Jan and Danielle, Goa, India

Piles of Paper Work

| India

My Pakistan visa was on the forefront of my mind. I had earlier established that I was not able to apply in India as I had originally planned when leaving Australia. The Pakistan embassy in New Delhi has since ceased issuing visa’s to foreigners. Even if I had obtained the visa in Australia before I left, it would have longed expired before I even made it to the border!

I came up with an elaborate scheme with help from my friend Melanie. In theory, I should be able to send my passport back to her in Australia. Once she receives it, she can add the required bank cheque and then forward it on to the embassy in Canberra. But even this scheme has its flaws, as I was told by a passing tourist that in India, it was against the law to send a passport out of the country unaccompanied. After a quick call to the courier company, established that this was indeed correct and I will need a letter from New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, stating I was allowed to do so. Just another hoop to jump through.

I could have stayed in Hampi for another week at least, but I had to get on to this task before I ran out of time. Grudgingly leaving Hampi behind I rode towards Goa. It was going to be a long dusty ride, but I made sure I left earlier enough to make it one day. Colva beach wasn’t going to be interesting, It was just another resort village full of package tourist mainly from Russia. Less than 6 kilometres away was a small township of Margo, which had everything I needed, from a great market to a courier company.

My guest house owners made me fish curry and rice, because they thought I wasn’t eating enough.

It was so tasty I had to take a photo!

I had two frogs in my room when I moved in, this little fulla (which disappeared shortly after I got rid of the other one..) and one who lived in the toilet. I ‘accidentally’ flushed him after he jumped onto my bottom! 

I found a nice little mud cottage, at the rear of a family house. It was simple, but it was quiet and it had a desk with a chair. I was going to be stuck here until my passport returned, so I had to make sure I was happy. In India, most guest houses require you to fill out a tourist form and have to view and photocopy the passport. Even though I had many copies, it was too risky to change guest houses.

I spent the weekend filling out forms, photocopying my passport and printing out the required government letters and letters of introductions from Australian Geographic and myself. I had decided not only to apply for a Pakistan visa, but a second New Zealand passport. The problem with this is that I needed someone appropriate to witness me signing the statuary declaration. I thought the easiest method would be going to the police station. Each time I told my request, I was passed on to the next officer up, until I finally reached the superintendent.

 I was asked into a massive room on the top floor of the police station. The room was sparsely furnished and He sat behind the typically large wooden desk. As I walked closer to him, he abruptly asked for my name, country and what I wanted. After I told him the issue, he then shock his head and said he couldn’t help me as I didn’t know him, I didn’t grown up in this area, therefore he could not sign such a piece of paper. Maybe I could try a lawyer. A lawyer! I thought, not only is this going to be really expensive but its going to take a long time. I thanked the superintendent and he offered his services any time I need it – This is one of those times buddy, but you still cannot help me!

I found a lawyer’s office, but the man hadn’t turned up for the day. I sat quietly on the hard wooden bench for an hour, when the man walked in and I was finally asked for the document. Two young office girls licked and stuck four massive postal stamps on to the document, almost covering up a fourth of the page. They then pulled out a metal stamp with long wooden handle and with a bang they had placed a round blue ink stamp over the top of them. Walking through the two wooden wild west swing doors to the actual office of the lawyer, they asked him to sign it. Since I was sending my passport off, I thought I better get an official copy of it too.

Verified copy of passport and visa

As I walked out of the office I felt proud of myself. I had managed to complete a task in under three hours and I still had time before the shops shut for their long lunch break. To be honest, I was concerned, wondering if the New Zealand passport office will accept my statuary declaration, with all the Indian official stamps on it! Putting everything into a courier bag with two sets of instructions, one for each application. I sent it off to Australia.

For the next few weeks, it was the only thing on my mind – where was my passport? Is it safe? Am I stuck here in India? Besides freaking out, I actually had a whole A4 piece of paper scribbled full of things to do, from blog writing, cartoon drawing, clothes mending to motorcycle maintenance.

After two weeks being cooped up like a chicken in my room, I walked into my favourite local restaurant for a Masala Dosa dinner, when I heard my name being called. Turning to where the sound came from, I was stunned to discover I was looking at Jan and Pat, a Dutch couple, riding a Royal Enfield, who I met through Daphne and Colin weeks ago! To have two familiar faces suddenly pop up out of the blue, is just amazing. I just couldn’t believe my eyes – neither could they! When you are travelling alone, you really appreciate the people who you meet time and time again and enjoy their company.

