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Old 15th May 2021, 09:52   #1
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Default 2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report

We started with BIG plans...​

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210324_084040610.jpg

And we ended with none

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210413_033907523.portrait.jpg

This report is a journey of two blokes on their motorcycles, traipsing across the far eastern Himalayas bordering India, Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. The holy jewels of the High Himalayas. Mr Xi likes holy jewels.

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The ride began in early March 2021, right when the Covid 19 cases were ebbing in the Asian sub continent of India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Nepal had just opened its borders to tourists, and of course every bazaar in India had a billion people jostling for space.​

This ride was about 2 weeks in the making. You read that right. Everyone has different ways about going on a trip of this sorts. Some quietly start planning for years to come. Some start reading every little blog on the planet, watching every single video out there. Many will probably start a WhatsApp group with their pals titled "Himalayan Expedition Trip - who's in!" which will probably degenerate into forwards and p**n though begun with the right intentions.

Riding (NOT flying) into the Himalayas is not a very simple thing to do. For starters, there are only 2 viable seasons to head there. You're either in at the start of the season, just after the snow starts melting and the high passes are cleared. That's between March and May. Or you're up there between Oct and Nov. At all other times, it's either pouring rain and landslides or 10 foot of snow at 14000 feet. Both not fun for a travel motorcyclist.

The whole of 2020 was a dead a year for every human on the planet. We had missed the Oct 2020 window. Cases were ebbing. 2nd week of February, I ring my friend and ask him

Hey bud, I feel like riding out.
Where to?
How about the Eastern Himalayas? Arunachal Pradesh? Indo-Tibetan borders.
Am in. I've been wanting to go there myself
Alright, I'll start planning. 30 days?
Sure, I can extend longer. I just quit my job.
Ooookay. Looks like Sikkim is just around the corner. 45 days and we spend time in Sikkim too?
Sure thing.
Okay, talk soon.

And so, we begin. With less than 2 weeks to go before we get on our motorcycles and start our engines.

Who's in?

Last edited by Red Liner : 15th May 2021 at 11:06.
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Old 15th May 2021, 12:28   #2
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Default An Epilogue or a Prologue?​

It's funny how I'm sitting here ensconced inside 4 walls "suffering" a nationwide lockdown. Again. It's the only thing that got me to start this report. These past 70 days were a whirlwind of sorts. Every day was spent methodically waking up at a certain time, getting through the bathroom chores, coffee - if we're really lucky, getting into our riding gear and off we go down a road or trail we've never been before - and likely never will be on again.

The day I got back "home" was at 3 am in the morning. I say "home" in quotes, because what is home anyway? Is it the 4 walls that surround us? Reminding us of the safe cozy comfort zone we've built around ourselves. It feels permanent. The bed smells like me. Home.

But how many "homes" have you had since you were born? If they were all homes, were they permanent in any way? Every couple of years, maybe you had a new "home". A new comfort zone that replaced the earlier one.

Maybe Home is just an abstract concept. But that scares a lot of people. You see, most people want to feel and touch. They don't like abstract concepts. Its too difficult to comprehend. But maybe home is what you carry with you. Your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions, your belief systems, your hates, your likes, your girl friends or boy friends - past and present, your safe little zone inside you can run away to when things get too difficult.

So what do we really mean when we say we've "left home" to explore? Leaving 4 walls is okay, but have we really "left our home"? Have we really cast aside our baggage to truly explore, experience, and enjoy everything the world has to offer without prejudices, likes, and dislikes? Are we truly open to letting go of what we have, so we have space for what could come?

Longer travel brings about a sense of impermanence. The bed you sleep on tonight, you will never sleep on it again. The pretty girl you saw by the cafe as you rode past was just that very moment in time. The old woman who called you into her home when it was hailing outside and offered you a hot cup of tea for nothing in return except conversation. Or the boy monk in training who offered to take you around to all the buddhist monasteries in his village. Chance encounters. Or something more?

As Kafka said, its Chance Encounters that keep us going. Kafka Tamura. Not the Franz guy.

The day I got back home was at 3 am in the morning. I hardly slept. By the afternoon, I was getting restless, worked up even. I was supposed to be on my bike. Tackling gnarly trails with no food in my gut other than black coffee from the morning. What the hell am I doing here in bed? Psycho spiritually, I was still riding somewhere far in the distant Himalayas. Cold, starving, tired, dirty. But happy.

Happy not knowing when the next meal would come.
Happy not knowing if there was a bed somewhere tonight.
Happy not knowing what way the weather would turn in half hour.
Happy not knowing what my next chance encounter would be.

Happy not knowing.

Last edited by Red Liner : 31st May 2021 at 17:28.
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Old 15th May 2021, 18:53   #3
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Default Bike Prep

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-screenshot_202102081056152.jpg

Now that I've got your attention, and with just 2 weeks to go - we had things going on multiple tracks. Actually just two things. Bike Prep and the Mastah plan. Which was gonna go to the dogs 5 days into the trip.

In regards to bike prep, there wasn't too much for me to do. My KTM 390 Adventure was a new model launch, and it was just a year and 10,000 kms old. That had given me just enough time to understand the bike well without putting her through much abuse. All those 2020 level 1 Covid lockdowns helped warm the couch at home as opposed to the motorcycle seat. Here's everything I did on the bike leading up to the trip. Sometimes pictures are more oblivious than words so I'll shut it where am not needed.

1. Tall windscreen - Carbon Racing
I had about 5000 odd kms of highway/freeway riding to get to the Himalayas. No way the stock short windscreen is gonna be of any help.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210207_103550541.portrait.jpg

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210207_103704623.portrait.jpg


2. Headlight Yellow Mask from Adventure Conquest
I also added a yellow mask for the headlight assembly. Three reasons:
- It changed the light from the white which is absolutely useless in the rain or fog to yellow.
- Spread the sharp headlight beam out to cover the sides of the road
- Also acted to protect the headlight from stones kicked up like missiles by 18 wheelers on the freeway.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210108_075652036.portrait.jpg

3. Rear rack from Fantasia
This was a tough one, but after months of agonising search I finally found something that worked for me. This was given to me by a friend in the local 390 Adventure riding club and I will always be thankful to him for it. I needed something that would carry a reasonable load and had multiple points of fixture so it wouldn't give way carrying weight off-road.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210331_093228730.jpg

4. Auxiliary lights - Hella Value Fit Cubes - Spot
Reasonably priced and they do the job - for me. Most importantly they eke out just 12w each.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210325_110358506.portrait.jpg

5. Auxiliary mounts
My mechanic who helps me out with everything on the motorcycle managed to jiggy up a set of mounts that worked pretty damn well. I wanted them in a particular location on the bike - the frame that sits between the headlight assembly and the chassis. BDCW has something similar but I couldn't pony up the $$$ + shipping + duty. The lights and mounts went on just 2 days before the trip.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210417_024319547.mp.jpg

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210417_024319547.mp-copy.jpg

6. Chain and Sprocket kit
The KTM 390 Adventure runs 15 front and 45 rear as stock. I found this to be a trifle lethargic in Asian conditions. The first year I got the bike, longer trips were out of the question, so we spent most of our time dual sporting or at least trying to. So I dropped a 14 front and kept the 45 rear. Bike felt sprightly but lost all the top end. Just before the trip, I consulted with my mechanic friend and we decided to drop the 14, go back to 15 in the front. And then drop the 45 and instead go up by one tooth to a 46 in the rear. This worked absolutely perfectly for a mixed adventure trip like this and I will be sticking to this goldilocks set up.

7. Front brake pads.
My front brake pads after 10,000 kms were close to bust, so I just added a new pair from KTM. These are all sintered. Kept the older ones as a back up in my kit bag.

Everything else was stock. Tyres included. Metzeler tourance. I wanted to add a high fender, but just had no time to get around to it. Its on the wishlist.

At the garage. What we want vs what we get.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img20200302wa0003.jpeg

My mate getting new wheels. Nah, he was getting his actual wheels straightened out.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210208_101904942.jpg

Still a cow.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210208_101501329.jpg

Last edited by Red Liner : 15th May 2021 at 18:56.
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Old 15th May 2021, 18:56   #4
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Default re: 2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report

Here's a video I made talking a bit about the bike prep, whilst riding country trails in the lower Himalayas.

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Old 16th May 2021, 10:34   #5
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Default Luggage System

I'll quickly talk about my luggage pack for this trip. I will not go into any great detail at this time, I think it makes more sense to show everything I packed, and what I actually used out of that at the end of this trip report. Then you can be the judge of whether this was minimalist travel or extravagance to the T.

I did not weight my bags. I figured if I could carry the main bag in one hand up a flight of stairs, am good. Ofcourse, I didn't factor in riding whole days in the rain without grub, and reaching the place only to find I had to climb a little mountain to get to the bed. Oh well. Less is more always.

The SW Motech Drybag 350 is 35 litres in total. Waterproof. The little tail bag on the right is from Viaterra, and its called a pod. 15 litres.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210511_070128326.mp.jpg

What's in the SW Motech bag
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210511_070220835.mp.jpg

Left to right
1. Vitamins + Electronics bag (Chargers, go pro etc)
2. Walking shoes + Flip-flops
3. Winter clothes pack + space for trinkets I want to carry back home
4. Everyday clothes pack
5. 2.5 litres of Oil
6. Sleeping bag
7. Handlebar dry bag which I never used on the bar, but kept a fuel filter safe

What was in the 15 litre pack
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210511_070427161.mp.jpg


1. Sanitiser
2. Tools
3. Wet wipes
4. Jack to get the rear wheel up
5. Rain jacket - used almost 50% of the trip.
6. Rok straps if I needed them.
6. Missing: Hot coffee flask/water bottle.

How it all looked on the bike
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_20210313_050518_613.jpg

45 days turned into about 70-75 days. But as I found out, if what you carry works for 10 days, you can stretch that infinitely longer. I love it.
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Old 26th May 2021, 11:33   #6
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Default Getting to the Off-road Destination - Arunachal Pradesh.

Getting to the Off-road Destination - Arunachal Pradesh.


Was a royal pain in the butt. We had to ride right across India, from the South West to the North East. We decided to take the Eastern Corridor which hugs the East Coast of India skirting the Bay of Bengal. Probably the worst decision of our lives, but if it wasn't the worst decision we wouldn't remember much of it now would we?

So I'll do the next few days detailing all the cardinal mistakes one should never make - which we did in abundance. The saving grace was we made all these mistakes very early in the trip, and hence fixed that shit. So we never made those mistakes again.

This is the map of the route we took to reach the gateway into Arunachal Pradesh - Bhalukpong.

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3100 kms. Just a little under 2000 miles. What? That's like 2 days if you ride hard and 3 days if you take it easy right?

Wrong homie. Not in India. In India, you're dodging dogs, cows, crows, storks, ball crushing road humps, suspension swallowing craters, martian dust storms, locals getting driving lessons on the freeway, weather that flips from 40+celsius to pouring rain within an hour, 18 wheeler trucks manned by 16 year old kids because the actual driver's too busy smoking something...I could go on.

So we took , let me see, 6 bloody days to get there and cover 3100 kms. And kid you not, we were riding like maniacs every morning from about 5 am until about 5pm or so in the evening. Any earlier or later is asking for trouble. This was our schedule for the riding days between 1 and 6.

Schedule
04.00: Wake up Call
05.00: Depart
10.00: Drink the coffee we made at the hotel out of our hot flasks. This kept us going.
14.00: Lunch ONLY because its too hot to ride anymore.
17.00: Reach destination hotel for the day.
20.00: Dinner
22.00: Hit the bed.

Departures were beautiful for the most part.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5053.jpg

Ofcourse we had many water breaks throughout the day. There is no way you can ride in sweltering early March 40c temperatures in India without water. I think we were going through 7-8 litres of water a day. Every water break was strictly timed, about 5 minutes and not longer. Helmets off, water in, helmets on, go. Pee breaks went with the water breaks. The gas breaks were not breaks, we tanked up and vamoose. Luckily both our motorcycles had great tank range. The Versys 650 has a 21 litre tank and at about 20 kms per litre, was averaging about 350 kms when the reserve light came on. The 390 adventure from KTM on the other hand had only 14.5 litres, but blessed with a good gas economy. About 35 kms to the litre. That meant I was also averaging about 350 kms before needing to visit the gas station.

Gas Station break
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5065.jpg

The other thing that really helped, the both of us didn't really need a breakfast or other such civilised things to keep going throughout the day. We just needed coffee, and we grabbed lunch if the weather was ridiculously hot. This helped us save mega time on roads where we could only average 60 kms per hour and thus about 500-600 kms for the day. I think there were days when we skipped even lunch altogether and just did dinner at the hotel.

