India to Australia – I made it to the country down under!

Through many months on the road, I finally started my journey in Australia.

I woke up from my tent at Big Brooke State forest feeling refreshed with the soothing sound of the waves since I camped very close to the beach and I was all set to ride another day. (The weather was perfect and I had a good night sleep).
As I was walking to the tap to brush my teeth a gentleman walked towards me and asked if I wanted to join him and his wife for coffee. I said I would love to and would be back in a few minutes.

 

I went over to their trailer and saw that they had coffee and some toast waiting for me. They told me they were so happy to see a women travelling by herself and especially since I am from India. They showed me the route they took all across Australia and that they have been traveling for 11 months already. We kept on sharing stories until I realized it was half past 9 and I had a long day of riding ahead.

While talking they kept on mentioning about a place called Hamlin bay which is a must visit place. So I decided to quickly pack all my stuff and backtrack 25kms to visit this place. With no expectations I rode up the bay, it was a beautiful turquoise colored beach with white sands. What I saw next stunned me! there were so many sting rays in the water and they seemed so friendly, just like doggies looking for attention wanting me to pet them and feed them. It was a wonderful experience despite the thought of Steve Irwin dying of their sting was at the back of my mind. I was completely in the moment and enjoyed my time with them.

It was past 12.30 and I had 200 kms of riding to the next destination. The roads were spectacular, beauty at every turn as I was riding through the forests the trees kept getting bigger and bigger until I got to the Gloucester tree. The Gloucester Tree is a giant karri tree in the Gloucester National Park of Western Australia.
At 58 metres in height, it is the world’s second tallest fire-lookout tree. I got out of my jacket and began my ascend. I was trembling in every step however luckily a lady named Kim who had just arrived then help me overcome my fear and climbed with me. The view from the top was breathtaking and so worth the effort! It doesn’t look that daunting at first sight but climbing the spiral step ladder up to the tree top lookout requires a degree of fitness and definitely not for those with a fear for heights. The descend is a bit more challenging, make sure not to look down. Once you reach the top you understand why so many people bother to make the effort to climb the tree. The 360 degree view above the tree top canopy is something you don’t get to see everyday and the real treat (for me) was when the tree started swaying in a strong breeze.

 

I was so exhausted when I got down, I knew that I had to camp close by so I rode only a 105kms and reached my camp spot just before the sunset. It was quite a lonely place nettled in the midst of the forests. While I sat in my tent in complete darkness all I could think of was to be grateful for all these experiences and be able to wake up safe.

The thrilling climb to the Bamboo Tree House (Day 24)

17th September

After the tiring ride from Shillong to Mawlynnong (Asia’s cleanest village), I woke up early the next day. Since I had reached this place late at night, I was awestruck to witness the beauty and cleanliness of this blessed place in the morning light. My first view after opening the door was greenery and real cleanliness all around. I was glad to be there.

I got ready to explore this exotic destination along with a friend and headed first to the Living Root Bridge. After riding a few hundred meters, we were at the parking lot of that tourist destination. We parked our bikes and walked. As I approached, I was blown away to witness first-hand the natural root bridge over a crystal clear fast flowing river.

 We locked our memories in photographs and spent some quiet time. We then headed to the Bamboo Tree House. We were the first to arrive there, which quite surprised the care-taker & owner of the Tree-house but nevertheless welcomed us with a broad smile. They opened the gates and I trotted ahead with excitement only to see a bunch of bamboos tangled, that was supposed to be the path to get to the view point. My excitement turned to nervousness because the only thing between me and a 300 meter drop were those tangled bamboo which suddenly in mind started to seem tattered. I could not calm my shivering legs so I opted to not look down and like a centipede I made it to the viewpoint. I had reached heaven as that Tree house is above the cliff overlooking a waterfall and the plains of Bangladesh. Conquering over fears gives a new perspective on life, in this case a new picturesque view for my camera.

