MOTORBIKE TOUR RAJASTHAN DAY ONE
So, I find myself awakening to another beautiful, gorgeous exciting morning where I jump into my glass-walled shower with my bits presented to the world without a care. Making sure, of course I keep my lips tight shut along with my eyes squeezed shut to prevent shower water from entering my system and ‘Delhi Belly’.
Opening my curtains and looking outside whilst standing naked liberates the soul, puts a smile on my face and certainly scares the hell out of the natives.
Dressed and with a hop skip and jump along the corridor, down the lift and sliding my way to breakfast. After all, I am now an experienced Indian hotel breakfast selection eater – hard boiled eggs, fruits, coffee, cakes and pastries to make the day start with a hearty drum beat. Making my way to the table a couple of the other riders had arrived and I was introduced but nothing seemed to be organized.
It was okay meeting people I’ve never met before that did not cause an issue but it seemed time to get a grip and sort stuff out. Breakfast finished and 3 cups of thick gorgeous coffee later, well it could be a long day you know. I shot back upstairs to finish packing.
Everyone had finally arrived and it must be time to ‘beep beep’. Back downstairs before the lift had time to realise it had just taken me up and TA DAR – I was ready…..well I was ready…….did I mention ‘I WAS READY’
The people I had met allow me to introduce;
Shumi (a motorbike journalist-TV star in India – more on this cheeky devil later), whose real name is Shubhabrata Marmar, famous throughout India, so I found out…..YEP, Shumi will do for me.
Parakram another motorbike journalist whose riding gear consisted of a jacket, helmet, gloves, normal shoes and strapping protection to his knees over his jeans…….very interesting.
There are only 5 of us riding, with BB, Santhosh, 2 journalists and a white man, or as I like to put it a white rose between thorns (just do not let them know I said that okay)
Outside we go and the Ducatis in their splendid yellow are positioned for taking off along with the support vehicle. Let me point out just in case I forget later. The driver of the support vehicle was from another planet. We sometimes had difficulty getting through traffic on motorbikes and then sometimes after doing so pulled into the side of the road for a chat or rest and he would arrive seconds later – how the hell did he do it in a people carrier!. Was the people carrier a blasted helicopter in disguise – I could never fathom out how he kept up because to me it was impossible.
I walked off to do my bit to my camera on a stick and then get ready for riding along with everyone else. Getting on my bike we ride a couple of yards and stop to pose for photographs.
THEN we were OFF.
Allow me to explain something here and please recall what you have read about the traffic I had witnessed and been in a car wondering if I was going to survive – I was now about to launch myself into the traffic on a motorbike that was underpowered compared to my 1300 back home which I had only just started up for the first time and ridden 8 yards for static photographs.
Here I was about to ride on a road called the National Highway, where the death rate on this stretch of road made it the highest death rate IN THE WORLD!
THEN………..oh boy then………
Set off across the car park and down a short exit road to a crossroads with ‘things’ coming left, right, straight on with looks on their faces ‘lets kill the white man’. Even though they couldn’t see the colour of my skin. I was wearing full HELD riding gear and black visor down. BB set off and bless him did look back to see where I was and I am sure to make sure I was following. We exit from Pllazio Hotel and OH MY GOD……
Here is the situation; I had 2 choices, it was either ride as I do in Britain, defensively and get killed or ride like I am in the film ‘Mad Max’ and beat them at their own game. Luckily I chose the 2nd option as I found myself shooting down a road overtaking traffic on left twisting open the throttle and heading straight for a tree growing in the middle of the road, swerving to miss that and discovered by saying to myself “hang on
just a minute this bike is very powerful and can leave other vehicles behind in ‘my’ cloud of dust”. A smile returned to my face and very quickly I relaxed that it wasn’t all that bad – well when I say was not that bad what I was to witness soon made my arse start to chew the seat. The roads just end and become dust-covered rocks, or there are potholes big enough to swallow the moon along with repairs being done by people in normal clothes and the only warning is a brick in the road just before them or may some twigs…….honestly it’s bloody fabulous.
Onto the National Highway and very quickly into a fuel station to make sure there was enough fuel to reach Jaipur. Then very quickly again back onto the National Highway heading south, then – a traffic jam from hell appeared in front with so many horns beeping, traffic just pulling in front of me from left and right it was shocking, so much so it is one of the only times I was grateful to be wearing a bag on my belly to ‘poo’ in (ileostomy bag) or I would have shit myself. Just keep edging forward I told myself and not being used to the bike as I had not ridden a mile yet, kept stalling the bike, adding to the frustration. In the fuel station, however, Schumi had told me to use my horn as it is expected to warn drivers you are there.
Welcome to me and my HORN! (I shall leave your imagination to make an image)
I latched onto the back of Santhosh and we made our way through the traffic, eventually after around 30 minutes of pushing the wheel ahead and getting in front we reached the Toll gates (free for bikes as we can ride down the side without waiting in the gigantic queues) the feeling of relief afterwards was amazing, how was I still alive, I laughed…..you know that laugh where you better laugh or you will collapse in a jabbering heap.
