Part 3 — The Konkan
This is a part of a series of blog posts about our bike trip to Kashmir from Kerala. The travelogue is split into several blogs. You can find the intro and the link to all blogs here
Belgaum — Achara Beach
We reached the service station by 10 am, but the bike wasn’t ready, they said it’ll take another 2 hours. So we went to Kamal Basti, an old Jain temple built around 1200AD.
We ate breakfast and went back to the service station at 12. We had to wait another hour before the bike was ready. The Service manager told us that there was no need to replace the tyre, so we only replaced the rim.
Seeing our updates, one of our friends suggested that we should take the Konkan route instead of the highways to get a better experience. Since we were already 1 day behind, we decided to drop Rann of Kutch. It was already a big detour from our route. When we skipped that, we had an extra day, so we decided to use that to switch to Konkan route.
We crossed the western ghats and came to the other side to follow the Konkan route. The route was scenic.
Sree dropped in the thrilling idea of camping at a beach, and we decided to give it a try. We found a beach nearby on Google Maps. While we were navigating there, we took a wrong turn somewhere, but we didn’t notice it. A guy chased us down and told us that we were going the wrong way. He was a guy from Kannur (Thalassery). He came to us seeing our KL registration number. He didn’t even want to know where we were going, but he knew that we were going the wrong way. When we checked, he was right.
By the time we reached there, it was already dark. There wasn’t any light at the beach. It was a bit scary for me. We asked a local guy if we can set up our tents there. He seemed to be pretty supportive and showed us around. I was still pretty scared but decided to go with Sree’s call. There was also a small restaurant there, we ate dinner from there and slept with the soothing sound of the waves to our ears.
We were woken up by two police guys in the middle of the night. They questioned us for some time and later left us alone understanding our positive intentions.
Achara Beach — Mahad
Woke up refreshed the next day. After the morning routines, left the place by around 8:30. We were super excited to be hitting the Konkan route. Ate breakfast at a small shop and started the day’s journey. We stopped here and there for some photos
We wanted to hit Mumbai which was around 450kms but the winding roads of Konkan slowed us down. We thought we’ll make up for it the next day and hit Surat since we can enter the Pune-Mumbai Expressway and that should speed up the journey. So we stopped at a petrol station at Mahad. When we asked the Manager for permission to set up the tent, he was happy to let us. Ate chaat for dinner from a small shop nearby and slept off.
My engagement was decided to be conducted in the second week of June. It was less than two weeks after our proposed date of return. I wasn’t even sure we would really be back by then. I thought of the option of taking a flight to come back home, to get engaged and then go back and continue with the trip.
Mahad — Valsad
After the daily routine and folding up the tent, started at around 10 am. There was a little bit of Konkan left before we entered the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. We were excited to ride on an expressway. We climbed on the ramp and entered the Expressway, only to get stopped by police in 100m. Apparently, bikes were not allowed on the Expressways. They asked for a fine of 1200rs per bike. We tried to explain to them that we didn’t know about the rule and also that we just entered 100m back. But they didn’t seem to care. Then Sree asked them to give us the bill and we’ll pay directly in the court since we didn’t know if that was the real fine or if they were trying to loot us. They did not agree to that either. We thought of just riding away for a moment, but decided not to since my license(duplicate) was with them. Finally, we paid the fine and they escorted us out of the Expressway. Then we took the Highway to Mumbai, which was in fact pretty good. A few kilometres before Panvel, traffic started to increase. The traffic was really heavy when we passed through Thane. After that it was fine.
Wherever we stop to eat or drink a cup of tea, we made it a habit to ask for the price before we order anything. We made sure that we don’t get robbed, but whatever we do there will be some people who still see people from a different state as an opportunity to rob. We stopped for tea at a dhaba, and we asked for rates for tea and he said 10rs. But after we drank and we went to pay, he said the chai that we ordered was “special chai’ and that costed 20rs. We didn’t even ask for anything special. Arguing with people like this ruins your mood. We got an unexpected block at Vaapi for about an hour which ruined our plans to hit Surat. We stopped at a petrol station and pitched the tent after getting permission. After setting it up, we went out for dinner.
We were eating roti and drinking Masala Chaz when two guys approached us. They asked us if we were going to Ladakh. It was the first time that someone looked cools when they knew that we were doing a bike trip from the south to Ladakh. In Kerala, every 20–25-year-old guy is aspiring to go on a bike trip to Ladakh, or have been on one or is preparing for one. But we came to know that such species were not that abundant outside Kerala. People gave us a “Have you guys gone mad” kind of look everywhere else until we met these guys. They were from the Gujrat Police Dept and they have themselves done the road trip to Ladakh twice. That was why they were so interested in us. They were even thinking of just packing the bags and joining us. But their duties did not permit them. They wanted to help us out somehow, so they asked us to come with them to the Police Head Quarters and let them host us. But we rejected the offer saying we had already set up our tent at a nearby petrol station. Sree was half ready to pack the tent back and go with them. They gave us their numbers and asked to call if we needed any help in Gujrat or anywhere en route. They also gave us a number of one of their friends in Leh in case we needed some help there. They followed us to our tent to see if everything was fine and asked the petrol station, people, to take care of us.
We thought or rather we were sure that we would start getting negative at some point along the trip. But we constantly meet people like these and they boost your morale like anything. You feel all fresh and motivated like day 1. The excitement comes back to you just like that.