Namaste from Nepal!
Border – Amritsar:
Border crossing in Indian side took one and half hour. Customs officials checked VIN- and engine numbers. None of the bags were checked.
Jose´s carnet did not have engine number and this caused some questions, but finally things were sorted out.
Now we were in India and only 30km away from Amritsar.
First thing what I noticed after border crossing was a lot of thrash next to the road. Difference to Pakistan was really clear immediately.
Traffic was not too heavy before Amritsar suburbs. Once we reached outskirts of the town, traffic got much heavier and messier. It seemed like we needed to forget all traffic rules and just ride like locals.
We reached Shikhi wholy temple, Golden Temple, without a problem. Jose went to check few hotels while Pilar and I stayed with the bikes.
Immediately after we stopped, we were surrounded by huge group of people. Hands were everywhere and tried to touch bikes, helmet, riding suit and my fingers.
I thought “what the heck, I can do this also” and started to touch peoples hands and hairs. People seemed to think this was quite funny 🙂
My bike was a bit on a way, so I had to move her for 10m.
Same thing just kept ongoing all the time… Zipper of my jacket was open around 30cm and people started to touch my armor! Unbelievable!
Seemed like Pilar was close to panicking, so I moved my bike back next to Jose´s bike.
After 10 minutes Jose showed up and informed us that he had find decent hotel with a clean rooms. Bad thing was that the room price was around 20 euro.
I said to him that I would gladly pay it because previous night we had stayed in a really poor hotel.
After I carried all my stuff to my room, I climbed to the roof terrace and ordered a beer. Unfortunately hotel did not sell beer because it was so close to Shia golden temple. View from the roof terrace to the golden temple was really nice.
First thing what we did was to find ATM and after this we decided to visit the temple. Every person, who visits the temple, need to cover their heads (men and women). My hat was not good enough, so I purchased a small scarf.
100m before the temple we had to remove our shoes, walk a little bit and then cross a small pool of water. You can give your shoes for safekeeping, but we decided to put our shoes to the backpack.
Golden Temple itself was on a small artificial island. Queue to visit this place was really long, so we decided not to visit the temple, just walk slowly around this artificial lake and take a lot of photos.
This area was really peaceful! I couldn´t hear city noises, horns or anything else, so I was enjoying this quietness.
Once we walked around the whole area (whole area was covered with white marble), we sat down next to the lake to wait sunset.
After sunset, lights came on and temple was glowing in gold. What a amazing scenery!
All nice things come to an end and we decided to leave this peaceful temple area and return to the buzzing city. Difference was almost overwhelming, peace and quietness in the temple area compared to the chaos, noise and smells in the city…
We walked straight back to our hotel and decided to have last glimpse to the temple from the roof terrace. There we met American photographer and had a nice chat with the guy.
Amritsar – Sirsa:
We had agreed with hotel to have a breakfast at eight. We waited some kitchen personnel to appear, but none of them came… So, day started with empty stomache.
Jose and Pilar headed towards north, I headed towards south.
My plan was to ride roughly 300km and find a hotel from the last bigger town before the desert. If I would reach the town early enough, then I could still continue to the desert.
Soon I needed to get some fuel. I was told that fuel in India is cheaper compared to Pakistan, but it was actually opposite.
Traffic was total mess! People, animals and other vehicles everywhere. None of them followed any traffic rules… For me it looked like biggest vehicle has right of way and everyone else just tries to survive…
This traffic was really stressful. I had to be extra careful while all my senses got overload of information.
For me it seemed like companies hire only complete idiots/maniacs to drive busses. They were “kings of the road”, they started passing other vehicles no matter if there were other road users coming from the opposite direction. Numerous time I had to ride off the road to avoid collision.
Everyone seemed to get kicks by blowing their horn. Volume of the noise was almost unbearable and really annoying sound made it even worse
I was looking for place to pass one truck when suddenly I got hard hit to my hands from handlebar. I had ridden over big sharp edged hole and now I had clear dent in my front rim!
I checked rim, spokes and front tire. No major damage, only dent was visible. No bigger vibrations in the handlebar, so I think it is quite safe to use this rim and not to spent a lot of money for new one…
I was cursing myself, but these things happen and there is no chance to avoid this kind of things happening.
Started to feel a bit hungry, so decided to stop for a lunch when I was nice looking restaurant/hotel.
TV was showing cricket-championships while I was filling my stomache with excellent chicken soup and chicken pasta.
While I was ready to leave this place, someone approached me and told me that hotel manager would like to discuss with me. Did not know what was going on, so I followed this fellow to the shady office.
