Thanking you from Myanmar, for being here and following this blog on road trip to London. Please do share with those who are keen on reading our stories from the highway.
Getting this blog out is more challenging than I initially thought. The sheer quantum of operations and coordination work in the day light hours, consumes us all completely. But I am committed to bring it to you -at least twice a week if not more.
I am now sitting in a roadside cyber cafe in a small border town of Tamu in Myanmar, and penning this one down – got some hook on to the cafe’s wifi – it cost me 3000 Kyat ( don’t worry its just Rs 150). We have had a rendezvous with some early monsoon showers and the humidity is rising – its mostly cloudy and a good weather for riders. Its noon and I have not seen the sun yet.
Tamu is the sister town of Indian border town of Moreh in Manipur. Tamu is 2 shades cleaner, and the roads are a few shades better. But looking at my last 5 years across this town of Moreh – Tamu – it has gone a lot better year on year. I guess the under development Asian Highway ( AH1), which is supposed to be the Gateway to ASEAN – will do wonders to these border towns. Interestingly Moreh has a thriving Tamil population from the British days.
I assume you all would like to know a bit about actors of this magnum opus. Allow me a few lines on the participants and Hamsafars.
We have Rason, in his early forties, who has a business of Concrete from Coimbatore. An amazing rider of CCT ( Cotton City Throttle) riding group. Rason has been on our rides in Chiangmai and Bhutan. Rason’s humility and a capability to laugh at himself is something that just about catches your attention early. Of course he is the best camera shot on the ride – and do watch out for his pics that he has allowed me to use on our blog and Instagram. He is riding a BMW 1200 GS.
The next in line is the Prasads’ Family – GV, Nandini and their Son Rakshith from Hyderabad. Prasads run a chain of Pathcare Labs, pan India. GV came to realise his riding passion 3 years back, now owns 10 super-bikes, and here is the big news- he would achieve the rare landmark of doing 1,00,000 kms within few hours of entering Myanmar. For GV there is no looking back, he is now a rider on the mission to ride the lengths and breadths of this Globe, hopefully we would be part of that dream.
GV and Rakshith are riding BMW 1200 GS, and Nandini is watching them ride the road across Asia and Europe from the back up SUV – this she believes is a lot more peace than worrying back home about the boys on bikes.
Rakshith is all of 21 and has just taken the time out between MBBS commitments to finish this ride of a lifetime … What luck to do this at such early stage in life. And the by the way, he is amazingly tech savvy, is aware of the nitty gritty of whats inside of BMW GS 1200 motorcycle. That is such a relief to all the other BMW riders on expedition. With the parents as spirited road trippers, he has inherited an amazing attitude to adventure rides.
Moving on to the 2 riders from Ahmedabad of the Vibrant Gujarat – Prakash Bhai or PP and Hirenbhai or Kaka or Bablo. I have not seen more vibrant riders yet – with so much zest for life and endless energies to keep the team spirits high. Both are members of Gun Riders Motorcycle Club (GRMC) of Ahmedabad, and are doing the journey on amazing Royal Enfield Himalayans. Two Indian bikes that would do this arduous journey and make Royal Enfield proud.
PP – an active Lions Club of Karnavati, Ahmedabad member (LIONS Club is an International NGO) , is the brain being running of GRMC. A veteran of many enduring and tough rides all over India – he has a savvy social media presence and is pretty popular among bikers of India and abroad. PP has high endurance for long rides and a penchant to find a biker friend in every city.
Hirenbhai or Kaka is running 60 and is age wise the eldest on the group. Had he not come to this ride, he would have been overage to ride on China. This young man too came to adventure a few years back. Hiren believes that his current phase of life is a bonus and is ready to do anything to live life to the fullest – anything else just does not matter to him #OneLife #CarpeDiem. His indomitable positivity and capability to accept things the way they are, speaks of the deep philosophical understanding Kaka has of the life we are living. His zest for living life is worth emulating.
Then we have the man from the Royal Household of Dundlod, Rajat Singh Shekhawat, again on the 4th BMW 1200 GS of our ride. This steed he bought just a few months back with the sole purpose of doing a ride to London. Rajat grew up in the tea gardens of North Assam, went to Scindhias, Mayo and DU, is a reputed shooter and an excellent sportsman. He runs SUVASA – an awe inspiring, pan-India chain of ethnic clothing. Rajat incidentally was the first guy to sign up and its his steely resolve that pushed us to make this ride happen. We are all grateful.
