Taj and Uz visas


Waiting out the front of the Uzbekistan embassy, currently 3:40pm, they said ready at 5pm.

Not much fun waiting out here in the smog, Delhi has the worst air quality of any city in the world, and there are plenty of contenders so just imagine. It actually smells like chemicals out here.

This visa involved downloading forms, filling them in duplicate, photocopies of every document we have, a trip to the embassy, 30 phone calls, a trip to a bank 20km away, another trip to the embassy, and now a 4 hour wait.

The Tajik one below was more or less the same, but turned around faster.


That’s the GBAO autonomous area permit underneath, which allows us to enter my favourite ‘Stan of them all – Badasstan. Yes, Bad Ass Stan!


Tomorrow we leave Delhi headed for Agra and the Taj, then a few days ride to Nepal, really looking forward to getting into the mountains!!

it’s a challenge

dazed after a day walking in Delhi

dazed after a day walking in Delhi

So travelling by bike in India is not such an easy thing for me to like.  I’m trying, every day, but it doesnt come easily.  I think if (like a normal person), you flew into a city, visited the touristy spots and then left, it would be a very different experience, but to battle with the dangerous traffic, the mobs of staring people in the tiny towns between places, the endless rubbish and pollution, and the incessant beeping of horns, I’m finding  it a hard place to like.

However it is getting slowly easier, not so much easier to like, but a bit easier not to dislike 😉  Except for the horns. I hate the horns.

I feel as though bit by bit, I’m starting to ignore the rubbish and my expectations for a blue sky and something green to look at are changing.  Even the crazy traffic… the traffic… the fucking traffic.

a street in old delhi

a street in old delhi

Back home if someone does something stupid and I need to brake to avoid them, it might be something to get angry about, shake my fist or even pull up at the next set of lights and have a quiet word with them.  Over here, that kind of thing is happening continuously, like every 10 or 20 seconds, which initially made me angry all day, but in time I’ve gotten used to it and now it’s just part of travelling here on the bike.  Assume you are invisible, then ride accordingly.  Equally, you ride as though there are no road rules at all.  Pass on the right, pass on the left, pass on the footpath, pass in the field next to the road… but always pass, otherwise be passed, and that means pushed off the road. So pass pass pass.

one of the myraid vehicles on the roads here

one of the myraid vehicles on the roads here

In our one genuine near miss, both Sal and I started with the usual “what the fuck!!” as a truck careered in our direction, then a bit of “WWWAAAhhhh!!!!” but then when it seemed inevitable that we were going to hit something, we both went quiet.  I put us as far to the left as I could without hitting something else and then at the last second leaned Betsy away so the handlebar might not hit the oncoming truck but braced for an impact with the pannier which is an inch wider. That hit somehow didnt come, and then again I prepared for the fall I was expecting after we’d been pushed so far off the road to avoid the head on crash.  But we stayed up and pulled over silently.  I bowed my head with heart going full speed, actually managed a manic laugh, gave betsy a pat to say thanks for staying on 2 wheels, and we hugged and rode away in silence (Sal and I hugged, not Betsy, that would be weird… right?).

haircut anyone

haircut anyone?

Anyway those moments aside, it’s getting easier.  It seems India is here to push my patience to levels I didn’t think were possible, like when someone ran into the side of us while we were stopped in traffic, and then beeped their horn and starting yelling at us, presumably because we were in his way.

That was a real patience fail.  Persist young grasshopper.

The staring people between towns no longer bothers me so much, I dont much like it but it’s ok.  Usually we choose one particularly stary man (it’s always the men), and stare back, just at him, sometimes we take pictures. 10 seconds later he gets self conscious and sulks away to stare from a distance.

What’s hard about it though, especially when no one actually says hello, is that it’s actually dehumanising.  It makes you feel like an animal in a zoo.  I told this to a man a couple of days ago, he seemed to understand and returned to his stall, only for a short time though…the excitment was a little too much to miss out on so he later came and stared from a distance.  A small victory!  It does makes me think, that the people who stare at us as though we’re animals, are also the people who are treated like animals themselves.  The caste system has a lot to answer for.

these ladies asked for the picture, then asked for money...

these ladies asked for the picture, then asked for money…

We have so far avoided any scams or being horribly overcharged for anything (I think!?), although we were asked to pay an entry fee for a museum inside a fort that we didnt actually want to see, before they would even let us into the fort. But that’s been the worst of it so far.