Typical water break somewhere around India.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5061.jpg

We lost a dress size in 6 days.

Last edited by Red Liner : 26th May 2021 at 13:49.
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Old 28th May 2021, 12:55   #7
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Default Day 1. The day of bloopers, mistakes, errors, bad judgement calls - you name it, and it happened

Day 1. The day of bloopers, mistakes, errors, bad judgement calls - you name it, and it happened

Erreur 1: Always leave early in the morning
Ofcourse we botched up this simple cardinal rule of motorcycle travel. I was up and running by around 4.00 in the morning, but my pretty mate HAD to go out for a late night drink with buddies and finally arrived to meet me only at 6.30 am!

The sun was already creeping out and we knew we had a freaking long tough day ahead of us.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5055.jpeg

This set us up quite nicely for the rest of the day. We had no clue what was actually in store.

Fehler 2: Assuming too much - especially about road conditions and directions - IN INDIA.
Never ever assume things in India. Whatever the hell your assumption is, India will always, always throw a curveball right back at you. I could not emphasise that any more.

We had mapped out the journey from "after" this highway journey. That in itself was exhausting because we had never been to some of these places in the far east of the country and knew very few locals who could actually help us. We finally found one, a great friend to this day, but more on that later. Ofcourse, I mapped the whole journey apart from this highway bit - i handed over this "responsibility" to my mate, who promptly shat on it lol. (If my mate's reading, alright shut it I am equally guilty.)

We "assumed" "this is a highway man", and we had done this route just two years back, i mean how much can change in that intervening period right? If anything the roads will probably only be better.

Well, you assumed wrong.

Since we had no "google map directions" pre-done, we were relying on sign boards which were either wrong or quickly went extinct as we went down the highway.

Blooper 1: Mate was ahead of me, took the wrong turn to another part of the country and jizzed away. I am a little more conservative, so I stopped, asked for directions at the junction, found my mate had gone on his own trip somewhere else. Called him, and asked him to get hell back.

Blooper 2: Fast forward 30+ kms, and he does the same darned thing again! Now I was getting mad. We had already started late and we were way behind schedule! And it was just day 1.

Now I tell him that we need google maps on, because this isn't happening again. So he puts google maps on his phone mount, keys in the end destination and starts riding - ahead of me so I can keep a freakin eye on him.

Blooper 3: The thing with google maps is, you can use it two ways. You can either keep the internet on, and it keeps suggesting shorter routes, estimates traffic conditions.

Anyway, lets not digress. We were already digressing on the freeway. My mate does it again - takes the messed up inner town route instead of the highway that bypasses the town. I, ofcourse, follow him dutifully but realise this is not happening. So I stop, ask for directions again, and this time put MY maps on and find that we are riding right into a maze of 8 am town traffic in the Indian hinterlands. Our worst nightmare was coming true. Why did this happen? He had his google maps on with internet live, and the damn thing reorganised directions because we missed the turn and ofcourse the inner town route was shorter in distance but hell on time.

So I call him back YET again and this time, I decide to lead and have my maps on, with the internet OFF. Thats how I do it always, because I've been through this before. My mate however DOES NOT learn, and this keeping the internet on (he listens to music via apple) will come to bite him back quite a few times in the next few weeks.

Well how on earth, but somewhere along the way, we had some good roads.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5062.jpeg

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5068.jpeg

Schnitzer 3: Never over reach your targets on Day 1 of the trip. You have no idea what the conditions are like.

This was our route plan, distance and time plan for Day 1.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-screenshot-20210528-11.26.55-am.png

It's not so bad. Many folks have done this distance in the past. We even did this once on the way back from another trip. That gave us some bravissimo confidence to crack this.

This is where we got to finally.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-screenshot-20210528-11.27.36-am.png

We actually reached this town by midnight. Since we had no intention of stopping here in the first place, we had no hotel bookings, and hadn't even bothered to look this up earlier, because we were so busy navigating non existent roads and pleasant 40 degree C temperatures. Ah, perfect.

