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Exploring India on a Royal Enfield motorcycle- part 3

Day ten:

Ooty to Masinagudi.

Today was a bimbling day amongst the mountains. A circular route ending up not too far from Ooty after the mornings ride. We rode down to the plain then back up in to the mountains with plenty of curves and superb scenery over the plains below. Again, as we rose so the temperature dropped a little - at least. The afternoon was completed by visiting the highest mountain viewpoint in the Ghats and riding a route containing thirty six hairpin bends before dropping down in to the Mudmalai wildlife sanctuary, which boasts one of the largest populations of elephants and tigers. Unfortunately we didn’t see any elephants or tigers but as usual there were the usual monkeys.

Our hotel for the night was eventually found it being a little way off the beaten track. Small cottages located in a forest clearing overlooking the splendour of the nearby mountains rounded off another good days biking and savouring the delights of India.

There was plenty of activity in the area with wildlife wardens and police being deployed along the roadside but the parade of honour wasn’t for us, it was for the festival taking place at the local temple. Apparently they were walking on hot coals this evening with festivities going on for most of the night. The festival lasts a week and despite our host suggesting it would be worth a visit due to the colourfulness of it all, after a hard day’s riding none of us really wanted to jump back on the bikes, so we choice the easy option of sitting and watching the sunset over the mountains.

The evening was rounded off with an authentic meal cooked by locals. Probably one of the best meals of the trip due to its authenticity and aided by mine host giving us a commentary of the contents of the nine or ten dishes. All vegetarian which is a feature of these parts of India but nonetheless delicious.

Day eleven:

Masinagudi to Kozhikode.

There’s no wi if here but after a warm nights sleep it was up early to watch the sun rising over the mountains. Just splendid. Another authentic meal for breakfast so we had to try a bit of everything. It was then back on the bikes and we continued our journey through the Mudmalai Wildlife park. After seeing some domesticated working elephants we were able to catch the back end of a wild one amongst the bush. We also spotted some deer, peacocks and Rhesus monkeys. A great ride through some lovely countryside again before dropping in to Kozhikode and back to the hectic traffic before arriving at our hotel for the night.

Day twelve:

Kozhikode to Kochi.

This was a one hundred mile journey along primarily the main road between two cities. There was nothing glamorous about this ride with temperatures in the high thirties and the usual hustle of the traffic. Stopping off at a town in the main thoroughfare for a drink we caused some attention from the locals. We caught a group looking out of the upstairs window of a shop. Obviously white Europeans aren’t a familiar sight in these parts and especially a white European lady riding as pillion on the back of the motorcycle. All in all they’re a friendly bunch and several stopped and asked us where we were from and how are we enjoying Kerala. The only excitement about this ride was Paul on the motorcycle in front of us clipping another motorcycle that decided just to turn across his path of travel. He had an escape route by using the rough path to the side of the roadway so we just carried on and no damage done to anyone or anything . He did have a moment a few days earlier in the trip when an overtaking car pulled so close that it clipped his foot as it went past. Despite these incidents taking place we all arrived back at the hotel where we started our trip safe and sound. A well earned beer after a hard day’s riding.

Despite the chaotic driving during the course of the trip we have not seen any collisions ourselves but we did pass a Mahindra truck this morning that was parked by the side of the road and had obviously been in a ‘head on’ prior to it being bent quite so badly. Perhaps there is some method after all to driving the Indian way!! We must get one of their Highway Codes but I think we’ll be hard pressed to find one. We have passed a number of learner drivers though on our journey. Rather them than me learn to drive in India.

Resting for a few days back at Kochi what do we think of this part of India. As a country with a billion people it is very hectic wherever you go. There are some quiet parts but there are always people. With the United Kingdom trying to reduce pollution, recycle waste, etc. our efforts are minuscule compared to what is required for India to be anywhere near punching their weight as far as this worldwide issue. There is a lot of education required. Rubbish is just dumped anywhere and everywhere. Plastic imparticularly is a problem. Some beautiful viewpoints out in the countryside are spoilt by just looking down at the pile of plastic and rubbish below. Efforts are being made in the National Parks with signs to take your littler home but it will need a lot more than this.

Accommodation and living standards, especially in the remote country areas, is basic to say the least and sanitation is non existent in these parts. Survival must be an every day challenge and daily chores are obviously collecting water from the nearby water source and collecting wood for fuel. Everyone needs to scratch a living to survive.

Fuel emissions are such that people can be seen riding around with scarves over their faces to reduce the intake of polluted air and policemen directing traffic on street corners have masks over their faces to reduce intake of noxious fumes. Even newish cars belch out black smoke because they are not serviced as they should be and the owners just keep them going until they need some attention.

The people were found to be a friendly bunch wherever we went and white Europeans do cause some attraction but I suppose that is to be expected with not too many travellers to these parts. The locals were always keen to ask where we had come from and wanted to know our names. Why I’m not quite sure!!

We have stayed in generally good quality accommodation but service isn’t quite there yet as compared to European standards, albeit that the hotels were generally very comfortable and staff were only too eager to please. A simple task of just paying for our drinks whilst the room was being paid for by our tour leader created some consternation at times, but we eventually got there with a little more explaining.

As a nuclear nation and expected to be the fifth largest economy in the world we’ll wait and see on that. A great deal of education and investment in basic services is still required.

As a motorcycling experience we have thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing and visited some great parts of the country. Riding in India is not for the faint hearted and needs some confidence to join the mayhem of the Indian roads. I hope I’ve captured some video of this during the trip.

Would I come back? Well India is a vast continent and having wanted to visit this particular part my next area to visit would have to be the Himalayan area. We’ll see what the future holds.

I hope that you have enjoyed our record of this trip. We await the next adventure. Thanks for reading.

Sunday ,17th March, 2019.

Whilst spending a couple of days relaxing at our hotel we woke up this morning (Sunday 170319) to this little beauty parked (or should it be moored) across the bay. The Sapphire Princess set off from Singapore on the 10th March and is due in to Southampton on Tuesday 16th April after a thirty eight day cruise. I think that we shall beat it home. It set sail for Dubai last evening.

Making our way for breakfast we then bumped in to the India Minister for Tourism - Alphons Kannanthanam. It surprising who you bump in to in a lift but if the hotel is good enough for him to stay in then it’ll be good enough for us!!

A Sunday morning walk around the streets opposite provided a colourful display of what the vendors had to offer.


Backwaters in Kerala is a network of 1500 km of canals both manmade and natural, 38 rivers and 5 big lakes extending from one end of Kerala to the other.

Backwaters is one of the major tourism product of Kerala, being unique to the state. Traditionally used as one of the main transportation alleys, today backwaters offer a rejuvenating experience for tourists visiting Kerala. We hired a boat and set off on a day’s adventure exploring this beautiful area. Along with the boat came the captain and the cook and as part of the package lunch was provided. A lovely way to spend a day relaxing and enjoying this unique area.

Posted 219 weeks ago

Exploring India on a Royal Enfield motorcycle- part 2 continued:

Day five:

Alleppey to Thekkady - today we head inland from the coast to find some mountains. Eating breakfast we looked out of the window to the rear of the premises to find the Indian version of a motorcycle CBT. Some poles placed in the ground and some tentative weaving by new riders helping them prepare for their venture out on to the Indian highway. Not only were there virgin bikers but also learner car drivers practising their reversing in to bays marked again with poles pushed in to the ground. Amongst this were a group of boys playing a game of rounders. Chaos but there must be some order to it all!!

Leaving town this morning was as usual hectic and it appears that there is no need to stop for a red light at a railway crossing until the barriers come down. If you do then you get gesticulated at in a friendly manner to encourage you to carry on. The other drivers are only trying to be helpful. Petrol tanks fuelled up we then had to cross the main road to travel back in the direction we had travelled from. When you’ve got a space in the traffic on your right pull out and don’t worry about the stream of traffic on your left. Once you’ve moved off you’ll find a gap to filter in to and you’ll just blend in with the rest.

We crossed some flat plains that were mainly arable areas before heading to the mountains and seeing the first of the tea plantations. Some of the roads were good and some were not so good, but it was a pleasant ride across the mountains and the temperature did drop a little as you ascended.