Shillong, so much in a day! (Day 23)

 

 

 

16th September

I left guwahati quite early since I had a breakfast ride scheduled with the Assam bikers. They were going to ride with me for about 30kms. At 6 in the morning I met the group of 15 bikers at Pantaloons Downtown. The Guwahati to Shillong route is almost like a race track and since it was Sunday a lot of Superbikers were riding on that route. It is however not suggested to ride fast as there are many trucks that do not even show signals while turning. I even saw a Harley fall on one of the turns. We reached the dhaba had breakfast with some puris and channa masala and I said my good byes before proceeding to Shillong. These roads were the best so far that I saw in the north east and after riding for an hour and a half the weather started getting cooler the skies bluer and the trees thick and lush. I started to feel like I was riding in an Instagram filter. I finally did reach Shillong but I had to find a cyber cafe to apply for 2 more visas that I have been delaying for a while now, but after roaming in the city for half an hour I found none. What amazed me about Shillong was everything was shut and all the families were all dressed up in suits and dresses and they were either headed to church or finished church. It felt like home 😊

I reached out to a biker friend Samyntein in Shillong who invited me to his brother-in-law’s home to use his computer . So I said perfect. As I followed him to his place, I saw sign boards that said Scotland of the east and saw these colorful houses on the hill side almost all around. I noticed and liked how there were more women on the street than men. So much difference than the rest of India.

Anyways once I reached the house it took me 2 hours to get the visa work done and by that time it was already 3pm and I was supposed to ride to the cleanest village in Asia which would take me atleast 3 to 4 hours. My friend insisted that he come along with me as it is not very safe to ride in the dark. Even though I said no initially, I agreed as I thought it would be really nice for a local person to guide me. We quickly had some nice lunch and we left. After riding for 35kms we passed by the biggest village of Asia (sohryngkham), we took a few pictures and continued towards.

Samyntein suggested a short cut to which I wasn’t sure but still I followed. We passed through many tiny villages on the way with cows on the road and children staring as we passed by! They stared as if they hadn’t seen bikes before and there were also many young girls carrying their children around on their backs in a cloth tied around them. The roads kept getting worse and worse, from tiny stones to big rocky road. After riding For 200+ kms since 6am in the morning it just started taking a toll on me and we still had about 80 kms to go. We stopped for one last photo at sunset near a waterfall and met 6 other bikers from Shillong on Superbikes. We started riding again and in just a few kms it turned completely dark and there was a long way to go.

Riding through those curves and looking at the stars right ahead of us because of the clear skies was a good experience, but that was short lived because as we neared Dawki there were thousands of trucks parked on the side of the road which made the two laned road seem like a one laned road. The mining has been stopped in these areas but there is yet a lot of export of limestone. The only thing I was wondering was since thousand of trucks were loaded with limestone on just one day then how much are we destroying mother nature everyday.

 

It was a slow ride as there were oncoming cars and bikes as well. We stopped after crossing the river to buy a packet of biscuits and everything was dark and people started to stare at us, it wasn’t a good feeling. My friend asked me choose between two routes a 20km road or 35 kms road. I said 35km since that was a good road but he suggested the shorter route and I followed him. But after a kilometre itself I knew it was a bad bad decision as the roads were merely loose gravel to big rocky roads and a dense jungle all around. I had never felt so scared in my life, but continued riding. Every 500meters we would pass by 2 armed men guarding the border. We were almost into Bangladesh and out most of the way. My respect for the army increased as it takes a lot of grit to stand many hours in the night in complete darkness and guard these border areas. The way was quite difficult steep climbs and here and there we would hear waterfall noises. Those 20kms just wasn’t ending. This started to feel like the longest day on the road. Finally after many cheackposts my light reflected on a board that said 20kms to the cleanest village in Asia. It was a sign of relief as well as anger 😠 but I said to myself that some days are just meant to be shitty but they may be good things waiting for me. So I took that last bit of energy left in me and rode that 20 kms until we reached a small tiny house in the woods where a lady and her 2 children were waiting for us. That’s when I knew that this was where I was staying for the night, in a wooden hut built by her husband. The moment I entered I realized that it was so tiny but yet so clean and perfect. I headed for a bath as soon as I got there, had a perfect simple veg food for dinner cooked on fire wood and called it a night. I was exhausted yet content that I made it to this place after that scary experience and I was glad I had company of my fellow biker friend 😁     

The living dollhouse in Guwahati (Day 22)

I was not ready to leave Bhutan, but the road beckoned. When I entered India, the broken paths welcomed me. After a tiring ride, the pit-stop in Guwahati was a refreshing change. I was hosted by a friend’s family and I also got to meet her in-laws who is quite well known in Guwahati for her vintage designer furniture. Apart from the delicious meals both the aunties fed me, I also had a beautiful ambience to enjoy it.

Her name is Korobi Das and she has the most exquisite taste in home decor. I never imagined one could build themselves a dollhouse in the city of Guwahati. What was more inspiring is that she built her furniture business all by herself whilst raising two children.