In the office I met the boss. With rough voice he asked where I was coming and where going. I told him my route and future plans. Next he wanted to know if I am married. Told him that I have girlfriend in Germany.
After this he totally got me off guard… He asked me if I would like to have girlfriend from India 🙂
I repeated my previous comment about girlfriend and then he said that he can get me European or American girlfriend…
I thanked him for the proposal and told that I do not need girlfriend and that I needed to continue my ride so that I would reach Sirsa before sunset.
Boss handed me his business card and told me to call him if I would change my opinion…
Few kilometers from the restaurant I saw some sort of demonstration and the road was totally blocked.
Took randomly one side road and found a small bridge over the narrow river.
My GPS showed only the main roads, but navigation was still quite easy.
Traffic at the country side was not so heavy as in the towns, but I needed to have full focus all the time. There was lot of animals (monkeys, dogs and cows), motorcycles & mopeds, cow/donkey carts, cars, busses and trucks on the road.
I was not able to relax even for a second and just enjoy the scenery, riding was quite stressful.
Once I reach Sirsa, I decided that today´s ride has been done. I was quite tired, so wanted just to find a hotel and relax a bit.
Few circles in the town and I found decent hotel. No network and only vegetarian food.
Decided to skip dinner after I walked past their kitchen…
Decided to find a store and buy some cookies and a beer for dinner.
Before the sunset I went for a walk around the town. All stores in the town were really small and basic. In any case I was able to buy beer, soda, water, cookies and soap (Forgot my soap already for a third time to a hotel room…).
I was also able to find internet café, but they did not allow me to use my own laptop, so no wonders from the internet at that night.
Woke up when someone was knocking to my door. I thought it was hotel staff asking something.
Local youngsters were having a birthday party ongoing and I was also invited. I did not want to go, but after several requests I promised to join the party for a few minutes.
Music was really loud and everyone seemed to have a good time. Most of the people were around 20 years old as also birthday party guy. I noticed that all people in the party were young men, no women were in this party.
One of the guests had arrived to the party on his 350cc Bullet. Before I was able to return to my room, we had to go and admire our bikes downstairs.
This guy was quite drunk already and still he wanted to go and have a testride on my bike. He asked many times (humble request), but after as many “no”-answers he finally understood that there is no chance for a testride.
He wanted to have his photo taken on top of the bike, but once again enough “no”-answers and he understood that photos will taken only next to the bike.
Finally all photos were taken and I got back to my room to continue my interrupted sleep.
Sirsa – Jaipur:
From Sirsa I was heading towards Jaipur by using mainly smaller roads through the biggest desert in India.
I knew that I had already reached the desert, but did not see any real sandy areas. I was here after the monsoon season, so desert was actually quite green.
Only way to tell that I had reached the desert was sandy and dusty roads in the villages.
There was some sand on the side of the road and few times I had to ride on these sandy bits to avoid cars and trucks from the opposite direction.
Pavement on the road was old and in quite a bad shape. Usable road was in the middle of the road and only wide enough for one car.
Due to the shape of the road my speed was also really low.
Saw few blackened pipes from the tile factories and colorful temples here and there in the desert.
I had hoped to see some sand dunes, but could not see a single one. I am not sure if my route was too much in the east through the desert…
I knew that I was approaching Jaipur when more and more traffic and people started to appear.
Jaipur is really big, over three million people city, so I reached the outskirts of the city already around 20km before the actual center.
Traffic got worse by every kilometer I got closer to the center. Lot of people and scooters were sharing same road. Cars were driving wrong side of the motorway, so I really had to focus again to the traffic.
I got already plan where to go, because on previous evening I had checked Lonely Planet suggestions for hotels.
Only thing what made navigation difficult was problems with the touchscreen on my GPS. At some point heat affects the touch screen making it impossible to use it.
Couldn´t find hotels immediately, so decided to stop and cool down my GPS.
Got only few steps away from the bike when someone already stopped and asked what I was looking for.
I told the name of the hotel and he asked me to follow his “tuktuk”.
On a way to the hotel, I noticed Country Inn & Suites –hotel next to the road. I thought that if none of the hotels are ok, then I would check this place.
Second hotel was nice, but as far from the center as the first one.
Third hotel was a bit closer. It was also cheaper, but rooms were in such a bad shape and dirty that I decided to check the offer from the bigger hotel (which I saw earlier).
Country Inn & Suites –hotel looked really nice and expensive, but I thought that I would not loose anything by asking their offer.
Receptionist said that room price is 190USD/night, told her that this is quite much out of my budget. She asked me how much I would be willing to pay/night.
