10.000+ km in South India with an Enfield Bullet diesel trip 3
I made already 5800km and I thought to finish this trip with a total of about 10000km.
Day 22: Puttaparthi to Piduguralla near Guntur (Andhra Pradesh)
I plan to do about 350km today and to visit Srisailam, North East of Kurnool, but as many times before I go the wrong direction and miss the left turn in Rollapenta…
I feel very well, the bike was serviced before departure and I decide to drive longer and finally I almost reach Guntur by night, that’s about 450km! My bum does not hurt yet, but I guess I will have to pay for it later…
I was thinking to reach Malkangiri in Orissa in 3 days, but there are only 430km more to do and I already imagine that it could be possible in only 1 day more. I loved the region of Malkangiri in Orissa so much on my second trip that I decided to go there again… There are going to be so many surprises… good and bad! I feel also to go to Shirdi not too far from Mumbai and to Bekal Fort in North Kerala. Let’s see!!!
Day 23: from Piduguralla to Malkangiri (Orissa)
I start at 6:30am and after maybe one hour I reach the Krishna River. There is no bridge so I have to wait for the little ferry to reach my side and then the other side.
I drive as fast I can with the hope to reach Malkangiri before night. By late afternoon I cross the Saberi River on a small boat. The boat is full of tribal ladies and I learn a word I will hear a lot the following days, “double”.
My energy level on those first two days is incredible, I feel as if I am in complete love and that I will see my beloved one at Malkangiri.
I have my dinner in Malkangiri; a group of men invite me to their table. They ask me the usual questions, are you alone? Why are you not married? and I give them my usual answer; I will marry next year and they always laugh. I ask them about tribal villages on the way to Jeypore and one man who is a teacher tells me about his friend, teaching in a school in a remote region of the Malkangiri District. He describes me the way how to find his friend and some Bonda villages. Great, that is just what I was hoping to see…
It all feels very auspicious, but he warns me not to be surprised if I hear the word “double” or money, Bonda people ask for money if you take pictures of them… 10, 20, 100, 200 rupees for one picture only!
By nature Bondas are short temper and they get angry at the simplest thing and forget the relationship and commit murder. Murder is a simple thing for Bondas, because of this a lot of person has been life imprissoned at the Koraput Jail due to this Bonda population has been reduced a lot during the last decade. From Wikipedia.
Day 24: from Malkangiri towards North, then somewhere towards the hills and into the forest.
I leave Malkangiri very early, drive few hours on the main road towards Jeypore then I leave the asphalted road and drive up in the hills up to about 1000m altitude, as described last night by the school teacher. I fund the small village and the school but the teacher is not here.
There, one local man tells me about few Bonda villages and also some non-developed (no electricity and no school) Bonda villages dipper in the jungle. I go for the path into the jungle.
I guess I am a bit crazy, but I feel that it is okay. Bonda people are known for their aggression, their drinking habit and especially in March for their killings (animals or humans, I am not too sure actually?!) and we are in March!
Deeper in the forest I see a group of about 70 Bonda people, mainly woman working on widening the path to allow vehicles to access their village. I am still quite far from them and I stop my motorbike. I walk slowly towards them. The women are doing all the hard work and the men tell them what to do! My camera is in my bag and I wait a bit to feel how the temperature is.
Women do as if I don’t exist and then one man (probably a leader) comes towards me and (I guess) he asks me what I am doing here. With signs I try to explain that I tour India on a motorbike, and then I show him my camera and few pictures I made the previous days.
I ask if I can take some pictures, but he stops me and says in Hindi, “10 rupees”. I give him 13 rupees which I just had in my pocket and he seemed very happy with that. I could take all the pictures I wanted and after the widening work seemed finished, he told me to drive the path up with the bike. I tried but it was too steep, so I had to push the bike on the first gear. I reached an easier part of the path, and then the man sat on the back of the bike and tells me to continue driving into the forest. After about 3km we reach their village. Wow!!!
I am still alive but I was warned by the teacher in Malkangiri to leave before sunset, because of their aggressive and dangerous behavior.