Arriving at Greenwoods Leisure Resort we were given a customary welcome of a string of cadomen seeds placed around the neck and applying tilak on the forehead. Just the one problem this evening at this splendid hotel and that is no alcohol tonight as it does not have a bar. Alcohol is regulated by the government and in certain areas can only be bought from licensed liquor stores after you have been authorised to purchase the same in an effort to cut down alcohol abuse. The lovely food did make up for it, despite the Indian gentlemen on the next table making a fuss and sending his meal back whilst the staff entertained his two unruly toddlers whilst mum and dad were on their mobile phones.

Day six:

Thekkady to Munnar

Riding higher in to the mountains of the Western Ghats we have some nice well surfaced roads through the Indian jungle. Plenty of lush vegetation and monkeys have been spotted whilst en route.

The mudguard bolts on one of the Enfields have decided to shake themselves loose but it took four to fix the problem - one to do the work and four to watch - a bit like British council workers - must be another legacy we left.

Further on up in to the tea plantations they are creating a super highway. The road has gone from a single track mountain road to a two lane carriageway. The only problem is that they are still building it. Nothing to worry about because you just have to dodge the excavators, lorries, rutted roads, loose gravel, etc., etc. But this is India. No health and safety here as we experienced a little later in the journey where there were men up on the mountainside knocking loose rocks off, but they did have a rope to hold on to. Halted on our journey whilst they cleared the road take off even on this mountain road was like a formula one grande prix start.

All in all a good days riding despite some of the roads. We are staying for two days at The Silver Tips - a themed Bollywood Hotel.

Day seven:

Staying at the same hotel tonight we have a ride out to the Eravikulum National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Some beautiful scenery riding through the tea plantations and some beautiful colours on the vegetation. Cool up on the hills but very hot again in the bottom of the valley. Quite a few monkeys were spotted today and one snake slithering off the road in to a nearby hiding place.

Day eight:

Today we rode from Munnar to Kodaikanal. We climb down the mountain from Munnar using the stretch of road that is a continual length of roadworks that we passed on the way up. We then rode along the base of the valley where temperatures were in excess of 30 degrees before heading in to the southern part of the Ghat Mountains. We also changed provinces crossing from the Kerala Province in to the Tamil Province. It appears that the roadworks here have been completed and the road across the mountains was like an Alpine road with good road surfaces and plenty of hairpin bends. Could have done with a bit more power than the Enfield gives on these sort of roads. A little later on we manage to creep up towards sixty miles per hour for the first time in the trip with roads a lot wider and smoother. We then headed back in to the mountains to climb up to Kodaikanal sitting at 6998 feet. So they say it was an old American mountain station and it has been left with a legacy of mercury poisoning as a thermometer factory was based here, and like everything else, things were just dumped here and mercury found its way in to the watercourse. Some splendid scenery whilst climbing and our journey was only halted by a troop of monkeys that decided to slow the traffic by playing in the roadway. A heavy thunderstorm accompanied by the customary power cut and plenty of rain in the evening accounts for the lush jungle type vegetation that we have passed through today.

Day nine:

A long day in the saddle with 250 kilometres to travel - the longest day of the trip and these Enfield saddles aren’t the most comfortable. From Kodaikanal we travel to Ooty, another mountain station based at 7350 feet a glove sea level.

A great day started off traversing some more mountain scenery. Narrow roads and twisty bends. Superb views over the plain below and an altercation with a monkey trying to gain access to my tank bag.

Dropping down off the mountains it was again very hot on the plain but with good roads we were able to keep,a breeze going through the jackets. Finishing off we climbed again to Ooty, our destination for the night. Climbing the mountain road was a bit like the whacky races. Plenty of traffic and plenty of overtaking Indian style. An exhilarating ride to day the least. On one hairpin we were faced with an oncoming bus followed by another one. We passed the first one but the second one had to stop on our side of the road facing us because of the traffic ahead of him. He just beckoned us to go up his nearside and overtake the traffic behind him on the nearside before returning to our side of the road. Anything goes because this is India.

Motorcycle is the main form of transport in India and riding with helmets, jackets and gloves is the exception here. The biggest bikes are generally the 350cc Enfields but we have seen a couple of Triumphs and a Harley Davidson or two. When stopped for a break earlier we saw the milkman and three generations of one family all on one motorcycle. Nothing better than taking the mother in law out on the bike for a Sunday afternoon ride!!