Told her that 100USD is my absolute maximum, for my big surprise she told me immediately that they can give me a room for this price!
Next I wanted to know if they have wifi. Receptionist told “yes”, but it will cost extra 18USD/day…
I told her that then the total price goes over my budged. She asked me to wait while she checked from hotel manager if they could give wifi to me as a complimentary.
Manager agreed, so now I had really a nice room!
Room was expensive, but every now and then I want to stay in a nice hotel.
To my surprise they also upgraded me to a better room in the top floor!
Final price was roughly half of the list price, so I reserved the room for two nights.
During this trip I have learned that it is better to bargain a bit, normally you will get some sort of discount from the room prices.
Room was excellent and bed even better 🙂
Dinner I had in the hotel restaurant and studied city map at the same time.
Now I was ready to head in to outside and face the chaos on the streets of Pink city.
Plan was to walk to the old city, but after 20 minutes of sweating I decided “damn it” and started looking a free tuktuk.
Few seconds later I was already negotiating price with the driver. Final price was 1€.
On my way toCity Palace I was happy with my decision because it took surprisingly long time to ride there and air just got hotter and hotter.
City Palace was very interesting place to visit. Naturally there is entrance fee to every place and the price for tourists is much higher than locals.
In City Palace you can see (for example) worlds biggest silver jars. These jars were used to carry holy Ganges water to abroad during the official visits.
Visiting armory was also interesting experience. Here you can see many different kind of knives, swords, guns etc. It amazes me to see how good people are to invent so many different kind of weapons and maximize damage with them…
After City Palace I was wondering what to see next and suddenly I felt someone tapping my arm.
I told the guy that I would like to see
Jal Mahal palace (located in the middle of the lake and then Hawa Mahal.
Once again started negotiation of the price… After few minutes we did not have agreement, so I started walking. Did not need to take many steps until guy behind me said “price is ok” 🙂
Jal Mahal palace (seen from the shore) was nothing special, I thought it was just a waste of time to ride there.
Amber Fort would have been interesting place to see, but I decided to skip it because day was getting so hot.
Tuktuk driver wanted to show me a place where fabrics are manufactured, I told him that I am not interested, but he totally ignored this comment.
Soon I was shown process how locals use natural materials to dye the fabrics. After this I was taken to a place where many different kind of figures are pressed on to a fabrics.
Guy who was presenting these processes then took me to the upstairs and asked me “what do you need”…
I replied to him “Thank you for the presentation, but I do not need anything”. This guy did not give up, so he told me that they can send my purchases to anywhere. I told him that I am homeless traveller and I do not have any address 🙂
Now this guy started to realize that he could not sell anything to me, but still he asked “You are not going to buy anything?”, told him “that is correct, I am not going to buy anything”. After this comment I was released to continue my trip towards Hawa Mahal…
Reached Hawa Mahal without any further interruptions and paid agreed amount. Took few photos of the frontside and then started searching entrance.
Paid smaller than expected entrance fee and entered to this interesting building.
In the past royal ladies were able to observe from here how daily life outside looked like.
Jantar Mantar (planetarium) would have been interesting place to visit, but day was so hot that I decided to start heading back to the hotel.
Walked a while and took some photos. Paid few coins to a local woman so that I would be able to take couple of photos of her.
For dinner I had mouth burning, eye wetting Indian food. Luckily King Fischer put down the fire in my mouth 🙂
If you want to loose some weight, I highly recommend this kind of motorcycle trip!
Hotel scale showed that I have lost nearly 10kg along the way.
My pants start to feel really big, but positive side is that now my bike is more powerful 🙂
Jaipur – Agra:
Road to Agra was wide and in excellent shape (only few road constructions ongoing). Traffic was again maniac, but I made it to Agra in four hours and alive.
I already knew which hotel I would like to stay, thanks to Lonely Planet. I wanted hotel to be close to Taj Mahal and that it needed to have roof terrace view to this magnificent building.
Hotel was easy to find from these crowded and packed narrow streets. Got again small discount from the room price.
Room was quite recently renovated, clean and air-conditioned.
My plans were to see Taj Mahal during sunset and sunrise, I discussed these plans with receptionist who said that Taj Mahal is closed on Friday. So I needed to book room for three nights.
But before heading to TM, I climbed to the roof terrace, got clod beer and just enjoyed the view.
Beer was cold and tasty, Taj Mahal in front of me. Could it be much better than this? Could not believe that Taj Mahal was in front of me right now!
Ticket to TM was 750 rupees. After security check (where they checked my camera lenses really carefully) I was allowed to enter to the area.
