November 7 – 21: New friends & incredible experiences with the Indian biking community

We were packed and on the road by 8.45am. The first two hours the road conditions were dreadful. But thankfully they did get better, to be almost pleasant. Half way to our destination we’d stopped for a drink. Stew got a classic ‘Thumbs Up’, as they only had 1 sprite, and he was showing the local onlookers the bike journey, as I sent off a couple of txt messages to the mobile number Shalaka had given us.

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As we got to the outskirts of Pune, the lovely countryside gave way to the concrete corridors and congestion leading into the city. We arrived at the Decathlon sports shop (pre-arranged meeting point) around 3.30pm. We were a bit early, but there was no sign of Shalaka. There was a lovely coffee kiosk right outside the store – it was a huge warehouse place, and reminded us of ‘Anaconda’ back in Perth. We had such a great couple of hours – so many people came to talk to us, take photos and ask about the bike. I’d tried sending a txt to Shalaka and Ajay earlier, and now even tried a phone call. The number was ringing but there was no answer – Half an hour later the phone rang. It was Mike Muller in Germany! – with Shalaka online on facebook. So Mike was the go between, he told Shalaka we were at the ‘Decathlon’ meeting place, and that we would wait their. And Mike told us it would be around 5.30pm before they would arrive. So we hung up with thanks, and thought we might as well have another coffee and share a chocolate muffin. We were actually sat reading our books, when a couple approached our table – there were greetings all round. So amazing – more coffees as we chatted and waited for another friend, Rajesh to arrive, and more greetings. It was already dropping dark, so we set off in convoy back to Shalakas place – and quite a drive it turned out to be, ending up in the pitch black. We almost lost our guide on several occasions there was so much traffic, but Rajesh was keeping an eye out for us too.

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We’d have never found the place on our own. We had a lovely evening, welcomed into their home – and given a room. They had a maid cooking in the kitchen, a 14 year old son, Arno and a small pug dog, Miko. Facebook messages and photos were going back to Mike and Carmen in Germany – such an incredible contact, and we noticed one of Mike’s mum (Hedy’s) quilting pictures framed on the living room wall.

We were chatting away, and making plans for the next few days and what we would like to do. We were pretty flexible really, and happy to go with the flow. We fancied the Enfield Riders Mania event in Goa 18 – 20 Nov, and Rajesh told is there was an MTM (Motorcycle Travellers Meeting) also in Goa on the 11 – 13. We were interested to go to that, and he was so happy to oblige in making arrangements for that too, and he would ride together with us. But we did need to leave early on Thursday 10th. No probs. This would give us 2 days with the Zad’s and we’d meet with them at the Riders Mania weekend too. So pretty much organised, Rajesh headed home – and had invited us all for dinner at his place tomorrow evening. Shalaka just prepared a small supper of dall and chappatis, and then we were all ready for bed. Us especially as it had been a long day on the road, and Arno needed to be up at 6.30am for school too. It wasn’t long before we were blowing zeds.

We slept really well, and were up before 8am. Arno was already off to school by 7am. Shalaka and Ajay were up and about, and when Shalaka had finished in the bathroom Stew went off for a shower. Apparently there is only service water on for 3 hours every day – 6 to 9am. They are in an apartment block in an area south of Pune on the ring road, Ambegoan – undergoing quite heavy development and expansion, with blocks of flats all over. BUT the area is still designated as a ‘village’, and so the city council does not recognise it for making up the roads, street lighting or the water supply. They have lived here 4 years, and hope things will change when there are elections in another years rime. So for now there is only rough track to the flats and some greenery around, and its pretty quiet – you don’t hear the traffic noise in the morning. By 9am another friend, Santosh arrived on his Royal Enfield, 500 Thunderbird, so more greetings. He was going to spend the day with us. Shalaka had to go to a customer meeting (They run their own interior design shop and website – selling and installing) and would meet us later in town. So we all got ready – and we were going Indian style, no helmets or jackets (it would be slow driving into the city, and we really wouldn’t be able to leave the jackets or helmets anywhere). It was so fun being pillion passengers, on two Indian Enfields – driving into Pune.

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We were going to the Raja Kellar Museum – a single mans collection of Indian cultural artifacts, in his big old house right in the heart of Pune. It was a great place, and only sorry that the armoury section wasn’t open.

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Santosh and Ajay were able to tell us some really interesting things about some of the pieces. I didn’t know Sitar’s and other instruments were made out of special pumpkins hung to dry for years! There were a couple of unusual brass sculptures of Ganesh from Siam – rare without his crown. The old wood stove was lovely, and the dowry trunks too.

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There was an 1895 black and white photo of the first event female who qualified as a doctor from India (Pune), with a Japanese and Syrian lady too. The museum had her old quilt on display. There were amazing temple lamps – so huge, and would look quite incredible full burning in a dark temple. And a gorgeous hanging lamp with an acrobat.

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We got out of the place around 12.30pm just as Shalaka was arriving – so we went in a next door cafe for a snack (Deep fried savoury sago & raita), with coffee. Then on the drive back the guys insisted on taking us to a special Indian garment shop – Gandhi Kadhi cotton, and bought us a traditional make and female shirt (So nice) – getting a few pics too, with Stew looking like a manequin!

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We were also able to call in at an ATM for some more cash (see later!), and a little motorbike place, where Stew managed to pick up some gearbox oil and a new headlight bulb. The gear box had developed a slight leak, and the headlamp had broken with all the vibrations I think. Back at the apartment Shalaka made us some egg curry and chappaties for a late lunch, and Arno had some as he came in from school too. After Santosh headed home (we’d see him later), and Ajay headed off to their shop for a few hours. The rest of us had a bit of a siesta – I think it would be a late-ish night.

For the evening we were all going to Rajesh’s place for dinner (About 15 mins drive away – and we were taking the motorbikes, so the other guests would be able to see our old bike too). You could tell they were all bikers, with the pile of helmets.

We had a wonderful evening with everyone, and Rajesh’s wife Leena had cooked up an amazing chicken tikka and curry. The food, company and conversations were great – we learnt so many things, and even Mike was in on the party, as Sameer called him up on video chat – and he was passed round the room.

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Biggest news of the night was the Indian government had banned all 500 and 1000 rupee notes as of that night (They would no longer be legal tender – and a measure take to stop the ‘Black Money’ – wealthy people not paying their taxes and hiding cash). No one knew – it was such a big surprise – but everyone in the room were happy and said it was a really good move by the government, to get a grip on the corruption practices – BUT we’d just got 10,000 rupees in 500 notes from the ATM earlier! The banks would be closed tomorrow, and no shop was allowed to accept 500 or 1000 notes!! There was going to be a period of grace (to 24 November), when you could change notes in the bank – but you had to prove the origin on the cash, and you were limited to 4000 rp. Well, nothing we could do, except hope we could sort it out later at a bank in Goa.

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We had a look at Rajesh’s motorbike collection (Jawa’s and Enfields – even a diesel one) – and finished off the evening with gulum jabr and ice cream. It was 12.30pm before we left and really too late for Arno – he had to be up for school at 6am again! We all went straight to bed as soon as we got back.