The food has been pretty good, but it’s really heavy, so after a month it’s getting a bit much.  I happily lived on hamburgers and other shit food for weeks in South America, but am struggling a bit here.  Virtually every meal is curry of one type or another, and particularly further north there is a lot of flat bread, which is usually fried.  I’ve never looked so longingly at fruit before in my life, but everyone tells us not to eat it so…

But the horns… my god the horns are incessant, and they are so fucking loud.  Like super modified hotrod horns painted with flames down the sides, tuned to ‘instant headache” pitch, or somtimes to “incite anger”.  I dream of ways to make them stop, I want to push the guy over when a bike stops in front of me wth it screaming.  Or i want to lean over and smash off a rear view mirror with my gloved hand while moving on the freeway.  I fantasise about having a portable horn, 1000x louder than  anything else, which I can take out of my pocket and return the sound to the offending driver or rider.  So lound it shatters  all their windows, their hair falls out and their teeth come loose, all in one foul sweep.  I conjure up ways of punishing them, like installing elecrodes in the seats which give the driver a high voltage electric shock with each beeeep, so it still works in emergencies, but only when they really need it. Yes that would be very nice indeed.  Ha ha ha!!!! (and I’m the angry one!- Sally)

i did a double take on this, a guy talking on a landline in the middle of the street!!

I did a double take on this, a guy talking on a landline in the middle of the street!!

Sigh…  But alas I do none of these things, I take deep breaths, try to remain calm, and keep walking.  Every now and then we both have patience fails while walking, and resort to screaming at someone. It passes, our frayed nerves scar over and we continue walking, only a little less calmly than before.

Meditate young grasshopper.  When you can take this pebble from my hand… while 1.1 billion horns are blaring at you, the sound reverbering in narrow stone laid alleys, while still smiling… then you will reach nirvana.

Like i said, it’s getting easier not to dislike it, slowly…

But it’s not all hard times, at the moment we are staying with a gentleman names Akarsh, in his apartment just outside Delhi, which he currently shares with his lovely Mother.  We met Akarsh for 5 mins in Myanmar as we were travelling in opposite directions, he gave me some advice for the weeks ahead and we contiued on.  Then a month later when he heard we were headed for Delhi he asked us to stay with him, and has been an amazing host.  All this after meeting for 5 minutes on the road.

just hanging out

just hanging out

Would you invite a ccomplete stranger into your home for a week when you already have your mum staying over?  What about 2 strangers?  Would you have your mum share your room so your stranger guests can use the second bedroom?  Would you cook them breakfast, and take them out for dinner in town, give them metro cards to use and spend hours talking about different options for their upcoming travels?  Would you take them to a family wedding even though they have no appropriate clothes to wear?

Like I said, amazing hospitality.

And it’s this hospitality, and other random acts of genuine kindness and warmth that are slowly winning me over.  It wont happen overnight, but it might happen.

Not the horns though.

Akarsh hates the horns too.

We are not alone 🙂



Some scenes from India so far…

The man at customs asks if we have a camera or a phone? “Yes of course” then he asks us to list all our items and their value, he scrawls it down on a blank sheet of a4 paper, and then lets us pass.  What on earth is he going to do with that list I wonder??

We’re walking down the street trying to ignore the rickshaw drivers in the most polite way possible… taxi taxi…  a motorbike approaches and sounds his beefed up horn, continuously, he stops in the human traffic with the horn still screaming, it’s deafening, I turn and scream at him to stop. He looks surprised.  No one else even heard it.  He rides away looking back at me.

We’re riding behind a bus, holding our breath as the diesel fumes engulf us, two motorbikes pass us, then slow down, blocking us into the heat and smoke, they block our path so they can take our picture.  Then they want to talk to us in the traffic.  FFS.

After a traffic jam of more than one km, we pass four men who have stopped in a 4wd so 2 of them can take a piss on the street.  Their car is in the middle of the road, other people blast their horns to no avail.

We’re riding on a narrow road, the oncoming lane is closed.  In the remaining lane a bus comes the other way, another bus is overtaking it and then a motorbike tries to pass them both, all in one lane coming towards us.  I see red as we narrowly miss a head on collision.

I’m tired, it’s the fifth hotel we’ve asked for a room, it’s obviously empty… “FULL” says the man at the counter, I shake my head and walk away.