I spent an evening getting to know her and about how all of this came together and how she literally handcrafts most of her showpieces. It was also her birthday, so I snagged an interview too.

Conquering the Tiger’s nest (Day 18)

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been in Bhutan for couple of days but was avoiding going to the Tigers nest as I heard a lot about the difficulty of the trek. However today I gathered the courage and rode to it’s base camp. Once there I hired a stick and a horse. I rode with 6 other tourists. The trails were steep and the rains had made it slushy, so the ride started to seem scarier than walking specially when I saw a few horses sliding down the path. After a 45 minute of tensed ride, we reached a cafe, after which it’s a good 3 hours more of walking to reach the nest. My history of dislocated knee made my waIking slow but steadly I proceeded the view just got better and better. First it was of the thick green mountains and then a couple of streams, steep climbs, people who were hiking to the monastery and then suddenly we got close to the Tiger’s nest and oh my! the view was breathtaking. It was the toughest climb of my life and many times I thought I should turn back but what kept me motivated was the old folks who still managed to get up there. They were happy to be accomplishing such a big task and I knew if they can do it, I definitely can too. So I continued and came across this majestic waterfall along the way and once you cross the waterfall the nest is within vicinity. Only there I realised that I didn’t purchase a ticket from the base. I was nervous but when I explained my mistake they were kind enough to let me enter the monastery. I spent over 2 hours over there and never felt so much at peace. I soaked in the picturesque surroundings, the meditation and met people from different countries. As soon as I went into the last shrine it was time to leave. Slowly but steadily I started to climb back, this time joined by 2 doggies who accompanied me most of the way, which made me happy.
Ascending down the slopes was the biggest task for me as it puts a lot of pressure on my knees.But like a tortoise I kept on going and I told myself that there are days that will be the toughest but once I overcome them, there is immense joy and satisfaction.

When finally I saw the base camp in site I was relieved and the moment I sat on Skye I forgot my pain and I knew that this is what I’m meant to do. I can ride for 16 to 18 hours every day but I can never walk 🤣
When I finally got back to my hotel I realized how much of beating my legs have taken and I had to soothe them by taking a hot water tub bath. Good night ul

Rendevous with Bhutan (Day 15 & 16)

Day 15 : Country #2 : Bhutan the land of Happiness is a tiny nation nestled between powerhouses India and China. Bhutan is truly one of the most mysterious and mystical places I have ridden in. Because of government policies to protect the country’s heritage and environment, staying in bhutan is like stepping back in time. There are no high rises and all the buildings are built in the traditional style.
I spent my day riding 170kms and checked into a hotel that has a picturesque view of the city. Went shopping for groceries with the owner and his daughter and watched flights land at Paro Airport. So homely this place feels and what I’m wearing is the traditional dress Kira.

Day 16 : Skye and I have been exploring some amazing places for the last couple of days. But today was a delight riding to the Chalela pass, beauty at every corner and at every curve and it was so hard for Skye and I not to stop and capture these moments. It was also nice meeting and riding @dg_the_wanderer whose on his tour and has been on the road for over 90 days. Met an Insta friend from Pune who introduced me to his army friends, who I had lunch with and I’ve gotten to know so much more about this country from them. All together it has been a great day and like I always say. I do feel blessed😇

Goodbyes at NHRefuel & enroute Hyderabad (Day 1)

Here’s a continuation of what ensued after the flag off..
My friends and family escorted me up until NHRefuel where we assembled to have breakfast together. It was quite a turn around, more than what I had imagined. And the food was superb!
We gathered around to share stories about my past and how I got into riding. My aunt and my parents spoke words of encouragement which rendered me quite speechless. By the time it was my turn to speak I felt my heart swell up and tears came brimming to my eyes and I croaked my words! I never thought this endeavor to see the world on my motorcycle would be met with so much support and love and I felt so grateful.
I also made a video presentation of what I expect to do on my ride and we concluded the meet up with a prayer song. Yes I need all the blessings I can get.
With the morning slowing moving into noon I finally hit the road. Even though the day was hot my soul was calm.
And I watched a beautiful sunset from the highway as I made my way to Hyderabad

