A trip in the North of India august 2005.

In november 2003 whilst enjoying some beers we, members of the hombo mc club, discussed this years holidays and the thought came up to explore the roads of India from Delhi to Leh. Obviously riding the Khardung La pass would be included. It wasn't going to be an easy trip as we didn't want to make too many arrangements in advance. This meant that we had to find what we needed (hotels, campsites, food etc.) whilst in India. We arranged bike rentals and airline tickets (Aeroflot) from Holland however. 550 euro for a return ticket to Delhi didn't sound bad. So, on tuesday july 26 we headed to Schiphol to meet our friends. The trip to Delhi via Moscow was uneventful and rather boring, but we had some good laughs. Photo:H.Doyer
Us and the company we were in.
Front from left to right: Conny, Chombel (Dzjoembel) and Eugenie, rear from left to right: Geeske, Yvonne, Wim, Peter, Rob, Huyb and Ton.
Photo:H.Doyer
Yvonne looking for a cab.
When we left the airport at Delhi we were shocked by the heat and darkness (5 am) that hit us. Dozens of minibusses and their drivers 'welcomed' us offering to bring us to the city. It was hard keeping the group together and getting into two busses, but finally we set off to Connaught Place where supposedly lots of hotels were to be found. On our way there we saw many poor bastards sleeping on the pavement, dark alleys with tiny shops (still closed of course) having glorious names like 'Singh International Enterprises' and we could smell the odeurs of piss, shit and diesel fumes for the first time. Our taxi arrived at Connaught Place first and we got ourselves and the luggage out into 'fresh' air. Immediately dozens of men came from everywhere offering to help us find a hotel, carry our luggage, or just to stare at us. Not used to so much interest we kept a close eye on our luggage... The second taxi arrived and we set out to find a hotel. The Indian men followed us still offering their services. We entered the first reasonable hotel which unfortunately had no rooms available. It was however possible to have breakfast, so the kitchen staff was called for and we enjoyed scrambled eggs and toast as our first 'Indian' meal.

Two of our companions, Peter and Rob, set out to find a clean but affordable hotel. It took 1.5 hours for them to return, but they had good news and managed to get three rickshaws that would get us to the hotel. A wild ride through the awakening streets of Delhi followed. By 7.00 we dropped in our beds, more dead than alive. We were supposed to stay there all day, but at 9.30 we were rudely woken up by Peter who had 'changed the plans'. He had arranged two jeeps that were to bring us to Kalka. The taxis were a full euro cheaper per person than the train would have been (40 euro). To kill some time we went for a walk in the city. I was overwhelmed to say the least. The dirt, smell, crazy traffic, little shops, cows everywhere: too many impressions at once. One hour later than agreed the taxis arrived and we set off to leave Delhi. Leaving the slums and rubbish-heaps behind us was quite a relief; we certainly preferred the views on ricefields, monkeys and villages. In fact we saw so much that we forgot to pay attention to the traffic and our drivers, a good thing as traffic was hell in our western eyes. We stopped for tea and to swap places (not all seats were comportable (no typo, Indians seem to have a hard time pronouncing the 'f')) and were shocked each time when left the airco taxis. We had dinner along the way (11 euro for our 9 persons company) which was very tasty. By the time it was dark we stopped some kilometers before Kalka. A reasonable hotel with airco (as long as there was electricity) was to be our home for the night. We celebrated our safe arrival with yet another meal. Photo:H.Doyer
Eugenie in rickshaw Delhi.

