Friday, 7 June 2013

Agonda at last

We left Arambal and headed for Agonda, with a quick stop in Margao for a domino's pizza. Finally we arrived -WE DID IT!

We arrived at the welcoming gates of Tina Beach Resort which our friends, a young Indian couple Ragu and Tina own.

In all the years I've been coming here, I never fail to feel a real sense of calm when I walk through the resort towards the beach.

It's even nicer when the trees open up and you're looking towards the restaurant and can hear the sea.

Got settled into the accommodation for a week of rest and relaxation. Over the years we've spent many an evening relaxing on the balcony of these huts with a wee G&T or two. Purely medicinal though as we don't take anti-malarial medication, and Indian tonic still has quinine in it.

Enjoy the quiet beach.

Look right and it's quiet.

Look right and oh, it's also quiet.
Our priority that week was to find a house to rent for 3 months, so that when we returned from the UK on 28th Dec, we could move in straight away. Firstly though, as we had posted our bags from Vashisht to Ragu in Goa with all our summer clothes and also clothes we would be taking back to the UK ,we had to get our bag as we had been wearing the same set of clothes for the six weeks of our bike journey.

When you post a bag in India you have to take it to a tailor and have it made into a parcel. So I had took my packed rucksack to a tailor and he had covered it in white fabric and sown the fabric up. When Ragu brought our parcel to us it felt very light but looked intact. We unstiched the tailor's fabric and got the rucksack out. Lo and behold, the top of the rucksack had been slit open with a knife and most of the contents removed. Someone in the postal system has unstiched the tailor's fabric, knifed open the rucksack, grabbed what they could and sown up the fabric again. So we enjoyed a week in Agonda with the clothes we had been wearing for 6 weeks solid and only a couple of things to change into. Even my bikini was stolen so no lounging on the beach getting a sun tan. Still, it was a glorious week enjoying the sun, relaxation and catching up with friends

With the help of our good friend Menin, a local fisherman, we found a house though and would be moving into it the day we get back. We would be arriving back in Agonda at 4am on 18th Dec and Menin was insistent that we were to phone Ragu to confirm we were definately arriving, Ragu would then phone Menin to tell him, Menin would then pick us up at the airport and give us the keys to the house. He would not hear of us getting a taxi from the airport. We don't normally go along with Indian made plans as they tend to go astray but Menin wouldn't give us any choice.

We left Agonda one week later and headed to the UK for three weeks.
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Friday, 31 May 2013

Shivardan to Agonda via Chiplin and Arambol

We left Shrivandhan on 26th November with a new plan and a bike that was running perfectly. Because we had stayed four unplanned nights in Shrivardhan and also because we wanted to get to Agonda in Goa with enough time to have a week in the sun before returning to the UK for three weeks, we decided to stay on and enjoy the coastal route for one more day. Then, so we could make up some time, we would rejoin the highway hence get to Goa in less time. Riding the highway option was not appealing but lying on Agonda beach for one week was. At least we had another ferry journey on the coastal road.

At least this ferry was a bit more orginised and it had a ramp to drive onto it as Colin is expertly doing.

All parked up and time to stretch the legs.

So glad they were selling chai on board, even if it was the smallest cup in the world. The cup looks stupid in Colin's large hand. One sip and it was over.

Ferry journey over and time to disembark.

The road from the ferry to the village wasn't all that great.

We stopped in a little village called Dapoli  to buy some water. It looked really peaceful.



We rode until we had had enough and stayed in a place called Chiplin. The following morning we headed off and crossed over the border into Goa. I think we experienced a whole onslaught of emotions -  pleasure, joy, disbelief, relief but a real sense of 'we made it' 3500kms, no previous motorbiking experience, no mechanical knowledge (even though Colin thinks that gaffa tape, zip ties and ill-fitting spanners count as mechanical knowledge) and a road map of India which bore no resemblance to the roads we were on. Our goal was still to get to Agonda in South Goa but we felt we were home and dry.The following morning we left Arambal and headed off to Agonda and our friends there.

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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Shrivardhan and the Lambe Holiday Inn

The Lambe Holiday Inn was a nice place to stay, which was just as well as we ended up staying there 4 nights. Although Shrivardhan was a nice little place it didn't take long to explore, so at least we were able to just lounge about in the resort. The bike, as expected, was a bit of a saga. 

Firstly someone important in the village died so everything was closed and no one was allowed to work. Then we were told that a manifold couldn't be found locally and we would have to get one sent from Mumbai. The mechanic was excellent and he arranged for a manifold to be put on a bus in Mumbai and collected it from the bus station. While we were waiting for it to arrive he was tinkering with the bike - cleaning things up, tightening things and even fixed all the electrics. 

When the time came to pay the bill we were thinking it was going to be a fortune as he had spent so many hours on it. When he asked for rps 1000 with parts, about £12, we couldn't believe it. We tried to give him more but he wouldn't take it and said he had really enjoyed working on the bike 

While waiting on the bike, Colin certainly never had a problem lounging around the resort. It was actually full most nights with Indian tourists having a few days break from Mumbai etc. Everyone was very curious about us and I have never been in so many photos - everyone wanted to take one of us. We have invites to stay with people in Mumbai, Pune and other places inland. True to Indian people, they are so friendly, although they did think we were bonkers riding a bike 3500kms rather than being driven in an A/C car.