TM is really impressive building when you see it in reality. It looks amazing in the pictures, but it is totally different to see it in your own eyes.
I took tons of photos and visited also inside the mausoleum.
In the inside you can see two tombs. Tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal.
I guess third wife of Shah Jahan must have been extraordinary woman, because he built TM for her wife…
Dinner I had in the hotel roof top terrace. To my surprise Taj Mahal has not been lit during the night. I thought that there would have been lights so that everyone could see this majestic building also during the night.
Spent most of the day just doing nothing and having a nice nap during the day 🙂
At some point I forced myself to go out and add some oil to the engine.
Walked to the southern gate, but the gates were closed and no personnel anywhere.
I asked few locals where I should go and they told me that only western gate is open during the early morning.
Paid 750 rupees again and then just waited gates to open. 06:30 went by and gates stayed closed…
Well, I am not in a hurry, so just kept on waiting and waiting and waiting a bit more…
This time I did not visit inside the mausoleum, spent time going around the area taking a lot of photos.
Taj Mahal was as impressive as on Thursday.
Have to say that it did not look different during the sunrise compared to sunset, but had to see it also in the morning because I had come all this way to see it 🙂
I checked also both mosques, but they did not impress me at all.
I think I took totally over 500 photos of the Taj Mahal 🙂
After TM I took Tuktuk to Agra Fort.
I thought that entrance is free with valid TM ticket, but this was not the case. I did not need to pay taxes, but still around 250 rupee entrance fee.
I did not know what to expect from this red fortress. Normally people are only talking about Taj Mahal.
I was told that roughly 80% of the fort is still used by Indian army, so only small part of the fort was open to the public.
This fort is important part of Indian history, because rulers of the country have used this fort to lead the country.
I read from somewhere that at some point also famous Koh-I-Noor diamond was kept in this fort.
I spent roughly 3-4 hours to walk around the fort. I was quite surprised, because time was really flying while I was enjoying this fort.
Even you are allowed to see only small part of the fortress, there is still lot to see.
Main thing what I enjoyed in this fort was beautifully carved stone walls and roofs.
I highly recommend you to visit also this place!
Agra Fort belongs to Unesco World Heritage –list, so this was also one reason why I had to visit this place 🙂
Hotel had same problems what I had seen in past weeks in China and Pakistan, electricity black outs. I do not know what causes these, but they happen all the time. Luckily hotel had way to produce their own electricity.
Saturday seemed to be some sort of celebration day in India, because of constant stream of really loud groups of people were passing hotel. Drums were banging and music was deafening loud.
People were throwing colorful dust to the air which then landed on top of the dancers coloring their hair and skin to all rainbow colors.
Agra – Nepal border:
Due to my early start, I was able to escape Agra before really heavy traffic started. Couple hours later it would have been totally different case.
Even it was still quite early in the morning, traffic outside of Agra was same as in the previous days…
I felt really unsafe and had major stress just trying to survive there.
Trucks and busses totally ignored that I was approaching them from the other direction and just started passing other cars!
I am 110% sure that they saw me because my bike has always riding lights on!
One thing what I noticed was that north from Agra there was much more people going back and forth than during previous days in more south.
Roughly 30km before river
Ganges roads were totally packed with people. There was huge amount of vehicles going to both directions. Trucks were totally packed with people, busses were completely full, even last places on the roof were taken!
At this point I still did not know that I was approaching river Ganges, but I had faint idea of this.
Still need to highlight once that amount of people was mind blowing!
Traffic came to a complete stop around 5km before river Ganges. Luckily there was enough room on the side of the road, so that I could still keep ongoing, even really slowly.
I stopped at the center of river Ganges bridge to have a look and to take some photos of the river and the people. Water was really brown and there was a lot of plastic waste on the shore, but still there was lot of people in the river!
This is a holy river for Hindus.
Traffic was not so bad on the north-side of the river, so I was able to ride again quite normal speed.
I had to stop behind a roadblock few kilometers before the border of India and Nepal.
Locals said that border is closed for few hours.
I asked the situation from the nearby office where they told me to continue forward because I was there with motorcycle.
Couple of kilometers forward and I saw closed gate, smaller pedestrian gate was open. Local people used this pedestrian gate, no matter if they were walking or riding motorcycles. I thought that I will try it also, but no chance, my bike was just too wide even without the luggage.
About 20 minutes and 100 photos later (locals took photos of me and my big bike) car approached from the other side of the gate and gate opened for few seconds. I yelled to the guy who opened the gate and he let me pass.
Crossed the river and then I was in front of Indian immigration and customs.
Both of them were really easy and fast even they had slight problems with electricity.
Thoughts about India: