Author Topic: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR  (Read 2688 times)

Offline just4TR

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2021
  • Posts: 4
  • Total likes: 37
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: IN
Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« on: October 06, 2021, 12:48:24 AM »
Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR - Part 1
 
DISCLAIMER: There were no Miles used during this trip. No fancy hotels. No gourmet dinners. No deals. Nothing of that sort. I'm not sure that any of you will find this TR particularly useful, However, some of you may still enjoy it (why?). Anyway, I'm writing this because I have seen little of India here, and little of this sort of adventure.
 

Coming up with the idea.
 
I guess I’ll start like this:
 
I'm in New Delhi, India, in mid-July, with a flexible number of days to go on a trip. I start Googling, trying to see what my options are. Because of the current seasons across India and Covid, there aren't many options.
 
The first rabbit hole I'm going down is a trip to the Andaman Islands. A beautiful group of islands (nowhere near India, but her territory nonetheless), they also have great scuba diving there, which is a plus for me. However, it turns out, they are also closed due to covid. perhaps opening in Aug.
 
Continuing down that rabbit hole... Some more Googling and calling several shops, the only place (in India currently) open for scuba diving is in Chennai, southeast India. However, it doesn't seem like a nice place, and scuba waters aren't deep there. So done with that idea.

Now, with scuba behind me, I started thinking a little out of the box. I ride a motorcycle. I love it. I've seen videos, read articles, heard from people firsthand, both encouraging and discouraging this adventure - riding a motorcycle through the Himalayan mountain range. Amazingly beautiful, yet dangerous.

What are the Himalayas? Google it.

I’ve met people who can't stop talking about how amazing this trip was. I've also met people like the guy (Jewish btw) who, on the first day of his trip, a truck crushed his knee. And just a quick google search away, you can find a handful of articles about people who didn't make it.

Ok, with the worrying out of the way, i started looking at maps, Googling where and how to go..
 

Some gathered information:
  • There is a town up north named ‘Leh’, that's where I gotta get to.
  • The half-way point from ‘Delhi’ to ‘Leh’ is ‘Manali’. Now have a look at the map:


  • It would take me 5-6 days to reach Leh.
  • Near Leh, there is this (famous?) high mountain pass named ‘Khardung La’ - 17,582 ft above sea level. I want to ride up there.
  • For simplicity, you can think of the trip in two parts. getting up to Leh. and getting back down (via a different route). For now, I will focus on getting up.
  • The most common way to do this trip is with a tour group. They provide the bike, food, and stay... They take care of everything…
However, being that I'm not eating their food, not riding on Shabbos, and a few other things... Going with a group started sounding less like an option.
 
With this information, I started calling travel agencies (which also rent bikes). After a few, one guy says to come meet him in his office the next day.
 
So I did. The next day, I take an Uber to his “office”, which just ends up being the center of a local market. I then follow him down a few narrow alleyways leading into his garage. We had a great meeting.




Summary of meeting + thinking:

What route would I take? How long would my trip last? Which motorcycle would be best? Am I going alone?
 
I came into the meeting with all these questions. I left with the same questions. but I think I came out with a better understanding of the different options.
 
At this point it was clear that I wouldn't be joining an existing group, for 1. there weren't many groups at the time (covid), and 2. for reasons mentioned above. So now the question was, do I go alone? Well, he suggested against it. He was encouraging me to find some friends to go with. Well, I didn't have any of those. But he kept insisting.
 
As he was explaining some benefits of traveling with a group, aside from the obvious safety benefits, he mentioned, as a group, we could all chip in together to hire a guide and mechanic to come along.
 
That's when it clicked. I'll just hire this guide/mechanic for myself.
 
This was really great for several reasons. Now the entire trip started feeling like it was coming together. One thing specifically, I go to Mikvah every day. Now with him coming along, he could worry about finding some water each day (planning our stops with that in mind). This was a relief to me, as I was expecting it to be one of the more challenging parts of planning the trip.
 
Regarding which motorcycle I was going to take, I eventually settled on the ‘Royal Enfield Himalayan’. (actually built with the Himalayan mountain range in mind) It's a motorcycle with good off-roading capabilities and can handle the rough roads.
 
Regarding the timeline, I came into the meeting thinking of a 10ish day trip. I left understanding that it would have to be 14+ days.


Pricing for bike and mechanic/guide:
  • Daily rental for my bike: $14
  • Daily rental for the bike of mechanic: $10
  • Daily food and sleep for the mechanic: $11
  • Daily salary for mechanic: $14
  • I need to pay fuel costs for both bikes..
Adds up to about $50 per day, excluding my sleep and food costs.
 
