● For full details on our route, transport info, hotel details, etc, look at our Google Maps page

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


26th to 28th April

Leg 20 – Mysore to Ooty
Distance – 140kms
Time – 4 hours
Average Speed – 35km/h
Road – Two lane highway into national park. Minor road with great surface through the centre of the park, across the state boundary. More national park road then 36 hairpin bends over 10kms, climbing 2200 metres up to Ooty.

With only 140 kilometres to cover, it sounds like a short and easy leg, but th
e last part is probably the toughest test for the bike so far. We left Mysore on the highway south, which looking at the map, should be a good road all the way. As ever, a surprise lay ahead. The nice road surface turned right at 90 degrees, and the signs to Ooty pointed straight ahead (actually there were no signs – the tuk tuk drivers are our signposts!) down an older looking road. After a couple of kilometres, the surface got even worse and we were reduced to 30km/h as we zigzagged along avoiding potholes and rocks. It continued like this for over an hour, and then to our surprise, we entered the national park. We found ourselves driving through the Nagarahole national park, home to tigers and elephants, feeling a little exposed to say the least! The scenery was amazing – no tigers, but we did see some deer. One national park made way for another, and then a signpost which shaved 20kms off our expected distance for the day. The ‘back road’ to Ooty is shorter but steeper. The final 10kms is the main climb, over around 2000m we estimated. It was a great ride, the scenery was stunning and the bike coped well considering it’s load. It was only over the last couple of kms where we had to pause for a few minutes for it to cool (with the help of some water from a stream!) We needn’t have bothered stopping as within 5 minutes the heavens opened and we got our second drenching of the trip. Sheltering in a petrol station for 30 minutes was a waste of time, the rain showed no sign of stopping. We ploughed on and found a hotel just around the corner – we’d have taken anything to get out of the rain, but this place looked nice enough and was within our budget too.

Udhagmandalam (or Ooty!) is South Indias most famous hill station, established by the British in the early 19th century as the summer headquarters of the then Madras government and memorably nicknamed ‘Snooty Ooty’

The rain stopped just after we checked in. Too late though, despite covering our backpacks with every plastic bag we could find, everything was soaked through and we found ourselves
decorating our room with wet clothes, ala a Chinese laundry. Starving as usual, at least we were able to head out for lunch. Ooty has developed largely around tourism and as a result was home to some quite nice and fairly fancy restaurants. The place we found for Thali lunch offered seating outside on a terrace and even tables adorned with pretty red and white check tablecloths – more in keeping with your local Italian. It was packed with well heeled (and well fed) Indian families and seemed a good bet; as usual we managed just half a meal each before rolling out of the door.

Although primarily known for it’s tea plantations, Ooty is also famous for it’s homemade chocolates. Virtually every shop in the town centre was a gift shop offering a huge selection of sweet treats and needless to say we had to sample the local delicacy! What we tried was good, not quite Bolivian standards but nice enough for us to gorge our way through half a kilo or so…the thali lunch long since forgotten!

It turns out that our comfortable Ooty hotel was also very “Indian”. Again, we were rudely awaken at 7am by the Chai man. If you don’t personally answer the door, the man continues to bang the door down until you do so. To the seller and indeed every being in India, it is inconceivable that anyone could dislike a cup of freshly brewed chai. Half an hour later and typically just as we’d nodded off we re
ceived another knock on the door, this time about the hot water…like we had any intention of showering at such an ungodly hour. Precisely ten minutes later, a third very excitable man could be heard banging frantically on every door down the corridor…”Hot water coming, hot water coming!!!”. We were not amused and the poor man took the brunt of Ady’s wrath.

Like most other hill stations we’d visited, aside from tacky family-oriented attractions, there wasn’t a huge amount to see in Ooty itself. The town was home to a famous racecourse and it would have been great to see a meet as the season was underway. Alas, it wasn’t to be and we entertained ourselves by riding up to the Dodda Betta viewpoint at 2633 meters, the highest point in South India. It turned out to be more of a bad theme park, getting in the way of the magnificent views, but was still worth seeing. We also dropped by a tea plantation and a nearby chocolate factory.