Posted 220 weeks ago

Exploring India on a Royal Enfield motorcycle:

Well having decided to take a bit of a busmans holiday and explore the south western part of India we’ve been asked to give several presentations of our experience. Writing this blog will give us some reference points when we come to make our presentations and also give those that have travelled with us over the years a flavour of the journey that we are undertaking.

Day 1:

Paying the twenty pound per person for the Aspire lounge at Birmingham airport was well worth it with our seven hour flight to Dubai delayed by an hour. That meant we were able to enjoy breakfast and lunch all for the same price. We made sure that lunch was washed down with a few gins accompanied by what else other than some Indian tonic water.

The delay in the U.K. meant a quick hop off and on to the next plane at Dubai to continue our journey south east to Kochi on the south west coast of India, our intended destination for the start our excursion.

After a three and a half hour flight we arrive at Kochi or Cochin or however you spell it and welcome to the confusion and chaos of India. Despite our tour leader requesting a taxi big enough to cater for four adults and their luggage, trying to fit a quart into a pint pot, or in this instance four adults and their luggage in to a small saloon car, just didn’t work, despite how much effort you put in to the task. Common sense prevailed eventually and we were transferred to a people carrier type vehicle and off we went into the chaos and mayhem of the traffic. After only about 200 yards of joining the main highway our taxi driver decided that he did not have the correct paperwork as the destination on the ‘chitty’ was not the same as our intended destination. A pull up at the side of the road to make a phone call was ok until he decided to reverse along the highway back to the roundabout. There’s plenty beeping of horns but there’s no road rage in India and everyone just puts up with whatever you’re doing. We did go the correct way around the roundabout and that was a bonus in order to return to the taxi dispatchers desk at the airport. It would have been easier to change the paperwork but despite the bureaucracy ( a legacy of the British Empire) it was deemed far easier to change four people and their luggage from one car to exactly the same type and make of car that we were travelling in to another one, but this one did have better air conditioning.

Weaving our way through the city traffic it was obvious that anything goes. Beep your horn if you need to make others aware of your presence and then pass them on either side, depending where there is the most space. If you can buy an Indian Highway Code then you’re a better person than me because there isn’t one - I don’t think anyway. If you can make four lanes when there are only two well do it. It all seems to work.

Day 2:

Arriving at the well appointed Gateway Hotel we were allowed entry after a quick search underneath the vehicle was made for any bombs that we may have been carrying. Perhaps it was something to do with those planes shot down last week on the Indian Pakistan border but that’s thousands of miles away. Nothing was found so we arrived at the reception of the Gateway at about 1000hrs. The rest of the day was spent lazing around the pool and generally having a quiet day in the 30 degrees heat.

Day 3:

After a good nights sleep we were awoken by the 0800hrs alarm after sleeping like a log. Even the call to prayers at 0530hrs didn’t stir us but we had missed a day’s sleep somewhere along the journey. Today was a day of boats rather than bikes but our machines were going to be delivered today so that we can start our journey south tomorrow. Catching the public ferry across the inland waterway nearly broke the bank at the equivalent of 40 pence per person for the twenty minute crossing to Fort Cochi. Arriving at the island there was the usual chaos with tuc tucs fighting for whatever roadspace that was available with pedestrians, anything on two wheels, buses, lorries, taxis, goats, etc. Fishing was taking place using the ancient Chinese cantilever fishing nets and coracle type fishing boats.

Returning to our hotel the Royal Enfields have been delivered. A quick check over makes sure that they are all good to go. Another cruise around the bay courtesy of the hotel to watch the sinking sunset ends our day of boats.

Day 4:

Looking at the picture above and the picture below India still has a long way to go as far as dumping their rubbish. Adjacent to the jetty you can see the rubbish collecting. I think that they need Mr Attenborough to give them a few tips about saving the planet.

Bags packed and it’s out on to those Indian roads to head south to Allepey and in to the backwaters. Let’s hope that the waters will be cleaner than this!!

Our steed for the trip is a 350cc Royal Enfield Thunderbird. It may not seem a big bike but for India and the roads it has more than enough power for two. Speeds are generally quite low and despite the chaos there’s no rushing about as such. Our first venture out into the Cochin traffic wasn’t too bad and anything goes. If you’re not too sure then put your feet down and come to a stop because everyone else will go around you. Great fun but you have to keep your wits about you. You won’t find many or any 'lifesavers’ but before you do anything just give a little toot on the horn to let others know you are there.