A wee cosy snooker table.

Govind was a Nepali guy who worked in the place and was really helpful and friendly. He did most of the work around the place looking after the guests and serving food. The food was excellent and cooked freshly each day by a local woman. She would ask you in the morning if you wanted meat, fish or vegeterian for lunch and dinner. You never knew how the meat, fish or veggies were going to be cooked but they were always excellent and tasted different every day.

The sign on the room doors, however every evening you were asked if you wanted something from the bottle shop! If so one of the staff went into town on his push bike and got it for you.

Word was out in the town that two foreign tourists were around and we had many locals come visit us. One was a guy who had an enfield and who had heard we also had one, came by to see us one day for a chat. He was so proud of his diesel enfield and was delighted when we told him we had never seen a diesel version before.

Bike fixed we finally left Shrivardhan to continue our journey. We were relieved to be leaving so we could complete our journey, but also sad because we had had such a nice time there.
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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Royal Enfield mechanic in Shrivardhan

Shrivardhan is popular with Indian tourists as there are lovely beaches close by. Hence there were a lot of nice places to stay. We chose a small resort called the Lambe Holiday Inn . We really wanted somewhere quite nice as we suspected we would be staying there for several nights - you don't have to be in India long before you realise that nothing is ever straight forward.

 One of the staff new a mechanic and he called him for us. Later the mechanic came and informed us that he wasn't a mechanic but liked enfields. With no other choice we said he could see what he could do. The first thing was to get the bike to his 'garage'. There was no way the bike would start again so he said he would tow Colin. It was towing, Indian style. Colin got on our bike and the 'mechanic' got on his bike which was behind ours. Next thing he revved up his bike, put his foot flat against the back of our bike and drove to the garage. He was effectively pushing Colin down the street in front of him rather than towing him behind and no rope required.

The 'garage' was a higgledy piggledy tin shack on the beach and the idea of actually reaching Goa on the bike was diminishing. The thought of having to courier the bike from Shrivardhan to Goa, after having made it this far, was disappointing. However when the mechanic opened the shack door the optimism returned.

He had a 1962 English built enfied, which had been his grandfather's, and which the mechanic had restored. It was in mint condition. He explained that he only ever worked on enfields and we knew that the bike was in very good hands. Anyone who could restore a bike to this condition certainly knows what he is doing.

The engine was gleaming.

He quickly dismantled our bike and told us that, among other things, the manifold had cracked. We had the manifold replaced in Pushkar and were assured it was an original part but we were duped.
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The ferry from Murad to Dighi

We arrived at the ferry port in Murad. Not your typical looking ferry port, it was a maze of stalls selling food, soft drinks, the usual trinkets and of course the coconut  wallah . But the post held a few surprises.

Firstly we were told that we had to drive the bike down this ramp and then quickly turn right as, if you go straight on, there is only a small stretch of road then you hit a low wall and it's off for a swim. Believe me the ramp was a lot steeper in real life than it looks in the photo. Even without me sitting pillion, the bike with Colin and the bags weigh 280lbs. There was no way I was going to be on the bike when it was being driven down the ramp and I didn't want Colin on it either.

Lucky for us one of the ferrymen took it down for us as he also seemed to be doing with the other passengers with bike. 

When the ferry came in I went for a look at it. I soon realised that there was no ramp to drive the bike on to the ferry.

The second surprise then was having to manually haul the bike onto the ferry.There was a lot of huffing and puffing going on.

Halfway on.

Just about there. Colin now looking on quite anxious as his pride and joy is getting tossed about.

Bikes secured on the ferry - hopefully. Our bike is the only one were the seat is held together with gaffa tape.

Leaving the village of Murud behind.

Indian tourists taking a boat to Murud Janjira, a fifteenth  century fort on an Island just off the coast of Murud.

It's quiet spectacular when you see it from a distance.

Unloading the boat at Dighi Port. Colin is just standing shaking his head at the prospect of having to manually carry the bike off again.

At least I was prepared with the video to capture the bike getting lifted off. Look at Colin's face when they finally get the bike off. I don't know if it's a look of wonder or relief but it sure is comical. Make sure the volume is up and you'll hear the effort being made.

If the look on Colin's face had been one of relief, then it was short lived. The bike was sounding really rough and when we were going uphill it was losing power. It was still early in the day and we had several hours of driving still to do but the bike didn't sound like it was going to go much further. We checked the map and seen that there was a small town called Shrivardhan not that far away. We decided to head there, find a room and then look for a mechanic. Colin managed to nurse the bike there and we found a really nice place to stay. Then the bike just died.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Leaving Alibag and on the coastal road

We left Alibag and soon hit the coastal road again. After the Mumbai bypass it was glorious and there was very little traffic on the road. Being a boat lover I was looking forward to the day ahead as the coastal road involves taking several ferries and we would be crossing on the first one today.

It wasn't long before we could see and smell the sea air again.

We crossed many bridges.

Seeing rural life again was good.

This young lad was desperate to get his photo taken. He was very proud of his wheel barrow with working wheels.

We passed through sleepy villages and towns.

Were nearly at the ferry.