A massive man-made lake was a centre point to the town and featured every conceivable type of pleasure boat – small motorboats giving guided tours, rowing boats and pedalos. Overcoming our fear of family attractions, we paid an entry fee to allow us onto the fringes of the lake, hoping to hire a rowing boat and at least spend the afternoon on the water. Oh no…as we approached the boat house we noticed a very large and extremely infuriating sign prohibiting “Self Rowing”. It seemed that each rowing boat included it’s own rower, and the tourist was expected to sit patiently and be guided around the lake!! Incredible! Point blank refusing to pay a man to have all the fun and row us around and then no doubt expect a huge tip from us, we stormed off. The icing on the cake came in the form of an extremely rude and ignorant man who shoved his camera phone in Sam’s face and took a photo. Unfortunately this wasn’t the first time this had happened, but this guy picked the wrong candidate for his (not so) candid shot – we let rip and he didn’t know what had hit him!

The weather was starting to turn and the clouds were looking threatening. We stopped at the Rose Garden on the way home, a multi-terraced lawn of supposedly every species of rose. Not known for our appreciation of roses we were nonetheless disappointed to see rows upon rows of wilting, withering flowers. The other strollers didn’t seem to notice, perhaps it was too much to expect given the climate and altitude and I’m sure the gardener wasn’t a member of the RHS. We cheered ourselves up with more chocolates and returned to the hotel, to find no less than a note requesting us to move rooms!! Apparently there was something wrong with our bathroom. The slanging match that ensued downstairs after we refused to move made us believe that another large group had just arrived and we were in the way. Later that evening, a woman barged into our room and seemed quite taken aback to see us there, Sam in her undies practicing yoga! Thank **** we were leaving the next day!

Sunday, 26 April 2009


22nd to 26th April

Leg 19 – Madikeri to Mysore
Distance – 124kms
Time – 3 hours
Average Speed – 41.3km/h
Road – Half the distance on roughly surfaced back road, then the other half on brand new highway!

Winding our way slowly down from Madikeri, we sped up and slowed down as each small bridge along the road was under construction and covered in roc
ks, dirt and sand. After an hour or so, the surface improved and we took a detour via the Tibetan community at Bylakuppe for Momos. Then it was plain sailing all the way to Mysore along an empty new highway.

Finding a place to stay wasn’t
as straight forward as usual, we found that the cheap places had nowhere to park the bike. We were stalked by tuk tuk drivers trying to get commission from showing us a hotel – very frustrating when we had rode up to the hotel ourselves and we were not prepared to pay an inflated price to line someone else’s pockets! We settled on the Hotel Dasaprakash eventually – a large sprawling complex – a proper Indian hotel, catering for Indian families and not western tourists. Although the room was clean, it did remind us of some sort of institution. The attached restaurant was good though, with Thali for Rs45 with more than anyone could eat.

Mysore is a large city with several smart, cosmopolitan districts surrounding it. It was probably the cleanest city that we’ve been to so far, which made a welcome change. We planned to stay here for a few nights to relax, drop the bike in for a service and do some Yoga. As the home of Ashtanga Yoga, Sam planned on us visiting one of the many Yogashalas, but to her disappointment most of them didn’t offer drop in classes – you had to sign up for a 2 week course. We managed to find one school, in the posh Gokalum district of town, but as we were without wheels it wasn’t easy to get to. Could the bike service have been a cunning ploy by Ady to get out of doing Yoga?!

On our day without wheels we did manage to walk all around the centre of the town, taking in some of the sights, including the Rail Museum and the main shopping area. We both bought new jeans from the Levis store, for a fraction of the price back home. 3 hours were spent in various opticians, in the hunt for a new pair of sunglasses for Sam. The hunt was unsuccessful. Ady was very bored.