Before I left the meeting, I gave him a $140 deposit (10,000 rupees). I was confident enough that I was going along with this.
 
Regarding my accommodation, the idea was, I would stay in a different/nicer place than the mechanic. So he got his $7/day budget to find sleep for himself. While I would opt for something a bit more expensive.

Making hotel reservations in advance wasn't really an option, for one of two reasons:
  • We are going to spend the night in the middle of nowhere. A range with no cell service, electricity, let alone internet.
  • In the larger towns, there is an option to book online. However, because of the unknown weather and road conditions, we can't know for certain when we will reach a specific town. We can be a day or two behind schedule.
So we would have to figure out accommodation upon arrival each day.
 

Worries before leaving:

Kosher food: currently, there are no Chabad Houses open in northern India because of Covid (tourists cannot enter India), so that means I need to pack and prepare all the food myself.
 
It's dangerous: in general, driving anywhere, anytime, anything in India has its risks. Specifically, in the Himalayan mountains during the monsoon season, landslides and accidents occur more often. The roads are in poor conditions. In the days leading up to the trip, my news feed was filling up with stories about buses flipping, accidents, huge landslides… the main highway was closed for some days. I was about to cancel the entire trip. But I got so far, and if not now, then when.
 
Some of the articles:




Packing and preparations:

Food: 8 kosher tuna cans. 10 granola bars. 7 trandition soups. 6 bags/boxes of pasta. 1 container of rice. 2 packs of rice cakes And salt. That's it. (i did not end up taking the coffee, cocoa and instant mashed potatoes which can be seen in the photo.)



I brought along a small pot which plugs directly into the outlet ($15 or so). A bowl, spoon, knife and peeler. 



Clothing/gear: I wasn't too worried about bringing too little clothing, as I could always buy more along the way if needed. For gear, I brought my helmet, 2 jackets - a thin mesh one and a heavy one for colder weather, gloves, waterproof pants, and riding boots.
 
Getting my boots cleaned before the trip:



Here is the bike - There are two side bags, one on each side, One side bag has all the food, the other side has all the clothing. And sitting on top of that is a waterproof bag which has Inside my Tefillin, the electric pot and my Chitas.




The trip:

Day 1, Sunday:

With everything packed, I go to mikvah, gather all my bags, and get in an Uber. I'm dropped off at that same market, where the boss and mechanic are waiting. They grab my bags, and we head down the alleyways to the garage... And, there are the bikes waiting.

While the mechanic is tying down my bags on the bike, the boss is taking photos of my passport and driver's license (driver's permit in reality); I sign a few papers and then take care of payment. We settled on paying upfront for a 15 day trip. Suppose I choose to extend/shorten the trip, we would deal with the remaining money upon return. I transfer ₹56,800 INR = $770 USD to his bank account using Wise. There's no turning back now.

With the payment taken care of, he pulls me aside, I'm thinking, oh g-d, what now?... anyway, he starts eking beking “listen my friend, you have a US driving license, here in India, you need an international one”... I realized where he's going, so I assure him I know the drill: when the police pull you over, you hand them 500 rupees and there are no more issues… he cracks a smile and is glad to hear this from me. Now, we are ready to head out.

Today's goal is to reach Bilaspur, a halfway point from Delhi to Manali. Riding to Bilaspur is really about getting out of the city and entering the mountains. The ride should mostly be of city streets, country roads and highways, an easy ride, perhaps even a bit boring? Anyway, the time is now 10:30 am, google maps ETA is 6:30pm, so it's an 8ish hour ride.

(google maps in India rant for another time. in short: nothing, not one aspect of it works as expected.)

See map:



The bikes are low on gas, so we’ll head down the road to fill 'em up. It usually costs about $15 for a tank.



(Note the thin mesh jacket due to the Delhi heat. yes, this too has protection.)

With full gas tanks, I say Tefilas Haderech, double check for my Tefillin, Chitas, credit cards, some cash and we’re off riding.


On the road:

Doesn't take long before the seemingly boring roads offer up some adventure: it starts raining, there are now deep puddles, thick mud, things moving (cars driving) in all directions, you're not sure when you're gonna hit your next pothole. In short, it's chaos.

