Friday 15th November
I managed to persuade Ann that even tho she felt better a gentle recovery was the way forward, but there was no need to stop exploring as we could borrow a 350 Enfield from a nice chap I had met whilst she was recuperating.
To further reinforce the need for 350cc’s of thumpingness we hired a scooter from Castle house the previous day (for only 250rupees) and had a potter around the local area.
Using good old Royal engineering bodging I adapted a couple of our panniers by the judicious use of sawn off re-bar, salvaged cordage (from Italy. …I knew it would come in handy! ) and a bit of local stitching and we were ready.
One hour later I’d just about given up as I couldn’t get the bloody thing started! My thigh muscles were so pumped I could have done a stand in for Van Damme.
Eventually a friend of Jai (Ernies owner) turned up, turned the fuel tap to on, then kicked Ernie into life whilst looking at me like I’m a bloody idiot…..fair enough!
Altho in my defence I was reasonably certain I had it in the reserve position. …..mmmmm maybe not, Duh!
getting used to negotiating the traffic at speed (a pulsating 25mph) but also re educating myself to the arse about face gears and brakes, because on an Enfield of 1950′s design the gears are on the rhs, and go 1 up 3 down whereas on every other bike I’ve ever ridden they’re on the left and go 1 down 4 up! I constantly found myself changing up when I wanted to slow down and braking sharply when I wanted to change up….frustrating! However I found that the way to a smooth and pleasurable ride on an Enfield is to do it with forethought calmness and above all slowly.
In order to know how fast we were going and what milage we covered (useful when estimating when to refuel) I fitted Anns garmin 200 to the brake reservoir which worked out a treat.
The translations were amusing but unedifying. …what is Monkey gland Steak or Chicken crumble?
Saturday 16th-Sunday 17th
On trying to get 1 nights refund this morning we failed miserably. …the lesson is, only book for 1 night until you know you want to stay longer. We were tempted to stay for the day, but decided we’d rather move on to somewhere we liked rather than stay somewhere we didn’t, so we moved on up the coast to Baga.
We had a good ride around, (also checking out the Hotel where we are staying with Carl in the New year. ….very nice!) Before ditching the bike and walking around some more looking for a room. We settled on a room overlooking the beach, but set back somewhat and also away from the main strip so as to ensure a peaceful nights sleep.
The boss did the bargaining whilst I collected the bike, and what a hard bargain she drove! I think she must have still been simmering over not getting a refund cos we ended up staying in a very pleasant spacious non a/c room with hot water, balcony a full sized fridge and tv for only 800 rupees per night. Ok the bed was a tad firm, but they all tend to be anyway.
There’s a plethora of small shops and stalls in Baga selling everything from silver & gold to tailored leather jackets to bargain shop tat.
Again its aimed at the Eastern Europeans but the restaurants also have English menu’s and do a full English!
I’ve got to say the fur lined leather bomber jackets were very tempting, especially when we keep hearing how cold it is in the UK, and how its going to last till April. Maybe I’ll have another look at Xmas.
The beach was quite crowded with very scantily clad ( inappropriately I thought) white women of all sizes being oggled by groups of fully clothed Indian blokes who come down to the beach for just that point.
these local fishermen were touting their catch around the beach trying to get people to pay for a photo.
Monday 18th November
Time for us to head inland and explore the interior. We’ve decided to head for Mollem, where there is supposed to be a fantastic waterfall, so its up up up into the windy Ghats, very windy steep road (climbed over 2500ft…..quite handy that garmin) punctuated with very slow moving trucks going up and trying to avoid not so slow trucks coming down, nearly always being overtaken on blind corners by Tata buses or other trucks!
Nb: when using the roads in India expect overtaking on blind corners and all other inappropriate places and you’ll seldom be disappointed and survive!
Also look out for (not just on blind corners but also in both town and Country):-
“speed breakers“; these are savage sleeping policeman usually before & after junctions, schools, mosques, churches, and traffic lights, sometimes they’re signposted but often they aren’t
Potholes; you think they’re bad in the UK? They’re almost craters in India, and can go on for 100s of meters
Not forgetting seed crops; a way of threshing your crops thats very popular with the subsistence farmers
After a thoroughly enjoyable thump along on Ernie the Beast for my part and an “ok” from Ann we arrived in Mollem.