The following morning we felt fresh enough to tackle Mysore Palace, but upon arrival we had a slight altercation with the gate staff. When we refused to
pay the 10 times inflated price for foreign tourists, the man in the ticket office told is that we could walk in the grounds for free. As we tried to go through the gate, the guards wouldn’t let us pass without a ticket. We explained that we were just going to look around the grounds for free – they looked us up and down and tried to extract Rs100 each from us, a bribe, to which we laughed. This was still 5 times the price the locals would pay for full entry! Feeling frustrated we stomped of in search of cheaper thrills. The gallery in the Jagan Mohan Palace did not disappoint! For only Rs20 we could explore three floors of modern (?) art. On full examination of said artwork, we can confirm that it was in no way ‘modern’, but that’s our opinion – if you are in Mysore, have some time to kill and Rs20 burning a hole in your pocket, you should judge for yourself!

The next day we had the bike back, and rode to Chamundi hill, just south of Mysore, to take in the view. It was OK but very overcast, I think we were getting to the point that we are done with hills and temples and palaces… it’s been a long trip so far!

Sam got to attend her Yoga class, meanwhile Ady had to go and get the bike cleaned, because he had to do something to avoid Yoga. Ninety minutes later, the bike was still dirty as he failed in his quest, but Sam having taken a private Yoga class had been totally overhauled, limbs having been contorted into positions not thought ever possible! Ady did manage to locate a different option for dinner - Pizza Hut provided a welcome respite from the normal Indian diet! We also spotted a local clothing discount store, and picked up yet more jeans for even less than last time!

We haven’t mentioned the Hotel Dasaprakash since we checked into it. Well, as it was an ‘Indian’ hotel, the kinds of special services included were the free mandatory wake up call at 7am for Chai (even when you don’t drink it!), the laundry man at 6.30am, and the hot water for 1 hour a day between 8am and 9am, which is actually never hot. Not to mention the unruly children running up and down the corridor from 6am until 11pm… when do these people sleep?! We also returned one day at around 4pm to find a note under our door telling us that we had to change rooms. The floor we were staying on had been booked out by a group – we have no idea what would have happened had we not returned in time to move our things…! Anyway, our last night was as eventful as the rest, with power cuts, lightening storms and children keeping us awake – time to move on we think!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


21st – 22nd April

Leg 18 – Gokarna to Madikeri
Distance – 410kms
Time – 10.5 hours
Average Speed – 39.5km/h
Road – 2 lane highway until Mangalore, then road under construction, followed by country lane winding up to Madikeri

What was supposed to be a short journey turned into a bit of an epic! We planned to only travel as far as Mangalore in this leg before heading to Mysore the following day. The bike was getting a little noisy from the tappets and Ady wanted to get it checked out. The garage in Mangalore would need a couple of days to fix it as they were busy with other jobs, so they advised us to push on to Madikeri and overnight there before heading to Mysore the following day. The road from Mangalore to Madikeri varied greatly, with the usual combination of brand new surface, and road under construction. We are used to this now though and it came as no surprise. The last hour was along a delightful twisty back road with little traffic. We climbed to Madikeri where the freshness of the air hinted at the altitude we were now at.

An unplanned stopover, Madikeri is the main market town of the Coorg region. Perched atop a ridge, the views were marred by the low cloud that was present when we were there. We checked into a hotel on the recommendation of Lonely Planet and set out to explore. After such a long ride, neither of us has much energy (!) and the hilliness of the town kerbed our exploration to the vicinity of our hotel. A visit to a discount supermarket, the purchase of some homemade crisps, and a very average meal is all we can say about the place really. We are finding that in many Indian towns, there is little to differentiate them from each other. They all have similar features, it’s often the geographical location alone that sets them apart. After a decent nights sleep we hit the road again and took in the scenery.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Gokarna (Om Beach)

