New Year (Khujaraho)

We left early in the morning and beat most of the mayhem traffic coming out of Dabra. The restaurant was not yet open so breakfast was biscuits and a packet of crisps from a nearby shop. It still took a good 10 minutes to checkout while the bleary eyed reception guy filled out a long and pointless receipt and questioned why we were leaving 2 hours before the checkout time we estimated the night before. It did not seem to compute that we could leave earlier and it made no difference so I took the registration form off him and changed the time.

The road was more of the same driving, only a couple of times trucks forced us onto the verge, overtaking on our side of the road. The trucks are at least reasonably predictable since they travel in straight lines at fairly constant 40km/h so thankfully it all happened in slow motion.

Along the way we passed several police checkpoints, similar to those in Pakistan except we were never stopped so it had become fairly routine here. We thought nothing of passing another one with signing in Hindu and then I noticed a lot less cars on the road. Suddenly we came to a wall built in the road just before a bridge although the satnav still said we were on the right road.

We were pointed around the wall on a side road by some local guys and saw them taking 125‘s through a gap so we followed. As we went further along the road it dawned on me that perhaps there was a reason for the wall across the road and radio‘d to Helen to take it easy til we found out. As we rounded a bend we saw another 2 walls built across the middle of the bridge which had bricks removed to make a gap in the middle. As we got nearer I was wondering if we would fit through with the panniers on when I saw that both side walls and part of the surface at both sides of the bridge had collapsed. The middle still looked quite wide and we passed through the gap and out the other side anyway. I thought about stopping for a photo but we were both tired of hoards of onlookers so we went on. I really wish I‘d taken that photo anyway though.

The rest of the road was demanding slow riding dodging oncoming traffic and potholes like a computer game with consequences. The Tiger went into a particularly big hole that was hiding in the shadows of a tree but surprisingly came out the other side relatively unscathed. We stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant, obviously geared towards tourists on buses with home comforts like Toblerone. It was a lot quieter here than other places we‘d stopped with a pleasant breeze. It was a welcome change from Delhi. We made it to Khujarho to find it quite touristy and different to the India we had seen so far. A phenomenon we have grown to call the “Disneyland version“. It was certainly nice to find ample accommodation and plain food though.

I found myself wondering when all this became normal. Getting up in the morning, riding 200 or 300km and then locating somewhere to stay for the night, sometimes in a new country. Becoming gradually accustomed to increasing bureaucracy, changing scenery and being the strange foreigner almost everywhere we go. I have come to think that you need three P‘s to travel successfully – Patience, Pleasantness and (most of all) Perseverance. A sense of humour helps. I thought I was patient before I left but have learnt new limits.

So a new year and a time for reflections. Appreciating the experiences we have been fortunate to have and learning from everything we have seen. And a time to look forward and make resolutions. Like taking more photos…

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