We only vaguely heard Arno get up and off for School, and I only just made it out of bed in time for a quick shower before the water went off at 9am. We were going out for breakfast, and met up with Sameer Parsensis, at the ‘Ruple’ cafe in the city centre. Then we were off for the day, the drive in was amazing. The morning news, was full of the rupee bank note situation, and the queues at all the city petrol stations were crazy long!! The other news was the US election, Trump was already in front!! We got to the breakfast place and it was so busy, it’s a well known place for Indian breakfast. We had wada and upatta and idli, basically ground rice and grains – some steamed white, (same mix as making dosai pancake), some deep fried like a donut, and the other more like a potato samosa. With coconut chutney and sambar curry sauce, it was delicious.

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Oh, we’d all dressed in our Muller T-shirts, so were taking lots of photos too, which Shalaka was sending off to Mike as we went round for the day.

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We were then off to see some local history of the Peshwas…..They ruled after the Maharajas in Pune – and built the ‘Saturday Palace’ (Shaniwarwada) in 1728 – It subsequently burnt down, and was now a beautiful quiet garden. Sameer’s family also had history back to the Peshwas and some silver, and he showed us the place and temple, where he grew up (He hadn’t visited in over 20 years). It was just by the river and close to the Saturday Palace (Shaniwarwada).

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The courtyards, and living spaces were amazing. Small passages and tiny staircases, and the big old tree-wall by the temple. Several families still lived in the complex, and I’m sure the kids have a great time playing hide and seek.

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The whole of Pune flooded for 2 days in July 1961, when a dam broke – and the Parsenis house and temple were under water. The priest survived by sitting on the temple spire for the 2 days. It was a living history and so facsinating. We learnt quite a lot about the religion rituals and gods, and even heard a female priest doing prayers. We all sat together and did a quiet session of Oom-ka, the sound resonating in the chamber. It was so peaceful and great to share with these people.

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The temple grounds also had a satee plinth, where a local woman had committed herself to a satee fire in 1829 – amazing.

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We leaned about lord Shiva, and how the ritual is to bathe his head from above with water or milk to ‘cool’ his temper, and the run off always faced north. And how the sacred bull, sits outside the temple, and if you look along his back through the horns, you see directly Shiva in front.

Sameer had things to do and so we parted company as we headed across to the palace – and what incredible ancient elephant doors were at the gatehouse. They even had the huge spikes still in place – to ward off enemy attacks.

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We met David (a young guy who had ridden the ‘Sore Butt’ a few times on a 100 cc bike, Goa to Bangalore and back in 24 hrs!), and Dib (a photographer) – just for a greeting and chat before we went into the Saturday palace (ShaniwarwadaPalace, wandering the gardens and climbing the ramparts.

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Then we were ready for home and a snack and a rest. Arno arrived home too, and we were just having sandwiches, so we gave them our ozzie Vegemite – which Arno liked. And by the time we got back, we learned that ‘Trump’ had won the American presidential election – how incredible! What a fascinating day – and who knows what would be happening in the days to come.

We were out for the evening again at 6.30pm. First the Guardians Motorcycle Club, and then meeting Santosh, his family and some others for a dinner out. It was a bit of a ride, (So it was another later night early morning – 1am before we were back home). The bike club guys were incredible, and ended doing a short recorded interview with us (www.livinit.in) – a few guys setting up a recently new social network, about peoples interests and passions. Everyone was so lovely and so interested in seeing our bike and hearing our stories.

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Rajesh was here too, and due to the money crash today, he was not able to join us for the MTM meeting, even though he had set it all up for us. He gave us papers, directions, and contacts to get us to the meeting tomorrow.

By the time we headed off with the Zad’s and Santosh it was already 9pm – and from there we were so warmly greeted by Santosh’s family – Thrupti, and their two girls (Sai, 12 years) and (Mai, 9 years). They were a delight, and the girls spoke some English and gave us a small gift – a kumkum box. Sameer and Rhadika also joined us, and another good friend. We were given drinks and lovely snacks, and soon all chatting And then they presented Stew with a great framed portrait of him as ‘Ali Baba’, that Santosh had taken when we were at the museum the other day (So nice). We then went off for dinner at a nearby veg restaurant (Rosewood) – it was late and the kids were tired, but it was so nice. The first thing was a big surprise, a black forest gateau – decorated with our names, and then topped with fireworks which were lit, and everyone was singing. I finished with ‘Happy Diwali’ – Shalaka was sending photos and updating Mike all the time. (He’d told us the story of them having a farewell party with the Guardians club, and how they found a black forest cake to take – Mike was so surprised and happy too).

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Then back home with very sleepy kids, and last thanks and goodbyes to all the friends – it had been a wonderful day, then a final 30 km ride, back home. It was 1am and not only Arno but we were all tired and so straight off to bed. We managed to getup early (6am) and off on the road to Goa, for the start of the MTM weekend. Shalaka and Ajay were up too, and as we packed, Shalaka made us some egg toasties and coffee before we headed off. Even Arno woke briefly to say goodbye (he had been allowed to miss school today). Sameer, had said he wanted to join us – but while we waited at the highway junction he didn’t arrive. Shalaka couldn’t get him to pick up the phone, so we weren’t sure what was happening.

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After 15 minutes, we just had to set off – so many thanks for everything, such wonderful hospitality, hugs and goodbyes, and we’d see them at the Rider Mania in Goa next weekend. It was 7.45am, and the traffic already building – we had a long way to go but we were early enough to make good road. It must have been cold, as the guy selling blankets had sone wrapped around his as he drove along. We’d not been gone more than half and hour than Sameer on his Enfield actually rode up besides us 🙂 So we did get to ride for a while, which was so nice. We pulled up at his turning point, and he did want us to stop for coffee – but we really had to keep moving. He’d had problems starting the bike in the morning, so it was amazing he’d managed to catch up with us. So again more thanks and goodbyes – and we were off again.

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The roads were pretty good and we got through the kilometers well. We stopped only for petrol (and thankfully we were able to spend our 500 rupee notes) and a snack stop; And you just have to get those stretches in where you can.We had to turn off the highway at Belgaum and navigate through there, crossing more than one railine and then we got on a great road through from Karnapur to Dudhsagar.

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I never knew that Goa had so much forest, it was quite beautiful. As we climbed up and down the hills, we accasionally caught glimpes of the huge forest area, and a huge boulder that looked ready to roll anytime. I took us on the road towards the waterfalls, but it was quite deserted and narrow single track. We ended up stopping at a ranger station, and thankfully they sent us back to take the road to the venue. Just amazing what you pass abandoned on the roadside. The huge boat and tailer looked like it had been there for years!

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We made it to the Dudhsagar Spa Resort – around 4pm. And parking up there were a few bikes already. There place was set up as separate cabins and tents within a big forest clearing, and we made our way to reception. We were so warmly welcomed, found Aditya and Santosh – and directed where to set our camp on the grass area in front of cabin 112. We were so late registrants, that the accommodation was all full, but really we were so happy to be camping again for a few days. We got set up, and met with so many other people, including Deepak Metha – and another guy, Allan. They were locals from Vasco Goa, involved with the group, and riding BMW r1150 and r1200 GS. Deepak asked how long we were staying in Goa, and was hosting people for the Rider Mania. He invited us to stay a day before the event, so we took his address and email, and arranged we’d go to his place on Tuesday. We found out there was no wifi at the event location, so we’d have to contact later.