19th – 21st April

Leg 17 – Palolem to Gokarna
Distance – 111kms

Time – 2.5 hours
Average Speed – 44.4km/h

Road – Single lane back road, then 2 lane highway

Leaving Palolem, we were both conscious that so far, in notorious Goa, we had not been asked for our bike papers or licence even once. The border between Goa and Karnataka, on the NH17 is notorious for extracting bribes from drivers, so it wasn’t a surprise
when a barrier was pulled down in front of us as we approached. To our surprise, it was actually the Karnataka police who asked to see our documents. As they were all in order, even our Pollution Under Control certificate, there was no reason for the officer to ask for any money. “100 rupees please” was the demand. Ady questioned what this payment was for. The response “for good luck” was all the officer could say. What could we do?!!! Meanwhile, Sam was also hassled, this time for English pound coins – wishful thinking on his part, its been a long time since we’ve seen one of those! So 100 rupees poorer, we continued the short distance to Gokarna and on to Om Beach. The road was great until we tried to get the last kilometre down to the huts near the beach. A rocky track, with 45 degree inclines made it tricky going with only one moment where we nearly dropped the bike. Sam managed to jump off in time to steady our heavy load and Ady managed to ride up the remaining part of the hill. It turned into a wasted effort though as we ended up staying at a place further back up the road in the end!

Lonely Planet describes Gokarna as the new Goa. A number of travellers we’d met on route had verified this and raved about how cheap everything was. We checked into Namaste Guest House for want of anywhere else to stay. For way too many rupees we had ourselves a room that resembled a bare brick garage with an attached bathroom - hardly the charming bamboo huts of Goa. At least the food in the Namaste restaurant was tasty and cheap! We checked out the beach and came upon an unusual scene… a large group of Indian tourist appeared to be camping out at the edge of the beach. They were accompanied by a police sergeant with a very large stick. He seemed to be rounding up the people with the assistance of said stick! After further enquiries, we discovered that the previous day an Indian person had been washed out to sea, presumed dead. They were all waiting for the body to be washed back into shore.

This little snippet of knowledge didn’t entice us to go for a swim in the sea, although the temperature was scorching as usual and the waves looked like serious fun. When the Indians tried to go in the sea, they were promptly whistled at and if they dared to ignore, were beaten by a very large stick. It seemed that the foreign tourists were immune from this treatment, and could do whatever they wanted! In fairness to the policeman, the Indians we have seen didn’t seem too at home in the water, most swam doggy paddle!

Sam bought a pineapple from one of the local sellers on the beach. We weren't warned that the pineapple would come with a free gift - a pet cow! The cow could smell the fruit and before long it had trampled our sarongs and practically attacked Sam! All the waving of a flip flop in it's face did was send it round in circles. It managed to get the pineapple too. The picture on the right was before it attacked!

After 2 nights, it was time to hit the road again – for us Goa this was not and we didn’t want to hang around on the beach any longer. Oh, the body did appear, the second night we were there, so if anyone is planning on dropping in to Om Beach in the near future, there’s no need to worry!

Sunday, 19 April 2009


1st – 19th April

Legs 15 & 16 – Arambol to Anjuna to Palolem
Distance – 20kms / 93kms

Time – 45mins / 2 hours

Average Speed – 26.7km/h / 46.5km/h

Road – All good condition in Goa

Smooth black asphalt covers most of the roads in Goa, as one of India's richest states, they can afford it. The NH17 has a bit of a reputation amongst both locals and travellers that we speak to, but it’s really not that bad. Everyone frowns and shakes their head when you mention you will be usi
ng it. The occasional mad bus driver and kamikaze jeep we were prepared for. The western tourists buzzing around on scooters with hardly any clothes on was more of a surprise. As we crossed the state border, we smiled sweetly at the police and didn’t stop to look back. We had heard how the Goan police are notoriously bad at extracting bribes from foreigners, even if all your papers are in order. Sam still managed to get a photo of the ‘Welcome to Goa’ sign, but almost fell off the back of the bike in the process.


