Rajasthan Odyssey (2016)

Motorcycles | Camels | Gypsies | Holi

          WHERE : Rajasthan, India             
           WHEN : March 2016 
      OBJECTIVE : Circumnavigate India's Mysterious Desert State                      
       DISTANCE : 2,600 kilometers / 1,616 miles
 CLASSIFICATION : Wheels (Motorcycle)


Every Odyssey needs a [100cc] Hero

Living abroad with only a tourist visa and limited time in-country requires flexibility. It was late February, and my current stamp–a 90-day Entry Visa obtained post-Mongolia–was due to expire. With one eye on the calendar, and the other on my dwindling bank account, I decided to make an Indian border  run (a seven-hour bus ride), cross over for a day, and return. An entry stamp is far cheaper than a visa extension, and I’ve got far more time than money on hand these days.

I did some math. Maha Shivaratri (Great Shiva’s Night) was only days away; two weeks later was the festiveal of colors, Holi. These are amongst the most well-known and enjoyable Hindu festivals for believers and non-believers alike, and I knew that India celebrated them differently. A permanently nomadic lifestyle means I might as well hang out there as here, for all values of here and there; why not spend three or four weeks in India? Someplace new. But where?

With my browser open, I did my second favorite thing in the universe: aimlessly scouring the map, looking for a destination.  This time, that was Rajasthan–India’s desert state, the Land of Kings–and four days later, I arrived in Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital. (That would be the first favorite thing: plan becoming reality.)

It took a few days to find a reputable motorcycle dealer who would rent a bike for unlimited kilometers with no idea where I intended to go, but I found a fantastic place and soon my 100cc Hero was serviced and ready to go. What had been an inchoate fantasy days before was taking shape.

For the next 15 days I improvised a circumnavigation of Rajasthan, based on whim, inertia, and the advice of strangers:

Jaipur – Khatu – Sikar – Nagaur – Jodhpur 
Jodhpur – Jaisalmer 
Jaisalmer – Balmer – Jalore – Udaipur 
Udaipur – Ajmer – Pushkar
Pushkar – Jaipur 

Some things I should mention:

  • I do not now have, nor have I ever had, a motorcycle license
  • No one in India gives a rat’s a$$ about such irrelevancies
  • Though I rode a 100cc Yamaha enduro nearly every day of my life between the ages of 11 and 17, it was off-road, or on gravel country roads. I had never once ridden on a highway, much less in traffic
  • Jaipur is a city of 4.5 million people, and Indian traffic is special. I drove off the lot and into a 6-lane roundabout, jammed full with tuk-tuks, rickshaws, delivery trucks, an elephant, bicycles, three camels, cars, cows, and ruthless pedestrians
  • Indians love their horns. You could ask them yourself, but they’d never hear your over all the noise
  • I am too tall (6’2″ or ~1.88m) to ride 2,500km on a 100cc Hero (a lesson I should’ve learned in Morocco with the much much smaller Moped)
  • I have never had so much fun driving in my entire life

Of course there is much more to it, but this is the simple origin story. A 100cc Hero is born, and The Avengers will ne’er be the same.

Love and Happy Honking,
March 30, 2016

Mother & Son

Traveling alone as I do is sometimes lonely, but almost always the better choice. I was invited into this woman’s home after I showed up at her doorstep, hitchhiking husband in tow. We were many miles off the main highway near a tiny oasis in the desert. Their home was made from clay and thatching, much like a traditional Nepali home, but adapted to the brutal heat of the local climate.

This video below has nothing to do with any of that. It’s a short teaser video of me playing in Jodhpur traffic. 😉

Watch Jodhpur Video


Images from the Road

Stories from the Road