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So camp ready we were ready for a beer, and joined some other participants. And had our first lovely evening – we met the Germans, Helen and Perry (From Frankfurt, in a Mercedes van), and a young English-Irish couple, Katie and Mickey, and one of the organisers – presenters, Huda. She joined us too, and interviewed us for some background. The beers and conversation flowed so well, and we were provided with a wonderful evening delicious India buffet. We didn’t last too loo long, as we really needed to hit the sack. We were tucked up and snuggled down by 8.30pm.

We slept so well in the tent, almost 10 hours I think. There were a few distractions, including dripping water from the rain forest – not sure it was rain or just condensation. We didn’t get out of bed till 9am. We dressed and were soon out of the tent, heading off to the dining area – hot drink and Indian brekkie was available. I was happy with just coffee, but Stew couldn’t resist. The surroundings were awesome, with gorgeous butterflies, tropical birdsong and the cheeky monkeys.

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What an incredible day we had – organisers asking if we could be interviewed, and put up a 30 min talk. We were expecting for Saturday, but they were trying to squeeze us in for today, maybe 5.30pm. We wandered round the presentation area, and looked over the program.

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Everyone was so friendly, with greetings and converstations, asking some background. We met Navaroze, a 72 year old guy, who had driven from India to the UK in the 1960’s on his BSA goldstar, and still riding today (only now a new red Ducati), he ws giving a talk later on photography. We sat and listened to the first two talks, but then I really needed to prepare a few slide. It took me longer than I expected, with no compressed photos the file was getting pretty big and started crashing….but I managed in the end. Stew had gone off for some buffet lunch, but again I was happy to wait for the evening meal. We then went over the slides together, trying to pick out what we should each say. It was definitely ‘Jughard’ – but the best we could do in the time we had. We both managed a quick shower too – around the coffee break. We were able to listen to most of Perry and Ellen’s talk, and then were pulled out for the recorded interview (SO a bit like the Guardians club questions – but actually with video recording too).

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And then we were next up for the talks….Aditya copied the pdf from my thumb drive, and thankfully it was OK. Huda, gave an introduction…..and on with the show, no time to think. Stew wanted to open, and did so well, considering how nervous we both were. The photos gave us cues to speak, and the opening BW photo from the 1989 Reporter came across really well. I used ‘JUGHARD’ to say how this presentation was really off the cuff, and the word well appreciated by the Indian audience. So definitely not polished, but we did OK, and glad it was all done. Now we could relax for the rest of the meeting and enjoy the beer.

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It really was well received, and we had so nice feedback from our fellow EU travelers and several of the Indians too…..giving out several of our contact cards, and one guy, Kardanath, saying he was coming to Australia in Feb 2017, so we told him to get in touch if he needed anything. So the days session was finishing, it was already after 6pm

We headed back to the tent, put on some long sleeves, and then headed back out to the dining area for beers. And we had German salt pretsall with us (from Shalaka), well appreciated by Ellen and Perry and the Swiss guys, going well with the beers. The Indians definitely eat later, so though there were a few others around, we were the western group eating and drinking together. Jay and his wife joined us too, so there was discussion on the Indian money situation, and politics with Trump too. The buffet was delicious again, and I did resit the temptation to pig out on seconds. Stew did go for two small serves of the rice pudding dessert though, he said it was really good. By 9pm we were ready for bed, so wishing everyone good night, took ourselves off. We were soon tucked and snuggled down, managing half an hour reading and writing, before music over the headphones.

Another cosy and comfy night in the tent again, horizontal for at least 10 hours. Getting up around 9am, we headed down for some brekkie – again I just had coffee, but Stew had some irresistable Indian brekkie. Talks weren’t starting till 10am, and so I decided to have a swim first. No one else was using pool, and it was so nice, even if a little strange swimming in a 40 foot shipping container (So Jughard, and Indian!).

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Stew had checked the bike tightening the steering again, and then came to join us for a quick swim. Then dressed we were into another amazing morning, meeting and chatting with so many people. We met the Jawa group, (Rajesh’s friends) – and even managed to get a few photos with them. And Deede rang Rajesh so we could have a quick natter too, and tell him thanks and how much of a great time we were having. I did ask that he let Shalaka know we were here all good (But no wifi) – and he said he had already done it.

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We were walking round the bike parking area, and getting a couple of photos of the new Himalaya Enfiled bikes and the German truck. Ellen and Perry were just getting their interview recorded too.

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We were asked for another interview with the Goa Indian Times – so maybe we’d make the local papers, too. We crossed paths with the westerner group again, and when we were together at the back of the presentation area, we were all given a gift of a new USB charger, from one of the event sponsors. (They were providing all the mobile charging facilities at the event)….We were really feeling like celebrities, and so welcome by everyone.

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We watched a couple of talks, and then I headed to the reception, to see if I could check email. That was fine, and thankfully there was nothing urgent. We headed off to lunch with the crowd, for another great buffet. I was a bit hungry, but also tried not to eat too much. The butter tandoori chicken was really good. We sat and talked with Raj and Lauren, learning a lot more of what they were up to. (After 14 years in Oz, they were now making a life in India – 200 km from Bangalore, setting up a workshop for locals and bringing in retired handyman from Oz to skill teach. The class system is endemic, and trade skills not well respected). We then did get two serves of ice cream for afters – nice too. After lunch we headed to the presentation area a bit early, but we were treated to a great animated display by the monkeys, and we saw a rare giant red squirrel up in the canopy (Indigenous to the western ghat region only – you can only see his fluffy ears and tail in the photo).

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We stayed for the full afternoon session. HV Kumar. Rides around India, and after coffee the Deepak Thrummoji, border hassles in south east Asia, So entertaining – he gave a great talk about all the trials and frustrations of waiting weeks on borders, just trying to get into the next country on the road. Mayanmar and Thailand being pretty hard these days. But he took it all on in such good spirit as part of the journey, and delivered it so well. The audience seating was full, and even the monkeys getting a listen in.

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The Swiss guys were next and last talk was Katie and Mickey. Great presentations, and then final thanks to the team and sponsors. Stew even got up and said this was the best trevellers bike meeting we’d been to – getting a huge round of applause. Santosh was so well acknowledged, so involved in really changing people lives….

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There was a final whole group photo, before getting ready for the last evening.

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What an awesome weekend, as went off to get some long sleeves and the have a last wonderful evening buffet, with beers and conversations, before heading off to get tucked up in the tent around 9pm. We slept pretty well again, and heard quite a few early starters to get on the long ride home today, beginning with the Jawa crew around 6am. We slept on till around 7.30am, and managed to get up for a lovely swim and shower before brekkie. Everyone was up and about busy packing up and getting ready, and we had a great few hours – nattering away again, goodbyes to some people, and hoping to meet up with quite a few of them at the Rider Mania meeting the next weekend. So many contacts passed on, and potentially even some travelers making their was to Australia too. We packed our gear and decided we’d not take most of our dried supplies, so we kept only tea, coffee, milk powder and bread spreads, and made a bag of everything else. I took it over to the dining area and found the westerners still all sitting together finishing breakfast which was great. Helen and Perry would hopefully appreciate the items, as with a big truck they could carry more – but it was so good to see that everyone could enjoy something from the bag. The Swiss guys were so amazed to see the pack of Swiss Roastie – it really made their day. And it was so nice to pass things on and not waste them.