Soon we were on familiar turf as we rode towards Arambol, where we had visited 3 and half years ago. Ady’s co
ncentration had to increase as we got nearer to the beach resorts. Bikini clad girls on motorbikes were more of a distraction than the usual cows on the road… After much searching, we settled on the same place that we stayed at last time we were here, in exactly the same beach hut. We were amazed it was still there. In a great location on the beach, but a stressful 15 minutes of dead end paths before we found the back entrance for bike access! A red faced Ady unloaded the bike and found the hut before promptly running off into the sea to cool off (including his temper!) This wasn’t as easy as you’d think though – the sea in Goa is so warm!!!

Arambol is a favourite haunt of ageing hippies, and a few wannabees off Khao San road Bangkok! Never have we seen so many men in thongs or ‘cod pieces’ and girls with hairy armpits and shaved heads. Did someone forget to tell these girls the only way to get rid of dreadlocks is to shave them off?! Shame they couldn’t use the razors on the armpits… On our first day on the beach, we observed a young girl strip to her bikini and lay in the sun for some time. She then sat up and took off her top and spent just a little too long rubbing sun cream into her boobs. After a while she pranced into the sea, wearing only a thong bikini bottom. When she emerged from the sea, the thong was off an in her hand and her neat ‘Brazilian’ was in full view to everyone on the beach…

Russians also seem to flock to Arambol now too, as we saw
no end of fake breasted botox laden women, who acted like porn stars on the beach, posing for provocative photos and prancing around hoping people were looking at them. They had a total disregard for local customs too, sunbathing topless on the beach and wearing bikini bottoms that didn’t leave anything to the imagination. Some of the locals who were talking to some English girls we met said how they thought it was very bad. Ady managed to gather some evidence of these inappropriate incidents on camera (photos available for a small fee ;-)) Contrary to what many people will tell you, Goa is still very much India unless you visit and stay on the beach only, then it is more than possible to forget where you are. As a result, peoples behaviour is often far more risqué than you would expect in India.

We did meet a number of normal people, Alex and Adam from Canada and Sweden who se
emed equally relieved to see some other non dreadlocked westerners. James, from the UK and a fellow Enfield rider, has been in Goa since January. He is a vet and was volunteering at the local animal hospital, neutering the many hundreds of dogs in the area which are notorious for their antisocial behaviour. It seems to be working as the dogs are far less aggressive than the last time we were here. Perhaps this tactic could be taken back to the UK and applied to people who go out drinking at the weekend and end up fighting in the streets!

The Saturday Night Market at nearby Anjuna is popular with tourists holidaying in all of Northern Goa. We rode there along with James and Adam to catch some live entertainment and have a look around the stalls. We had been to the market the last time we were in Goa, but the market had changed beyond all recognition. Brightly lit stalls, the majority of which were run by westerners, were selling handmade one off design clothing and accessories – a far cry from the numerous sarong and spice stalls that we remembered. The customers had changed too. We spotted very few Indians, it was rich western tourists all round, happy to pay extortionate prices for the food and drinks that were on offer – it was almost too much for Ady as he tried to buy some water and was charged 30 rupees for a bottle that would cost 12 outside the market!!!

A special mention must also go to the Russian contingent at the market. One girl wore an outfit of the hottest hot pants and platform heels which we all agreed wouldn’t have been appropriate in any environment outside either the bedroom or a lap dancing club. Many others wore similar outfits and most couldn’t c
arry them off! The men that accompanied them seemed oblivious to the fashion faux pas and resulting stares however - almost all looked like they could be members of the Russian secret service and would have no qualms with ‘removing’ a threat.

Entertainment was provided by a number of people, including a mesmerizing act by a French group, consisting of an alternative belly dancer, and a guy who could do some spectacular things with his large (crystal) balls!

The rest of our week in Arambol was spent lazing on the beach and eating in many of the beachfr
ont restaurants. It was difficult summoning up the required energy to move on, but when we eventually did, we weren’t going far!


After our shortest leg of the journey, 20km, we pulled up outside the Anjuna Villa, where we had stayed previously. Sam
popped inside to check out the rooms and the prices while Ady sweated in the heat outside. While waiting, the protective denim jacket – something that we wear whenever we are riding the bike - had to come off. What a mistake that turned out to be… Sam returned with a long face – the prices were way out of our budget so we set off further along the beach to find a room we could afford.