Today’s journey was a relatively short bimble of about ninety kilometres down the Kerala coastline. The traffic thinned out the further south we travelled until we came to a railway crossing. Both sides just fill up either side of the crossing with vehicles so when we set of no one can go anywhere as both sides of the road are blocked, but in true Indian style and with a lot of beeping of horns it all sorts itself out.

With the sea on one side we passed paddy fields on the other side in places. We also passed an inlet with plenty of boats and some more of those Chinese fishing nets. A nice little spot to drop off for a welcome drink in the heat of the day.

An early afternoon finish at our eighteenth century hotel, a legacy of the British Empire, gave us time to relax by the pool and do whatever. With an evening temperature of twenty three degrees it was good to see plenty of people on the sandy beach alongside the Arabian Sea enjoying themselves with their families - it wasn’t quite like Barry Island. A few beers and dinner was enjoyed amongst the continual break in power. Power restored and we continued to eat until the next break in power. This is India!!

The grand entrance to our room in Alleppey and some beautiful vegetation around the hotel.

To be continued.

Posted 220 weeks ago
<p><b>11 May – 14 May IRISH TOUR 2018</b><br/>Touring the Beara and Dingle Peninsulars of south west Kerry and Cork. Great roads and great scenery.</p><p>We have just had a couple of more rooms released for occupation at the hotel so I do have just a couple of spaces if anyone fancies a great weekend away in Ireland. Phone me for details on 01443 218169 or 07749 867362. You’d better be quick as this is always a popular tour.</p>

11 May – 14 May IRISH TOUR 2018
Touring the Beara and Dingle Peninsulars of south west Kerry and Cork. Great roads and great scenery.

We have just had a couple of more rooms released for occupation at the hotel so I do have just a couple of spaces if anyone fancies a great weekend away in Ireland. Phone me for details on 01443 218169 or 07749 867362. You’d better be quick as this is always a popular tour.

Posted 278 weeks ago

Scotland Tour 2017

A ferry trip to the Isle of Mull today. Some great roads and even some more great scenery. Lunch at Tobermory before catching the ferry back to the mainland. Well worth the journey.

Posted 297 weeks ago

Scotland Tour 2017

A full day yesterday. Coffee stop at Eileen Donan Castle and then a trip over the Applecross Pass. This one was a first for me before we went on and stopped at the Applecross Inn for lunch.

Posted 297 weeks ago

Scotland tour 2017

That was a wet one today. Started off in Penrith where it was not too bad and made good progress north. Stopped off at Abington Services on the M74 on the way only to bump into one of the IAM Staff Examiners that I know finishing off a Masters Test with a candidate. It’s a small world this biking business. Once across the Erskine Bridge the weather took a turn for the worse making for some challenging riding conditions. The main thing is that we all arrived in Scotland safely. The view from the hotel is not too bad and the weather has cleared a bit as well now that we have arrived.

Posted 297 weeks ago

Scotland 2017

Heading north en route to Scotland we made a detour into the Lake District. After a few showers today we caught the views in the evening sunlight. A short stop off at Ullswater and a chance to catch upon some interesting history connected with the lake.

Posted 297 weeks ago

Irish Tour

Details of our Irish tour for May 2017 have been published today. Apologies for the delay in posting but when we made our usual enquiries with our host in Ireland we sadly found out that Evelyn (the owner) sadly passed away after a short illness in July earlier this year. She was the lady who worked hard behind the scenes that many of our tour participants never saw until it was time to leave. I have passed on our condolences to the family from all at New Style Tours. The good news is that Bernie (Evelyn’s sister) has taken up the reigns and as Evelyn wished, the establishment will continue for the foreseeable future. Despite the sad news New Style Tours is looking forward to visiting again. 

Posted 340 weeks ago

2017 Rider Development Weekends


All booked for April and October 2017. Can book a few more if the demand is there. Can arrange training for small groups as well to suit. They’re a great learning weekend with a bit of socialising thrown in. See our web site or check out our FB page.

Accommodation all booked for April and October 2017. Can book a few more if the demand is there. Can also arrange training for small groups as well to suit. They’re a great learning weekend with a bit of socialising thrown in. See our web site or check out our FB page to book on to one of these courses.

Posted 343 weeks ago