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Huda, was going around giving everyone samples of her chewy bars – which was so nice (We’d enjoy them later). It took us so long to pack and say final goodbye – with so many hugs, greetings and last photos too. There was Navaroze with his entourage of ladies (He’s 72 remember!), and Raj saying a lat word to him,

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Then we got the Swiss guys packing up, as well as Deepak Thrummoji and his family.

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But we were finally waved off around 11am, and a wave to Ellen and Perry as we passed their camper – we hadn’t got more than a kilometer, than we were waved down again – a couple of guys from the meeting had missed us, and were so glad to get a last photo.

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We were only heading for the coast at Panaji, which wasn’t too far (around 40 miles) – it wasn’t the best ocean front place, but driving into town it was looking very familiar (I’m sure we’ve been here before) and driving out of the town, we did find a pretty decent beachfront hotel, and even got a room with a balcony overlooking the bay and swimming pool 🙂 It wasn’t too bad at 2700 rp a night, but the wifi was not as good as we were hoping for!! We soon got ourselves set up, paid for two night on the debit card (As the owner would not accept the old bank notes) – It was so humid and sticky we were so glad to peel off the riding gear again, and we soon making a nice brew (At least there was a kettle). We relaxed a while, before getting most of the rest of the gear off the bike. The pool was deserted, so we just couldn’t resist going in – it was so lovely, watching a big red sun starting its evening descent. We swam a good half hour and then showered off in our room.

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Once dressed again we headed out and had a walk on the beach (not really impressive), and then to see what there was out on the road to eat – nothing much, from what we could see.

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There was a little mini-market across the road, and there were a few white lasses – chatting in English. We asked if they had seen a bank to change money, and they said it was a long walk in either direction. They had a half hour walk back to their hotel. We just got a pack of digestive biscuits. We decided we’d eat at the hotel restaurant, but first checked at reception if we could use our 500 rp notes. We had to check with the restaurant, but it was OK. With that sorted, we asked for a couple of cold beers in our room, which were delivered pronto. And so we sat out on the balcony enjoying the beers and the view.

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We headed down to the restaurant about an hour later, and were the only customers even though it was around 7.30pm. We browsed the menu, and I just couldn’t resist ordering a chicken vindaloo (Goan origin), we also got some aloo jeera, rice and chappatis. Stew was kind of dreading it, but it wasn’t that hot, so he didn’t get hiccups. We shared it well, and I ate more of the vindy and Stew ate more of the potatoes…. It was delicious. We managed to pay up with two 500 notes, so that was great. We retired to the room, and managed to read another half hour, before we snuggled down on the lovely big bed, sometime after 9.30pm. It was quieter to begin with, but it soon became apparent that Indian’s are so late eaters. Other families of guests arrived, and the noises from the restaurant went on for ages. Then there was loud background music too – we were just thankful, we weren’t any nearer to it. Once things finally quietened we did get a good nights rest.

It was so lovely having the luxury of a decent room, bathroom and big bed, that we just lounged on after waking around 7am. We made the most of the facilities, and enjoyed a really good lie in. Stew was ready for some tea, but I wanted to get down to the pool. I did manage 10 laps before a couple of family groups, lads and dads came along too – but all the kids were in the smaller pool, so I did get to do 30 laps, before there were just too many of them. Back in the room the shower was good and hot – and with my shower, I also did a bucket full of washing too. Stew was making us coffee, and the internet just wasn’t connecting. I ended up getting Stew’s iPad on the internet getting a pass code from his Ozzie phone, but I couldn’t get on. So after coffee I dressed, and headed downstairs to the lobby with my laptop. Using the lobby connection, I was able to get decent wifi, to check and send off a few emails. An hour later my battery was running low, and Stew ended up coming looking for me. So we packed up and put all the valuables in the lockbox, and headed off walkabout into Panaji.

It ended up a 6 hr walk….the main mission was to get to a bank and see if we could get our 500 rupee notes changed. It was about 1.5 hrs to reach the outskirts of the town, passing some interesting old properties on the way.

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And then some more till we came to one of the BOI branches. You could tell it was the bank, with the queues of people. The bank note situation was causing all kinds of problems – for everyone really. There was nothing we could do except join the queues, fill out the forms, and wait in line for the exchange. We both had to do the process as the maximum each person is allowed to change per day is 4500 rp, and we had 7500 all up. Everything was meticulously checked, noting down all the bank note id numbers. Photocopies of our passports and visa were taken, and we had to sign several times – but all pretty smooth, and within an hour we cam away with wads of 10 rupee and 20 rupee notes and a single new 2000 rupee note (we definitely needed a backpack to carry them! and I took a pic when we got back to the room).

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We did try a few foreign exchange places in town too, but they had all run out of new notes for the day! As we wandered into town, we passed some right sights – an old abandoned motorbike, and a street seller fallen asleep on his brushes. As we continued our recollection of being here was totally confirmed – we’d taken a small rickety ferry across the water with the girls, and I recalled some of the town streets too. There were all the casino boats out in the river too.

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We wandered further, as Stew was getting hungry, and we found a great local cafe. Stew didn’t want to share a thali, so I ended up ordering a masala dosai – there was heaps of food, and so good (especially for $4 all up with drinks!). I also wrote out a last postcard to send the girls from India – and Stew took a photo, as I mailed it in one of the post boxes we passed.

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We found our way to the tourist office (but it was closed) – but got a couple of nice photos and the huge white church just outside.

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We were after a map of Goa, and just down the road in a bookshop, we managed to find one, and an old one of Kochin, so we decided to get them both. We wandered back along the esplanade, making another stop an hour later, in a decent coffee shop, where were shared a frappe cafe and ice cream, and sat reading our books a half hour. Then we headed onto the beach, and still another hour walk back – so I took my shoes off to walk barefoot. As long as we stayed below the tide line, there wasn’t too much crap to tread on. We passed the locals on the Miramar beachfront, with the lifeguard patrol. After that the condition of the beach deteriorated, loads more rubbish, as we passed a local fishing enclave, and even a group of water buffalo ‘sun bathing’.

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Finally back at the hotel we were hot and sweaty. Stew was happy to cool down under the fan with a cuppa, but I wanted to get in the pool for the last hour – it was so nice, especially as I had the place to myself. Stew did join us half an hour later, and we both watched the red sun setting. It was already 6pm, so we showered and dressed, and then Stew wanted to do a couple of things on the bike. We’d managed to get some new jubilee clips, so he was able replace the broken ones, on the rear frame, and he was keeping an eye on the gearbox oil leak (Hopefully it would get us the last thousand kilometers to Cochin). He came back with an order of two cold beers – which we enjoyed before heading to the restaurant for dinner. Tonight we ordered aloo jeera again (Stew’s favourite), and chicken tikka masala – it was so delicious, and Stew really liked it as it wasn’t as hot as the vindaloo. The bill was pretty much the same as last night, only tonight we counted out from the wad of new 20 rupee notes to pay the 940 rupee total! We made it back to the room to watch the 9pm start of the new ‘Mars’ series (On the Nat Geo channel) – one hour episodes, and I really enjoyed it – though not sure when we’ll get chance to see the follow on. After that it was lights out and soon asleep.

