Chasing the clouds

Location: Bangalore

Friday, October 13, 2006

Unchalli & Gokarna in monsoon..

Fri 06th Oct 2006:

Got out of office in a holiday mood..rushed home, picked up the luggage..helmet/jacket/glove..soon on the road with the usual getup. Caughtup with vicky at Nelamangala. Fast run but lotsa breaks. Reached Shimoga by 1am.
Next day a lazy start by inside jog falls..not much water but the weather conditions were interesting.were able to see the clouds bursting out in a closeby hill..then riding into those wet twisties through fog.

Sea bird resort - gokarna..i am adamant to avoid this place and stay beach side.kept the luggage and moved to Oom beach. Should have gone for that Sangam beach trek..but the late lunch and chill-out session at beach took toll on us.the sun brought back that golden evening..foregin couples taking evening bath..the beach is calm and beautiful..
spent lotsa hours in the beach..back to the shack..another long chat..with no time, it was 11:30pm..just thoughtof leaving the place as we were the last..but then it started pouring..the lights were off and eveybody got into their shelter..we were still on the lights..arrogant sea nearby..and it was pouring like the end..stuck-up for 1.5 hrs..later decided to ride back in rain..5kms of shivering ride and got into bed.

Another lazy resort morning..tasty breakfast..the coconut chutney tells me again this is what a chutney is abt!some flower shots..back on the bikes..this time, tried to reach sangam beach in bikes..only to find the ferrys are not ready to lift us. reached kumata and had a long discussion on what next.Didn’t dare to enter Yana at this point of mood to ride towards map says "Luchington falls" but never know what it is..locals clarified its Unchalli and suggested us to try..fine, lets try..we were on the remote twisties now..!

The ghat sections around yana were at its & wet..stopped at yana deviation..another check ourselves.."shall do?..or not?"..ok fine..its a strong "NO".. we were on towards of the best decisions made in the recent past..the road towards Unchalli goes through some beautiful villages and farm houses..everything was under mist..the green farms..the last 2kms before falls was slippery and i had to put down there once.

There the steps starts..the forest vegitation has covered and gulped the steps..need to crawl through..its wet & misty and goes down..pulled out couple of leeches..once on the view point, we are not seeing anything except a white screen..,but hearing this loud noise like a non-stop thunder storm..suddenly the mist cover removes, and there we see the beauty.. mother nature has lotsa new stuffs and keeps our jaws down all the time ..the view point is like on a green & misty slope surrounded by series of hills covered with dense forests..and right in our front, the blasting..never had such kind of experience.

Falls Video..


Monday, October 02, 2006

Rohtang pass in a truck!

After abt 2000kms ride in this Himalayan trip, I am here at this last pass.. Rohtang...3:30pm 14thSep..its some 20kms to the top and I am coming from keylang. a bike which has got almost dead clutch plates. The power generated from the bike is lesser than what we get from pedal cycling.
It can move in plains but not in uphill..and I have to make this 20 kms uphill. The occational trucks from behind & front making my life miserable.
Bike moves at snail speed with rpm reader crying at 7k’s…at steeps ,getting down and letting the bike to go by itself. Peru, my companion comes down to help often.

Every twist counted me more..stopped the bike and started tweaking the cable..the same thing I am doing for the past 1000kms to get the
last bit of juice from the clutch plates. Now, no more tweaking helps. Peru took my saddle bag and petrol can. Told him to go ahead and wait in the top.
Pushing the bike uphill there didn’t look like a nice idea..gets gasping very soon. During these hours I didn’t fail to grasp rohtang..
The offerings from this pass is no lesser to other places in Himalayas. Its all green..and it was misty..a slight drizzle..a perfect romantic evening.
Stopped at a viewpoint kind of place and started smoking. Its cold..and getting colder every 10mins..It’s the 13th day of the trip and still its going interesting.
Rohtang top is another 4kms ahead. Decided to stop the next suitable vehicle and upload the bike. At the point where I was sitting, I could see almost all of the road bends to this side of Rohtang. At a long view, found a took 30mins to reach my place only to find the truck is not empty. Another cig and another truck..this time, the driver stopped. Now the conversation has to get going whether I know hindi or not..told him “manali..lift??”..the reply came back to back.. “200rs??” :-)

