When we arrived at the Shanti Home Hotel at about 06:00 h we were both very tired and needed some rest. The online-check for the status of our motorbike showed that the bike will only arrive on the 17.08.. Therefore was no need for us to hurry for any custom formalities. After having dinner, we met the owner of the hotel, himself a biker, who told us, that he will support us with the customs clearance. He called a friend, owning a travel-agency, right away and made an appointment for the next morning. Well lets see what the indian bureaucracy will be like.
On the 17.08.2012 a driver of the hotel took us to the travel-agency where we had a warm welcome. We handed over our papers and were able to go back to our hotel to wait for a phone-call to know what will happen next. At 15:45 h I got a call, went to the travel-agency and then on to the Indian custom administration. As it was closing at 17:30 h, I did not see many chances to get the paper-work done by today. It was probably the skin-colour and the good worker of the travel-agency that made the people work that fast, that all formalities were cleared and that we will be able to take our bike out of custody by tomorrow. Otherwise we have to wait until Tuesday as Monday is the end of Ramadan.
Statue at the door of our Hotel Shanti Home
In the meantime it is the 21.08.2012 and the motorbike is still at the airport in Jeddah/Saudi Arabia... I hope that it will arrive here in Delhi on tomorrows flight. Other than that we are killing time in rainy Delhi.
So... meanwhile it is the 30.08.2012!
Of course, the bike did not arrive in Delhi on the 22.08 but on the 24.08.2012. Due to the incompetence of our cargo-agent which was really unsurpassable we only got the bike out of customs on the 24.08.2012.
With lots of helping hands from the hotel staff the bike was taken down from the lorry
As the bike has arrived, even the hotel celebrated with us
There we had the bike, however the papers were still missing. When I finally had the papers on the 27.08. in hand, I had to realize, that they had screwed up my Carnet de Passage. The custom-stamp was on the first page, but the second page was torn of. In a call to ADAC in Germany, I was told to cancel the first page with stamp and signature of the custom guys and redo the second page.
So that meant another meeting with the cargo-agent and the officers of the Indian Customs Office. At least the Carnet was redone within 2 minutes by the custom officer in-charge - most probably this resulted in a quite angry and obviously peeved German who was paying the officer a courtesy visit in his office ;-)
Here it is: the "holy cow" in the middle of the road
On the 30.08.2012 we finally went off - from Delhi to Chandirgah.
Shortly after leaving the hotel we had to stop at a traffic-light and were asked out of another car where we are from and where we arre heading to. We replied that we are from Germany and on the way to Chandirgah. He intoduced himself and the others as officers of the Delhi Police and told us, that they are also on the way to Chandirgah. I told him that I will follow them and made full use of the nice police guys ahead of me. The speedlimit on the highway for bikes (two-wheelers) is 50 km/h, however with the police ahead 90 km/h were no problem at all. Shortly befor reaching Chandirgah the car pulled over and the police said their goodbyes, but not without giving his phone-number and extending the offer that we can call, whenever we have any problem. Shortly after that we reached our hotel and will settle for the night.
Today, on the 30.08.2012 our trip led from Chandirgah to Amritsar. It was very obvious how much the organized and tidy city of Chandirgah differs from Delhi and other cities.
The "escorted" ride from Delhi to Chandirgah was a good possibility of getting used to driving on the other side of the road again. Of course, this luxury was not available today and we had to find our bearings on our own. However we made it without problems.
The only unusual thing on the Indian roads seems to be my motorbike. In nearly every passing car people wave at us or take out their mobiles to take films and pictures as much as they can. Even on red traffic lights people get down from their cars and ask if they can take a picture. At the sporadical police check-points the police always waives us through with a friendly smile.
The first two days and 500 km in India were without problems - lets hope that it remains like that!
On the 01.09.2012 we spent the day visiting the Golden Temple the holiest sanctuary of the Sikhs.
As a Indian friend advised us to leave the bike at the hotel and visit the sights by local means of transport, we followed his advice and rented an auto-rickshaw to go to the Golden Temple.
Building surrounding the Golden Temple
After queuing up in approximately 40°C for 2 hours we have finally made it to the entrance of the temple. For information: Queuing up does not follow an organized line, it is standing in the middle of a sweating and pushing crowd.
Crowd still ahead of us after half of the waiting time
Footbridge leading to the Golden Temple
The view of the inside of the Golden Temple repaid for waiting.
Shortly before queuing up, we met Sheilas cousin sister from Malaysia who was by chance in Amritsar.
Late in the afternoon we drove 30 km from the hotel to the bordertown of Attari to see the daily Wagah-Attari Border Closing Ceremony.
Crowd on the Indian side waiting to be let in
View of the tribune on the Indian side
Border crossing and view of the Pakistan side
Lowering of the flags shortly before sunset
It was really very impressing to see what kind of ceremony is being held here every evening. on each side of the border are about 1000 people. Both crowds try vociferously outdo the other side shouting either "long live Hindustan" or "long live Pakistan". After the spectacle, lasting for about an hour, we went back to our hotel.