Photo:H.Doyer
Don't wheelie!
Thursday. Up early for breakfast. There was some confusion on just how much toast you'd get when ordering toast and jam, so we ended up with a huge pile of them. Conny took the leftovers outside to feed to the stray dogs, but they couldn't be bothered. Three rickshaws came to the hotel and set off a bit overloaded to the station of Kalka. Our rickshaw went extremely fast and drove thru a large pothole in the road. It then performed a perfect wheelie, but unfortunately the landing wasn't quite as good. The front wheel was separated from the vehicle and the thing came to an abrupt halt. My ear and Eugenies knees were hurt a bit, but we quickly changed rickshaw and arrived just in time at the station... just in time to wait 3 hours. Some beggars came by, goats were walking around, life was going slow. When the time came we bought tickets (and an onboard lunch) for Shimla. We had chosen the touristic train, which left at 09.30. There wasn't much room in the train, even though we bought "upperclass" tickets, but the trip was enjoyable. The views on what we considered to be the jungle were nice, and when the rain stopped we had some good views on the villages and valleys along the way. By 5 pm we arrived at Shimla. Again dozens of taxi drivers offered their services to bring us to a 'nice hotel'. We selected one and were transported to a pair of elevators which took us near the highest part of the town. The last few hundred meters we had to walk though, quite a job given the pile of luggage. Rob had a chat with the hotel manager and agreed on a good room price. Hotel Doegar also supplied some beers... a good thing I knew that the monkeys outside my window were separated from our rooms by bars!

Friday. Woke up early after a good night's sleep. Eugenie and I descended into town where we found a nice market. We bought a bag (cleverly made of a newspaper) of apples and a pair of shoes for one of our daughters. We walked around for a while, amazed by the dense pedestrian traffic. Two guys were carrying an enormous package uphill, even the natives looked puzzled. Then we located an internet cafe where we informed those still at home of our situation. Around noon we returned to the hotel to carry our luggage outside. When packing the jeep we were treated to some native music which made work sooo much easier. A long and hot trip in the small taxi followed. The driver drove careful by Indian standards so we arrived in Kullu in good shape. A nice hotel was found quickly, in the evening it was decorated with hundreds of red light bulbs. Into town to find food. The restaurant didn't have a large supply of drinks, so every time we ordered something we saw one of the staff members hurrying into town to get us what we wanted. The springrolls were delicious, the beer was cold, so very satisfied we found our beds late that night. Tomorrow we're going to pick up the bikes! Photo:H.Doyer
Morning concert.

Photo:H.Doyer
The bikes still looking fine..
Saturday. We got into the taxi at 10.00 for a 40 minute ride to Nashala, the village where the bikeshop was situated. As usual the roads got worse and the views got better. The bikes were put outside the shop and we were instructed on how to ride and repair them. We got tools and spare parts and then it was time for the first trial runs. Weird! The mechanic, a lightweight compared to us, had no trouble kicking the bikes to life, but we certainly had! As the shiftlever was on the 'wrong' side it was very hard to find the rear brake. We practiced for 10 minutes and then it was time to get the ladies on the bikes as well and return to Kullu. Rob had trouble finding the 1st gear and ended up a steep slope, nose up. And no way he could kick it to life again. So he turned around and had gravity do the job for him. 10 km further Peter's bike died. We changed the sparkplug and it ran again. We couldn't agree on the correct route back so we took the wrong way. Immediately we were punished as Peters bike stalled again. This time we cleaned the fuel filter, which clogged up again within 1 minute. We removed and cleaned the whole chain of petrol supply and further we rode. The road was obviously the wrong one so we turned back. Then Rob's bike stopped. No fuel left! Huyb went away to get petrol and returned one hour later. Finally we reached the hotel (I had marked it in my gps) and calculated we had averaged 10km/h. Great. A shower and a good meal at hotel Ramneek restored our faith in a succesfull ride to Manali tomorrow.

Sunday. Six days into the vacation but it feels like weeks. Today we delivered our surplus luggage to the motorcycle shop in Nashala. The girls took a taxi so we could practice some more on our own. Some of the women and Huyb weren't feeling well but of course that wouldn't stop us. On our way to Nashala Ton managed to pick up a 15cm nail in his rear tyre. It was quickly repaired by locals for just a few rupees (1 rupee equals 2 eurocents) , but unfortunately they made a mistake when re-mounting the rear wheel: on arrival at the mc shop the wheel bearings had died... After delivering the luggage we set out for a beuatiful ride thru 'apple valley' (the local name). We had drinks and applepie at a place named 'mothers finest' and suffered from just one more breakdown: on Huybs bike the +wire of the battery had snapped. The bike ran again but was definitely not in good shape. Geeske was really ill now, so the ladies went into a taxi and we quickly rode to a small village called Vasjeest (or something like that) where we found lodging for the night. Vasjeest is an old village where many young westerners try to find their true self: in the lobby of the hotel a couple of french kids looked up in awe to some kind of a fakir who really was enjoying his marihuana pipe. Silly bastards. We took a much needed shower, had a beer at the 'beer bar' and watched the 250 GP! Then to the hot springs, apparently a sacred place, where men (and women, in a closed building) enjoyed a bath in hot sulphury water. A bit further into the village women were doing the laundry in a hole in the ground, we were not allowed to take pictures. A lovely mountain river was used as a dumping place for debris, as far as you could see the river downstream was filled with rubbish. Back to town for dinner: pakora and pizza. Photo:H.Doyer
View from Valley View hotel in Vasjeest.

Photo:H.Doyer
Typical Manali street.
Monday. We had promised ourselves a day of leisure so took a taxi to the Tibetan market in Manali. What a smell this combination of food, shit, piss and twostroke oil. Eugenie and I stopped at a shawl shop where we had our first excersises in price negotiation. We were not very good at it and only got 25% off the price. Then we wandered round in the streets of Manali. Everybody seemed to want something from us, most noticeble were the boys that tried to sell us saphrane. It was very hard to make them understand we didn't want any. We also saw several disabled beggars and felt guilty because of our wealth. We met up with the group again and started to look for a couple of Tibetan shopkeepers that some of the group had met in previous years. It took a while to locate them, but then the girls got into a shopping frenzy. Those who stayed outside (me, Ton) were treated to tea and coca-cola by the owner. The owner also knew a guy who was willing to go with us to Leh by car. We had decided that the bikes were too unreliable and that the inter-gasstation distances were too long to ride the distance without assistance. After an hour or so some guys showed up and we agreed on the price. A guide + mechanic will follow us in a small jeep on our way to Leh. Peter, Ton and I left the inner city to hunt for oil and jerrycans and after succeeding in that we all went into Old Manali to visit the Dhungri temple. A wedding was going on so we enjoyed the dances and the music. On our way back to the hotel (the rickshaw guy wanted just 160 rupee for carrying us around Manali for 1.5 hours!) we bought some extra tubes at the local Enfield shop, like all other shops the size of a small garage.

Tuesday. The day we left Manali for Leh. Our 'staff' arrived shortly after breakfast and we were glad they could carry some of our luggage. They went away to fuel up the car (we supplied the money) and the jerrycans (about 50 litres). On their return we finally left for Leh. We hadn't even started climbing the Rohtang pass when Huybs bike came to a halt. We fiddled with sparkplug and carb and the bike went another 2 kilometres. Fed up by the bike we called the Manali representative of the bikeshop who promised to swap the bike. We had a long break awaiting the arrival of the new Enfield which we spent sitting in the sun, drinking coca-cola and doing short hikes in the neighbourhood. Some hours later we were on our way again. We didn't bother to rent furcoats that were available in dozens of little shops along the way, but could imagine needing one when we were high up the pass. Fog prevented us looking at anything but the road but we did stop at the top to take a picture and eat some lunch. After descending some 200 meters the fog had disappeared and we started to enjoy the scenery again. The roads were bad but at least the bikes ran well. We were approaching a river when all traffic came to a halt. A large part of the road had disappeared and a mountain stream had taken it's place. It was a bit scary to negotiate but in the end we all made it to dry road again. With wet feet but without any further incidents we reached Keylong and found a decent hotel. When we went to the dining room downstairs for dinner we had to force the waiters to serve food to Chombel and the mechanic: they seemed reluctant to feed their own countrymen! Photo:H.Doyer
Peter crossing liquid roads.