The following day, I hear a knock at my door. Turning in my plastic chair, I find Daphne and Colin peering in! Another amazing surprise! I was completely blown away as I had truly thought I wouldn’t ever see them again. During my third week in Goa, I had completely forgotten my ‘to do list’, as I spent most of my time doing day trips out of Colva and having amazing dinner / breakfast parties.

The Motomonkey Bike is squeeze into a spot on the small ferry

Riding off the ferry Pat tried to get a photo of me, but this is typical India, there is always some one in the way! 

Colin and Daphne at the beach! -Photo thanks to Pat

I became support crew and filmed the two ‘Collywood Stars’ Colin and Daphne while they rode their bike.

I just realised how bad this must look leaving from a bar! 

Im positive they are talking about Enfields! 

This particular ferry had more breathing room!

Jan and I were completely suck in the middle of it!

The two lovely Enfeild ladies, Dahpne and Pat

At the end of the third week, I finally received my passport and was able to leave. The problem was, I hadn’t finished crossing everything off my list! I still had to do a service on my bike!

This visa looks boring! I want a prettier one – I think this is the plainest looking visa I have in my passport. 

The day before I wanted to leave, I stripped my bike down, letting the oil drip out in to a cut off five litre water bottle. I washed my air filter and oil filter. While they were drying, I decided to do a check on everything else. My fort boots, had completely disintegrated, I am now left with plastic rings! I could wrap electrical tape around each plastic ring, but there would be more tape than anything else – I am going to have to design another method of keeping the dust out of the seals.

Front Fork Boots

In Indonesia I had realised something wasn’t quiet right with my front sprocket. As It would move from side to side on the spline, causing unusual wear on the guard and the chain. Removing the front sprocket cover to inspect it, I wasn’t ready for the surprise I found.

Front sprocket after I took the guard off.

You can see that some of the teeth have snapped off!

Over half of each tooth on the sprocket had been snapped off, only three out of the 14 were still standing. There was no way, I could drive anywhere like this, I had to change my sprocket. Before I could set to work removing the sprocket, I realised that the bike has a old fashion way to hold the sprocket on the shaft using circlip pliers. This is something I don’t carry with me, but something I can either find at a bike shop or just buy. This meant I had to take a trip into town to sort it out.

After the air filter had dried, I re-greased the air filter and re-installed it. Then the oil filter. Once the bike was together again, I went to fetch the oil – as I broke the plastic seal, I realised that I had brought normal 10w-50 a light truck oil. I was so excited to finally find 10w-50 I forgot to check if it was for a four stroke engine or not. It wasn’t. Now I had a bike with a broken sprocket I couldn’t fix and no oil in it. On top of all that, I had to ride it into town to sort it all out to still be able to leave tomorrow!

I fought a small internal battle about whether it would make a difference to use the light truck oil or not. I actually nearly put it in, but then I remembered on my last trip when I was in Russia, all I could find was oil for trucks or cars. This wasn’t a problem until two months later I had to replace my rockers and cam lobes. This might not have been the cause of damage, but I didn’t want that to happen again, all because I was too lazy to take a six kilometres bus ride back to the bike shop. So I forced myself to walk out to the local bus stop.

When it finally arrive, I was push onto the already packed bus. I was standing in the aisle next to men with shot guns between their legs, a lady who kept on pushing her small child in front of me, then decided that she wanted to stand at the back and pushed everyone onto the seats as she squeezed her large bottom down the narrow aisle. Scowling at her, I tried to hold on tight as the bus driver sped around corners, slammed on the breaks, sped up with his foot flat on the gas until once again he would slam on the breaks. I was tossed around like a plastic bag stuck in the wind on a busy highway. It made me appreciate riding my motorcycle which was stuck at my guest house!

Thirty minutes later, I arrived into Margo, when I got a call from Jan. ‘I’ll come and get you and drive you around town.’ My saviour, it was hot and I had no idea where I was going to find circlip pliers AND I get a ride on the back of an Enfield!

I swapped the oil over to proper four stroke oil 20w-50 4T without any problems. Then we went on a mission to find a tool shop that sold circlip pliers. After been sent to a few different shops, eventually we found it and I brought a pair for 100 IRP ($2 AUS). It’s a pity I forgot about this small detail before I left Australia as I am sure I could have adapted one of my existing tools to do the same thing. This is going to be something for me to develop in the future, so I don’t have to continue carrying a single use tool. Jan dropped me off at my guest house and I got straight to work.

With everything finally back together and in good running order after a test run, I was finally able to leave. I packed my bags, said goodbye to everyone. After spending three weeks in one place, I actually felt a bit nervous to be back on the road again, with the unexplored places ahead of me.

Goodbye Goa!