This time, it was me who messed up. I missed a turn and shot straight down the wrong road. My mate was busy trying to wave me down, but I could't see a damn thing at 11 pm and 100 kms per hour. So he races ahead, catches up with me. And then. Proceeds to screw things up EVEN further.

Rule to using Google Maps: Never, never allow it to re-route if you missed a turn. Go the hell back, and take the original directions that were mapped out.

We didn't do this. I was too tired to argue, and I followed my mate because he was so confident about google maps (man, do you NOT learn?), and we entered the most, messed up, war ravaged, land mine strewn desolate stretch of road in existence. Until Day 1. We had worse later.

It looked like an asteroid shat all over the place. We were destroyed. Now we just wanted to reach a hotel, we had no food, no water, it was a miracle we were still alive.

Well, we got diahhriaed all over. The "hotel" my mate booked online in the middle of the night turned out to be in the centre of the most crowded market in town! What the hell! We reached, and I had a terrible sinking feeling, much like how the poor boys felt aboard the Kursk submarine when it sank without a trace, god rest their souls. We looked like aliens there in our gear, landing in from outer space in the middle of the night. We had one good look at the hotel and knew it was nothing more than a freaking brothel. We quickly tried to hunt another place down, it had parking for our motorcycles and was just a kilometre away. Alright, lets do this and get this night over with man.

So we went, and yep, this time the pictures and the hotel facade in reality matched. Never trust the internet pictures. The rooms however were beyond redemption, but hey beggars can't be choosers in the middle of the night. We ordered in some really terrible food and called it a night.

I was already having second thoughts about the trip now. I am not very good with "riding stress". Riding stress is defined as riding long inordinate, hours on a motorcycle, in bad messed up conditions (not off-road!) in a third world country, and its beginning to seem more like work and less like a vacation. The ol' codger in the head made his appearance. If Day 1 on a regular freeway is this bad, man we are gonna get rogered in places where we can't even speak the language and there are no roads to speak of! Home's not too far? Fancy turning back? What kind of excuse can you give your mate? Think hard, you can come up with something legit. Had a long chat with my mate, let loose my worries. Ofcourse, he went down on his knees...shut it pervs. He was pleading to have me reconsider.

I figured lets take a call in the morning.

Last edited by Red Liner : 29th May 2021 at 10:49.
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Old 30th May 2021, 16:25   #8
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Default Day 2 Getting back on Track

Day 2 Getting back on Track

Rajamundhry - Bhubhaneshwar
Distance 620 kms~
Stayed at: Oyo Town House Mancheswar
https://www.oyorooms.com/104230/

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-screenshot-20210530-3.46.38-pm.png

Waking up this morning was tough. Getting out of the wretched room was easy.

My mate decided to work out a good deal for me. He knew I hated riding long stressful highway miles the whole day and night only to fall into bed. I needed picture stops, local chats, and coffee along the way to keep me in the hunt. All these things were impossible on 1000+ km days on unfinished Indian highways.

So his deal was this. We target 600 kms for the day. If we reach that point by 15.00, we will push ahead a little more to cover distance but will halt all riding by 17.00. This sounded like a good deal to me. And yeah, we'll make sure we spend enough time finding a good hotel online so we don't end up staying in dumps any more.

So off we went by about 6 am. A quick word of advice my mate gave me and I think stands in good stead. When doing tough long miles, always make sure you crack the first session well. That means you try and make sure you do at least 40% of the distance by 10 AM. That gives you breathing space to wrap the rest up leisurely, or keep time for contingencies. Since we never did breakfast, our times that morning was pretty spectacular, and back again I was in the rider's seat.

I did also realise that each of us have different stress thresholds for how much distance we can cover in a day. Some are happy doing 300 kms, some are good with 600-700 kms (like me), and some can muster 1000 kms a day like my mate. It's important that you either find riding buddies who have similar thresholds, OR arrive at an agreement upfront about what average distances can be done in a day together. I didn't;t do this, and paid the price on Day 1. Going forward, we did not exceed 600 km ride days as long as we were together.

We hit an asteroid belt once more about 200 kms after we left. Instead of taking the inner city route (good roads, bad traffic), we risked the unfinished highway and paid a price again. Luckily however, we hit "off-road" in the day, we could see, we were well rested after the night's sleep, and thus could pin throttle and blow through everything. This would be a regular occurrence over the next few days. This time, we actually enjoyed it, because there was no "pressure" of a big hyper mile day ahead of us. Lots of learning.