I know it is all completely crazy but I always follow my inner guidance and it tells me that I will stay here tonight. With some signs I ask if I can sleep here!
The village has maybe 50 houses and I guess maybe 100 to 200 peoples. There is no electricity and no school, but 3 kids go to school down in the valley and one girl speaks a little English. She is 17, married since one year with a boy (he looks 14 or 15), but she has no idea of his age!
Incredible, she organizes a place to stay for the night and also a place to put the bike so the men will not do anything to it when they are drunk.
She tells me, that no foreigner has ever come here, not even lower in this valley. She cooks some rice and dhal, I spend some time with kids around a fire then I go to sleep in a hut with a group of about 10 young boys. One kid had a Sathya Sai Baba pendant on his neck but he had no idea who it was.
I can’t sleep because the noise in the village is so intense; from 8:00pm many men are drunk and I can hear them chanting and acting very aggressively.
Around 9:30 I have one of the most intense experience of my life! An elderly woman, not sure if she is drunk too, starts chanting and sobbing very intensely close to my hut. I am like frozen on the ground listening to her chanted pain. I thought someone died but I did not dare going out as the men were also chanting at the same time a bit further. It lasted maybe 20 minutes but felt like an hour.
Later a man knocked on the door but the kids told him off as he was completely drunk!
Day 25: from the forest to Jeypore (Orissa) via Lamptaput and Onukudelli.
At 5:00am next day, someone knocked on the door and all the kids leave the hut!
Later I asked the English speaking girl if someone died but she said no.
I left the village at around 9:00am after the men had showd me their bows and arrows. I must admit that I have not always taken pictures as I felt it a bit too risky sometime! Some men were already drinking in the morning! All the kids of the village were here when I left… cute!
I reach the main road and drive about 100km to Lamptaput and Onukudelli, who are known towns for tourist tours, to take pictures of tribal people during market days. There are not many tribals here as it is not market day, but I also sense that I should leave and spend the night in Jeypore.
A local guide stops me and offers me to visit a tribal village (no Bonda village as it is too dangerous, especially in March, he says). He wants 500 rupees for the afternoon and I will have to pay 20 rupees for every picture taken. I tell him thank you and I leave for Jeypore.
I have a puncher (#4) just before Jeypore. I drive an other 4-5 km until I see a puncher repair service.
Day 26: from Jeypore to Rayagada (Orissa)
My birthday! Today I realize that I have lost my mobile phone during the previous few days. As I usually never use the phone or the internet when I travel, I don’t know where it was lost (or stolen?)
Day 27: from Rayagada to Anupada (Orissa)
The roads are so bad… my hands and bum hurt a lot!
I see few tribal people (very shy) along the road as they transport wood on their heads to bigger towns. I am told that they live in the hills but there are no roads to access their villages.
Day 28: from Anupada to Rajnandgaon (Chattisgarh)
I drive to the dam near Anupada then I drive through the forest (fantastic) for about 50km and reach Chattisgarh and later Raipur.
The bike is in a catastrophic condition; the very bad roads in South Orissa have almost killed it.
I want to reach Nagpur by night, but maybe 70 km after Raipur, the electric stops working on the bike and the bike feels like it will fall apart in just a moment. I ask for a mechanic and I am sent few kilometers further to Rajnandgaon in Chattisgarh. This diesel bike does not need electrics to work, but I don't feel very safe without horn and lights.
Miracle! This mechanic is specialized in Enfield Diesel and known in all India for tuning diesel bike to go up to 120km mileage per liter! As he is very busy but wants to help me, he offers me to fix my bike in 3 days with increased speed and mileage! As I know the bike wouldn’t do much longer, I accept as I have no time limit!
Day 29: in Rajnandgaon.
They are 4 brothers working in this garage. Usually 3 days means one week in India, but somehow all was done in one day. Every mechanic was doing something different on the bike. The tuning of the engine was done like a doctor; he was listening to the engine and decided what to do…
The bill was 4500 rupees with a new battery, new chain, lots of new parts and all the work.