Sounds like a great deal..driver and cleaner jumped out of the the worry is how to lift this 150kg bike into a 5feet high truck base.
Driver was very helpful..he stopped subsequent trucks came by to get support..finally the bike was in and tied well.
There was a surprise waiting for me when I jumped into the front cabin..driver took out a bottle and started emptying it..”oops..what am I seeing..”
I convinced myself that the amount he used is not that great..i know how big it could work.. lets go..!! :-)

Now I am sitting in the front cabin with driver on right and cleaner on left. The scene was quiet interesting and the truck started moving in the twisties.
Within a km (that is some 10 twists), driver stopped the truck and asked the cleaner to check if bike is still standing or what.. J ( could I forget this..)
He was had almost fallen and hanging…now the driver took some extra ropes..tied the bike in all possible directions.
another check after 2 kms..this time it looks good. By this time, peru already started walking down in the freezing cold to meet me.
Took him also in the truck and dropped him in the top to pick his bike.

Now the real long journey to Manali started..the views while coming down from rohtang was just stunning..the sun was stretching its stay for long and the red clouds didn’t allow him to show his face. There were some 100 small batches of clouds…all crawling below our height..just stunning view.
Took out the camera and tried to was a failed attempt as the truck was shacking like an earthquake. By this time, the cleaner got impressed with
the camera..showed him a full review of pics taken in the leh–rohtang leg. The cleaner supplies a lotsa goods to the driver on the hand grind tobacco, lighted cigs etc..Driver prefers filter-less cigs and cleaner prefers only pedi..i got one each from them as I was running out of stock.. ;-)

It was dark and we stopped at a tea shop..peru was right there. had a nice tea and some snacks..back to truck. Driver has a really tough job..the roads there are full of twists..and for every twist he has to rotate that thing for 10 times and release for another 10 times..poor chap..with bikes, just a gentle push on one side, the bike moves. ;-) moreover, for every single oncoming vechicle, he has to stop the whole truck standstill and wait till they cross..sometimes, he has to go back to give way.
..and he has to do this process for hours & hours..dont know how they manage..
Now the cleaner leaned forward and opened some slot..did something and then started hitting the took a min for me before realizing he was actually trying to put some songs…wowww…punjabi truck..i am sure some ‘gujal’ songs would be there..but my expectations failed..the poor thing didn’t turn-on at all.

By now, I realized even I have this IPod and I didn’t use it for 3 days. Took out and put it on my the cleaner had a ‘look’ on me.
ohh no.. I am not “showing off” man..i smiled at him..he asked what is it..i said “songs..”..he asked how many songs there.. I said “many..”
then he asked further which I couldn’t understand..only thing I could do is, pull out the left ear plug and put it on him.
He was really surprised to the quality of IPod music.. after sometime, he pulled out the earplug and gave it back. Guess Jennifer would have irritated him.
I had a huge collection of english pop,tamil,hindi,kannada movie songs..i love to listen whenever I am on was really different to listen songs while on a truck.

Finally Manali came by 10pm..pulled out the bike.
Now I asked peru to ask driver on how much he needs(thinking, he should have increased the rate after hard work)..driver replied promptly..”I said na..200rs”
Paid him and also gave him the 5ltr can full of petrol. Paid tips to the cleaner..infact it took 10mins to convince the cleaner to get the money from me..
he was not at all ready to accept money..the friendship I earned there.. :-)
What a wonderful is always sweet if we live with such people around…
..and I tell myself that I should be humble enough to others like what they showed me!