Finally we crossed over one of the many borders to mark our baby steps towards the East of India.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5071.jpg

We had just ridden past the Chillika lake.
Quote:
Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of over 1,100 km2. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the largest brackish water lagoon in the world after The New Caledonian barrier reef. It has been listed as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. The lake is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilika_Lake
Sadly, we had no time to spend here.

I was having a good time, and since we made pretty good time, and my mate wanted to make doubly sure I was having myself a good time (he was still a bit nervous about my irrational behaviour from last night), we decided to stop for a well deserved brunch well after lunch hour.

So we stopped at the famous Chilika Dhaba to savour some fresh water fish from the lake.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5076.jpg

As we sat waiting for lunch, we decided that we will stick with our halt point for today (thank heavens!). We quickly looked up hotels online and found an insane steal deal of 750 INR ($10) for the two of us in a good air conditioned room - the reviews stacked up well! So we booked it and chuckled at our good fortune as we dug into our lunch.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5077.jpg

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5078.jpg

Well fed, we rode into the hotel and disaster. The "manager" at the front desk refused to entertain us for the price we paid "online". It's double that or nothing! Well, we booked it online so we called the website and gave them a piece of our mind. They fixed the mess we were in, and offered to pay the rest to the hotel. It took the better part of an hour, but I stood my ground and it paid off. We got into our room and it was absolutely worth more than double the price!

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-8b0e2b6a557e04b3.jpg
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-34f40849132cf24f.jpg

We spent the evening heading out to buy us some fruits for the night, as well as masks and sanitisers for the journey ahead. We had a nice long walk, and spent much of the trip the same way. Bounce in a bit early, so we could walk around town, explore "local" culture and markets, and the nightlife.

Last edited by Red Liner : 30th May 2021 at 16:27.
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Old 6th June 2021, 12:04   #9
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Default Day 3 & 4: Rocketing Ahead + Bring it on!

Day 3 and 4: Rocketing ahead and Bring it on!

Day 3
Bhubhaneshwar - Asansol
Distance 500kms
Stayed at: City Residency, Asansol
http://citiresidenci.com/Hotel/the_c...idenci_asansol

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-screenshot-20210606-10.48.26-am.png

There's a big reason why I am putting down Hotel names out here. Finding good hotels ON the highway, without much of a deviation from our route was proving to be a HUGE challenge. Most great hotels are always inside the city or town and we desperately wanted to avoid the terrible traffic downtown. Now that we found these places, and have stayed here for a pretty reasonable price, we will always stay at these places if we ever get on this route again.

Pretty average ride. Except when we got into this little town about an hour from our destination and it had the most rabid traffic we probably ever experienced in our lives.

The bathroom in the hotel had a weird window open to the bedroom. Hmm.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210309_124755340.mp.jpg

Setting the focus on our auxiliary cannons
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210309_123747240.portrait.jpg

Building on the right is NOT our hotel.

Day 4
Asansol - Siliguri
Distance 460 kms
Stayed at: Yaksha Holiday Home

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-screenshot-20210606-11.08.43-am.png

Since we had a pretty okay ride the past two days, the riding gods decided they will send a few thunderbolts down our way. 5 kms after we exit the hotel on the "highway", we come across a truck, half of it inside a crater and the other half sticking out like a sore thumb. We look beyond it and find more trucks dismantled by some kind of aerial bombing. WTH?! I remember just stopping and checking my GPS to make sure we're on the right track. This is insane! We couldn't continue on the road ahead because it was complete devastation and trucks were blocking every inconceivable exit route. So we followed a local, rode through someone's backyard, and circumvented the landmine behind us.

Thereafter the roads became a bit more calming. Or so we thought.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_509501.jpg

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_510001.jpg

Then all our nightmares came to fruition at one go. We stopped. Ahead of us lay, the longest train of trucks, parked back to back, flush against each other on the highway. The only way through was again to ride through backyards, front yards, and between said trucks to make it to the border.

Yes, we were between the borders of the two most infamous states of India, Bihar and Jharkhand. Both used to be one big mega wild west state where anything goes. Now they're two.

