Back to the place where I belong…

….. hmmmm though I must say, a piece of me belongs to India now too.  And to this lot here.  These are the people I spent most of my time with during the trip.  I was the least experienced rider, not only in this group but overall, and they still put up with me.

It is exactly a week since I arrived back in Frankfurt and I am still reeling and adjusting.

The most wonderful thing happened on Sunday when I arrived back in London.  Here I was thinking myself a bit of a hero having survived and loved almost every second of the trip.  Declan and the girls came to meet me in London.  After about 2 minutes of being shy it was back to business as usual with the girls with mummy, can I have a chewing gum, mummy I want to go and play with my cousins now.  At the end of the day, in their minds I am what I really want to me – mum.  Albeit, I feel like a mum with a twist now. I can’t shake the feeling.

I don’t really know where to start with my experiences and stories and pics but I will get some of them up here.

India is probably the most incredible place I have ever visited – full of colour, smells (even the bad ones were good :-)), people, animals, traffic, amazing food, joy, clarity and some sadness too.

I will post pictures and as I do, look into the eyes of the people I have picture of.  What do you see?

I long to go back and if I have the gumption, I will do this trip again or even try my hand at the Himalayas one which they do in Summer.

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Day Eleven (Munnar – Kumarakom) – The Last Day on “Bike 25”!

Well, this is probably going to be the last post from the stand-in, before the star attraction takes control again…
.. it’s Friday night, the girls and I are heading off to the airport in the morning to fly to London, ready to meet Marion / Mar / Maz (!) off the plane from Mumbai, when she lands on Sunday evening.
She rang earlier today, but only after sending a text message which read: “Made it.” The last day was very much like many of the days before, as far as I can tell – mad traffic, crazy roads, lots of Kilometers of watching out for and expecting the unexpected at every turn, at every junction. It must be knackering!

But, I’ll tell you, Marion’s voice said it all when we spoke – she was very happy to be at base camp. They were setting up a stage for the grand finale, under palm trees and within sight of the sea (or at least, she thinks it was the sea!!) Sari on, helmet off, body armour off and let the hair down with a bunch of new, but very special friends.

It must have been a great final stretch though – they all gathered at a point about 2Km out from the final destination and headed in for the big ride-in together, all 50 or so bikes together, horns beeping and lights flashing. Must have been an amazing feeling after about 2000Km across India…

I can’t wait to see Marion, nor can the girls. And I think we all can’t wait to hear all about it in person.

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Days Nine and Ten (Masinagudi – Kodai – Munnar)

Well, I’m going to bundle a couple of days (I must be getting impatient now!) -after the well-deserved break, the team has had a couple of gruelling days back in the saddle!
They have mastered the art of the “hairpin bend” on a Bullet – by the sounds of things, by no means easy – as they wound their way around about 80-100 of them over the past two days!
Not only that, but they had the biggest day of the tour so far today (Thursday), on the way to Munnar, as they completed a 380Km (!!!) leg of the journey. I was well impressed by Marion, who got on the phone at the end of it, before heading off to crawl under a shower! She was wrecked, but was in great form on the phone, as she patiently listened to Ella tell her about her latest exploits and achievements in school!
At this stage, our heroin is nearing the end of her massive adventure – one more day on the bike, as they head back out towards the West coast of India, to spend the night in Kumarakom. I’m sure they’ll welcome the chance to pack their body armour and helmets away (for a while, at least) and concentrate on celebrating a great journey across some crazily challenging and dangerous terrains!

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Day Eight (Jungle Hut and Retreat)

Sorry all, I’ve been letting Marion down with my tardy blogging for her…
I’ll catch up quick now and as I’m sure you all are, can’t wait for her to be here to tell us first hand about her incredible experiences.
The group had a rest day at the Jungle Hut & Retreat (http://www.junglehut.in/mainpage.html), which was a welcome break for all. During an early morning jungle safari, they saw elephants, wild dogs and wild boar, but no tigers (luckily enough, you would think!)
The rest of the day was spent by the pool for some well-deserved R&R!