On the 02.09.2012 we went down south, from Amritsar to Bathinda. The road lead through beautiful landscapes characterized mainly by green rice-fields. At every stop (no matter if at a break, a red traffic ligth or a closed railway-crossing) the motorbike is admired by many people and all kinds of questions are being asked.
On the following day our way lead us from Bathinda to Bikaner - from the state of Punjab to into the state of Rajasthan. It was an interesting change from the luscious greens of Punjab to the sandy dunes of Rajasthan. It was kind of amazing that it had not rained for a long time and that it had to start when we were on our way there.
However, thanks to the many maharajahs and the large number of palaces build by them, it was easy to find a nice accomodation.
Front view of our hotel in Bikaner
After spending 2 days there we went on to Jaiselmer. The fare-well of the hotel was very impressive - all the staff of the hotel was around us and bid their fare-well to us and the bike. It seems that we had we have the monopoly on the rain. There is no day were we did not get to hear that there was no rain the last few weeks - only since we are here it has been raining. But it is better to have light rain and 27°C than 39°C and sunshine - it is mor comfortable to ride.
Shortly after the arrival in Jaiselmer I received a SMS from a motorbiker - whom I so far only knew through e-mail - telling that he wants to come to Jaiselmer the next day to meet up with us.
On the 06.092012 we met Chandra Prakash on the roof-terrace of our hotel and had some chit-chat. In the afternoon we went in a Jeep for a "Safari-Tour" into the desert.
On the way to the desert they showed us a monument of the royal family and an abandoned village.
Then it was camel-time. For about 45 min I sat on a camel riding to a place where we were supposed to see the sunset. However a thick layer of clouds crossed that plan.
The guide prepared dinner over a campfire and it was very tasty - even without sunset. The tour found an early end as it started to rain very heavy and we had to rush back.
On the 07.09.2012 we rode to Barmer, the hometown of Chandra. Along the way we visited his uncle who was very proud to show his horses to us. It is quite impressive to see how people in modern times live in the country side without running water and electricity.
Chandra on a horse instead of his bike.
When we arrived at Chandras house in Barmer we were welcomed with delicious food cooked by his mother.
On the 08.09.2012 we went on from Barmer to Jodhpur. There was a rain cloud along the way that seemd to be over our heads all day long. At least the rain was not so heavy that the roads became unpassable. As our motorbike-clothes were soaked we decided to wash them and to stay another day in Jodhpur.
On the 10.09.2012 our journey led us to Udaipur. The weather was ok, however shortly before reaching Udaipur it started to rain again. Hopefully the monsoon is over soon.
On the next morning we rode to Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat. Also on that day - how else could it be - we were accompanied by light rain. One advantage of the rain - the luscious green of the landscape was even stronger.
On the 13.09.2012 we stopped for a short while on an ATM of Deutsche Bank in Ahmadabad to get a bit of cash. While I was at the ATM for about 3 minutes Sheila waited at the bike. It did not even take one minute and the bike was surrounded by about 30 people. When I came back from the ATM I had to find my way through the crowd. In that short while more than 60 people had gathered to see the bike and to take photos with the camera of their mobiles. Even cars stopped in the middle of the road and the drivers got out to take pictures. Let's get out of here before the chaos gets worse....
Now it should go towards Mumbai/Thane. The navigation system brought us to the "express-highway" however at the toll plaza we learned that twowheelers are not allowed on the "express-highway". That meant we had to find our way around the forbidden highway - not an easy task, but we managed. After 2 hours we were able to access the "normal" highway to Mumbai.
On the 14.09.2012 I had an appointment in the workshop for the inspection of the bike. In the workshop I got to know that there are only 2 R1200GS Adventure in India. The inspection went on without any problems and the bike even got a wash. In the late afternoon we took a stroll around our hotel.
The following day was one of the lazy days. Sleep in, do a bit of reading, laze around and update the homepage.
On the 16.09.2012 we rode from Thane, which is located outside of Mumbai, a bit more towards the centre of Mumbai. There we spent 2 days and did a bit of sightseeing in Mumbai.
An interesting advertisment :-) The India Gate in Mumbai
A part of the train-station in Mumbai The famous Taj-Hotel in Mumbai
On the 18.09.2012 we left for Ratnagiri, located roughly half the way down to Goa. Riding on the monsoon-eroded streets was very tiring. However the beautiful green landscape made up for it.
On the 19.09.2012 we rode the last strech to Goa. There we spent three days. Because of the monsoon nothing much was happening in Goa. The internetconnection of the hotel was that bad, that I could not even log on to my homepage ;-(
On the 22.09.2012 we went from Goa to Hubli - away from the coast to the interior. In Hubli we just spent the night on the way to Hospet/Hampi which we reached on the 23.09.2012. Since a long time we had a well surfaced road and nice weather!
On the way we were stopped by two police looking at our bike with big eyes. They asked "What is that?" My answer "It's a BMW" did not give them any idea. Sheila's answer "It's a motorbike" swept away their confusion and we could go on.