Its a pity I didn't have my goPro on me because this was one hell of us a border crossing. Never in my wildest dreams have I ever done something like this. At one point, I had to beg a good samaritan trucker to just budge his truck by a foot so I could squeeze through. We saw cars on the way side, having spent the whole day and probably the forthcoming night with no place to go. Motorcycles rule!

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5105.jpg

In Bihar, we were due to meet a few friends. We decided against a full blown lunch and instead downed many glasses of Lassi.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5106.jpg

Lassi (pronounced [ləsːi]) is a popular traditional dahi (yogurt)-based drink that originated in the Indian Subcontinent. Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit. Namkeen (salty) lassi is similar to doogh, while sweet and mango lassis are like milkshakes. Lassi may be infused with cannabis in the form of bhang.

We avoided the Bhang for obvious reasons.

The friends we met were Mod Sheel and his buddy who is also a part of the Versys India Group. Had a good time meeting these guys, but I took a wrong turn somewhere and had to back track to see them. They were waiting for us quite patiently for the better part of an hour!

Hi & Bye
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5107.jpg

We hit the hotel later that evening and got ourselves a well deserved hot shower each and hit the bed. What a day!

Sheel has been in this area most of his life and knew routes well. So we discussed our next few days with them, and I will be thankful to them for suggesting we take a particular route a day or two later. That was by far absolutely fantabulous!

Last edited by Red Liner : 6th June 2021 at 12:19.
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Old 7th June 2021, 14:30   #10
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Default Day 5 Siliguri - Mangaldoi

Day 5
Siliguri - Mangaldoi
Distance 475 kms
Stayed at: Hotel Madhuban
https://www.google.com/travel/hotels/s/3ZC9r
Where you should stay: Hotel Blue Orchid
https://www.google.com/travel/hotels/s/3ENVw

Armed with the route tip from Day 4 with our friends, we marched on to this little town called Mangaldoi, to stick to the upper head of the mighty Brahmaputra.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-screenshot-20210607-11.53.18-am.png

About 500 kms from Guwahati, the capital of Assam, but we weren't going there.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5115.jpeg

What you see in the background are the famed Tea Estates of Assam. Some of the best tea in the world originates from Assam.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_511801.jpeg

On the Coronation Bridge where you can split to go in two directions. One goes North to Sikkim, and the other goes further east to Arunachal Pradesh.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_512301.jpg

The Coronation bridge (I have better pictures and a bit of history later on in the trip report) was built over the Teesta River which originates from the Sikkim Himalayas.

The Teesta River originates from the Pahunri (or Teesta Kangse) glacier above 7,068 metres (23,189 ft), and flows southward through gorges and rapids in the Sikkim Himalaya. It is fed by rivulets arising in the Thangu, Yumthang and Donkha mountain ranges. The river then flows past the town of Rangpo where the Rangpo River joins, and where it forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal up to Teesta Bazaar. Just before the Teesta Bridge, where the roads from Kalimpong and Darjeeling join, the river is met by its main tributary, the Rangeet.

This is where we are.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_02091656701.jpeg
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_02100879201.jpeg
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_02111884801.jpeg

We spent much time on this bridge before we decided to get going again. We still had a full day's ride ahead of us. To make sure we had time for picture breaks, we skipped breakfast for good measure.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_512701.jpg
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_512901.jpg

Last edited by Red Liner : 7th June 2021 at 14:59.
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Old 8th June 2021, 07:10   #11
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Default Re: 2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!

Keeping this epic ride in the Motorcycle forum so that our 2-wheel fans don't miss it. Going to our homepage today
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Old 8th June 2021, 07:55   #12
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Default Re: 2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report

Was waiting for this thread for quite some time.
It's amazing what you guys have done. I am sure this report will motivate others (me included) to just pick up the bike and head out.

And ADV 390 just lived upto its name. Now that's how you use your bike.
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Old 8th June 2021, 10:07   #13
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Default Re: 2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report

Amazing ride I must say !
The NE is a different world altogether in its own right. This observation is based on few of my drives/rides there. Eagerly awaiting for the rest of this epic to unfold !
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Old 8th June 2021, 17:13   #14
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Default Re: 2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report

What a ride and stunning pics. Waiting for the other part.
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Old 8th June 2021, 18:26   #15
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Default Day 5 - Continued. To be or Not to Be. Tis the Question.