After all the exercise and no real disturbances, we had a really good nights rest. Stew woke me just before 7am, and made us some tea. I was going to swim, but my left ear was still pretty gluggy, so I decided not to. I wanted to get an hour on the internet, looking for accommodation options and the map around Vagator, for the Mania meeting. We’d just got settled back on the bed with the tea, and Stew had picked up the Goa Times newspaper, which was pushed under the door. And there we were, the front page – a big spread about the MTM meeting. There were other pics of some local riders too, and inside another full page with pics of Katie and Mickey, and Perry and Ellen, with their van – so nice 🙂

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I then left Stew to the iPad and went to sit in the lobby with my laptop. I sketched out a map, and noted the name of a few guesthouses – hotels, as well as the location of the venue (Hill Top, Vagator, Goa), and where we should aim for not too far away. The guy in reception brought round another copy of the paper for us, smiling and glad to have us there. I’d pretty much done and headed back upstairs as Stew was about to come down. I was ready for some coffee, which we had while starting to pack up (Check out was supposed to be 9am). So we got everything packed and strapped on the bike by 9.15am, and thought we’d have a nice quiet hour in the restaurant for breakfast and read our books. I really wasn’t too interested in food, and Stew just ordered aloo paratha and curd, and we had some milky coffee, and a bottle of cold water. We hadn’t had anything confirmatory on the email from Deepak Metha, so I asked in reception if we could give him a call – no problem, and I was soon chatting away. And yes, we were still very welcome. I told him we were in Panaji, and he said its about 30 km away. He was close to the airport, on the airport road, and he said he wait on the roadside with his car (gold-dust coloured), with lights on. So we set off, and a really nice drive along the rivers and estuaries, through the jungle and right passed the huge Hyatt resort! 45 mins later, we turned onto the airport road, and just another kilometer further on, spotted Deepak at the roadside.

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Awesome – we were so warmly greeted, and he said to follow him to their small housing complex, just round the back. What a delightful place, with his BMW R1200 having pride of place on the front porch. He had helpers, working in the kitchen – oh and two very friendly dogs. He showed us to a guest room, and we unpacked a few things, getting out of our bike gear. We had tea together on the front patio, and then he had to go out for an hour or so to a work meeting. No probs, we were happy just to relax in the comfy surroundings, reading and writing a while.

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Then we had a lovely lunch with Deepak and his wife Shruti – learning a bit of their lives and backgrounds. He was Goan several generations, but family history from Gujerat. His wife was from Rajastan. They had 2 boys, one 23 studying in Boston, and the other 18, looking to study in the States next year. Deepak owns and runs a hotel in Vasco (Since 1982) – and has a clear passion for motorbikes – his first extended trip round India was in 1984 on a 100cc, two up!

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Lunch finished, we relaxed for a couple of hours – it seems quite common practice here, with it quite warm to go out. Deepak aimed to take us round Vasco later in the afternoon when it was cooler.

We headed out with Deepak around 4.45pm – in his Tata Nano ($2000 USD as a new car here!). He took us to meet Allan (we saw at MTM – a marine engineer), and his wife Sangiovani – at a gorgeous house they had built from recycled or reject materials, including a great underground water system. The huge block of wood Stew and Sangiovani sat in the garden, was salvaged from an old derelict place.

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From there we went to the nearby beach at Begolim – I reckoned we’d been been before, and then when he dove us into Vasco, I spotted the ‘Supreme Hotel’ we’d stayed in with the girls (with fish tank). Deepak’s hotel was further in the city, off to the right after the railway station ‘The Maharaja’ (Oyo group), which he showed us round (his grandfather began the construction here)

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Then back to his home for a lovely evening, a couple of beers in the man-shed, then dinner together. We found we could leave Deepak our spare tyres – there were others in his group who could make use of them, so would be appreciated; so good to be leaving a bit more weight from out pack. Shruti had made special potato dish, with sweet potatoes and baby aubergines, and a green pea (from Mumbai). It was delicious, with some home made corriander chutney. For desert she had made a yoghurt dish. You hang fresh yoghurt in a muslin bag to drain all the whey protein, and then whisk it with a bit of sugar, add some chopped nuts (Almond and pistachio), and some cardamon. It was so nice. We chatted the evening away, then agreed to get up early to see some sights around 7am – when Deepak came back from the gym (he leave at 5.30am!), so thanked them for a lovely evening and heading to be around 10.15pm.

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There was heavy lightening, thunder and rain not long after we got into bed – though Stew said he didn’t hear any of it. We heard both Shruti, and Deepak get up in the dark, and the staff too – but we managed to doze on till 6.45am. We had a lovely tour of the local area, seeing Deepak’s childhood and old home haunts – and some great beaches, (Hollant Village) only spoiled by the trash – and not from the locals!!

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We got back to the house around 9am, and today we had ‘pohan’ for breakfast – Its a special puffed rice dish, cooked warm with chillies, poppy seeds, curry leaves, and really quite tasty. We then had a couple of hours to ourselves, as Deepak went off to the office, I showered, while Stew managed to get on a bit of wifi, and we also packed everything away again. We were all going to Allan and Sangiovani’s for lunch, and taking the bike meant we would drive straight off to Vagator after. So we said our thanks and goodbyes to Shruti and their son, Aditya, then followed Deepak in the car. The air quality today was so much better with the rainfall last night, and not quite as humid. Though when we reached Allan’s place we parked up by their gate in the sun, and were all dripping sweat giving the guys a tour round the bike (and a few photos).

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We made it to their back garden a while later, to a wonderful view over the Mandovi river (we could see it today) across to Panaji, and there was a lovely breeze wafting over from the waterside too. We sat and chatted a good while, and then Sangiovani said lunch was ready, so we sat together at their wonderful outdoor setting.

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She had made delicious chicken curry, with all the accompaniments – rice, chappaties, tomato and pomegranate salad, and daal. It was so lovely. Deepak was trying to restrict his diet – but it was out of the window today! We sat out overlooking the view for the last half hour, and Sangiovani brought round mango ice cream. Then we really had to get moving, as we didn’t yet know where we would be staying for the night near Vagator (for the Enfield Rider Mania weekend event). So more thanks and goodbyes – and we were finally out in the heat of the afternoon, trying to catch the waft of a breeze. It wasn’t far, around 40 km, and once passed Panaji, and all the new road construction…..

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….we were soon into the small backlanes. I managed to get us in the right direction towards the beach, and we pulled in at a couple of places to see of they had any rooms. The first place said just one night available, and the second place was 4000 rp a night – so a bit too steep. We kept driving, and actually passed the Enfield Rider Mania location, undergoing all the setup and preparations for the weekend. It was pretty quiet today though, and I got a photo of Stew on the bike right at the entrance gate.

