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Adventures in Curry

a travel blog by Greg

May 9th is the big day, headed for London first, I will spend 5 days there before arriving in Delhi on May 15th. May is the hottest month of the year in Delhi, and I will be there in the thick of it. As I look outside at the snow on the ground I wonder if I can handle it! Jared should show up around the 20th. July 9th I will leave Delhi for Jakarta where I will spend another two months touring around Indonesia. My plane ticket says that I will end up back in Calgary on Sept 7th, but I have a feeling these dates will change drastically.
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learning to ride

Manali, India

Manali is a very cool place that attracts lots of foreign tourists with its endless outdoor activities. Everything from 10 day rafting trips to 15 day treks to heli skiing can all be aranged here no problem. This was our jumping point to go to Leh, over the 2nd highest road in the world
We met up with a cool aussie guy yesterday on our bus ride to Manali, we ended up sharing a room with him that night. The next day the 3 of us started thinking of anyway possible to not take another bus up to Leh. The best idea was to rent motorbikes and head up that way. The only problem is that neither I or Will know how to ride. Minor details. The 3 of us spent a full day trying to figure out how to get these bikes to go. It was a chore just to get them started. Even Jared was having problems because the gear box and rear brake are switched. But we managed to learn quickly and we felt confident that we could make it to Leh. So we leave the next morning, bright and early.

permalink written by  Greg on July 6, 2007 from Manali, India
from the travel blog: Adventures in Curry
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Bike trip

Leh, India

We Split the ride up into 3 days. The first day was a 6 hour ride up to Keylong, over some of the worst excuses for roads I have ever seen. We went over a pass that was covered in snow where people from all around go to try skiing or sledding or whatever. It makes for a great backdrop with the bikes infront.
Day 2 was a slower more technical day. Its only 105km, but it took us over 6 hours. There were numerous river crossings, some over 1 foot deep! The switchbacks up the side of 60 degree slopes were amazing. You could actually feel the power in the bikes disappear as you increased in elevation. Not that they had much to begin with, they are single cylinder engines with a carb. They were originally used by the british military in the 40s. So its cutting edge technology by Indias standards. We spent that night in a temporary town called Sarchu at 4253 meters, it is there only for the summers when the road is open. We rented a tent for 150 rupees that night and I had one of the worst sleeps Ive ever had.
We were up at the break of dawn to get an early start for the day. It would be a 12 hour ride into Leh, over the Tanglang pass at 5360m. The landscape changed several times on us, starting at baren mountains in every direction. It looked similar to the rockies above the tree line, then the rock turned purple and then it turned to desert. It was incredible to see desert sands with snow capped peaks in the background. And then we were there, we had made it to Leh in one piece. Our bikes had dropped a few parts along the way but they had served us well.

permalink written by  Greg on July 6, 2007 from Leh, India
from the travel blog: Adventures in Curry
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When in Rome...

Leh, India

We spent our first day getting acquainted with the city of Leh and figuring out a plan for the next few days. My bike needed a good half day of work done to it before it was roadworthy again and their was a number of things I had to see before I left this place. Problem is that I only have a few days before I leave for Kuala Lumpur, and Im a hell of a long ways away. But if things go sorta smooth I should have 3 days in Leh before I have to race back to Manali to catch a bus back to Delhi to catch my plane.
That night I was sitting around drinking with the guys feeling a little smug, thinking to myself "how do you top learning to ride a motorbike on the 2nd highest road in the world?" Well I guess the obvious answer is to ride the highest road in the world. So the next morning I left fully geared in the rain for the highest pass in the world, I wasnt able to convince the guys to come with me so it will be a solo journey. From Leh the road rises quickly and doesnt stop, the rain was getting cooler on my face and then at some point turned to snow. I was soaked through to the bone and frozen, but I couldnt turn back now. And then finally there it was, covered in thick fog and still snowing I was at the top of the world. I got a few glasses of chai in me and snapped a few pictured and then headed back into the snow.
The next morning I headed back to Manali on my own, Jared and Will had a few more weeks left to explore the Himalayas. The three days it took us to get from Manali I shortened to 26 hours straight through the night! Minus 3-4 hrs repair time on my bike and a 3hr power nap somewhere. It got me into Manali around 10:30am, just intime to catch a 14 hour bus to New Delhi. Its was a long few days but it all worked out in the end.

permalink written by  Greg on July 13, 2007 from Leh, India
from the travel blog: Adventures in Curry
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Makasar, Indonesia

After India I spent a couple days in Kuala Lumpur. Its a very clean city where most people speak english and drive nice cars. I did a fair bit of shopping and touristy kind of stuff, nothing too exciting.
Then it was off to Jakarta, the big durian. Jakarta is crowded, polluted and very few people know english. Not as bad as Delhi, but close. I met up with a couple guys from europe and spent a late night or two in the clubs with them.
Then it was off to Makasar, on the island of Sulawesi. The island is over 1000km long and has everything from mountain treks to white sand beachs. And it will be my playground for the next couple months. Step 1. buy a new motorcycle. Step 2. visit every nook and cranny of the island. Seems simple enough, until you see the way people drive here...they're nuts!

permalink written by  Greg on July 25, 2007 from Makasar, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Adventures in Curry
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Pantei Bira

Bira, Indonesia

So from Makasar I made my way down to Bira on the southern tip of Sulawesi. They have deserted white sand beachs and warm water. It was a great place to spend a couple days, I met so many great people there. I even met one person that spoke a little english!
Its early on in the trip but I seem to gravitate towards the pool halls, the Indonesians seem to have a lot of time to play pool and they take it seriously.

permalink written by  Greg on August 21, 2007 from Bira, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Adventures in Curry
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Tana Toraja

Rantepao, Indonesia

Tana Toraja is the main attraction for Sulawesi tourism. It is a valley in central Sulawesi with some strange traditions and unique houses. I was keen to see what all the fuss was about.
The road to Tana Toraja is a narrow winding road that snakes its way through palm trees, rice fields and evergreens. It was the most exhilarating ride Ive had so far. I was told it was a 7 hour journey, I made it in 5. I was never passed. In fact I can count on one hand the number of times Ive been passed in Indonesia. I spent 4 days in total in Tana Toraja, the highlight of the trip was the "ceremony". Its an elaborate funeral that lasts for several days, depending on the social status of that person. The one I was at was moderately large, 30 Buffalo and 80 pigs were slaughtered over 4 days! The more death and carnage the happier the guy will be in his afterlife. It was an interesting slant on the Catholic religion.
After that I headed up the next valley over, the Mamasa Valley. Similar to Tana Toraja in geography, it was a great place to do some treking and see the local villages. I was the only foreign tourist to visit for several months in some of the towns. But I had to shorten my stay there because my Indonesian visa expired in a few days so I have to leave the country for a bit, maybe Singapore.

permalink written by  Greg on August 22, 2007 from Rantepao, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Adventures in Curry
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