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Day Seven (Mysore – Masinagudi)

So, back over to the ghost writer for another quick update –

“Maz” (Mar or Marion are good too 😉 ) had what she called a pretty uneventful 120Km trip from Mysore to the Jungle Hut & Retreat in the large tiger reserve that they are currently staying at (!!)
(Mind you, “uneventful” on EnduroIndia is probably not really our understanding of the word. In fact, I believe there were a few bumps and scratches along the way for some of the gang. But luckily, only on metal, I think, with no serious injuries…)

There were no sightings of Tigers or Elephants on the way, but they are all getting up at 5:30am (in about 2-3 hours) to go for a wee safari… hmm…

Just to keep our Maz on her toes, though, she is shacked up for the next two nights in what they call the “Jungle Retreat” with Helen. They have both been instructed that they are not to set foot outside of their cabin without an (armed?) escort. There is too much wildlife around for the organizers to even be happy with the Disclaimer that the girls had to sign on their way in ….

.. on that note: let’s see what she has to tell us tomorrow!

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Checking In

Hello from Mysore (could be my sore everything)

Thanks to Declan for doing a great job keeping this up to date.  I have one correction to make.  We are not going to a fancy dress party.  Everyone has been kindly requested to “doll.up” for the last night and Billie (one of the brilliant Indian team of Billie and Doc – they are like our control center) asked that we dress in local costume – which is Sari.  I mean it has to be done.

What about the trip so far…

After a really bad first day on bike 54 I genuinely thought that I would never get to where I am.  Had I understood the reality of what I am doing, I probably would have chickened out.  I am so so so glad I was a little naive because I will never in my life experience anything like this again.  One guy gave up on day three but I think it was more personal issues than the challenge.

I got divorced from 54 and took up with 25 on day three.  It was like a different world.  25 is one of the mechanics bikes and he really wants to have it back but he is not getting it.

In six days of riding so far we have covered about 1160 kms and about 42 hours of riding!!  Do the math to get the average!

Declan has told you about the bike.  I have become quite attached to it.  After all it brings me in each evening or we bring each other in.

A word about the mechanics.  They follow us around on bullets all day dealing with everything from broken off exhausts and smashed up headlights and more.  They are friendly and more hardworking than anyone I know.  When we get in in the evening, they check every bike and fix what needs fixing.  They might get a couple of hours sleep and they are off again.  I will post a photo of the inside of our spare-parts truck soon.

We have been in jungle areas, cities, riding through coffee and tea plantations, and rice paddies.  One of the biggest eye openers was day 2 when we fought with about 400 trucks to get through one area.  They were entering a quarry.  The roads were very dusty, the truck sometimes 2 if not 3 abreast.  I cannot believe I did that on day two!  The roads are always challenging and you never know what is around the next corner. 

I have never come across so many curious and friendly people.  They are amaying.  We do a couple of chai stops a day in little villages and usually once the first person is bold enough to approach, everyone comes.  It is incredible to hear so many young kids speaking english.  Have taken lots of snaps of people too.

Today is a short ride of 120 kms and we have a 2 night stay in jungle huts where we will see elephants for sure and if we are lucky a tiger.  Apparently we are very likely to meet elephant on the road today and we will be briefed on what to do in that situation in our session before we leave!!! 

After today, the next bigget challenge is the 36 hairpin bends day and there we have to watch for trucks on the wrong side of the road!  Ahhhh..

I have so much to say and have to go get breakfast and let Chris from Northern Ireland have a go on the net too.

BTW I ride every daz with Pete Noelle, Andrew, Andrew, Steve and Matt and we have become quite a team together.  They have been brilliant to me.

love to all.

Maz

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Day Six (Kadkani – Mysore)

So, we’re still flying a little in the dark here, as Maz and I didn’t manage to speak again yesterday. But the messages she left yesterday let us know that she is really getting more and more comfortable on the Bullet.
The phone reception seems to be terrible, although the one place it did work was in the bar the night before – typical 😉
But never mind the phone – enjoy the adventure!
230Km yesterday.
Another 175Km today on the way to Mysore, including a stop off at the largest Tibetan monastery outside of Tibet.

We then finally had a chance to have a quick chat today 🙂
Maz has really found her rhythm on the bike, things are moving along really well… I’m not sure I like the sound of it, but she’s learning how to master the indian traffic, overtake buses and stuff like that!
One comment is going to stick with this trip: “There’s no way I’ll ever begin to describe what I’ve seen and experienced so far. You have to have seen and experienced it yourself to believe it.”

They’re safely set up at the hotel in Mysore now and have headed out to town. Maz wants to pick up a Sari for the fancy dress party on the last night of the trip (why does that not surprise me??!!).

Watch this space …!

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