Disclaimer: Due to the number of comments that have been received it has been felt necessary to clarify that this trip is in no way based on "The Long Way Round" which the authors of the trip were not aware and nor was it first broadcast of at the time at which this trip was drunkenly conceived. The authors of this trip would like to distinguish their intended trip from the journey undertaken in "The Long Way Round" in that unlike Charlie Borman and Ewan McGregor they are not experienced riders (they have both only been riding motorbikes for just over one year), they are not receiving sponsorship and they will not have a support crew with them at any point on the journey. Just to avoid any further confusion it has been thought that it would be helpful to point out that Tom Horovitch and Peter Caley are both fictional characters and are not famous film stars.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Delhi, India - 13,188 miles from London

Our Indian mobile numbers: Peter: +91 99 15363918 ; Tom: +91 99 15363922

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A monk spins the prayer wheels in Mcloed Ganj, India, the home of the 14th Dali Lama and the Tibetan government in exile.

To see more pictures click here to go to our Flickr photo gallery

We crossed into India after spending a four days in Lahore, the city known as the cultural capital of Pakistan. As well as visiting the usual tourist sites and the India / Pakistan border closing ceremony we were privileged to go to a Sufi spiritual event where drummers played hypnotically until 2am, huge amounts of dope was smoked and Sufi dancers spun around to the tribal sounding beat. Even though we smoked no dope, the whole thing was pretty mesmerising and a facinating insight into the cultural side of this strain of the muslim religion.

Crossing into India we were blatantly aware that we were joining the tourist trail after many months off it. I personally welcomed this change finding it comforting to be around Westerners and English speaking Indians after so long in places where the language barrier had meant that we were often in a state of confusion about what was going on around us. Also, not only were we crossing over into the largest democracy in the world, we were entering the first democracy that we had been in since Russia (back in August). In the border town of Amritsar we joined hundreds of tourists and thousands of Sikhs who were walking around the Golden Temple. Entrance to the temple and the museum is totally free and, if you are hungry, we discovered that you can eat there for free too! After a day in Amristar we made our way up to Mcloed Ganj in the foothills of the Himalayas. The town proved to be quite a cool tourist hang out with lots of vegetarian cafes, places offering yoga and Tibetan cookery courses and a handful of Dennis Hopper hippy types wondering around in bare feet. It is of course the home of the Dali Lama who we saw very briefly when he passed us in a car.


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A Sikh man bathing in the pool which surrounds The Goldern Temple in Amritsar, India

We were joined in Mcloed Ganj by two bikers, Laurent from Switzerland and Anders from Denmark. We had first met them in Almaty, Kazakhstan and then again at the camp site in Islamabad where Anders had kindly helped to fix my brakes and side boxes after the accident I had on the Karakorum Highway. We decided to ride together for a while, and this was to be the first time on the trip where we had traveled with anyone else. We set off from Mcloed Ganj and headed for Kalka where we planned to get the narrow gauge train up the steep climb to Shimla, a hill station originally established by the British. We estimated the ride to Kalka would only take a day, but as a result of slow road which twisted through the hillsides we had to break the journey halfway and continue the next day.

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Robin, a round the world cyclist, getting ready to clear customs at the Pakistan / India border.

We arrived in Kalka on the afternoon on the second day and spent much of that afternoon buying tickets for the train, an unbelievably arduous process. We bordered the train at 5.30 am the following morning and made the 5 hour 90 km ascent. It was raining in Shimla and due to the altitude we found ourselves wandering around the main shopping street looking at the British architecture in the clouds. If the clouds had been sea mist it would have been just like a wet weekend in Scarborough up there, made even more surreal by the presence of monkeys and large numbers of Indians. After a very expensive gin and tonic (incidentally we hadn't had a drink for quite a few weeks due to the ban on alcohol in Pakistan) at a very impressive hotel, we boarded the train for the 5 hour decent. Yesterday morning we left Kalka and made the surprisingly easy ride to Delhi where we pitched up at a very cheap guest house (about two pounds a night) with prison cell like rooms, but a nice atmosphere and cricket constantly showing on the television. My first impressions of Delhi are that it much less polluted than I had expected and much more developed and ordered with an impressive metro system which is in the process of being extending to the suburbs. I think I was expecting Delhi to be more like Lahore, but these are boom times in India and things seem to be very different here compared to Pakistan.

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A stripped down truck at a truck painting yard in Rawaipindi (the city adjoining Islamabad), Pakistan. Trucks (usually old Bedford trucks) in Pakistan are very elaborately decorated inside and out with such things as brightly painted murals, coloured lights, clinking chains and spinning flowers. The cab doors are even replaced with hand crafted wooden doors.

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Chinese rally drivers taking pictures of the bike with over-sized cameras outside Indian customs on the Pakistan / India border. We had seen the same rally drivers in Kashgar, China.

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Stirring up the crowds at the India / Pakistan border closing ceremony.

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The entrance to Lahore Fort, from inside the complex.

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A "river" in Lahore, Pakistan, a very dirty and polluted city.


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Laurent (left) and Anders (right) at the campsite in Islamabad. Anders's bike, which he was repairing at the time, is pictured.

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A polite notice outside KFC in Lahore, where incidentally all the staff are deaf and you have to order using a "point it" menu.


Written by Tom

1 Comments:

At Fri Nov 24, 06:23:00 am GMT, Blogger Shara said...

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Good luck, Tom

 

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