Flag Off to Australia #australasianodyssey

It was still dark out the window when I asked my family to go on and meet me at Vidhana Soudha. I needed those last 5 mins by myself to go through my checklist, say goodbye to my cats and also quieten my mind which would not stop thinking. There were a million things running through my head as I made my way to the flagging off point. Did I post the correct timing? Will anyone show up this early? In fact, will anyone show up at all? Just as when Vidhana Soudha came into my view I saw one motorcycle parked behind a car and then a fleet of motorcycles and several groups huddled, chattering and basking in the morning fog. At that moment I clicked a mental picture in my head because I never want to forget what I felt, I felt thankful.
For those of you who dont know, here’s my route
I will be starting from Bangalore covering the east coast of India towards the northeast. Then via Manipur to Myanmar – Thailand – Laos – Vietnam – Cambodia – Thailand – Malaysia – Singapore – Indonesia – Australia. I’ll be doing two island hops, one from Malaysia to Indonesia and the other from Timor to Darwin. From Darwin I’ll be riding all the way to Sydney. Wish me luck folks!

The Wine Experience in India

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

And here’s my story about the Wine capital of India.

I know that we learn a lot from books but I have come to realize that whilst travelling the knowledge that you acquire from the experience is embedded for a longer time. For example, I did not know that Nashik is called the Wine capital of India until I reached here and with the reception that I received and the impression that it left on me, I know I will remember it forever.

 

I was invited to this divine city by the club ‘Cruising Godz’. It was a short ride of 160 kms from Mumbai with only one stop, I choose McDonalds.

I am girl from the South, I strive on coffee.

When I reached Nashik I was quite mesmerized by the weather and the welcoming down to earth people. The early morning fog at the horizon is always a pleasant sight. I could spend ample time admiring that because everything else was taken care of by the ‘Cruising Godz’.

Some pictures from Mumbai before I could ride to Nashik..


I was put up at the Ginger Hotel by the Cruisin Godz. As soon as I reached I unpacked and made my way for lunch to ‘Players’ which is a restaurant owned by a fellow biker of the Godz. That place is a must visit I might add since the food there was scrumptious!

After the delicious meal with the hearty company I was escorted to “Puffs and Rolls Cafe” owned by Sagar and his wife. This cozy cafe also happens to be a boat club since it lies on the banks of a river. The view of the river became even more picturesque owing to the shimmering drizzle and I had a glimpse of the boys of Nashik rowing amidst these droplets dancing with the water.

It was still pouring when us adventurous souls decided to roll out a Thar to go off-roading and head off to the Sula Vineyards. We made a tour of the wine county and binged on all the wine and cheese possible.

My glorious day reached it zenith when I went meet the Cruisin Godz community. They received me with such warmth and felicitated my achievements with a Cruising Godz Club T-shirt that it really humbled me. It is always an honour to be appreciated by a fellow biker community, reminds me that I am on the right track, that I have the love and support and reinforces my belief in what I am out to achieve.

On day two Sagar, Charul and rode out to go explore the vineyards… On the way we came across this karting track so we stopped and couldn’t help ourselves, so we went karting and zip lining.

At the end of the day we headed out to the York suburb. It was a perfect culmination to the series of events. Watched some adorable little puppies chasing down a flock of peacocks into the sunset. Wine to dine with cheese. It was our very own Tuscan evening.

My legs maybe sore with all the walking but my heart is rejuvenated with yarns I can spin through this exposure.
And I cannot thank Cruising Godz enough for their hospitality and for making my stay so eventful. Cheers to you guys and cheers to the brotherhood.

Here I am… on the road again

Life is like a ride. It has its own ups and downs, its skids and slips and its discomforts and thrills. It is a rocky narrow passage at times and a smooth highway pass on others. At times, when one falls, the best thing to do is stand at the roadside and retrospect. That is what I was exactly going through for the past few days. Parked on the side of the road and watching the world pass by, healing my soul before I began another dash on the road. Today was the day. It didn’t seem to be the perfect moment but it did feel right. There was no push to go back on the road and yet there was nothing holding me back.

Blue seemed to be a reflection of me. It was covered in a layer of dust that I didn’t bother to wipe off. I hadn’t dusted off the rust on me, why should Blue look any different. The pings on the WhatsApp bikers group last night kept me informed where my fellow brethren were headed to. I informed them of my willingness to join them and as always our community of riders have nothing but love to offer.I joined them at the showroom where we decided to meet up and where the final arrangements were being made before we took off. While filling up the fuel tank at a petrol station, I remembered that I had changed my engine oil yesterday to the new Castrol POWER1 CRUISE which is specifically for cruiser bike engines like the one on Blue. Once the air pressure was checked and corrected, we hit the highway.