Photo:H.Doyer
The Tibetan tent camp of Pang early in the morning.
Wednesday. This was a tough day. The roads were acceptable when we started from Keylong but that soon changed. The high roads are maintained througout the season but work is done in a different way. They start by blasting the rockface. This results in a number of big rocks that are cut into football size stones. In the stages to follow these rocks are cut down to pebblesize and finally tar is poured over it. All is done by hand. In the last stage enormous fires beside the road heat up the tar. The result of stage 1, the big rocks, is considered good enough to drive/ride on. So these were the kind of surfaces that we had to ride. The bikes wandered from left to right, all one could do is open the throttle when things appeared to get out of control. As the real bad surfaces were up the mountains this was the viable option, going down would have been a real problem. The black roadworkers (most of them from Bihar and Nepal), even though they had tough jobs, were cheerful and waved at us every time. As we got higher and higher Eugenie ran into trouble. She started crying for no reason and later had to vomit frequently. As I had a rear tyre puncture we stopped for a while to await the jeep. That took an hour as the jeep had suffered a puncture too. We inflated the tyre, that is, Chombel did as I constantly ran out of breath. Eugenie changed pillion for jeep and we carried on. It was getting dark by now and the road was getting worse. Then the rear tube gave up and we had to put a new one in. When I restarted the Enfield it was pitch dark, and I still had to ride 12km to the Pang camp... Too exhausted to worry about roads and traffic I made it to the camp. The 'river' I had to cross was done without hesitation, the guys at the camp told me later they had stopped there to see if crossing was feasable! Eugenie was so ill by now that it was decided to get her to a (military) doctor in a camp nearby.
So the Tibetan 'lady of the tent', Chombel, Eugenie and me set off to find it. In the camp Eugenie was given oxygen while waiting for the doctor. He turned up after a while, examined her and decided 'altitude sickness'. An injection, pills and some more oxygen later we returned to the camp where everybody was in deep sleep by now. After tugging in Eugenie I tried to sleep too but the pebbles and rocks beneath me (the only place left was a path) prevented a good nights rest.

Thursday. Fortunately Eugenie was feeling a bit better today. We had a basic breakfast and I had to visit the loo for a pooh. I was directed to a place behind a wall along the river. This was pooh heaven: every guest of the Pang camp had been here since the start of the season! Eugenie decided to sit out the first leg of the day in the jeep and after having been checked at the police post we were ready to attack some more mountains. Peters rear hugger had decided to come loose so we fixed that. We also found out that the mechanic had 'adjusted' the chains, they were much too tied so we loosened them. Eugenie got on the bike again as the fuel fumes in the jeep made her unhappy. Conny wasn't feeling too well so went into the jeep. We crossed the Tanglang La pass and from that moment on the roads got better and the scenery got stunning. Rockformations in purple, blue and red could be admired as the road was pretty straight and didn't take too much attention. Tons's silencer had fallen of so a couple of us took a detour to find a welder. We carried on, admiring the villages and the stupas along the way. In Leh the group was reunited (except for Huyb and Geeske) and we went looking for a hotel. The 35 euro a room a night hotel Holiday Ladakh seemed (and proved to be) the best option. Great place and great staff. At eight we had dinner and discussed the way back. I didn't fancy going all the way back by bike, the road was too bad at places and as a rider you didn't have much opportunity to look around. Most agreed with me so the plan to hire a truck emerged. Photo:H.Doyer
A well deserved meal at the Holiday Ladakh hotel in Leh.