Have a look:

Youtube video


Just another few minutes go by, and traffic comes to a stop. Everyone is stretching their neck trying to figure out what's going on. Eventually, with our bikes, we get around and make it upfront. What is it? A flipped truck, and ye, it was carrying some vegetables, so those are now all over the place:

Youtube video


Anyway, this kind of stuff continues for about an hour. Eventually, we hit some normal highways. Here, you can stretch your legs, relax and sometimes even gather some speed.

We settled on stopping about every two hours for a break. Personally, my back and shoulders can't handle much more than that, plus it's necessary to get some food and water in your system.

Being well over 2 hours into riding, we find this open lot off the highway. There's space for me to Daven, there's a Dhaba for him to eat in and there's even a bathroom, now that's a perfect find.

Each to their own, I wash up, have a granola bar, drink water, and start Davening, while he sits down to eat. As usual, everyone is staring at the foreigner, asking for selfies, offering tea, telling me stories about their neighbour's 5th cousin who lives in the US, the normal stuff. In a nutshell, it was a pleasant break.

Re-energized, we gather our belongings, pack up, and yet again, we head out.

We then ran into something interesting. It was the farmer’s protest. At the time, I didn't realize what was going on. More on this later, when I got stuck here upon the return trip to Delhi.

Ok, I won't bore you with the next 5-6 hours of highways, but in short, it's: go, stop, turn, swerve, break, almost crash, make a save... That's pretty much it...

Youtube video


Some wonder, how do I keep myself busy while riding all these hours? Well, for starters, I'm riding. Aside from that, I installed this bluetooth system inside my helmet, it connects to my phone for audio and calls. As I certainly had time to pass, I used this opportunity to catch up on some music, podcasts and lectures, etc. I tried full on Shiurim, but it didn't work for me. Riding takes my focus.
every once in a while I would even catch a phone call with some friends from back in the states.


It's getting dark:

As the highways are ending, and we enter the mountains. The scenery is changing, roads are becoming more narrow with more swerve, you can barely fit a single car on some of these roads, but, in true India spirit, it's 2 way traffic. You're uncertain what's gonna pop out at you next from around the corner.

We are being held up by some heavy trucks climbing the mountains; they are moving slowly, making real wide turns, giving us almost no opportunities to overtake them. After some time, we manage to get by the trucks, only to find more ahead. We're coming to terms with the fact that we probably won't make it to Bilaspur for the night.

Eventually, it's getting dark, yet we are still 1.5 hours away from Bilaspur. Riding through these mountains at night is not an option, the roads are super dark, you can barely see a few feet ahead of yourself, there're trucks rolling down the mountain, blasting their horn so you know to move, I don't see how they can stop on time. The mechanic suggests we stop and find a place for the night.


Our stay for the night:

We are currently in an area (village?) named Swarghat. We pull over at the first building we see; it looks like a guest house/motel; we find the owner; he shows us a room; it has a bed, a bathroom with a normal shower, however it wasn't too clean. Me being the smart-aleck I am; I’m convinced we can find a nicer place. So we leave and continue riding for 10 minutes. At this point it's 8:00pm, and completely dark. We are starting to understand how dangerous these roads actually are. Exhausted, we just pull over at the next guest house and tell the owner we’ll take 2 rooms. After a bit of bargaining, we pay $8 per room.

Trust me, when I say I wasn't too excited about how cleanhow clean this new place was. It was far worse than the first, and that's besides that there isn’t a normal shower here. Anyway, we park our bikes on his porch and unpack our bags. I'm happy to get some hot water for a shower, even if it means pouring buckets over myself.

Refreshed yet still exhausted, I grab my handy electric pot, heat up some water, make a Tradition soup, throw in a can of tuna and that's the food for the day. I didn't have the patience to search for vegetables and start making an entire meal. Yes, I know the food doesn't look or taste great, but it does the job.

We set our alarms for 5:45am and I headed to bed. (The bed was certainly dirty. I couldn't bring myself to put my head on the pillow, I covered it with a t-shirt or something.)

Good night.



The bedroom picture is taken from they're Google maps...


P.S. It's taking me longer than expected to write this, so I decided to just post what's done so far, and will continue to post as I make progress.

Thank you to @Yo ssi for all the tech support.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2021, 01:15:36 AM by just4TR »

Offline M3B3LY

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2021
  • Posts: 19
  • Total likes: 17
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2021, 03:56:58 PM »
Amazing stuff, very different and interesting, keep them coming!

Everyone there speaks English? Or do you speak Hindi?

Offline EliJelly

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2019
  • Posts: 1618
  • Total likes: 1153
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2021, 04:45:54 PM »
Amazing adventurous TR, and I love the writing style too! Keep'm coming..

