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 😁