Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on September 21, 2011
Andrea, whom we met whilst aboard the Grande Francia continues his journey around the World (do look for two intrepid travellers in the video…)
It seems like a long time since we were aboard the ship, though we’re still talking about it – people we meet are always amazed when they hear about our leaving London aboard a cargo ship and our voyage to South America, following the coasts of France, Spain, Africa and Brazil – an awesome experience that still lives long in our memories. But alas, all good things come to an end and we’ve had a truly awesome time, met some wonderful people and experienced many highs and great times.
The whole adventure had been really special and we both feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to see the World – pretty much on our own terms, having no plan whatsoever, only to arrive in Buenos Aires and go with the flow. Argentina was superb, we wish we’d met our tango instructor sooner though know we’ll take it up when we eventually settle back in the UK. The friends we met whilst learning Spanish will remain good friends – some of whom are already planning to visit London later this year.
Machu Picchu was everything and more than we expected – at one stage we had no plans to see it, so very glad we decided to get to Lima and onto Cuzco – it was mind-blowing. Having no plan saw us leave South America to meet up with friends in SE Asia, Jamie and Lisa in Vietnam, our little holiday within our trip – Vietnam was such a beautiful country and travelling by train, north to south we pretty much saw all of it and so want to go back.
Whilst Phnom Phen wasn’t for us, the rest of Cambodia was – seeing the small river town of Kampot was a highlight with many drunken nights spent in the Rusty Keyhole, drinking cold beers and enjoying great food to meeting up with our friends Dave and Katie, en route to London having been to a wedding in Australia. Seeing Angkor Wat with them both – we couldn’t have hoped for two better intrepid explorers!
Thailand was everything we though it wasn’t – we were both expecting Bangkok to be a little bit like Old Delhi, ramshackle and broken, dirty and not really for us so imagine our surprise to see multiple high-rise office blocks on a par with New York – an incredible metropolis though it the places outside of Bangkok we truly enjoyed – visiting the Islands and being able to climb in Krabi, a longish term ambition of mine. To visiting the north, making friends in Chiang Mai and our nights inside Pinkys – a fine watering hole with some great characters though none more than Fon and Graeme – unfortunately the photo I have of Graeme is long deleted though the image has been burned into my memory!
Then there was India and our being spoilt rotten by Ram Mama and Madhu Mami, both of whom gave up their bed and fed us plenty of home cooked food, which after being on the road for so long was very welcome. Rather than visit the same places we opted to see more of the north and the foothills of the Himalayas. Having now been to Leh I can categorically say that this is my favourite place in India – riding our Enfield in the mountains, riding over the first and third highest motorable passes was a real highlight. Seeing Goa in a monsoon (and meeting our friend Tony from Chiang Mai, randomly paying for something in a supermarket) and for me bathing in Ganga Mata in Varanasi, for no other reason than, why not!
We’re now in Greece, have been for about two or so weeks – relaxing before we head back to London and finding somewhere to live, rebuilding our careers and planning the next stage of our lives with memories of this year shaping our future. It’s been a wonderful adventure and I couldn’t have had a better person to travel with, be with and to share all these wonderful times with than my wife and co-pilot Shelley, none of this would have been possible nor as much fun with out her – it’s been a blast babes x
Posted in Brazil, Buenos Aires, Cambodia, Delhi, Greece, India, London, Peru, South East Asia, Tango, Thailand, Vietnam | Tagged: angkor wat, Argentina, cambodia, Cargo Ship, chaing mai, goa, Grande Francia, greece, india, kampot, ladakh, leh, machu picchu, moto guzzi, peru, pinkys, rusty keyhole, shelleytravel, stelvio2stelvio, thailand, vietnam | 16 Comments »
Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on September 7, 2011
It was time to leave India, not only was there a terrorist attack earlier today, it also just being reported on CNN that there’s been 4.2 magnitude earth tremor in New Delhi! As for us moving on, I’m not sure whether the epic train journey from Varanasi back to Delhi played its part, but I was ready – for the first time ever, Delhi was starting to overwhelm me; too much noise, the constant beeping of horns, people barging past or pushing in front of you and general grime synonymous of India – it was beginning to wear me down.