Our first pit stop was Nandi Upachaar which is a famous breakfast spot 40 kilometers from Bangalore, located right on the corner of the cross to Nandi Hills. The place lived up to its expectation once again. It never disappoints in curbing your hunger. 

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Once fueled by the delicacies on offer, the gang proceeded to partake in a small off-road adventure in the nearby areas. We climbed a little hillock on our bikes and I was surprised to see all the thrill of my previous rides returning to me and making me realise that I spent too long worrying about things and not doing what I love. It revved me to make the most of this day.

Amongst our company were these three Australian bikers with a mission to map the entire rural landscape of India and experience the life from this unique perspective. They are documenting this project and were really excited about the prospect of joining us on this ride.

After an hour of off-roading, we stopped at a Go-kart track and took our bikes on the track for a few fun laps.However, being a Sunday, this was just a breakfast ride. Even I was of the same opinion when I started from home. But as they say “Once you taste the blood, it is impossible to stop the craving”. While everyone started heading back towards the city, I wanted to ride away from it towards the places where I had placed pieces of my hearts since I found my heavens there. And this added another chapter to the journey.

As I blazed passed the sun scorched highways there was a sense of relief. The heat wave troubling everyone for the past few days was a factor I couldn’t even notice because I was heading towards the place where I am happy again. The joy of riding and the assurance of control and this amazing feeling called freedom was filling colours in the dark and rusty brain of mine and gradually I started feeling alive again.

I had just one worry; if Blue could make it. It has seen more than a couple of summers now and lately had started feeling sluggish during long rides. The hot weather was another concern since it alleviated the heat and friction which rendered Blue powerless when I needed her to accelerate. But I guess the new cruiser bike specialist engine oil from Castrol was working its magic considering the way Blue accelerated even after a couple of hours on the ride. Gradually my concerns faded and I could focus on the one thing that I liked most in life and the one thing that resembles life the most. The Ride.

Further ahead as I travelled along the roads, I reached this town named Kaiwara. Once you have travelled enough you seem to realise that the towns and roads and civilisations are pretty much the same no matter where you go. You realise that it is not the place or race or colour that divides us. One tends to forget the concept of boundaries and borders. Kaiwara was no exception to it and yet it held its unique identity. I passed through its roads soaking in the humanity that dwelled here. Around 2 kilometers ahead of the town is the Kaiwara Zoo. It is shut down and now serves the purpose of a park for people to visit. The sun, however, forced it to be empty at this hour.

I continued riding and a few meters ahead I came across this beautiful temple surrounded by greenery on all sides. It is the Gavi Temple.

I took the blessings from the Gods who resided here and roamed around only to find monkeys and sparrows to keep me company. There were a lot of sparrows here and there constant chirping wouldn’t let you feel alone.

After spending a few minutes of peace, I rode ahead towards Kailash Parbat. Don’t confuse this with “The Kailash Parbat”. This is a different one. The last stretch of 2 kilometers to this place is a patchy broken road which was another test for Blue, but I guess the new blood was taking good care of it. I could enjoy the slow ride along with the beautiful view on offer. There were these small water bodies like ponds along the foothills. The silence of the still water reflected the clouds flying over and I noticed that I finally had some friends to protect me from the unforgiving sun.

A few curves later I reached the parking lot of the Chintamani Cave Temple.

From here the temple is a short walk uphill. I was awestruck by the sheer size of the mighty hill.

While you climb up, you would find small plastic containers which contain the prayers, requests and other offerings from other devotees who visit this mesmerising spot.

Like all caves, this one too has a small opening. But when you enter you would witness the grandeur of the wonderful temple. Thankfully there were no bats here. Every word you speak loud enough echoed back. A perfect place for retrospection; me talking to myself. I came across priests and deities who all blessed me before I moved on. The view of the surrounding hills was breathtaking. I was lost in the beauty of it as I kept staring at the way nature had adorned itself here. The only thing that broke my session of peace was the gurgling sound of my empty tummy.

I descended down the hill to the parking lot to find a dining hall. I was delighted to come to the realisation that it was not just the hunger of my soul that would be taken care of.

The temple meals are served from 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM and that too free of cost although one can make contributions towards the counter outside the hall for the food one eats. I stuffed my belly till my heart was full.

The meal energised me for the return journey and after a rest of a few minutes I could call it a successful day and started my journey back home.