Soft fluffy pillows

Trip Start Jun 25, 2013
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20
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Trip End Dec 25, 2013


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Flag of India  , West Bengal,
Sunday, September 15, 2013

We had our complimentary hotel breakfast (it was tea!) at Ranchi before heading out into the city traffic at about 9 ish. Richard had brought out with him a Stanfords purchased map of India (I don't have one) and we decided on a yellow road heading East that would cross a major highway heading north towards Jaria. It was our intention to try and view the open mined coalfield fires that have been burning for nearly 100 years.

The days riding started well and we were once more back in some stunning scenery and the road condition was fantastic. There were even swoopy bendy bits on smooth tarmac and the mighty impulse felt unusually smooth in this alien environment. 

As with all good things though, it soon came to an end. We had a chai stop and before map check before cracking on again. The highway route north should have been in a further 20 kms or so but either Richard and I are in need of new glasses or shouldn't even be riding. The only other thing is that the map was wrong or the highway had been disguised to look like the usual dusty type back road.

This left us in the familiar mode of travelling by my sense of direction and hoping for the best. This is my absolute favourite way of riding around and sometimes the best things happen on the road less traveled. An example of this is my 2008 road trip around north America on the GL500 - I didn't take or indeed buy a map but KOA (campgrounds of America) provided a free map showing their locations throughout the country and that did just fine.

Anyway, the days riding consisted of smooth tarmac, rough tarmac, no tarmac, a field, a pedestrian tunnel running under a railway line, a bridge that went nowhere etc etc etc. I had a total ball but dont think that Rich shared my enthusiasm for this particular type of adventure motorcycling. 

 We eventually popped out on the red route highway and at the crossroads it was decision time. Rich really doesn't like riding at night in india (nor do i) but  there were no hotels. The only  accommodation available were some roadside cots at a dhaba so we discussed the options and decided to ride the 20 kms to Jaria. It was now as dark as a dark place in darksville but fortunately there were no unlit lorries, buses, cars, motorcycles, cyclists, pedestrians, cows, dogs (or anything else you might care to avoid) on this highway. The only honesty in this description is that the road surface was very good - well it looked good in the darkness!

At Jaria we found the one and only hotel and for the princely sum of 5 English earth pounds we had a room for the night. No AC but clean sheets and a western style toilet was all that we needed. We had travelled 250 kms in 9 or so hours. After a stunning meal at a street cafe (3ukp) we headed back to snooze the night away.

We were up and on the bikes by 8 and rode around looking for the burning coalfields for an hour or so. We didn't manage to find good directions but the acidic feel in my throat said we were close. More off roading followed but alas, it wasn't to be. 

We then headed north to Dhanbad and once through this big dusty busy city made it to NH2 and headed towards Asanso.  This road was in good repair but contained the usual amount of high  speed buses and 4x4 vehicles. The vista on either side of the road was of coalfields and smoking funnels. It clearly was the black Country of India. The ride continued and we cracked off some ddecent mileage before starting to look for a roadside hotel. We had seen several during the ride but typically - once  you need one there's never one around. We checked out a hotel that wasn't a hotel, a hotel that offered us a room with no glass in the Windows (and a member of staff asleep on the bed) and a place that looked grim with a capital G.

As a result we had no choice but a 40kms ride in the dark to the Golden hotel which we were told was good. Unfortunately Richard removed his glasses when asking directions and forgot to put them back on. He pulled alongside me 5kms along the road to say he'd lost his glasses but declined the offer of returning to the dhaba to check. It was now starting to rain so add this to all the other issues and it made for an interesting 40kms ride. 

The hotel took a while to sort as the manager was clearly keen on securing a ferangi rate but once we'd left we got called back and the rate was reduced somewhat. We had been ridden 11 hours and covered 370kms.

Yesterday, the 14th, we  were loading the bikes and Richard noticed that his lost glasses had somehow hooked themselves to his fuel can and survived the 40kms trip. How lucky is that! We then rode the 20 or so kms into  Kolkata and after a Mexican stand off with a toll bridge official we made it into this sprawling metropolis. We managed to somehow stop near to the Hyatt regency at the east of the city and Rich enquired as to the cost of a room. It wasn't as bad as first thought but as we were out of town attempted to ride to the chowringhe area where more modest accommodation would be available. We rode there via the backstreets and after checking out a couple had a chai and a think. For an extra 15ukp (each) we would get off street parking, a pool, sauna, steam room,  wifi and some complimentary wine and beer. Before you could say 'mine's a kingfisher' the mighty impulse was fired up and in a slightly less than direct route we made it back to the Hyatt. I did the quick 'we made it update' before visiting the pool and sauna and haven't felt so clean in ages.

We slept well last night and this morning had a leisurely breakfast before arranging Richard's bike collection. We hope it'll be collected before he leaves for the airport at 9 am.

The waiter at breakfast - Hi Samrat - was so enthusiastic about his home area of Darjiling that he set my mind to wandering. What was it I said about not doing 'plans' ?

Ok, time to go get naked - sauna here I come.

This adventure motorcycling lark is hard core!

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