Photo:H.Doyer
View on old Leh from the Palace.
Friday. Another shopping day for the ladies and hard work for the men: arranging a truck that will get the bikes safely over the particular bad piece of road on our way back to Manali. For several hours we were sent from shop to shop before finally arriving at a shoebox size office where freight could be arranged. The office manager was quietly lying in his bed, his assistant sat behind a desk and a worker talked with us about possibilities and conditions. The outcome was that the truck will meet us next tuesday night at Sarchu where the bikes will be loaded. We agreed on the price (7500rp which we knew was too much) and paid 2000rp in advance. The management team then signed our agreement and business for today ended. Back into town for cold drinks. After meeting up with the girls we went to visit the old Palace and some gompas nearby. Not everybody made it to the palace, but those that did were treated not only to a walk inside the palace where the restaurations have been going on for years, but also to some great views from the roof of the building where we were allowed to go. Visiting the palace is not for the weak of heart: a pitchdark corridor I walked in had it's floor removed at places, a 3 meter drop showed up when Geeske entered the space shining her torch. After a short break back at the hotel Eugenie and I went for a massage in an old massage parlor near the hotel. We had met the masseur on our arrival at Leh at which time we had had a nice chat with him and some of his neighbouring shopkeepers. Whilst Eugenie was treated by him I sat outside again talking to the other shopkeepers. After Eugenie had finished I went in and by the light of a candle (electricity in Leh is only available in the morning and around dinner time) I had my massage.

Saturday. We had pizza's yesterday evening and they turned out to be of low quality, at least mine did, so I woke up feeling sick. We had planned a visit to the temple of Alchi, some 60km away. It was an easy ride; the roads here are quite good due to the military presence everywhere. Potential conflicts with China and Pakistan gives us good turmac! After arrival at Alchi everybody except me visited the temple. I stayed outside trying to sleep and rest. A real shame as this building is over a 1000 years old and according to Eugenie was quite interesting. A little Tibetan market was visited to buy a gift for a friend home. Then the group wanted to have a quick drink before leaving. I stayed where I was feeling even more sick. I waited for what seemed ages and then decided to search for them. To my displeasure they had ordered food as well and were waiting for the cook to do his job. Fortunately their 6 o'clock appointment with the masseur prevented them from staying longer, but I was very pissed by then and decided to make a quick run back to the hotel. It was only when I lay in bed that I realized it was my bike that was carrying all the tools, so by being at the hotel 40 minutes before the group arrived I had put their trip home in danger. Sorry again mates... I cannot tell anything more about this day as I slept for 14 hours in a row. Photo:H.Doyer
Drinking stop on our way to Alchi.

Sunday. We had had vague plans to ride the Khardung La (said to be the highest road in the world, but Marsimik La at 5777 is higher) today, but stupid as we are we are had forgotten to get the required permit. So today everyone did something else. Some stayed at the hotel, others went to visit the Royal Palace and a Tibetan refugee camp for children. Eugenie and I visited a beautiful monastery at Tiktse, only a few kilometres from Leh. This place has been / is being restored perfectly. Worth the visit. I found the very old hall where the monks pray very impressive, the smell of centuries filled the room. Later that day the staff of the hotel told us they would arrange the Khardung La permits for us tomorow. Great people!

Photo:H.Doyer
Khardung La !!
Monday. As promised the hotel staff would get our Khardung La permits today, so we were up early and eagerly awaited their arrival. Unfortunately it took more time than expected, it was noon when the permits arrived. The unpleasant surprise was that the pass is always closed on monday! We decided to try anyway so we fired up the bikes and were on our way. The first part was really beautiful but turned out to be the wrong road! So we turned around and finally were on our way up. For miles and miles the road went up steeply and we could still see Leh beneath us. The officer at the military post allowed us to proceed so further and higher we went. Then we reached the top; Huyb and Geeske even skipped the top to ride down the other side for a while! That's why they're not in the picture, which by the way was shot by one of the military that were working on the 'La'. Conny wasn't feeling well so we quickly descended again. Tomorrow's cabdriver came to show his car later that night (which was approved); we got the Khardung La shirts that we ordered, had food and beer and went to our Leh beds for the last time.

