Thursday 17/11/2016, By Will.
We struggle for cash then Karma smiles on us.
Will’s first ever Veggie Burger for breakfast & the road side Hwy Guest House we stayed at.
Will deals with various mobile road obstacles.
Since being in India, we have donated, tipped & handed out cash to the locals quite generously. The biggest chunk being donated to a school in Agra.
This is one reason why, that after 5 weeks our hard Aussie cash reserves of $2000 has become depleted to $400. We didn’t think more hard foreign cash would be needed. Also between us we have 4 different credit cards & 2 Debit/Credit Cards from 3 different financial institutions. These cards were how we really planned to pay for our journey across India. They are split evenly between Jenny & I so in the event that one of us loses or has our wallet stolen it’s not a total disaster & cancellation of cards is easier to manage. Visiting ATM’s was our main strategy for obtaining Indian Rupees.
(Note: 50IR = $1AUD, you could only withdraw 10000IR, about $200 from an ATM, after the 9th of Nov. this was limited to 2000IR maximum per card per day).
So back on the night of 8th of November, while team wiljen were resting up in Rajkot enjoying a couple of sneaky beers, Prime Minister Modi announced that effective immediately all large denominations Rupees (500IR & 1000IR) would no longer be legal tender. The following day while the world was wondering if Hillary or Trump would be the next USA President, 1.3 Billion Indians had other problems to deal with, starting with all Banks & ATMs being closed for the next 2 days, while Banks readjusted to the Indian Government’s new cash program.
Indians & Foreign Tourists have 50 days to fill in the relevant forms & exchange their now illegal Rupees at the bank for legal currency. The maximum that can be exchanged per person per day is 4000IR.
The reason the Government is doing this is to smash the Black Cash Economy & Corruption that has existed & restrict tax avoidance. Most Indians that we have spoken too think it’s a good thing. The International World Monetary Fund is also backing the move.
So where does that leave yours truly, in a bit of a predicament to be quite honest. We had some good success in Diu, but since then all ATMs have been closed, out of service or the lines have been so long that you would spend a huge chunk of your day waiting to access an ATM & what happens if it decides to decline your card as has occurred about 40% of the time…aarrgghh what a PITA.
The hole in the wall is the entrance to the Aaram Guest House, 1000IR per night. Our bikes out the front ready for loading.
By the time we reached Vyara we were down to about 100IR between us, we had used the last of our Gandhi’s to fuel up the bikes. We had no Rupees left to buy lunch, so ate 4 energy nut bars that Craig had given us after the Nevermind ride, prior to his flight home. At the Aaram Guest House in Vyara they decided to let us stay. The previous two Guest Houses we had tried, Crystal (where we had a booking) & Aroma wouldn’t have a bar of us ???
Aaram Guest House only accepts cash & doesn’t accept credit cards, like most businesses in India as we have now discovered. Solomon the Manager said he would help us exchange $200AUD, the best rate we could get us was 47IR which means someone is making 8% profit out of us. But when the chips are down you have to just “DO” & not spend to much effort on analysing the situation. So I gave him a good tip, & payed the equivalent of $20AUD for our reasonable room. Later we went out for dinner, we traveled in a Tuk Tuk & it was more Indian Vegetarian Curry, nice but starting to crave a change, like a bit of meat !
The next day (Thursday 17th Nov) it was “Mission Money” morning we walked about 300mtr to where the bikes were supposedly securely parked, I noticed that my purple bungee strap was missing, which will be a pain come packing up the bike time, someone else needed it more, careful it doesn’t flick out your eyeball.
We both hopped on the RE Himalayan 400cc which is easy to start & visited 9 seperate ATM’s we were unsuccessful every time, either the roller shutter was down or the couple we actually got to try said “Transaction Cancelled”.
It was now 9am & at the last couple of Banks/ATMs we visited the line up of people was already starting to build in preparation for the 10am opening time. What a nightmare ! Defeated we rode the Himalayan back to the not very secure parking where Jenny’s RE Bullet 500cc was parked up.
Now starting this RE Bullet 500cc has become a real drama for us. There is a broken section on the inside of the left crankcase so the only way to get the thing too fire up is Kick Start it or if you are lucky enough to be on a hill, Bump Start it.
I’m lacking in technique, a couple of locals have tried to show me the correct process which is best describe as a “Gentle Kick” but I’m yet to master it, occasionally I do get it right & the bike will start on the second or first kick, but most of the time it takes me between 5 to 10 attempts which gives the old right leg a fair workout. We have the Bullet booked in for repairs at Ram Motors in Navi Mumbai on Monday the 21st, what could possibly go wrong ?!?!
Aarrggh, come on you mongrel, start ! Even my Steve Erwin adventure shirt won’t help.
On this occasion the bike started on the 3rd attempt we rode both bikes back to Aaram Guest House, packed our gear, Solomon had sorted us out an omelette for breakfast, we paid our bill, then left our bags with reception while we walked back to the two closest Banks in a final attempt to get some cash.
The lines at both Banks were huge by our Australian standards, the ATMs still seemed closed & Security were allowing a few people into the Bank at a time. Jenny & I just stood across the road, slack jawed, wondering what to do next ? A solid looking businessman came over and said to just jump the queue and wait for the Bank Manager. Then another man who spoke good English called Nevil came and helped. He got us into the Bank & we talked with the Bank Manager, who wanted to help but explained that the ATM had been sabotaged & they were waiting for the “ATM Genius” to come from the City & repair it.
Nevil said “not to worry” & “come with me”. I’ll save what happened next for the “Book of our Travel Memoirs” but suffice to say our immediate money problems have been resolved for now. We like to think of it as a case of good Karma ! If you ever see this blog post Nevil, thanks for your help mate !
So back to the Guest House & our Bikes, we loaded up & headed out of town. Jenny had selected a great mountain road that headed to the Tourist Town of Saputara which is situated on a lake high in the mountains. The road & riding was fantastic, a lot of it was through a conservation sanctuary called Purna . Traffic was fairly light & the road surface ranged from very good to just acceptable. Our average speed was about 60km/h.
The only real issue was we missed our turn off at Ahwa & over shot by 19kms before realising. Probably enjoying the windy roads a bit to much, but being on motorbikes and it only being mid afternoon it wasn’t a big ask to double back to Ahwa. If we’d been on our Touring Bicycles it would have meant a whole new plan !
Yet another close call on a narrow bitumen road.
Curves & more curves… Plus lovely jungle, bush, stuff…!
We will spend a couple of nights here in Saputara, it’s been about 5 days since our last alcoholic drink & tomorrow we may ride across the State boarder 4kms away, into Maharashtra & buy a few beers, I still have my “Drinkers Permit” that Mr Seth of the Mid City Hotel, helped arrange for me back in Gandhinagar. Could be in for another “adventure” with authority !
Where & Distances for past few days in Gujarat
*15/11/16, Tuesday, Bhavnagar to Highway NH48 Honest Guest House 10kms South of Karjan , 220kms.
*16/11/16, Wednesday Honest Guest House 10kms South of Karjan to Vyara 150kms.
*17/11/16, Thursday, Vyara to Saputara (Aakar Lords Inn) 180kms, depart 11am arrive 4.30pm.