Sunday, October 26, 2014

Royal Enfield Himalaya adventure

Our dreadful 1st night dibs in Indian were soon forgotten over a nearby rooftop breakfast as we gazed out at a most magnificent scene. We were overlooking Darjeeling below us, perched on a ridge with snow-capped Mount Kanchenjunga in the background picking early dawn's golden sun rays on its peak. Mount Kanchenjunga is the 3rd highest peak on earth with an altitude of 8,598 metres.

Darjeeling dawn

We unbooked from the dump and found a very acceptable little hotel right across the street from Adventures Unlimited, the folks we booked our motorcycle rental from (www.adventuresunlimited.in). We soon intercepted Gatty, the young super friendly proprietor, and got the bike and route all organized and prepared.

The rental bike was a Royal Enfield 500-cc single cylinder. The English brought these bikes with them which proved ideal workhorses for the terrain. The rights to manufacture were obtained post Brit and even today one can see with nostalgia new ones almost unchanged.

The in-between time that day was spent discovering Darjeeling's uniqueness. The beautiful old clock tower in the background is currently being restored.

Narrow and steep streets

Chicken anyone?

Our 1st day of motorcycling got us a late start and we quickly saw what we would be in for, best described as intense. The roads presented all kinds of adventurous challenges. Narrow. Precipitously steep. Tight blind hairpin bends. Extremely rough and rocky in many spots. The incredible mountain scenery was a constant distraction to the concentration of safe driving.

We made a long descent through acres of tea plantations, down into a gorge, and across a mountain fed river then up, up again to the sleepy town of Kalimpong where we spent the chilly night, about 50 km from Darjeeling.

1 comment:

Peter Green said...

I used to own a Lea Enfield back in U.K - mid-60's and it just looked like yours! :-)