Tuesday. Time to leave Leh. The ladies got on the bikes for the last time. The cheap transport that had been arranged for them would meet us 40km outside Leh. It was our guide who arranged it. He would shave 80% off of the price of a cab, as he knew the system. It's like this. Taxi drivers from city A can take tourists everywhere, and so can those of city B. However, if driver A brings tourists to city B, he must return empty. Drivers from B won't allow driver A to take 'their' cargo. Our guide seemed to know who was returning empty to, in our case, Manali. He talked to the driver and made the deal that he would drive 40km out of Leh and wait for us there. The girls would then switch from bike to car. The money was going directly into his pocket: his boss was assuming he returned empty wasn't he? A win-win situation according to Chombell. So we left on bikes that tuesday morning. It had rained during the night so we had to deal with a lot of water. Some of us rode extremely slowly thru it not to disturb the ladies, but others were overtaking right there to get everybody wet. Bastards! After leaving the girls in the hands of the taxidriver we carried on solo. Good fun, the speed was a bit quicker now. Not quick enough according to Huyb, who rode at a 'brisk' pace but was surprised to meet some trucks around a corner. He dumped the bike over the edge of the road and that was it. When we arrived at the corner we were really scared seeing him deep down there! Apart from some bruises Huyb was OK so we carried on to Pang where we had lunch and awaited the girls. N33.49091 E77.80621 (WGS84)
GAME OVER
The ride from Pang to Sarchu was very pleasant, some parts were good enough to go quickly. At Sarchu we all rented 2 person tents, equipped with real beds, a place to wash up and a private toilet! 20 Euro was expensive, but we had no choice and 'they' knew it! It was getting cold by now at this altitude (4400 meters) but when the truck arrived we still had to load the bikes. The truckdriver looked for a hill to make the job easy and one by one the bikes were loaded and strapped to the truck. Not good enough according to me (on centerstands instead of sidestands) but everybody else seemed happy. A simple meal in the tent-restaurant and quickly to bed.

Wednesday. It was cold this morning in Sarchu. We went to get breakfast in the camp and got into an argument as the people there didn't want Chombel and the mechanic to enter the tent. We gave them a choice: breakfast for all eleven of us or none at all, and they made the right choice... It was the second time we saw the mechanisms of the Indian class society so directly. The truck with the bikes had left early and we distributed ourselves over the taxi and Chombel's jeep. Much traffic, much roadwork, many passes: it took us 10 hours to complete the 220km journey. At one of our stops the truck came in sight. When we looked to see if the bikes were OK we found them laying on the bottom of the truck, with damage to tanks, rear lights etc. Not nice at all, this was exactly what we set out to avoid! It took us an hour to fasten the bikes properly. Chombel assured us he knew people who could fix things in Manali, so maybe our 500 euro deposits weren't lost after all. Shortly after we arrived in Manali the truck arrived too, and with assistance of a local shopkeeper the bikes were unloaded. I managed to get lost on my way to the hotel and was saved by Peter. Thanks! Photo:H.Doyer
The camp at Sarchu

Photo:T.Bode
Working on the bikes for the last time.
Thursday. Today was the day the Enfields were to be repaired. First to the Enfield shop. Some minor repairs to exhausts, footrests etc. were made and we replaced one complete taillight. For just a few euro the bikes had started to look better already. We were surprised to see the prices of parts: a brandnew original silencer for 16 euro for example. Then on to the shop that could repair the bruised tanks. Again a very small workshop, but the guys knew their job. Including drying of the paint it would take two hours, so we went to a restaurant to chat, eat and enjoy cold drinks. The Manali representative had spotted the bikes at the shop so knew some damage had come to the bikes. We were requested to come and show the bikes at his place. But first we payed the huge amount of 300rp (6 euro) for the work well done. We found the cafe in Old Manali where the representative lived and had to wait for an hour before the mechanics that would inspect the bikes arrived. They checked them, did a short ride ('my' bike was reported to have crankshaft bearing problems) and then someone important in Delhi was phoned to decide how much of our deposit would not be paid back (the new paint on the tanks did look a bit different than the old paint, and the Enfield logo on them had partly vanished. To our surprise the Delhi guy wanted ALL our money, 2000 euro, as according to him the tanks were special paint ones, had to be shipped to Delhi, bla bla bla. Chombel had told us that the bikes represented a value of 300-500 euro, so we were a bit worried. Chombel took the phone from the mechanic and had a long and furious conversation with the Delhi crook. The result was that we had to pay 16 euros each instead of 500! Relieved we started our last ride to Nashala to return the bikes to the shop. It was a lovely ride thru what is called 'apple valley'.
We had been here the first day but then had to focus on the bikes. Now that we were used to them we could enjoy the roads and the views. Back to Manali in Chombels jeep. Chombel lived in the valley and he invited us for tea at his place. He lived there with his mother, brother, sister in law and niece. It was truly a nice, clean and comfortable home. We sat on pillows against the wall and were treated to tea and apples. Chombels mother even invited us for dinner which we kindly refused. A good time to pay our guide. He had kept a record of his expenses and we payed him a 50% bonus for his good work. Back in Manali Chombel arranged a better hotel for us at a cheaper price (300rp) and also took care of a cheap illegal taxi to Chandigargh for the next day. Time to relax.