Ankit of Viktorianz, is the man-friday who has put in countless hours for almost 100 days in working out and putting together the complex logistics of ride – you cannot imagine what it takes. He has been a Viktorianz man for 3 years+, has done a few trans-border rides already, and is now on this big one. Ankit is as tireless in operations as anyone can imagine – and a budding world explorer. Such great support to the expedition that I cannot do justice in writing here …
Finally its Keshwars’ Family – Sarita, heads a few mission critical things at Viktorianz – and has pieced together the maze of stays we would do in 2 continents over 55 days. Sarita has been a biker, a trekker, a road tripper across India and an Educator – including Principal of a School – and above all a conscience keeper at Viktorianz. Her rock solid efforts for conduct of an operation of this proportion – is the reason that it became possible to roll out in time.
Teesta, or daughter, is moving into final year BMM from Jaihind College Mumbai and would be our Camera team cum Media person. On the verge of stepping out of her teens, she para-jumped into the expedition – literally. More from her cameras as we go along.
And finally we have Tanay, all of 13 years, going into standard 9th at Suncity School, Gurgaon – and the only thing he was worried for packing is – the football. His aim on this expedition is to play football with local kids wherever we halt. Always on a look out for kids playing something or the other. Tanay, at this age is missing a month plus of school to go onto this education for life. We are so happy to enable this for him. His only regret – is that we are in Moscow in FIFA World Cup opening and we are not watching a game.
Well thats the team … now back to story again.
Bit of a flashback – I began from home in Gurgaon on 26 April, did about 1900 kms and reached Guwahati for preparations in two and a half days, on 28 April. The road from NOIDA to Lucknow was unbelievably super – we pulled tremendous mileage. I am sure you are aware that there is a portion on highway Agra – Lucknow, where the fighter jets of Indian Airforce can land. Yes .. thats true.
At Lucknow, Rajat joined us and we rode together till Guwahati. Except the road from Lucknow to Gorakhpur that looks crowded, the rest of the roads have come up well. There are one million diversions and opposite coming traffic and goats – but, what the heck – a lot is getting better for roads in our country.
In Guwahati, we had a hectic 2 days of final coordination work and preps and we launched the ride right on time.
Given below in images are the glimpses of day wise activities with notes. Have a look and please do share the blog with family and friend, especially children.
Day 1 | 01 May 2018 | Guwahati to Dimapur | 280 kms
We rode out right on time at 7:30 am, to Pobitra National Park, 45 kms out of Guwahati – to watch some Rhinos in the wild, Pobitra has a remarkable density of one horned Indian Rhinos ( world’s highest – as they claim) and citing is definite. We saw over a dozen Rhinos in the grasslands, a wild boar and some species of birds. The abundant oxygen and freshness of jungle made us quickly forget the polluted cities we live in. Have a look at the pics of the day.
Day 2 | 02 May 2018 | Dimapur to Imphal | 210 kms
This was a tough day. Dimapur to Kohima is one of the worst roads to ride – and then to Imphal is no better. This surely was one ‘BAD ROADs Day’. It took us a full day and some night hours to make to Imphal. We did make a brief halt at Kohima War Cemetery and Zakhama War Memorial – you would like to know that British War Museum has nominated the battles of Imphal and Kohima to be the most significant battles ever fought by the British Army, ever . The rains did play truant several time. The neglect of this part of India is so obvious and sad – and I really wish things get better here – with Look East Policy. Have a look at the pics of the day.
Day 3 | 03 May 2018 | Imphal to Kale | 250 kms
This was a big day – we were scheduled to cross our first border – into Myanmar. So you cross a series of Assam Rifles, Immigration, Customs and again Assam Rifles border post – to get into Myanmar. The process went very smooth and seamless – and quite a few landmarks achieved in the day. It is interesting to know that Indian Border Roads Organisation constructed the first 80 km of road from Moreh – Tamu – now called the Friendship Road. Do you know that Myanmar is the world’s highest growing tourist destination? It whopping 400% year on year. Have a look at pics of the day.
Alright people, I am going to close now – its time to roll on. In the next blog we shall talk of the two most spectacular spots in Myanmar – The ultimate Old Bagan and the Life on Inle Lake. Here is something to smile …
Do keep watching this space for the stories. It would be great if some young children follow the travelogue – I believe it would be a good learning for them. Thanks once again for being here – do leave a comment and would be happy to answer anything you want to ask …
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PS: We are planning the next London Road Trip, from 15 April 2019.