“how much this bike?” for the 100th time today.  “It’s 4 millions Quechadas” i reply (I’ve started inventing currencies as I don’t like this question).  “How much rupias?”  “I don’t know”

We sit at a roadside restaurant trying to work out what’s being served, a guy comes over and cheerily explains each dish to us, he doesn’t even work there.

In the midst of the grey smog, a dozen women in colourful saris are carrying bags of cement on their heads while fat men supervise the construction of the road.  Next to these women, a group of wiry dusty men use hammers to manually break big stones into smaller stones to line the road with.

“Is there hot water?” The man silently waggles his head from side to side.  We both smile.  I repeat the question, he smiles again… We’re at 2300m altitude, it’s freezing and I’m filthy so I ask again, “do you have hot water”, this time slower. He smiles again and waggles his head.  I’m trying not to get frustrated.  “Is that Yes or No?  Do you have hot water, yes or no?” He waggles his head again silently.  It goes on and on.  I still don’t know the answer, but i’m tired so pay the money for the room.  Of course there is no hot water.

We round a bend, there’s a cow standing in the middle of the road so i need to swerve to miss it.  This happens so often it isn’t even surprising.

I’m in a hotel room in the mountains, it’s cold but the ceiling fan is on max because our wet clothes are hung on every available handle, door knob and even the tv, we know they’ll still be wet in the morning.

We pull up in front of a hotel to ask about a room, it’s hot and late in the day, we’re both weary.  The manager is standing outside, so I ask him how much his rooms cost.  He tells me to come inside, but I don’t want to take off my helmet, gloves and earplugs, so I ask again “please, can you just tell me how much the rooms are first?”  “come inside please” I sigh and get off the bike, take off my kit then walk to the counter “you look at room first” he barks an order to a boy and throws him a key.  It has 312 written on it, third floor… My boots weigh 2kg each, the whole riding suit is something like 18kg, it’s hot and I don’t want to climb 3 flights of stairs just to see a room.  I implore “please… first tell me your room rates?”  “you look at room” “NO I  DONT WANT TO SEE IT, how much?”  “2500rp for budget room” I don’t even respond, we go to the next place where the scene repeats.

A man I called an hour earlier for some help comes to our room and enters without knocking, he’s drinking whiskey from a water bottle and smoking a cigarette.  He treats me like I’m an old friend. We drive to the post office in his car, and then he takes me back to the room, promising to return tomorrow.

The sign says “BAR : No ladies allowed”

The park ranger asks me for 20rp to enter the park, I ask for a receipt and he laughs and unhitches the boom gate.  We pass.

We park on the high street to eat some dinner, within minutes 100 young men are crowding around the bike, I return to find one sitting on it for a picture.  I hiss and swear and he sulks away.  Then the bike won’t start, what a nightmare.  Eventually it fires and runs poorly on just one cylinder, we limp back to the room, it’s too dark to look at it now.  Shit end to a shit day.

We flash past an opening in the roadside trees and out the corner of my eye I spot a big grey lump in the forest 50m away.  I switch off the bike and we coast to a stop “what is it?”  “I think I saw an elephant!”  I roll the bike backwards to the clearing and there she is, eating away at the broad leaves growing there.  As we get off and grab the camera, two cars pull up behind us and 9 men pile out, we’re photographing the elephant, and they’re photographing us!  One of the guys drops his pants and takes a piss right there next to us.  Unbelievable.  The elephant moves and reveals a baby elephant behind her, it’s a gorgeous scene.  We take some pictures and move on feeling very lucky to have seen them.

He scored 100% in his class, says his mother proudly.  He’s only 10 years old, he has a brown belt at Karate, speaks Hindi, Tamil and English, and is learning the Tora self defence (uses a wooden staff spinning at light speed around his body).  He checks us into the homestay, taking pictures of our passports with a mobile phone as his parents look on proudly.   I ask for a lesson in the Tora, but he tells me that he needs permission from his instructor before he can teach, but his older brother can show me some moves J

The water is hot for the first time in a week, really hot.  I turn on the cold, but it’s hot too.  Both taps run really fucking hot water.  I can’t wash because the water is too hot.  Unbelievable.