Everyone caught up and we were off BEEP BEEP….Schumi set off like a bullet from a gun and I thought to myself “you think you can leave the white man behind, oh really’ twisted my Ducati throttle and `I was off after him like a bullet quickly catching him and learning very quickly from his riding style you can do almost anything you want as regards overtaking…..let the games begin YIPPEE. Cars and trucks, well, especially trucks go so slow and alter direction so slowly I couldn’t see any problems or worries. Apart from discovering very quickly, there are vehicles coming towards you on the same side of the road as you are on with a smile as if to say ‘what’s the problem officer!’.
Never mind that bit because cows are sacred in India and can go wherever they wish, which meant in the middle of the road, walking into the road, but more likely just standing there looking at you as if to say ‘I double dare you, white man, to touch me go on I dare you’.
This way of travelling was absolutely tremendous just twist the throttle and ‘HOLD ON’. I found it thrilling, I mean what was there to worry about. Just follow Schumi, or even overtake him when he was caught behind a truck shooting passed and thinking ‘I bet he thinks ‘white man eh’.
After several miles, well, actually more than several miles we pulled into a coffee shop where Santosh came up to me and asked if I had ever ridden in India before (I was expecting a telling off) to which I said “no first time ever first day ever” He then went on to tell me he thought I was ‘fucking marvellous” and walked away laughing. After 20 minutes we got back on the bikes and I stopped by an Indian asking for a photograph with me and my bike, which I was happy to oblige him and his beaming smile as he showed off to his travelling companions. (tough being famous eh! ha ha ha ha)
Off we went, not too far and stopped at another ‘stop’ that I can only describe as their equivalent of our motorway cafe. This is where I had for the first time a drink called “LASSI”. This cooling yoghurt drink, it is utterly scrummy, as anyone who has thrown caution and advice about only drinking sealed bottles of water to the wind will testify – creamy and sweet-
sour, sometimes salty, sometimes subtly spiced and nevertheless utterly bloody gorgeous. Lassi is served in a clay drinking vessel, with lumps of ‘yoghurt’ floating in it, it is, without doubt, something you just have to try. I then took part in a competition to shoot small balloons with an air gun at a games area of the stop and the less said about how I did the better! (I let them win honestly-ish)
The heat, I had discovered in my riding suit, was unbelievable once I stopped and was already looking forward to riding again for some relief and to get some air to cool down my inner swimming pool.
Off again on my ‘wasp’ and continued down the National Highway for a couple of more hours. The road journey was quite uneventful once I got used to the traffic, roads coming to an end and ‘animals’ just stood there, daring you to touch. I would go as far to say it was bloody good fun doing what I wanted to do riding fast and just shooting passed other vehicles any way I saw fit. Santhosh had taken the lead and without much warning slowed down and did a U-Turn up a dirt track. With everyone doing their best to follow him without being hit by other traffic. Up the dirt track to a parking area, pulled up, side stands down and off the bikes, while Santhosh disappeared down the side of a building returning shortly afterwards explaining I would be charged a fortune to enter into this ‘facility’, so again it was decided to continue on to our first stopover. Eventually reaching our destination, which was not much further, for the night.
This was the luxurious Lebua resort adjoining Amer fort, wherein the grounds were individual ‘lodges’ looking like square tents, but were so much more than tents that is for sure. We pulled up through the gate and rode down to the main reception building, parking outside, in a line and I was now getting tired of my jaw hitting the ground from sheer ‘wow’ factors.
Nearby was the Delhi Gate which used to be the gateway for all trade moving in and out of Jaipur to Delhi, not long ago.
On arrival, it took a little time to allocate lodges and off we went walking towards them. What an absolutely fabulous place made even more so by my room on entering it was pure luxury, once more.
Once we had settled in a ‘feast’ was prepared late afternoon on tables with sparkling white tablecloth and food enough to feed the 5000. During this time I wandered off to do some filming with Schumi shouting “oh look it’s a white man with a selfie stick” (cheeky bugger) and it was also the same time I saw my first real live Mongoose. Now, Mongoose……..that means Cobra snakes, or at least it did in my mind and whilst walking through the grass and sandy area you can guess what was going through my mind…….SNAKE!.
Talk about tiptoe through the grass is an understatement. Back to my lodge to relax and brush up from the days riding. The bathroom was pure brown speckled and white striped marble that gave you the feeling of being very special indeed, with a sunken bath ready to dive into, relax and just smile……..
That night, after relaxing, we ate outside amongst the Canvas covered lodge rooms, that were standing in the grounds like elephants spaced straight as a regimental parade, with the rooms offering pure luxury, large bay windows with light filtering curtains and a high roof that recedes in a slope forming a canopy over the bed.
Food was plentiful and eating by firelight with candles on the table covered by a sky packed with sparkling diamonds, India was already grabbing my heart and squeezing tightly. However, this night finished for me rather differently than I had hoped………..
I was to wake up with a shock to discover my ‘poo’ bag had split and you can guess what was covering everywhere. Looking back it was probably because I had slept naked and my bag had become trapped as I turned during sleep and ripped it open. BUT, I had indeed also developed an ‘interesting’ tummy problem. So I cleaned up as much as I could manage and back to sleep until around 6 am.
What was I going to say as this was my first adventure morning and I was already having to talk POO! to the boss man.