We stopped at a couple of places before settling on ‘A Vivenda’ where we found a nice large room. After carrying all the things to the room, Ady noticed that his denim jacket, along with iPod, was missing. Several trips up and down the road where it must have fell off the bike proved fruitless – not a good start to the day. The main issue was that it took us days to find the right kind of jacket at the start of the trip in Delhi, and getting a replacement was going to be a mission. The thought of riding without something to cover up arms was not something either of us relished. Not to mention the loss of the iPod – at least the bulk of our journey was now over, but we still had several long trains and flights to keep entertained through. A trip to Baga, the main tourist resort in Goa, and a fake Armani shop yielded a new jacket for Ady. It wasn’t as nice as the original, but it should keep the skin on his arms intact should we have any incidents on the bike

The main attraction of Anjuna is the Flea Market, held every Wednesday. It’s a huge site, with stalls selling lots of handmade clothes and accessories. Lots of the traders are westerners – the prices often reflect this. We enjoyed some live music at the café near the market and reflected on how things had again changed since the last time we were there.
The whole thing felt much more commercialised and local traders had been pushed out in favour of westerners.

On the beach during the day, Sam bought some pineapple from one of the friendly beach sellers. She didn’t bargain on the free cow that came with it – before long we were being attacked by the ‘Holy’ animal as it tried to find the source of the pineapple smell!

We didn’t stay long in Anjuna for two reasons. 1 - Sam counted 20 cockroaches in our room. 2 - Sam counted 20 cockroaches in our room. Actually we knew the next stop, Palolem, was our favourite beach from our last visit to India. The next day we loaded up and headed further south to our last stop in Goa.


Our favourite beach in Goa from our previous visit, Palolem has most things you could want from a tropical beach. Golden sands lined with tall palms, warm water, enough life to be fun without being overcrowded and a good selection of places to stay and places to eat. It was busier than when we last visited, and for this reason we’ll say no more – we don’t want it to become overpopular! Lonely Planet labels the beach a ‘Tropical Glastonbury’ and to some extent this is true. This suits us just fine – like the infamous festival, Palolem attracts a fairly cool bunch of people who come to camp out under the stars, this time in bamboo huts rather than canvas domes.

We spent 9 nights here, and didn’t do much apart from lounge around, top up our tans, visit some surrounding beaches and enjoy not being stared at as much by the locals - infact the locals are more than used to scantily clad girls in bikinis, it was the packs of gawping weekenders from Mumbai and the like that were more of a nuisance – if you can’t deal strange men taking your photo or filming you on the sly then don’t ever come here! Lets just say lots of “up yours” were being directed their way! Anyway, with a room right on the beach for less than £3 a night, and lots of different types of food on offer, the time flew by.

It took even more effort than usual to pack up the bike and move further south, out of the state of Goa, and on to the depths of south India.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Road to Goa

30th March – 1st April

Leg 12 – Mumbai to Murud
Distance – 175 kms

Time – 4.75 hours

Average Speed – 36.8km/h

Road – 4 lane highway, 2 lane highway, single lane back

After escaping the build up metropolis of Mumbai, we found the N
H17, the coast road that winds its way to Goa and on to Kerala. The road was surprisingly quiet, apart from when it passed through towns. Following the coast, the NH17 is a scenic ride, but we wanted to get off the highway, and explore the even smaller roads, closer to the coast. We found ourselves riding through luscious green jungle, past golden sandy beaches, through paddy fields (not literally!) and winding around high headlands. Suddenly everyone we passed was smiling and waving – welcome to South India! We expected a couple of ferry rides on the way to Murud, but the rapid development of India’s road network meant that all the ferries had been retired and new bridges had been built in their place. This cut our journey time significantly, and we arrived in Murud in time to head to the beach for the end of the afternoon.

Lots of places were closed for the season, the only place that looked to have any life was an expensive resort. Pleading poverty, we were directed to another place down the road, where we picked up a sea view room for Rs500 (looking back, that was still a lot to pay for what it was!!!).

After a walk down the beach, we strolled into the town in search of food. Murud is not on the foreign tourist trail, and is very difficult to get to by public transport. As we walked through the streets, we felt like we were the first white people to ever have passed through. Ady picked up some delicious pakoras and bhajis to stem the immediate hunger. We failed to find a restaurant, almost got lost in the dark, end ended u
p at the expensive resort eating a mediocre meal. Again, we decided to make a move in the morning, bringing the escape from India that is Goa, one step closer.

Leg 13 – Murud to Ganpatipule
Distance – 299 kms

Time – 8 hours
Average Speed – 37.4km/h
Road – Single lane back roads, 2 lane highway, single lane back roads

The plan to take the single lane back roads most of the way wasn’t really feasible – we fell at the first hurdle when we tried to take a ferry. We would have to wait 2 hours for the next boat, and then navigate a 10 meter steeper than 45 degree incline followed by a right angle corner in order to get to the boat, with deep water on most sides. Not wanting to give the bike an impromptu wash, and keen to keep moving, we decided to backtrack and head inland to the highway. Half way there, we found a new bridge, not on our map, which made the backtracking less than we had expected. 8 long hot hours later, we arrived in Ganpatipule.

Ganpatipule doesn’t see many foreigners. It’s a “local town, for local people” (like Royston Vasey?!), and Indian tourists. On arrival, a guy on a scooter said he would show us his hotel. The room was fine, we took it and went out to explore the town, to decide how long we would be staying. The beach wasn’t particularly nice, and we struggled to see what we would do for more than a day given we couldn’t sunbathe or swim – this would have raised more than a few eyebrows (amongst other things!) as Indians sit on the beach and swim fully clothed.

We strugged to find food too – all the menus were in Hindi (impossible to decipher, with the
non roman script) and people spoke little English. The one local place that had a menu that we could read was deserted, although the menu looked promising. We over ordered big style and had to apologise for sending so much food back. The small tip of Rs10 we left was appreciated as the staff weren’t used to western tourists.

Goa was now firmly in our sights so an early start to try and get there for some afternoon beach time was in order.

Leg 14 – Ganpatipule to Arambol (Goa)
Distance – 289 kms
Time – 9.5 hours

Average Speed – 30.42km/h (including 2 punctures!)
Road – Single lane back road, then 2 lane highway

7.30am, and we were ready to roll - our earliest departure
since we froze in Agra at 6am. As the temperature in the south is higher, we figured it wouldn’t be too cold at that time of the morning. Proud of ourselves for getting up early we only got 500 meters from the hotel when we felt the back of the bike start to wobble, a feeling that we had surprisingly not yet experienced, even though we’d already covered over 3500 kilometers. Our first puncture of the trip, conveniently just outside the town, we immediately expected sabotage! Rolling slowly back down the hill, there were very few people around (have we mentioned how people in India seem to differ from the rest of Asia, as in the most part, they aren’t up at the crack of dawn!) but one guy pointed us in the direction of a mechanic, just over the road.

The mechanic didn’t start work until 9am, so our early start was already at least an hour and a half delayed. When we spoke to the man in the hotel next to the garage, he commented ‘ah yes, you arrived yesterday, you from England, Yes?’ It seems our exact whereabouts were known to the whole population of the town. Wheel off, and tube out, we found the offending nail. The damage was too bad to repair, but the mechanic had a spare old tube which he told us would get us to the next town, 35kms away, where we must change it. The cost of the old replacement tube and labour - Rs16 (about 22 pence!). Sabotage was ruled out, unless someone was expecting us to stay an extra night.

A short way out of town, we felt the familiar wobble again, this time we were going faster and Ady did a good job to keep the bike upright! Pulling over to the side of the road, we took off the wheel and Ady jumped in a tuk tuk to get the tube changed. 300 rupees later, he returned and we were back on our way. Progress was slow for the rest of the journey – nothing like a blown out tyre to knock your confidence when riding.

Visitors Since 19th May 2009...