Day 5 - Continued.
To be or Not to Be. Tis the Question.


As we continued down the bridge and beyond, we came across the Indian Army training. I have never seen the Indian Army training like this before.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_022826436.portrait2.jpg

Tanks and Big Guns. Wow!
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_513101.jpeg

We stood by, gazing at them and taking a couple of pictures - trying to respect their privacy or the lack of it and not zooming in too much with our pathetic phone cameras.

But the pristine roads beckoned us further. This stretch we were on was absolutely amazing, and we quickly forgot all the troubles we faced getting up to this point. How short and fleeting is human memory!
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-img_5134.jpeg

We stopped for a little "Chai" break by the way side.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_033306476.portrait.jpg

We were now well and truly off the main monstrous highways and into the more rustic, quiet, and simple parts of the Indian hinterland. We were absolutely loving it.

Gazing down a village road going absolutely no where, and possibly somewhere.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_035708085.jpg

An open Indian farm and its citizens going about their daily life, uninterrupted.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_035810394.portrait.jpg

We had to get going again. But before that, let me indulge you...

I love stopping by the way side on such rides. It needn't even be scenic or breathtaking or anything. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the above two pictures. But it was exactly that which captivated me. Every day life. Local cyclists going about to their daily work. Cows grazing along fresh grassy meadows. A hen teaching her chicks where the prized worms lie. Birds flitting about overhead. Overhearing gossip at the chai shop which could very well meander into national politics. You're just standing there, observing, taking it all in, breathing in everything that particular moment has to offer. Suddenly you feel You're not just a tourist passing by. You feel integrated and connected, even if it was just for that fleeting instant in time. These memories are etched in you, far better than some snow capped mountain, or wild waterfall. You realise that Every day ordinary moments are worth stopping for, worth cherishing, worth absorbing...and then you just disappear.

I do plenty of this, much to the annoyance of my mate and others I ride with. For most of them, its always about how quickly we can get to the destination, and spending maximum time taking those amazing poser snaps at awesome vantage points. I get it, I like to do that too, but in doing so, we forget to do the most primal of things we're meant to do - to see, to observe, to understand, to breathe, and to just...Be.

As I was lost in my thoughts, i heard my mate fire his bike up and I knew it was time to go. As we rode on, we suddenly came up to the border of Bhutan! The forbidden country! Damn! How to train your dragon anyone?
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_044016957.portrait201.jpeg

Bhutan was forbidden then, and is sadly still forbidden now for international travel because of Covid Restrictions. Even their own citizens stuck abroad aren't let back in! I met one such girl in Gangtok, Sikkim, who has been stuck for over a year outside her own country. I felt sad, her family was sitting in Bhutan, and she was here right across the border working in a hotel who takes care of her like family all the same. More on her later.

As we were riding down these fabulous roads, I came up to a guy riding on a Royal Enfield Himalayan. A closer look from behind and I noticed he had the same number plates as from my province. For all my inherent introspective introversion, I get quite giddy with excitement when I meet other solo travellers on the road lol. So I waved him down and proceeded to have a little chat.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_060229129.jpg

Little introductions done, we realised we would be on the same route for a little while longer, and decided we would ride together as long as we could. A little further on, my mate who just couldn't keep to the national speed limits had disappeared ahead and had stopped at a little hotel to get some coffee and snacks. We decided that would be a good halt point to get out of the noon sun which was beating down quite fearlessly.
2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_064036406.jpg

I will lay out a brief introduction about this gentleman before us. A sound engineer from one of the bigger cities in India, Bangalore, he decided he wanted a change in career, life, and his future, and decided to go teach kids in the tough but beautiful neighbourhood of the upper Himalayas, Manali. Some of you will know this once picturesque village, which is now dangerously careening into a bustling homogenised tourist trap town catering to loud drunk Indians from Delhi. But thats a story for another day. He was now riding towards Meghalaya, and maybe further east to volunteer with a friend's school for a while, because of the lockdown restrictions in his part of the world. I also think, he just wanted some fresh'er' air and explore this yonder side of our country. Its only when you travel, that you meet such people.

2 months across the Eastern Indo-Tibet Himalayas | A KTM 390 "Adventure" | 2021 Report-pxl_20210311_072107012.jpg

Two wheels for the soul. Does it matter which two wheels they are?
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