At this point I really must say “thank you” to the boss, who was fully supportive in allowing me to fulfil a long held dream of mine to ride an Enfield in India, ok it wasn’t into the foothills of the Himalayas…..but there’s always next year!
The excursion to the waterfalls is in Collem about 6ks down the road from Mollem. We toyed with the idea of doing the trip straight away, but decided to find some accommodation first then relax a bit & do the waterfalls the following morning before moving on.
The accommodation is in very short supply and the place we eventually found was typical of India. …quite newly built with beautiful tiled floors and bathroom, satellite Tv, rock hard beds with no sheets and a gap between walls and roof allowing all kinds of insects to visit!
Due to the shortage of accommodation we paid 1200 rupees after some very hard bargaining, could have been worse…..not sure how, but it could’ve.
Tuesday 19th November
An early start, after a poor nights sleep for Ann, as she was constantly attacked by all manner of insects thru the night. I didn’t notice but kept that to myself so as not to incur the wrath of the boss.
Although we had good intentions of arriving early at Collem we were distracted by breakfast. ….ho hum.
The whole trip to the falls is typically Indian, and can be quite annoying and frustrating unless a conscious effort is made to relax man!
It goes like this:
1) 1st you find somewhere to park. …normally in India you can pretty much abandon your vehicle anywhere you feel like, but Collem is “pay parking only”….unless you’re on a motorcycle which you can leave amongst all the locals bikes at the railway station.
2) find the ticket office where you are paired up with other travellers as its a minimum of 5 people to the jeep, the cost is 440 rupees per person, exact fare required please! You’re then told a number….remember this number as it is the order you’ll board your jeep in…..ours was 23, this meant the 23rd jeep that came along. ….eventually. …was ours.
3) you must now go and collect your life jacket. …another 30 rupees each
4) wait for your jeep. ….only an hour and a half or so cos we were late getting to Collem
5) pile into jeep and your off…..for about 2k when you come to the entrance to the nature reserve. ..here you must pay another 20 rupees each, exact fare please! entrance fee + 30 rupees for any camera you intend using & 50 rupees for any video camera. The camera fees are paid by honest people only, as there is no way of policing the use of cameras at the falls..
6) travel another 9ks being bounced around like billyo (in our case anyway, as our driver went to the Emmerson Fitipaldi school of motoring, and managed to overtake 3 other jeeps on the single track track!)
7) you then arrive at the jeep park from where you walk (about 10mins) to the bottom of the falls, having been told by your driver that you have 45mins before the return trip.
The falls themselves are actually worth the trip, but the sooner after the monsoon you go the more impressive they’ll be.
There was absolutely no benefit in the life jacket other than to sit on in the jeep, or at the falls.
With half the day gone and us not having got very far, we got a bit of a hustle on, crossed out of Goa into Karnataka -where suddenly the roads became a lot worse- still climbing into the Ghats heading for Hubli-Darwhad. Another 5000ft ascending in total…of course there was also descending. …but a lot less!
On the old google maps there were loads of hotels so I didn’t bother booking ahead, which proved to be a bit more of a gamble than I thought.
Because of the late start, or rather late leaving of Collem, I was getting a tad concerned about running out of daylight before reaching H-Dharwad ‘cos there is no way on earth you’ll get me riding at night in India……its lethal! You have all the points mentioned above complicated by 1/2 the vehicles on the road not using lights and most not really bothering with staying on their own side of the road!
So we reach H-Dharwad only just before dusk and every hotel is full…….it turns out there’s a big wedding on and everything is booked. The next place on the map is Hubli, which also has loads of hotels, so we started in that direction, only to come across a place near what turned out to be the main bus stops for the area. However, they had a room, (right at the front of the hotel) and it was getting dark so we took it!
Not having eaten since breakfast we went out to a local meals ready, had a decent bit of scoff, then had a wander around. Because this was the main bus stop junction/area there were all kinds of little shops, booths & market stalls selling everything from chickens (live) to plumbing supplies. The hygiene leaves something to be desired, as all the rubbish generated is just thrown in the ditch or onto waste ground where cows dogs and pigs root thru it all