I wanted to go as far away from what I knew as I could go, somewhere that I could explore by motorbike and India was one of a few places that I was really drawn to.
I flew into Mumbai, when I got out of the airport, it was pretty manicured and well kept, definitely not what I was expecting. But 10 minutes in my taxi and that all turned into bustling shanty town and city of colour, noise, excitement and the smell of India which I came to love, i knew I was in for a ride.
Over the next month I bussed, trained and trucked through Rajasthan, to Varanasi and a few other places I wanted to see whilst making my way to Delhi to buy a motorbike. I was pretty excited for this part of my trip. I bought a bike from the Karol Bagh bike markets and when I got the keys I was the happiest guy in the world.
The city roads are swarming with tooting scooters and tuk tuks in a clean fight to fill any fume filled gap that opens in front of them, they will risk it all even if it means arriving a single hair in front of where they would have been if they decided not to. They being me as well, I loved it, there is good fun to be had among the helter-skelter politics of the roads.
One night after a few days of riding around Delhi I ordered a Samosa that tasted like a warm foot and surprisingly I got a pretty bad dose of food poisoning. I decided it was a good time leave Delhi and head to Rishikesh. By memory I think it was about an 8 or 9 hour ride with a couple of pit stops in the bushes on the way. I stayed a couple of weeks there and went exploring a lot. One day I will never forget was when I found myself at an old abandoned ashram over the other side of the Ganges, the gates were chained shut and what not, but I decided to climb the fence and have a look around. It was a little eerie in there but I just blamed that on being alone. I ended up walking into a building and saw sprayed on the wall ‘Bondi 2012’ which made it a little more homely. I wrote ‘Mullumbimby’ and something cheeky about Bondi then I kept walking through a hallway and into an large empty courtyard and in there saw ‘blood was spilt here’ sprayed on the wall, i was a little creeped again. Off the courtyard there was this doorway into a dark basement kind of thing that looked interesting so I turned my phone torch on and started walking into it, on each side of me I could vaguely make out these arched pebble stone openings into dark rooms, I got past maybe 3 or 4 of them and noticed a stench and the sound of a lot of flies coming from the next one, I was even a little more creeped now and when I looked in I could see a leopard lying dead on the cement floor. So many things went through my mind, i didn’t have a clue what was going on, if there were other leopards in there or if what ever killed it was still around so I left pretty quickly, jumped back over the fence and sat on my bike thinking about it. I couldn’t leave without taking a photo, so i went back in and took a quick snap. This story takes a few more interesting turnes but in short I left back to my stay. When I asked a friend who I met from there he told me it was probably shot for it’s fur, it all made sense. Anyway, after finding myself whilst doing yoga at the Beatles ashram and a few pranayama breaths in the Ganges, my soul was pure, I was enlightened and carrying a new messiah complex, so it was time to leave Rishikesh. I rode a long trip up to Kashmir where I based myself while I waited for Zoji La to open. This is a pass in the Himalayas that is closed most of the year because of ice cover. I was really looking forward to this. This road was really the main reason I was in India, I had seen snow once before but not like what was ahead. Once they had cleared enough snow, the roads opened and I made my way to Leh.
These are some wild and amazing roads, some parts cut into cliffs, others carved through walls of ice and twisted through sections of barron moonscape desert land. My eyes had not seen anything like this before, it was beautiful. The road was in ok condition considering, but at the same time definitely a little unsound. Some frosty moustaches and short breaths later I got to Leh, I stayed a while then left towards Manali which is a similar road about 500 kms back down and out of the Himalayas. Eventually I ended up riding to Nepal from Manali with Dan, a nice young fella I met back in Leh, he was a genius but fuck he was special when it came to riding a motorbike, which made the next leg pretty interesting.
After a few big days, one shitty day in particular where we rode for 20 hours, I became so tired I was seeing spots in my vision, Dan fell off his bike pretty bad, he was bleeding and our faces were black from exhaust fumes, bugs and all sorts of shit, we ended up in Pokhara.
We rode around Nepal for a few weeks, to Kathmandu up to the Tibetan boarder in Lang Tang. I said my goodbyes to Dan and sold my bike to an Aussie guy back in Pokhara who owns Hearts and Tears motorbike tours there.
I was back on foot now and I had a week left so I put my backpack on and walked up to Annapurna base camp. It was the off season there and I only saw glimpses of the peaks because of fog but it was very pretty with valleys of flowers. glacial rapids and waterfalls and so on. It was also pretty empty of people which was nice.
After 3 months it was time to make my way back to my favourite girl in the world, I missed her more then anything. I was also sad to leave. I never actually found myself, I’m still looking, but it opened my eyes in a big way and I am so greatful to have experienced India on a motorbike.
India and Nepal have so much to offer and I will be back to get lost in one of the largest populations on earth again, most definitely.
I’m no photographer but hopefully my photos can give a bit of insight into what an awesome place this is.