maandag 4 juni 2012

M&M In English

Because of the many questions while traveling here in India for only 2 days, I decided to start writing an English version of our blog. First I'll introduce ourselves and tell about the start of this trip. I want to apologize for my bad English writing upfront, but hope you will enjoy the blog anyway.

About 12 weeks ago we started this blog because of our planned trip on motorbike from India back to The Netherlands, where we come from. We are Marika Reizinger and Mirjam Grunwald, two friends who met earlier this year at an annual winter dummie campweekend organized by the Dutch BMW GS Club. After this, Marika invited me for dinner at her place and so our friendship began. We found out, that we have the same interest in traveling and Marika told me about her experiences as a tour guide in India. She takes groups with her on Royal Enfields into the Himalaya. I always wanted to go there so we decided to do the trip she's doing with the group for ourselves next year. During the weeks after that we both had some problems at work and I spoke out my famous “flight” words: I wish I could pack my motorbike and just drive away. Marika immediately responded by saying: me to! A few weeks later, after a off road ride we sat together and I said: Why don't we just do it this summer, Why don't we take of from work and drive around for 2 months. Because Marika already planned to go to in India to work for the travel agency, the plan was born: we ship our bikes to India and drive back to NL. And so we started planning. Our original plan was to travel through India, Nepal, Tibet Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, but Tibet was a no go..... We made a new plan, much simpler: India, Nepal, back to India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and back to NL.
There was to lot to do. Our bikes had to be prepared, we had to organize the shipment and the visa. We started with the bikes and the shipment, because we had not much time left. In about 6 weeks the bikes had to be in Rotterdam Harbor. We needed a crate, parts, spare parts, tuning of the bikes etc. Meanwhile we had to find out how to get our bikes to Calcutta. If you've never done something like this before, it's a hell of an job! Long live internet! Of course we were not to first to do this (shipping motorbikes), but shipping to Calcutta was something new. By good luck we found an reliable agency who helped us out, even answered our “stupid” questions (thanks Maranke!). In the mean time we wrote a announcement on the BMW GS club forum and on facebook and the reactions started to come. A lot! And among them offers to help us out. Offers to teach us how to look after our bikes, what to do by mechanical problems etc. We needed some goods as well: panniers, other shocks, and more (spare)parts for our bike. When we told our story, more and more people were willing to help us out. We are sponsored by several firms (see the links on the right side of the page) and individuals. We even got a crate from one of my friends at the rowing club. We only had to shorten it and make the bottom piece, but most of the job was done and it looked very professional. The adjustment of crate however took us enough time. Even there we received a lot of help. My brother arranged a place to stall the crate and we could work on it and helped us out on our transport problem. He knew someone with a big trailer. The Harley Davidson Dealer provided us with metal base plates.
Many BMW club friends helped us by preparing the bikes. It was really amazing how much help we received. Thanks all of you!

The last Friday in april we transported out bikes in the crate to Rotterdam and so the first part of the preparations was finished. Now we had to take care of the visa. We already contacted an agency and gave them our passports and lists for the 4 visa we need for the trip (India, Nepal, Pakistan and Iran) Turkey can be arranged at the border without any problems. We also had to apply for a “carnet de pasage” to come in and out of every country with the bikes. You have to deposit an amount of money and get a load of paperwork back were you have to get your stamps every time you pass a border.

We had another 5 weeks to go and thought it would be less stressful. No way that happened. There were still a lot of things to arrange: film camera’s walky talkies and little things. In that time we started to worry about our visa. Two weeks before departure only one of the visa was arranged..... Nepal.... At the last day before we took of we received the most important visum: India. The visa for Pakistan and Iran we have to arrange on our way. We were mad like hell. The visum agency let us down hard, we found out. Because of sloppy work we had to put a lot of pressure on the agency, what made the last week a lot less exited as we had hoped for.....

But we made it. We are in India at this very moment. Visited Delhi yesterday and are split up now. Marika left with her group for a tour in the Himalaya's and I went sight seeing. At this very moment I'm sitting at a restaurant in Agra. Tomorrow I'll go to the Taj Mahal. Can it be even more touristic!
Delhi was a mess like we thought it was, but very impressive. We walked through little alleys, saw, smell the live in the old town. Although Marika and I never traveled together, we wanted to see the same things: not the most touristic places, but the “real live”. So we ended up in a Sikh Temple. I was hesitating to go in and a man invited us to the office. We were guided through the entire temple complex and “Lucky” told us a lot about the temple and the habits of the Sikhs. Beside the praying there is a possibility to get free meals 4 times a day for everyone, also not Sikhs. We were allowed to take a look in the kitchen were they make chapatis and a sort of curry. Very hospitable!

During my train ride to Agra I met some very friendly people. I learned a lot by asking and had to explain a the same things about the Netherlands. Nice way to travel! Although its very nice to travel around like this, I'm looking forward to get the bikes and drive for ourselves! We have to wait for that another 2 ½ weeks..... We will spend our time nicely until that. For Marika: working, but already driving on a motorbike and for me: sightseeing and relaxing (sort of) in the Ashram after that.
Tomorrow the taj Mahal. I will write down my impressions of the period before we take of on our bikes. All the foto's will be shown in the Dutch teksts.

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