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We continued on the laneway – not really wanting to be too close to the noise of the event, and then ended up in Anjuna, a little bit south. We passed an older heritage looking place, so I got Stew to turn round and see if they had a room. There was good parking for the bike out front too. It was a gorgeous old Portuguese – Chinese place, and thankfully they did have a room for 1500 rp.

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By now were were getting really hot and a bit passed it! BUT we could only stay for 2 nights; they had been booked out by the Enfiled Riders Event. No probs, we could sort that out later, so we went into register. Problem was they wouldn’t take a credit card payment, cash only – and we really didn’t have enough. The young guy in reception said there was an ATM just up the road. So we left our jackets and helmets and said we’d try get some money out, taking the short cut over the road. What a situation – there was such a queue, we ended up in 1.5 hrs, and today talked with a Canadian couple of girls, and an English nurse. We did eventually get to the front of the queue, and were permitted to take 2500 rp per card (we used both our debit cards from the same bank account).

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That was a relief, and back at the lodge, we soon got paid up for two nights and ordered a couple of cold beers in our room. They were awesome – we were so hot and sweaty, and finally glad to get out of our riding pants. The room was great, with a separate entrance porch and a four-poster bed!

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We were both pretty weary, and really didn’t feel like anything much to eat. We knew there was a Dominos Pizza place next to the ATM, but didn’t fancy that. There was nothing much in eye shot up or down the road, so we just went to the small shop at the road junction, got a cold bottle of water, beer and some chips. Neither of us were really hungry, and really fine to make do sharing the chips and last beer. And then we just turned in for the night, listening to music over the headphones, comfy on the top of the bed under the slight swish of the ceiling fan.

We were both surprised how tired we were – maybe it was the heat yesterday afternoon: But whatever, we slept really well, even though when Stew got up early for the toilet, he did switch the ceiling fan off. It was making a clicking noise – that was hard to block out of your head! We dosed on till 7.30am and then got up to make a brew. I also put a few of the sweaty clothes in a bucket of soapy water in the bathroom, just to freshen them up really. Then not having had dinner last night, we were both ready for some brekkie, so went to see what was on offer. Even though the place was quiet, there were staff around, and we were brought round a complimentary breakfast menu. Stew ordered the fried eggs and toast, while I just got toast and jam, and we both had milk coffee. It was so nice sat out by the pool – we had the whole place to ourselves. The fried eggs were really good, sunny side up and I enjoyed the toast with vegemite and peanut butter.

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After brekkie we went to sit in the lobby an hour to get on the wifi, and try look for other accommodation nearby. We found this place was showing vacancy on ‘Booking.com’ – so we went to ask the owner again, just to be sure. The woman was quite pleasant (even though she seemed a bit of a dowager – shouting most off the time at her staff!). She said the one of the ‘Mania managers’ had booked out the hotel, and was coming for a meeting at 2pm. If we could wait till then, and there was any cancellation we could stay. So we said we’d wait, and might as well make the most of the day.

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So after hanging out the washing, and slapping on some suncrean, we headed out. We thought we’d have a wander down to the beach and check out the ATM on the way. It was closed and shuttered, a couple of tourists were already sat outside hoping it would open at 9am. One of the bank staff did appear 20 mins later, and after a phone call and checking with his boss, he said he didn’t expect the machine to be filled before 3pm!! So we wandered off. It was a decent walk, but the beach was nothing to write home about – the rubbish is such a blot on the landscape. Not knowing if we’d have to move hotels yet, we were also looking out for alternatives as we walked along. There were a load of guesthouses, so I’m sure we’ll find somewhere.

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We did come across a bigger supermarket, and went in for a few supplies – (They even had Heinz baked beans, but we didn’t buy any); mostly drinks (water, sprite and soda), but we also got some yoghurt, biscuits, chips and nuts, as well as some bananas and limes from a veg stall outside. Back at the hotel I first made us some lime sodas, which were so nice and then we were ready for a brew, and a couple of biscuits, relaxing and reading a while on the bed. By 2pm we were walking past the ATM again, and already a queue forming, though there was no real information on when it was going to be refilled and then open! As our place was just round the corner, we decided we’d just keep nipping back, in the meantime we could have a leisurely couple of hours and enjoy the pool (which we had to ourselves).

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The ATM was finally filled around 5pm, and we lined up having another lovely conversation, this afternoon with Andy and Stefanie (a couple of American’s from Milwauke). They were both well tattooed, and Stefanie even had an Airhead tattooed on her left upper arm! They had 40 bikes between them. Stefanie had been to India 3 or 4 times previously, and was at the Mania event last year. It was Andy’s first travel out of the America’s. So an hour passed pretty quickly; we were again able to withdraw 5000 rp, and headed back to the hotel. The owner was just having the meeting with the one of the ‘Mania’ managers, and so we found out they didn’t have any room spare for the weekend. So we thought we’d have a wander down the street and see what we could find. The first place we walked into was just passed the ATM – it was OK, but not really good for 1000 rp, and the bike parking wasn’t great. So we kept going. Next we came to Coutinho’s Guesthouse. It was miles better than the first place, lovely and clean – with an upstairs balcony. The owner asked 1500 rp to start, but with staying for 3 days, we managed to get 1200 rp. We learned her husband and son (Sam) – were working and studying out in Sydney, and she (Agatha) had even visited for 3 months. There was a stuffed koala on the window above the desk! We wanted to leave a deposit – 1200 rp, got a receipt and said we’d be back in the morning. The bike parking in front of the guesthouse behind gates in the driveway also looked pretty good too. That sorted we headed back to our old place, and ordered a couple of cold beers for the room. I managed to get on wifi, and sent a message to Shalaka, Ajay and Sameer – hoping they had a good drive down, and that we’d try meet up tomorrow. It was still early enough, though already pitch black, so we thought we’d try our luck at the ATM again….and heading out the driveway was now pretty full of Enfields (At least 20), and from their number plates, looked like they were from Kerala.

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There were only a few locals at the ATM, and the only machine working was the one dishing out 2000 rp notes – we used both cards again, and managed to get two crispy new notes (So we weren’t doing too bad really). We decided we’d have food back at our place, even though we were the only ones eating, and sat out on the tables by the pool, and read for a while under the lights, as we waited for our order – tonight we shared some palak aloo, rice, raita and chappaties. We managed to read till 10pm back in our room, before turning in for the night. Another good nights sleep, and I really wanted to make the most of the facilities before we had to move out. So a cuppa, and then an early morning dip before brekkie by the pool again. Stew had already had a shower not wanting a swim, and as we got outside we were surprised to be surrounded by even more Enfields, quite a sight. A group of guys were sat by the pool, but no one was swimming so I went in. I chatted with them a while as they asked where we were from and going. We found brekkie was actually a buffet this morning, and sat out by the foyer so Stew could get some wifi. We both had a bit of local pohan and some bread and jam – vegemite, but the tea was milky sweet, so we went back to the room to make a nice brew of nescafe, while I showered and then started packing up too.