We’re in a line for the bottle shop.  It’s on the main road through town, with a narrow aisle leading to the counter, we’re funnelled in like animals in a cattle stall, between wire mesh walls.  The other men in the line are pushing hard to get to the front counter.  It’s not wide enough for anyone to get past, so i stand back one step not wanting to be part of the senseless crush in the narrow aisle.  The man behind is looking at me, imploring me with crazed eyes to move forward, push forward, but I’m not going to.  He’s agitated, trying to get past me but I hold my position, he’s clawing at the wire mesh nervously, looking at the crush and looking at me, he doesn’t seem to understand why I’m not part of it.  It feels like we’re all drug addicts in line for our heroin fix.  When I get back to our room with the beer, I knock it over and it smashes on the floor. Fuck. Our room smells like a brewery for the rest of the night.  It’s actually kind of nice J

The end of a long day, our patience has been pushed. Bike parked, we approach a road side stall and stupidly point at pots boiling away on a kerosene stove.   Smiling faces respond with language we don’t follow, but they explain the dishes as best we can understand. Their enthusiasm smiles and warmth dissolves the angst. Then they procure seats, other men stand so we can sit down to eat.  They ask questions… from where… this bike how much cc… And the food is delicious.  One of our dishes is empty but before we can ask for a top up, the other diners have already noticed and called the waiter to fill it for us.  We pay and leave, “thank you, great food”.  The cook pauses, makes eye contact with me and smiles warmly waggling his head.  This is what it’s all about.



Rajasthan to Delhi

After a few nice days in Rajasthan, we hit the road this morning headed for Delhi.

Unfortunately I’ve come down with a serious case of man-flu, so have been struggling a bit, today’s ride was long and hard as a consequence. The idiot who tried to push us out of the way on the highway didn’t help my fragile mindset either, although it’s probably not everyday that he beeps at a bike, and both the rider and pillion simultaneously turn and give him the finger!

Rajasthan was really interesting, little desert towns with enormous 15th century forts, steeped in the history of their defence against various rivals.

Lots of crappy markets full of cows and cowshit selling 1000 versions of the same product too – which is a shame.

We also visited a Jain temple, completely done in white marble, I think it’s the most impressive temple I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately you can’t take photos of it from the inside, so you’ll need to imagine 🙂

This is from the outside though, but doesn’t do it justice at all, amazing intricate carvings on all 1444 pillars!


Tomorrow morning we head to the Tajik and Uzbek embassy’s for the central asia visa circus, we’re pretty well prepared with all the forms and photocopies and photos, but no doubt something will be wrong.

The plan is to hang out in Delhi while we wait for the visas, then visit Agra (Taj Mahal) en route to Nepal where we’re meeting up with DaveG, an old travel buddy of mine who now plays professional netball. Haven’t seen Dave since we were in the US a couple of years ago, so it will be great to see him again!

We’re also lucky enough to have been invited to stay with a fellow adventure biker, Rakesh who lives in Delhi, looking forward to sharing some tales from the road and getting some inside info on what to see and do in Delhi.

Enough now, very tired.



After 3 long days of riding through the standard crazy choking traffic of India we made it to Udaipur, Rajasthan. It didnt take long for the feeling that Goa was just a moment in time and we were back in India!

P1030520 (Large)

The landscape changed from dry and dusty with gumtrees and cows to sandy and hilly with camels and cows… making us feel like we were heading into the desert. It was a nice change.

Udaipur is a touristy busy town with some amazing architecture, quite unlike anything else we have seen so far. There are lots of narrow streets making us feel like we’re in Europe which is nice but we soon get brought back to reality with the screaming car horns.

Udaipur's night view

Udaipur’s night view

Dean and I have started to scream ‘beeeeeeeeeeeep’ when everyone else is doing it. We’ve had some strange looks but once they work out what we are doing they laugh at us and stop beeping so it kind of works!

P1030505 (Large)

Tomorrow we head to see a couple of forts and then on to another one at Jodphur… A short day we hope because our bums are killing us 😁

Goa, the hippie apocalypse.

After a few days relaxing in Goa, we made a break for it today, narrowly escaping the addition of henna tattoos and tie dyed clothes.  I’ve never seen so many hippies in my life, it was like a hippie apocalypse!  I can still hear Cartman now… “God damned hippies!!”