(I go nuts how you guys are rounding these payments up to...
$770 USD
;D ;D )

Offline just4TR

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2021
  • Posts: 4
  • Total likes: 37
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: IN
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2021, 06:51:42 PM »
Everyone there speaks English? Or do you speak Hindi?
Enough people, speak enough English. Especially in the big cities.

Offline Moshe123

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Sep 2012
  • Posts: 5754
  • Total likes: 476
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Spring Valley
  • Programs: Lost
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2021, 08:58:17 PM »
Amazing amazing!! And what is your other username that wasn't created just 4 this TR....

Offline lunatic

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: May 2009
  • Posts: 4353
  • Total likes: 19
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 8
    • View Profile
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2021, 08:58:34 PM »
Keep this up, its great!

Offline BarryLincoln

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2014
  • Posts: 1193
  • Total likes: 83
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
  • Location: New Jersey
  • Programs: SPG Platinum, National Executive, Hertz Five Star
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2021, 12:30:48 AM »
TR is 🔥🔥🔥.  Keep it going!!!

Offline WhiteWolf

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jul 2010
  • Posts: 259
  • Total likes: 11
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2021, 12:53:24 AM »
Love the details!!!

Offline Dawie

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2015
  • Posts: 1358
  • Total likes: 273
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: KBLM
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2021, 04:12:36 PM »

Offline m65

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2012
  • Posts: 1466
  • Total likes: 380
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: israel
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2021, 05:09:11 PM »
i think your postcount/like ratio may be a ddf record
 @YitzyS should be on his way to india by now

Online Yo ssi

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Aug 2019
  • Posts: 4343
  • Total likes: 1420
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2021, 05:16:15 PM »
i think your postcount/like ratio may be a ddf record
 @YitzyS should be on his way to india by now
Or perhaps be reborn?
_    ,
' )  /
 /  / __   _   _   o
(__/_(_)  /_)_/_)_<_
 //
(/

Offline YitzyS

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jan 2015
  • Posts: 3730
  • Total likes: 7457
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 31
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Lakewood, NJ
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2021, 06:41:17 PM »
i think your postcount/like ratio may be a ddf record
Well-deserved!
Monkeys don't fly unless you put them on airplanes

Offline Yordai Dooma

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 4213
  • Total likes: 45
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 16
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Programs: AA EXP/LT Platinum, SPG gold, Hyatt Globalist, IHG Platinum Ambassador, Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold, Hertz PC, National EE,
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2021, 09:43:30 PM »
Awesome TR and great read! Loved the YouTube videos.
Wondering how you were in india if tourists cannot enter India? Or are you not considered a "tourist"?

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7683
  • Total likes: 3267
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2021, 11:06:01 PM »
Love this TR. Completely different from anything on here. Some of those puddles in the video seem deep enough to be your mikvah.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline tavster

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2015
  • Posts: 2315
  • Total likes: 360
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 57
    • View Profile
  • Location: Israel
  • Programs: LY TP
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2021, 01:19:16 PM »
Truly fascinating. Keep it coming.
And stay safe!

Offline Moshe123

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Sep 2012
  • Posts: 5754
  • Total likes: 476
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Spring Valley
  • Programs: Lost
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2021, 08:53:37 PM »
WE WANT MORE!!
It's been a few days already!

Offline Kobe Bryant

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jan 2017
  • Posts: 3150
  • Total likes: 1863
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 15
    • View Profile
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2021, 09:02:14 PM »
India is one of my favorite countries to explore. Great TR.

Offline Spoon

  • Dansdeals Gold Elite
  • ***
  • Join Date: Dec 2019
  • Posts: 212
  • Total likes: 40
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: NY
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2021, 09:15:48 PM »
WE WANT MORE!!
It's been a few days already!

+1000

Please keep it coming

Offline just4TR

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2021
  • Posts: 4
  • Total likes: 37
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: IN
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2021, 10:00:03 PM »
Thank you all.


Wondering how you were in india if tourists cannot enter India? Or are you not considered a "tourist"?
Correct.
in other news, it seems like India announced they are reopening for tourists shortly.


WE WANT MORE!!
It's been a few days already!
Working on it. Seems like it will take some time, as I'm busy planning some other trips.

Offline sam28

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jun 2010
  • Posts: 1752
  • Total likes: 57
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: Adventure in Northern India: Motorcycle TR
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2021, 05:24:15 PM »
Wow keep it coming it sounds interesting