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We didn’t have that much to pack, and less than 1 km to move, but we were slowed down by all the enthusiastic Enfield riders from Kerala. We had our photos taken so many times. Even so we managed to get across at the Coutinho’s Guesthouse and sorted in the new room, by 11am. The place was spacious and really quite clean, and had a lovely balcony to sit and watch the street life below.

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We wanted to leave most of our gear, and dressed only in shorts and our MTM t-shirts to head up to the ‘Mania Event’. BUT we’d also seen the ATM had a small queue, so we decided we’d go back and queue for a while, just to replenish some of our cash supplies. The young English couple we’d seen a couple of days before, were two in line ahead of us – so we exchanged greetings again. It didn’t take too long really. We relaxed in the room a while, enjoying having some decent wifi, and then we slapped on some sun screen, out the camera’s in a small bag, and headed off up to the Hill Top Enfield field. There were so many bikes, yet incredibly we’d only just got parked up in a field of Enfields, when Shalaka, Ajay and Sameer came walking towards us!! It was the start of an incredible afternoon.

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There was a quite a queue to register and sign in…paying on the spot meant we got one of the shorted queues. Those in the first 1000 registered had to wait longest! We wandered a while, seeing some of the sights and events going on in the field.

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– as we waited for the Pune crew to get through, and amazingly met up with them again as they were getting T-shirts. On the spot registrations weren’t getting T-shirts, but Sameer soon went up to the kiosk, and managed to get us a couple no problem. Then we just wandered round for the afternoon – a bit of a daze. The whole place was set up like a huge festival, with areas set up for riding skills competitions, another for custom bikes, and then the main arena.

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The perimeter was all set up with food stalls, the main bar, and trade kiosks. The center stage was huge and great music going on, and a black and white video on the Enfield India story, and the launch of their cafe racer in 2013.

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There were great art spots too, some huge posters being created through the afternoon. The walkway in was being signed by one and all, and we too added our signatures. The Pune crew were in party mood early, and so we joined them for an afternoon beer.

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We were being spotted by lots of people, asking to take selfies with us. We saw the Kerala guys more than once, and all the various groups had their own club t-shirts. Though by the end of the afternoon, it was pretty much a sea of orange 2016 Mania t-shirts (we stayed in our blue MTM ones for the day). Shalaka and the gang said they were going off for ‘lunch’ around 3.30pm and asked if we wanted to join them – we weren’t hungry at all, so we said we’d try catch them later. We wanted to see the LDTF (Long Distance Travelers Forum) at 5pm – one of the guys (Kardanath) we’d met at the MTM was doing a coffee table book launch on his bike trip. It started dragging a bit as we watched the very slow beer drinking competition, before the LDTF – but I’m glad we stayed for that. It was so great to see Kardanath up on stage, with a great story and just inspiring others to follow their dream bike riding. The Enfield organisers even presented him with a plaque, in recognition of his efforts.He did 180 days travel through 13 countries on his Enfield 350 (India to Europe and back). And on a tight budget he managed the whole trip sleeping in a hotel only 3 nights in Iran.

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We walked round the bikes again – amazing to see all those Enfields, and only one foreign registered bike – Fritz.

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Then already tiring after 6 hrs in the afternoon heat (It would have been more sensible to have a break and come back later) – and we hadn’t seen Shalaka and the guys get back yet. So we decided to head off and would try pace ourselves better tomorrow. We headed out to find Fritz in the field of Enfields and were waved off by the entrance by the Kerala boys again. And as ever you can never avoid the cows.

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We were soon back at the guesthouse, relaxing with a cold beer on the upstairs terrace – so relaxing and peaceful after a hectic day. I sent Shalaka a facebook message, to let them know we’d headed back to our digs, and arrange a time to meet again tomorrow. An hour later we were getting hungry, and went to a friendly restaurant we’d seen just along the road. There were a few other customers, and it looked a decent place. We decided to stick with veggie food, and ordered a vindy, a capsicum masala, raita, rice and chappatis with another beer. The food was tasty and there really was too much, so we had a good feed and tried not to leave too much. Another hour in our room screen time, and then it was lights out drifting to sleep with music over our headphones, and hearing the Enfields thumping along the road. We mananged a good nights sleep and it really wasn’t too noisy at all. I did hear dogs barking for a short while, but soon dosed on again. We didn’t get up to make tea till nearly 8am.

We had a few hours relaxing, after brekkie of yoghurt, banana and oats. Stew did some washing and I wrote a few emails, and mananged to get Sairha on facebook chat – So nice. We then headed out for a walk, headed for to the big supermarket I’d seen from the junction to Vagator, and we were just passing a restaurant that Stew remarked was looking really popular with the bikes, when we were hailed from inside – Shalaka and the guys were just inside having brekkie. So we spent a lovely hour together being able to talk away from the noisy venue. Stew even managed to sneak and pay the breakfast bill for everyone (Our treat). We arranged to meet later around 6pm at the cafe custom bike spot at the event, they were heading out to see a family temple from Rhadika, and we said we’d be at the event for the LDTF at 4.30pm – that was after we’d all been in a T-shirt shop; they were getting a custom one embroidered. Shalaka was also making calls to Bharat (One of the Enfield organisers), and we so we said we’d find them at the venue around 5pm today.

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Heading off to get a few things at the supermarket and then back in our room, Stew read a while and I did a bit more on the computer. We headed back up to Mania around 4.15pm…..We had a great few hours, so much going on….we met back with the Guardians MC club from Pune, and they tried to get hold of the Enfield guy, Bharat. It was so hard to talk on the phone, but I said we’d be at the cafe till 6pm. And then we also met Ellen and Perry. They had their camper parked on the beach at Anjuna where we had walked the last couple of days. Ellen told us about their couple of days in the jungle with Katie and Mickey, with Aditja and Huda, Santosh and a couple of the other guys. She said the drive there was pretty tough going with the camper, but they had a great time.

We also met Kerdanath, and bought his coffee table travel book – which we got him to sign too. There was also the guy with the t-shirt – ‘Don’t worry be HAMPI’, and he was with a young Danish guy, so we chatted a while, and he tried to get hold of Shalaka for us. Still no luck. We walked out to the bike a couple of times, it was surrounded by a crowd from Kanakata, so more conversation and photos. It was hard for us to get any decent photos, as they were all taking photos and trying to get selfies with us.

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By the time we waited longer at the cafe, took a few more photos and no sign of the Pune crew, it was already pitch black – so we decided to head back to the guest house.

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ONLY to get stopped by the local police – for having our spot lights on !! It was a bit unofficial, as the on-the-spot fine changed from 1600, to 600 to 300 rp we paid, after Stew asked for a receipt. He was glad to get the bike parked up safely for the night, and we could enjoy a relaxing beer on the balcony. As we were sat out, the young female American fellow house guest came out to the terrace – we’d barely spoken the other day, so managed a longer conversation before she headed off to meet friends. She was saying what strange happenings had occurred here – with meetings at the ATM queues; Yes indeed!! I also wrote a message to the Pune crew a message on facebook, and hope we’d meet them again sometime tomorrow. As we finished our drinks, we thought it would be good idea to try the ATM again (Ellen had said they were only able to withdraw 1000 rp a transaction further south in Margao!) – So tonight we found a group of young Russians to talk to in the small queue in front of us (They had come up from Calangute, as there was no cash in the ATMs there). The units we’d used to now were not working, but another ATM had opened next door. We managed to get 6000 rp out on each card (in 2000 rp notes). Cashed up again and ready for some dinner (It was already after 8.30pm), we headed to the ‘Coral Blue’ place we’d eaten at last night. Its nice and relaxing, with pretty decent music playing in the background, from the (expensive) bar next door – and tonight we ordered a chicken tikka masala, which was really good, with all the usual sides. The streets were definitely noisier and still rumbling with the Enfields when we turned in for the night, putting music on over our headphones around 10.30pm.