Friday. It was farewell to Chombel today. We took some pictures of him and our group (see the first picture on this page) and were given white shawls as a 'safe journey' token. The taxi was crowded with ten persons, but the first part of the trip was enjoyable nevertheless. Great views, good roads and a temperature that we could endure. As the drive progressed things outside became greener, flatter and hotter, and by the time we reached Chandigargh we were exhausted. Chandigargh had a european atmosphere, but then again it was designed by a european. Wide lanes with trees by the side of the road led to the town centre. Even though Rob couldn't fully agree on the price of the nice hotel we stopped at, the group decided to stay. Airco, showers, good beds, good food, beers: we simply couldn't resist. And lucky for us that we couldn't as this indeed was a good hotel.

Saturday. The last leg: to Delhi. The taxi that we ordered yesterday didn't turn up so we arranged another. Ten persons in a relatively small taxi and an airco that couldn't keep up with the heat: one hell of a drive. Of course we had some stops along the way, but we didn't seem to enjoy it as much as we did up north; the smells got worse as we approached Delhi. Upon arrival in Delhi we rented a rickshaw that showed our taxi driver the way to the hotel we had selected (Maidens hotel in old Delhi). 100 dollar rooms seemed to be a bit overdoing it, but we figured we had deserved it after this exhausting trip. The hotel was great, luxury rooms en suite, a swimming pool, great food and nice staff members. The first dive in the pool was just divine... Photo:H.Doyer
Airco Indian style.

Photo:H.Doyer
Delhi streets
Sunday. We wanted to visit the red fort today by foot, so we left the hotel despite the cruel heat. Eugenie had a hard time, even just breathing was exhausting. We passed the station, the smell of male piss came straight from hell, some of the ladies almost turned sick. We bought some fans (?) of two young girls to create wind for the ladies, and then found out that because tomorrow is independance day the red fort was closed today because of security reasons. We (read: I) had seen enough of Delhi and wanted to return to the hotel. Another ride with a rickshaw and hello to the pool! Monkeys on the wall, parrots in the air, drinks in the pool, great to be lazy for a few days.

Monday. Last day in India. I didn't feel up to doing anything but rest and read, but Eugenie, Geeske and Huyb went into town again to visit temples and shops which they enjoyed. We were allowed to stay by the pool even though we didn't have a room anymore. The only problem today was that we couldn't get any alcoholic drinks because of independance day. The staff offered us a solution: a free room for the day where we could drink all we wanted, but we deicded to stay sober. Around 22.00 two taxis arrived that drove us to the airport. A lot of time was spent waiting, both in Delhi and in Moscow, but the next day we arrived at Schiphol Amsterdam in the afternoon according to schedule. It had been a fantastic trip in great company. The recovery stage (diarrhoea) took 14 days for about half the group but it had been worth it. Photo:H.Doyer
Relaxing by the pool.

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