The result is incredible; from previously 75km/h top speed to 85km/h and up to 100km/h downhill. A mileage of 50km/l at constant full speed and about 80-100km/l at around 45-55km/h, and a very safe and stable feeling.
Day 30: from Rajnandgaon to Amvarati (Maharashtra).
I must have seen about 20 to 25 fresh accidents only today! I drive fast and have almost not taken any pictures since few days. The sky is white and everything looks sad and dry.
Day 31: from Amvarati to Shirdi (Maharashtra).
About 520km in a single day, the bike goes so well and there are no vibrations anymore.
My last visit in Shirdi was 6-7 years back and the changes are enormous… hotels, hotels and more hotels and many people!
Day 32: from Shirdi to Chiplun (Maharashtra) via Pune and the German Bakery.
I take the darshan of Shirdi Sai Baba early this morning and leave just after for Pune.
I used to have my breakfast at the German Bakery while staying at the Osho Ashram in 2000. The Bakery is still closed after last month terrorist attack, and I will not have any croissant here today.
The hills around Panchgani are very beautiful! I eat lots of strawberries and custard apples... delicious!
Day 33: from Chiplun to Goa.
Nice landscape and nice road; only one problem, the constant smell of dead fish and I have no idea where it comes from; I even look in my bags but find nothing!
I pass by Palolem and Agonda; those idyllic untouched places have changed into lots of shops, alcohol and party people. No place for “Mister likes it quiet” and I drive further South and find a little spot at the beach with just few huts and a little restaurant. After 5 minutes there, I jump in the sea and spend probably an hour letting myself been purified from this long and not too attractive journey of crossing India from Raipur to Shirdi.
Nice veg dinner, nice bed and surprise, no mosquitoes!
Day 34: from Goa to Bekal Fort (Kerala).
There are few tribal villages near the road and they will probably not last very long!
The fish smell is more and more intense and during the morning I got it. I see few very fast trucks fully loaded with fresh fish and ice, passing me at full speed. They leave behind them a stream of melted ice mixed with fish smell and that changes later into that intense odor.
This morning I saw red during my meditation and it is always a warning for me for danger, accident or conflict. In the afternoon, one police vehicle followed by an official car pass me with lots of horn blowing. At the same time, a bus stops just in front of them. The vehicle behind the bus has no problem stopping but the following police and official vehicles crash with big speed into the little car behind the bus and the whole three cars crash into the bus. The bus was red, the following car was red, the police jeep grey-blue and the official car was red too and I was just behind them just far enough to avoid the group by the left side. No one dead, but all the 3 cars where. Thank you Bhagawan!
I spend the night in Kappil Beach the town next to Bekal Fort; the lodge where I stayed 10 years ago in Bekal Fort does not exist anymore. It is the biggest day of the year for Kappil Beach with a huge Hindu festival and 6 fireworks during the night. I did not sleep much!
Day 35: from Bekal Fort to Bangalore-Whitefield (Karnataka) via Kannur and forest area.
Great landscape, but not many photos as I forgot my battery charger with most batteries at the hotel in Kappil! On this trip, I forgot my towel, my mosquito exterminator, my tooth brush, more and yes my mobile phone too. Funny, because I actually had a dream few weeks ago that I will lose my mobile on a bike trip!
5 kilometers before Bangalore, some screws from the back mudguard get loose and the mudguard completely blocks the back wheel while driving at around 60km/h. Luckily, I was not in the process of passing some vehicle and the vehicle behind me realized early enough that I was stopped in the middle of the road. I had to push the bike with blocked back wheel of the road and after some little repairs I could reach Whitefield at night.
Day 36: from Bangalore-Whitefield to Puttaparthi (Andhra Pradesh).
An easy and relaxed drive. I leave the bike at the mechanic in Gorantla for service and take the bus home.
Orissa was magical but India is changing very fast and I wouldn’t be surprised if most tribal people had lost their cloths and most rituals in the coming century. I hardly made any pictures after my experiences in the Tribal region; the air was very dusty and the sky was almost always white and I enjoyed going fast!
10500km in 36 days including few days rest.
I love India!