Don’t get me wrong, this time around was probably my most favourite time in India – we certainly got to see a few more different places with Ladakh and Kashmir being truly memorable and riding the 1st and 3rd highest motorable roads in the World will live long in the memory. Seeing Amritsar and visiting the Golden Temple, to witnessing the Border Crossing at Wagah – a couple of days following both Pakistan and India’s independence. Varanasi was amazing – having heard so much about the place I really was expecting to be whisked back to the 15th century, true, the place was absolutely filthy (but so is every other old part of any Indian city) but the spiritual side was amazing and getting to swim in the Ganges was a great experience.
But there comes a time when you actually stop seeing what’s around you, losing the motivation to drag yourself out to experience something new – after ten months on the road there’s always an excuse to pass something by and over the last few weeks our thoughts are starting to return to friends we’re missing (and a particular cat,) food we wish to cook and eat plus getting back to the ‘real-world’ and the rat race!
Having no plans since being away, we made the decision to fly to Europe; choosing Greece as our stepping stone back to London, flying from Delhi via Bahrain before arriving in Athens – the difference between India and Greece is marked, whereas India has growth of 7%, Greece is having a nightmare with huge austerity cuts, protests almost every day – there’s tough times ahead for everyone.
We’re here for a good few weeks (no doubt adding lots of euros to the economy through quaffing lots of great wine) and planning to visit several of the Cyclades Islands. Tomorrow we take a ferry from Piraeus to Sifnos, a tiny little island with just over 2000 inhabitants. The holiday season is pretty much over and we’re hoping for a relaxed couple of weeks and seeing one or two more places before returning to London…
Posted in Delhi, India | Tagged: amritsar, athens, bahrain, chang la, cnn, delhi, delhi earth tremor, europe, golden temple, greece, indis, kashmir, khardung la, ladakh, leh, noida, terrorist attack, varanasi, wagah border | 9 Comments »
Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on August 11, 2011
Arriving back quite late and feeling a little subdued, we quickly found a hotel and grabbed a much needed shower. We’d now been in Leh for a good week and had the feeling that whilst it’s a great place to be, we were ready to move on, so quickly set about making plans to move asap. We’d been told that it’s possible to fly – via Delhi or Jammu as theres no direct flight, take a local bus, share a taxi or hire our own jeep. We quickly dismissed both flying and taking the bus thinking a taxi would be the better option, at least doing it this way means we could stop off en-route should something appeal. The distance between Leh to Srinagar is only 432km, not really that far so I was very surprised when told that the journey would take two days, overnighting in a small town called Kargil along the way!
Taxi drivers were quoting us 10,000 rupees to undertake the journey – we’d have the whole car to ourselves and if we left at 7am they guaranteed we’d be in by 7pm, the same day. Feeling a tad despondent, we wandered back into Leh centre and noticed that one of the tour companies had a jeep leaving the next morning and to enquire within… It transpired that their vehicle was going to return empty and we were offered two seats for 1700 rupees each and overnight they would see if they could fill the jeep up.
We took the plunge and thankfully for us we had the whole jeep to ourselves though the journey was epic. In total we were travelling for 14 hours – the roads were a total nightmare and to top it all, on the final mountain a truck coming towards us had broken down on a single track causing at least 200 trucks and cars to be jammed behind him. We really did think that we’d be spending the night on the mountain, possibly the next day. Our driver though had the sense to back up as soon as he saw the situation and reversed back to an even smaller ‘road’ and try our luck there. The ‘road’ being the ‘old road’ our driver laughingly told us it was closed previously as it was ‘…too dangerous…’
I’ve friends who’ve ridden the Worlds most dangerous road in Bolivia and having come down this particular mountain I’d also like to nominate this ‘road’ – in places it was barely 8 feet wide, the road being either very loose sand or rock with large fallen boulders in your way – at one stage we had about 200 goats and two shepherds blocking our way. Eventually we found a way down, utilising a track used by the road maintenance guys which they use to ferry supplies and equipment to the top of the mountain. It was a great adventure though not one I’d like to repeat!
After fourteen hours we arrived into Srinagar, absolutely shattered and ready for bed.
Posted in India | Tagged: 4x4, bolivia, delhi, jammu, jeep, kargil, kashmir, ladakh, leh, srinagar, worlds dangerous road | Leave a Comment »