It really was quite a noisy and there seemed to be a constant stream of Enfields on the road all night, and then the dogs were barking a lot more too. It was nice to get some quiet after 7am, it seemed. We had such a mixed bag of a day – missing Shalaka and everyone, first at the cafe for breakfast between 11am – 12 noon, and then between 5.30 – 7.30pm at the venue. Stew fancied the ‘Big Breakfast’ to share – bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, 2 fried eggs and baked beans, with toast, coffee and orange juice for 290 rp. Not bad, but really they do a better job at Indian breakfast.

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We then wandered on towards the beach, and spotted the German camper of Perry and Ellen. So we ended up in their mobile home for an hour, just chatting away. From there we headed to the beach, and such a shame its so spoiled by all the rubbish – Stew didn’t fancy sitting down, so we just headed back, passing Perry and Ellen again, taking their small motorbike up to the Mania to watch some of the scrambling event. Oh, and we also got Kardanath on the little yellow moped he’d hired to0.

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Back in our room Stew managed to finish off his latest book, while I was getting the first load of India photos ready for the next blog. We had a couple of brews with some digestive biscuits and peanut butter, and had decided we’d walk up to the venue later this afternoon, so we could have a couple of beers and not drive. We set off around 4.45pm – It’s a nice time of day to be at the venue – We watched the slow race in the field and the arm wrestling in the main arena. The winner getting hoisted by the crowd. We met more people from the MTM meeting again, and another couple of friends of Mike Muller – Candida Lois from Bangalore – She had flown down from Rajastan yesterday.

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But we couldn’t find Shalaka and the crew, even though we found Perry and Ellen, and they said they saw Shalaka looking for us 10 mins before. We also saw Kerdenath, and some guys from the Guardians MC club, so asked if they could try phone Shalaka for us – No joy, we just couldn’t get in touch! We had our Mike Muller T-shirts on, so took a couple of photos to send them, and also managed to get a nice artist sketch of a MC at the show. The tank and helemt paintworks were pretty good too.

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Then after a 3rd beer, and still not finding Shalaka and everyone else round the cafe – custom bike area, we were so sad to be missing a last evening meal together, we decided we’d just walk back. We’d have to save that for a future meeting….and by the time we’d walked the half hour back, we weren’t too bothered about dinner, Stew was happy with samosas and I’d get some fruit. We also called at the supermarket, and decided against beer to get a bottle of chilled Indian white wine, for a change. By 9.30pm Stew was blowing zeds. I packed up for the night an hour later. It was another noisy night, but not too bad and the dogs didn’t really start till after 7am and then we dosed on a while.

We had a lovely relaxing day…..morning tea and then managed to get Sairha and Lacey on skype. So had a lovely half hour nattering away, and finding out what was happening back home. We headed out for an ATM run, paying Agatha for another nights stay on the way out. We paid with a new 2000 rp note, and was able to get 100 rp notes back from her. The queues at the ATM weren’t too bad, but not giving out 100’S, so we just did one transaction for 8000 rp (Not bad!). I’d sent Shalaka a facebook message earlier, and she said they were now on the road, but had left t-shirts for us at the shop near where we had brekkie the other morning. I said we’d pick them up later, and let her know. Checking the email we found one from Deepak Metha – he’d also been at the Mania meeting and not found us either. But he did find us in the local GOAN newspaper over the weekend, so he knew we were there, and he sent us a photo. I wrote back to thank him.

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We spent a couple of hours back in the room, Stew reading and me trying to get some blog pictures uploaded. And then we headed out again, managing to give the bike a powerwash.

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We called at the beachfront, to see if Ellen and Perry were still around but they had moved on, so we dropped the bike back off, and then went to the Coral Blue cafe next door for a late brekkie and read our books. I just had some coffee while Stew ordered an aloo paratha with curd. After another couple of hours we headed walk about again – tried the ATM, to see if we could get some 100’s but none were being dished out. Then we headed towards the beach again for the afternoon seabreeze and sunset. We were able to collect the T-shirts too, really lovely embroidered with an Indian Enfield motorbike (I’ll send Shalaka a photo later).

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We thought we’d enjoy a cold beer on our terrace, so I got the beers, while Stew walked back to the ATM. He managed to get 2500 rp all in 100’s. It was so nice sitting out in the twilight for an hour, and I even managed to get a load more pics loaded for the blog. Getting hungry we headed out for dinner, and thought we’d eat at the Coral Blue again – but it was closed. So we ended up at the ‘Eatopia’ restaurant we’d had brekkie with the Pune crew a couple of days ago. It was the only lively place in town tonight, with locals, Russians, and couple of Irish guys. We ordered a chicken tikka masala, with the usual – it was really good, and a nice place to sit for an hour. We were back in our place by 9.30pm, and managed a bit of screen time before turning in for the night.

It was mostly the dogs barking that woke us several times through the night and into the morning too. We dozed on till after 7.30am. We didn’t plan to drive too far today, just to the Southern beaches of Goa, so there was no rush. Stew had sussed how to get hot water from the small tank in the bathroom, but the mixer tap was hopeless, but we did both manage a shower, and then made some tea and coffee. Stew had samosas for brekkie, and I was happy to have yoghurt, chopped apples and oats (So nice). It didn’t take us too long with the packing, and before loading up the bike we put on the Enfield T-shirts and went down to the bike to take a few photos. Agatha (the owner was about), and happy to take the shots. I tried sending them off to Shalaka after, but the internet was so slow, and we had to get moving.

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Then when we were fully packed and ready for off, Agatha wanted a photo with us, so she could send it to her husband and son in Sydney too.

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So what an amazing couple of weeks, meeting so many wonderful people, and a rapidly growing biking community that was so vibrant, exciting and enthusiastic about all the potential pathways that opened up. We were befriended, hosted, and spoiled by so many people, and taking with us so many memories of some great times spent together. Our thanks and appreciation is really not enough – The instants that led to these connections are just incredible to think about; what put us in this place at this time?……It would not have happened in this way if we had not met the young Mike Muller on his 50cc Zundapp as he crossed the channel to the UK all those years ago, and all the beautiful butterfly ripples that followed. Never mind the WWW this is the WOL (Web Of Life) – imagination and dreams – and just WOW ( really, no acronym – just wow:)

So now we were moving on again, and really onto the final stage of our world travel. Our plans being to try ship Fritz home to Perth from Kochi. We were heading off for the last 1000 km on the coastal drive from Goa to Kerala. A momentous last stretch in all that would be required of us to accomplish our goal………

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