INDIA in July, 2019 (4)

INDIA in July, 2019 (4)

2019-07-12T08:52:09+00:00July 12th, 2019|Lee & Paul Update|

We are in Shimla in the foothills of the Himalayas (Indians pronounce it him-arl-lee-is) acclimatising at 2200m for two nights.

Hillside dwellings through the smog in Shimla
Monkey’s are a real problem in Shimla as they attack or spit on female persons

An afternoon walk up to the Shimla “mall” is busy and intriguing. It’s Sunday and everyone is out wandering and making the most of the shopping. Paul and I venture into the local bazaar and are the only white people in the narrow, bustling precinct.

Lower Bazaar, Shimla

We come across a local biker group so stop to say hello and shake hands. They have flown up from Mumbai and hired Royal Enfield Himalayan bikes with a mechanic and a support vehicle. Their high-vis vests have their bike group name on the back and their armour is worn on the outside – like a badge. They are heading up on a similar route to us so we wonder if we’ll see them on the road.

Neat the way Indian bikers wear their leg armour on the outside – not effective but looks cool!

The Royal Enfield is a classic Indian motorcycle and ours are about 2004 vintage. They are single cylinder, with first gear up and three gears down and two neutrals. The brake pedal is on the left and the gear change on the right so we have a bit to get used to! Essentially they are clunky and quite cumbersome compared to what we’re all used to but everyone is in the same boat. There is definitely a security in numbers and it’s quite fun riding as a big group for us.

Toilet stop – anywhere you like!

We head out of town through busy morning traffic and eventually the road starts to become less busy and there’s more forest but the smog is still present, in amongst the low cloud. I start the day being able to get into second gear but still can’t manage the kick-start. My bike has more compression than some of the others but I will make it work! 

Friendly bikers at a chai stop!
Fairy floss anyone?

In the caste system in India, our guide Kamal is the highest you can go. This is most apparent in his looks so when he gets out of a vehicle to find out what the hold-up is, we are immediately let through – like royalty! When he speaks, everyone listens. He comes from the small village of Narkanda and tells us that everyday is a “fight” in India for the basics: electricity and water.

Kamal, our guide, is from the highest caste

We stop for lunch in Kamal’s home village – right opposite his house in fact! He seems to know everyone and has explained before how when Indian people move overseas they feel very isolated and lonely as everyone talks to everyone here. There’s always someone to talk to.

Narkanda village and Kamal’s house above the green bus

We eventually reach a valley floor with a swift-flowing khaki-coloured river – this is still at 900m – and we follow this for quite a time through small villages. The road starts to deteriorate and then we start to climb and it just seems to go on and on. We finally reach the village of Sarahan at 2100m where our accommodation is in the local temple. It’s pretty basic but perfectly adequate. Time for a walk round town.

We slept right in the Kali Temple guesthouse
Our trusty steeds waiting for their next adventure
Fiona misbehaving in Sarahan village

The Kiwis on our tour are a great lot, all very adventurous and up for anything. They’re also quite funny – Fiona wanted to know if I wanted a walk up the street to “find a dairy” (milk bar)/convenience store)! Then she says “I wonder if it’ll be run by Indians” (as they all are in NZ)!

The roads are becoming precipitous in the Satluj Valley

Day two of serious riding and the riding gets very serious! We ride back down the “hill” from Sarahan and follow the river through the valley, past massive hydro schemes with water the colour of milky coffee. The pattern is a mid-morning stop for hot chai, then lunch.

Sheltering from the rain
Chai stop in the Satluj Valley
The scenery is changing and becoming more mountainous
Indian car wash
Mobile phones are affordable for everyone

A lot of people in India have a mobile phone as GIO offers all of India 2GB per day for 250 rupees per month!

Porters never cease to amaze us all

The road seems to deteriorate even more with lots of roadworks. As the rain increases, the roads become muddier, the potholes fill with muddy water and things became more challenging.

Less and less asphalt on the roads

To ride a motorcycle in India you need lots of guts, determination and basically the will to live! This is not a ride for novices. During the afternoon, the roads became more precipitous and crazy but we have no incidents. When Kamal tells us it’s 30km to go, that can mean two hours of quite hair-raising riding.

