Sunday, 29 January 2017

The story of Morgan freeman and his jaunts

Well, I am back to writing after a while. and I’d like to start with a rant. I am a bit concerned and feel sad for the people that get sucked into all the "adventure" horse shit. To think about it, The adventures people could have if they just rode out there enjoyed themselves instead of buying all the crap from the big brands to keep up with the social media and Jones next door. I have a very strong opinion that these folks have tarnished a noble thing for the rest of us. ie. going for a ride on a bike. Now, these unscrupulous companies slam you with happy selfies from sponsored riders driving home to the punter. They must have the latest crash protection, wet weather gear, gps or the latest luggage set or even a bike!  What happened to just going for a ride guys ? I realised that I got sucked in, I wish I’d spent more money on gas than the "right” gear. 

It brings up a huge question. What is an adventure ? is going out there on a guided tour or a rented motorcycle an adventure? Are guided tours not “real” adventures? 

Well, it can be both. Because Adventure isn't a prescription.

I very strongly believe that Adventure is in the individual. It is as close to putting on your boots in the morning and heading out the door. In our case, motorcycles. And it's not about the prize, the trophy, the goal, the gold. Robert service in his poem "the spell of the yukon" put it perfectly: "Yet it ins't the gold that I'm wanting so much as just finding the gold". That's adventure. The finding of it.

So, Leaving from where we left last time, I have quite the story to tell. As funny as it may sound, the story is about the 20 year old motorcycle which me and my wife rode all the way from the eastern himalayas in bhutan to the fringes of Jammu and kashmir traversing some gigantic peaks in Nepal. Its a story of no questioning how the universe works in uncanny ways. It's a story of friends who met through OLX. 

the Motorcycle is a 1996 ‘Made in spain’ Transalp 600 (XL600v). I named the Transalp “Morgan Freeman”. Because, it was Old, Red and full of redemption. The name just stuck. We carried parts to makre sure Morgan gets some TLC. 

We stopped being silly, and got serious riding.And riding is what we did. From the Teesta, to the Sevoke to Torsa to Paro and ended up in Mangde where Phobjika valley lies. 

A landscape right out of fairy tale. Where 6 foot tall black necked cranes migrate in winters, it was utterly surreal.  We took the lesser travelled border gate into Nepal in Pashupathi Nagar, which is a diversion from Ghum, the last railway station where the Infamous Toy train journey ends. The terrain is quite magical changing from Alpine to Alpine shrubs. 

Nepal - Kathmandu, the capitol was under siege, with no Petrol anywhere in sight for the first 2 days. After some local help, managed to fill Morgan copious amounts of petrol to take me to Pokhara. We rode to the forbidden kingdom of “Mustang” surrounded by 8000 meter peaks. The Annapurna conservation area is really something in the monsoon’s on a big motorcycle. We then tracked our way down to the beauty of the terai region and made it in time to the “Teej” festival. 

We rode from the ganjes, its tributaries and ended up at the chenab which met the sutlej in Spiti valley. 


Reflecting on the most incredible 2 months in the mountains, we crossed cold deserts, snow-capped peaks, forests and quaint villages. Safely traveled through them, and sometimes we were told not to go to places, visited others I'd not previously heard of. We were ecstatic, happy, sad, drunk, baked, drunk and baked, exhausted, moved, overwhelmed and mostly, fascinated. We made new friends for life, we fought, and sometimes were victims of hospitality and were given most from those with least to give.  We learned that a gesture is worth more than a thousand words, because, sometimes poor isn't necessarily unhappy. We learned to live with less and we shipped most of the things back midway. We become better travelers. I now trust people and our instinct. We saved cash, blew the budget, ran out of money, made false transactions and threw some illegal things at problems. We became compassionate human beings, mechanics, and with a technical ability only slightly better than a blind gibbon wearing boxing gloves, we became experts in many fields. We administered first aid by the road side and broke the sub-frame. We ate extraordinary food, Met western people who were learning to "cook mo-mo’s”. We ate with dirty hands, from plates, with clean hands, from leaves, plastic bowls and occasionally the huge pot. We slept in tents, in hotels, hostels, homestays, in cold deserts, on mountain tops, and in the wilderness. We saw stars, almost every day, and occasionally the milkyway. We had the most incredible good fortune tempered with bad some luck. We visited, museums, temples, churches, monasteries, and monasteries and monasteries ...The Himalayas is full of Monasteries. We communicated in sign language, learned a few words of tsonga, nepali, pahadi, and hindi. 

In Hindsight, now that we are back home, I sometimes wonder. Did it ever go away? Is the chronic travel addiction that strong ? is it because there always a chance of not finding what is over the hill that you haven't seen before? a new feeling or experience that hasn't been absorbed, yet? 

My inference is a fair warning. Warning: Motorcycle travel is highly addictive and there is NO known cure. 

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