And it was also a sad goodbye to our friend Deb who we’ve been meeting up with in various places, next time we’ll see you in the Netherlands! xx

Somehow we missed Bike Week in Goa, but we did see hundreds of big bikes on their way back to the cities, thanks to Darayus and friends for shouting us a tea at one of the roadside stops, very kind.

Tonight we made it as far as Lonavala, a hill town 100km from Mumbai.

Two more travel days now to reach Rajasthan. xoxo


And we’ve arrived in Goa! It’s a bit of a culture shock being somewhere that’s nice, where there are predominantly only westerners around and there is no litter or car horns blaring incessantly. We are staying in a hut on Patnem beach which is a chilled relaxed place… We’ll go and visit the hard core trance party beach tonight!

patnem beach

patnem beach

It doesn’t feel like India at all here but I guess it all makes up the multi dimensional country that it is. It’s a bit like the Bali of Indonesia, but more extreme.

We’ve had a couple of pleasant days travelling here, (please note that our definition of ‘pleasant’ has been altered somewhat over the past few weeks) with less car horns and less traffic in general. There have still been some pretty special driving manoeuvres though which we won’t forget for a while but for the most part it was good… we even found a nice local outdoor restaurant openly serving beer as soon as we crossed the border into Goa!
We will be here for another few days, slowly making our way up the coast to other beaches and then we will leave the bubble of Goa and head back in to the thick of it to Rajasthan.

South India and bars

We have spent the last week or so travelling around the south of India. The people are friendly, maybe less obsessed with the bike which is great… The food less spicy than I was hoping… And, at least on the west coast, a little more aware of the environment and keeping it clean… Clearly a big job still lays ahead for them though…

Riding through as many national parks and elevated areas as we could, we have seen some beautiful tea plantations (acres and acres, something like our vineyards at home), beautiful scenery and some wild elephants…. Completely wild… No sanctuary where tourists can ride them or clean them… Wild… It was really cool!

It’s so much nicer riding through the hills and is always a harsh jolt back to reality when we find ourselves back on main roads… I don’t think I need to go on about that anymore… My uncontrollable screaming at a bike who was unnecessarily smashing his horn this evening made me (and him!) realise that I may be loosing the plot so I’ll keep that to myself… The amount of middle finger jabs, swear words (sorry Mum) and  violent kicks out to cars threatening to kill us is also another thing I am trying to find my inner peace with … It’s a challenge 😁😊😇🙏🏻😑

Mysore is where we are now…actually the first proper city we have been in. It’s actually pretty chilled, nothing much to see except a palace which is really pretty. There are more bars here which is nice 😊. The bars still make you feel like you are a dirty scrap of society that doesn’t deserve to be seen. All the bars so far in India are underground or on a roof away from the public in a dark dirty corner with no sunlight … They are a little better here, in the state of Karantaka… Some have a bit of sunlight allowed through some of the windows, but still pretty dingy…. We are however also a little desperate so we persevered and found a place which had sunlight AND fresh air and a SHIT load of westerners with the same scared vacant look that we had, grasping their gin/vodka/beer like it may evaporate. It was all very nice but I got a bit peeved when I was told that my daiquiri would be made with ice cream…

‘Ice cream??!! Can you make it without?’


‘Really?! Ice cream?! Don’t worry about it then’

Even after a visit to the bar to personally speak with the bartenders and ask them if they could alter the recipe, I was rejected… I may have been dry for 3 weeks by now, but ice cream in a daiquiri?! I’ll skip thanks 😉

Anyway…. Patience… This is what India is trying to teach me!  

We ended up at a bar with no windows, with cigarette smoke and rock music… Dean hated it for the first half a beer but after that he was head banging to the rock music, drinking more beer than I was margaritas and making DJ requests for ‘System of a down’ (and I was contemplating asking for Prince) …this is when I knew it was time to pull us away from the bar… He has now crashed out… Bless ☺️


Kerala and Tamil Nudu


Thankfully (as you can see) things have improved marginally in the south of India. 
The traffic is a little less suicidal, people mob us less, and the scenery in some parts is really beautiful.
We did ride 4000km to get here though so it’s taking some time to forgive 🙂
A few days ago we ended the day in shitsville being mobbed by people who were climbing all over the bike, then Betsy wouldn’t start, and eventually she ran on one cylinder all the way back to our room.
That was a low point.
Today we’re in improved spirits, the beer is cold, the shower hot, and Betsy is running great, so the journey continues 🙂