The roads are deteriorating and becoming narrower

We arrive at the isolated village of Sangla and our hotel is virtually brand new with a stunning view of the river and the mountains. We are now at 2700m for two more nights of acclimatising to altitude.

The view from the hotel window of Satluj Valley


  1. PvG July 25, 2019 at 4:24 am


    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:18 am

      Thanks my friend xxxx

  2. Mal July 23, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Roads look very average. Hope you are both going ok on the roads and the rain stays away from your location

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:19 am

      Thanks Mal, was very challenging riding for this girl!!

  3. Dave July 16, 2019 at 7:48 am

    Wow what an adventure very rugged should ask for dirt bike 👍 stay safe how’s the 🍻🍻?

    • Lee July 22, 2019 at 10:24 am

      It’s been very rugged Dave, beers a bit thin on the ground but the Kingfisher’s have gone down well xxxx

  4. Hilda July 15, 2019 at 6:05 am

    Looks very scary to me Lee!!! Please take care both of you. Loving the photos though Hilda xx

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:21 am

      Thanks Hil, was quite scary in quite a lot of places!! xxxx

  5. Jenni July 14, 2019 at 5:11 am

    This is amazing. Look forward to seeing the next installment.


    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:22 am

      Thanks Jenni, has been hard being remote with no wi-fi

  6. Annie Davis July 13, 2019 at 6:12 am

    Wow, great blog Lee!
    Love Kamal’s silver fern cap 🙂
    How the hell did they build that road cut out of the mountain?
    Looks very scary riding to me – take care you 2.
    Must be getting cold up there.
    Love Annie
    PS: 2nd round of Limoncello done (but it didn’t go cloudy *bummer*) Tastes great though.

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:23 am

      Ha, he mostly gets Kiwi clients – with the odd Aussie chucked in! Very cold at times, then drop some altitude and it’s back to hot again! xxxxx

  7. Janice Dunn July 13, 2019 at 2:40 am

    Hi Lee n Paul
    Good to see you there. And very interesting to follow your trip… my first question is why – do the monkeys only attack or spit on female persons???
    I’m pleased to see you travellying with a group too.
    Love Janice

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:25 am

      Don’t know the answer to that Janice, but it’s definitely only females they spit on!! It was great to be part of a group and have someone else do all the planning and worrying xxxx

  8. Sue Hird July 12, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    Oh wow Lee, what an adventure. But it must be quite easy for you and Paul after your world trip.
    The scenery is wonderful and the colours and culture on show fascinating. However the roads aren’t looking too flash!
    Enjoy your 2 days of waiting. XO

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:26 am

      The roads were a real challenge – but yes, we’d seen roads like it before…it’s just we’re a bit older! Fabulous scenery, talk soon xxxx

  9. Judy July 12, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    What a great way to see India and it’s people. It all looks amazing. Thanks for sharing Lee and Paul

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:27 am

      I’d have thought you’d have done India Jude! xxxx

  10. Beverley Tidwell July 12, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Very interesting. What’s the deal with those monkeys spitting at females?

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:27 am

      Several people confirmed it for us – weird huh?!

  11. Jen Green July 12, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    A very different India to what I saw. You have to love the tangled electricity wires! The bright colours of the Sari’s are just stunning and even though it is dusty, muddy or whatever, they always look clean. The scenery is just beautiful. I imagine those narrow muddy roads around the mountains must be nail biting at times. Love reading about your ventures. Stay safe .

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:28 am

      Thanks Jen, you gotta love India xxxx

  12. Anne July 12, 2019 at 10:09 am

    So well written Lee and love the photos. What an adventure! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:28 am

      Cheers Aunty, we love the remote stuff xxxx

  13. Ken July 12, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Good to follow your trip. Keep it up and don’t leave anything out otherwise I will need to go and fill in the gaps. Not on my agenda to do !!

    • Lee July 28, 2019 at 9:29 am

      No worries Ken, wi-fi pending

Comments are closed.