Today, on the 24.09.2012 we hired a driver to take us to the historical site of Hampi by car. It was a very interesting day out with many sights in the UNESCO world heritage site of Hampi. Just a few pichtures:
On the 25.09.2012 we rode on to Bangalore. The streets were in a pretty bad condition and also the way of driving of other road users can be everything else than civilised. It gets scary when trucks are overtaking. They take the right of the jungle for themselves and force everybody else of the road. Lesson learned: Drive faster than the trucks, do not get overtaken and hope that no oncoming truck overtakes.
Here in Bangalore we are waiting now since 5 days for a new rear tyre for the bike, as the old one is done after nearly 13.000 km, has a nail stucked inside and has two long cracks. In India everything goes its own pace, nothing runs as smooth as at home ;-) With a bit of luck we might have our tyre mounted tomorrow and we can go on.
I could have not guessed any better, the tyre was not here on Monday. According to the mechanic the tyre will arrive most probably on Thursday. In the meantime we are relaxing in our hotel and are practicing the art of waiting...
On the 04.10.2012 the long awaited call from BMW Bangalor finally came. Our tyre has arrived. Without losing time I went to the workshop to change the tire. Shortly after entering the show-room the mechanic and I went to a store-room to unpack the tyre. I think I would not be in India, if it had been the right tyre for my bike. It was a ZR-high-speed tire which was too small for my bike. According to my inquiry at BMW Mumbai, I got to know that the requested tyre size is not available in India, and that it is furthermore not the responsibility of BMW to obtain tyres for their customers.
There I just wonder, why there is a store-room at BMW that is stacked up to the ceiling with big-size car-tyres which are not available in India....
In the course of the afternoon the mechanic and another customer (with a 1150GS) tried really hard to get a suitable tyre for my bike. Anyway, it came to nothing.
On the way to town a reporter of a local newspaper got hold of me...
Therefore we decided to end our roundtrip of India in Bangalore and try to make it back to Delhi with the remaining profile of the tire. It must just last for 2000 km more; the nail was not a problem as it was only stucked in the knob of the profile and not inside the tyre.
To make matters worse there was a strike (bandh) in the state of Karnataka and the hotel staff strongly recommended us to stay inside of the hotel as many roads will be blocked by protesting people anyway. The strike might even be extended until Sunday.
So, after being stucked for 12 days, we planned to go from Bangalore to Hyderabad on Monday, 08.10.2012.
Early morning of 08.10.2012 we went from Bangalore to Hyderabad. There were 569 km to go, so far the most comfortable ones we have done in India. The road was as good as a German highway and in a very good condition. As good as the road was our hotel in Hyderabad. That good, that we decided to stay there another night.
Two days later we rode from Hyderabad to Nagpur, the largest town in central India. The road leading into Hyderabad was no way to compare with the one leading out to Nagpur. 400 km out of the 497 km were in a desolate condition and the remaining 97 km do not even deserve to be called road (National Highway).
However, the hotel in Nagpur compensated us for the bad roads....
A cappucino and cake is higly valued!
Here we also spent another night as I was in the urgent need of a new horn for my bike as the old one did not give a sound anymore. And, without a loud horn in India there is no place for a motorbike. Tomorrow we will horn our way to Sagar.
Another night turned out to be spent at this luxury hotel and on the last night we had a nice fare well from the staff of the restaurant. Even some liquid gold was especially organized for us and given to us when we were leaving the hotel. Thanks a lot to the people having done us that favour!!!
On the next morning we went on to Sagar. There we only spent one night before going on to Agra on the 14.10.2012. A few kilometres before Agra we were a bit in the hot seat, when an other motorist made an illegal u-turn on the National Highway and left hardly any space for us to go around him. However all the Indian gods were on our side and all went well.
The following morning we had to get up early to secure a good place in the queue of tourists coming to see the Taj Mahal at 06:00 h in the morning. After about 20 minutes the doors to the Taj Mahal were opened and the crowd was let in. After a tight security check we got our audio-guide and made our way to the parc of the Taj Mahal through an arch.
View of the Taj Mahal through the main arch View of the Tah Mahal from the parc
Reflection of the Taj One of the four towers in the sunrise
The Taj Mahal from the guest-house
It was very wonderful to see how the colour of the building changed with the sunrise. Overall it is a masterpiece of construction of the 17th century. All of it is about symmetry. Even the towers are build with a 6° inclination, that in the event of an earthquake the towers will not fall onto the Taj Mahal.
On the 16.02.2012 our way lead us from Agra to Delhi. The newly built 6-lane express highway was not yet in our navigation system, however we managed to find it anyway ;-)
The 3 lines of each direction were seperated by a planted median strip and barbed wire on top, yet there were motorists trying to squeeze their little motorbike through the barricade to the other side....
At 15:00 h we arrived at our Hotel Shanti Home in Delhi were we had a very warm welcome. We had survived India on the bike!
The following days we spent with looking for cheap offers for the air-transportation of the bike to Bangkok. Visiting the office of Thai Airways Cargo in Delhi got us the best offer of all. They even mediated us an agent, who let us pack the bike in his warehouse, helped us transporting the packed bike to the airport and also did the clearance at the Indian customs authorities. Overall we spent, inclusive our 2 flight tickets, around 1.100,00 € for the way to Bangkok. The agent even managed to get our bike on the same flight that we had booked.