being established for some 25 years. Samar has joined forces with them to offer Harley Davidsons and selection of Triumph and Royal Enfield machines to rent or to use on one of the tours he will run for Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh, both being somewhat central to India for adventures. He will also be running tours up towards the Himalayas.
There seems to be an explosion of people setting up tours around India, and like everywhere else in the world there are different levels of tours, support, experience etc etc………In India it is no exception where people are thinking because they have a motorbike they can take people on tours. It is the result of an opportunity to make money but for me going on a tour is not just a case of knowing where to go, it is also about the back up, the passion of the owner and knowing you will be taken care of should anything happen. That is what Eagle Rider and Samar offer through Eagle Rider that comfort factor following the way Eagle Rider have done tours for over 20 years is now in India. Let me give you an example……….on a tour there will be a support vehicle, a mechanic, spare motorbike, you can also hire all the clothing you need, the equipment you may need……in other words it is being done right and that is worth its weight in gold.
For me I am riding a Triumph Tiger XCA being supplied by Triumph India and DJ (Digvijay) will be riding the Royal Enfield Himalayan (a fairly new bike for Royal Enfield) and this is being supplied by Eagle Rider New Delhi. We are travelling on our own route and will be riding around, it has finally been decided, Madhya Pradesh for approximately 30 days and that is what this story (and films) is all about.
The first few days after landing have been about acclimatisation because if you think you can take a 14 hour journey covering 5000 miles into a country where the oxygen levels are so different your head will spin for a while and just jump onto a motorcycle to disappear off into the distance then allow me to say……you are very much mistaken.
You need at least a couple of days to come to terms with your surroundings, and allow your body to adjust to the environment also. Basing yourself at Formule1 in Gurgaon is an ideal location because not only is it kept to a very high standard you also have shops right outside the front door for everything you might need from food to a chemist and from a shoe shop to a mini supermarket from food and hygiene products, plus Gurgaon is an ideal location to get onto the National Highway 48 which takes you directly down to Jaipur the gateway to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh
On Monday I will be riding to Eagle Rider office to get the horn on Tigger the Tiger (yes the name of my Triumph is Tigger the Tiger) as riding in India without a horn is madness and to finalise everything ready for the ride down to Jaipur. On Tuesday as I am going to Pushkar animal fair having been told it is an amazing fair and for me I cannot wait to discover and share more of Incredible India with you.