“Ok, heads I go in, tails I don’t”, Mass says this and flips the coin in the air. He misses the catch and it bounces of the side of his hand and, after a quick spin, lands with Gandhi’s head face up on the floor between Mass’ feet.
“God!”, Mass says, seemingly disappointed in the coin-flipping gods, “I really don’t want to do this!”
I think it was Arnold Rothstein’s character in Boardwalk Empire who said, “If you’re unsure over a decision, flip a coin…..when it’s in the air you’ll realise which way you want it to land”.
The decision in question is whether to buy the ticket to gain access to the Taj Mahal ground. Today is the last big day on the Bikes. Wake up in Agra, fall asleep in the Capital of India – New Delhi.
I could understand Mass’ reluctance this morning. The original plan was to just drive our bikes as close by as we could get, check it out and then start the drive, but this was definitely a bit too optimistic. After driving close by to the map location, we were surrounded quickly by 10-15 smiling people who were all keen to tell us that our bikes shouldn’t be here…..asking if we had a permit……..that we’d come to far and bypassed a checkpoint…….is that bike from Goa?……..is that a camera?………
After moving our bikes about 200 meters down the road and into the tourist trap that is the grounds outside the Taj Mahal, we can hardly move without a potential guide or salesman on top of us. Combined with the heat and today’s long drive ahead us, it was getting a bit much.
As it turned out, the decision was made for Mass when we got to the ticket office and realised we didn’t have enough for 2 tickets in cash. Rather then walk to the nearest cash machine, Mass took one for the team and we bought a single ticket with our combined cash for me while Mass shot back to the guesthouse.
As soon as I got into the grounds, it was like a breath of fresh air. It was still busy, but all the hustle stopped and I was just left to wander around the immense and amazingly well maintained grounds.
After an hour or so, I was back to meet up with Mass and we made our way to our final trip destinatoin of New Delhi. I don’t think we realised just how much energy the trip had taken, and when we arrived and found a place to stay, we must have spent about 80% of the first day sleeping and chilling out in the hotel.
The final few days couldn’t all be relaxing though. We still had the small matter of selling our bikes before we got out flights out of the country!
When it came to selling, I think we both realised that we probably got the order wrong with this trip. There are a lot more bikes in Delhi compared to Goa, and the average price of the bikes was a fair bit lower. Combine that with the fact that we didn’t haggle as nearly as hard when buying the bikes compared to all the guys in Delhi who we were trying to sell to….it looked like we were going to make a loss. In fairness though, we’d both said at the beginning of the trip when we bought the bikes, we were paying for the experience in the journey through the country…..and it was already worth the price even if we gave the bikes away!
I sold mine first at a local bike shop for about 1/3rd of the price I picked it up for, and Mass a few days later. It was sad to see it go, it’d done a good job getting me here in 1 piece :-)
A few more random pics from the last few days in India below. And a farewell to Mass at the airport.
When, in your life, do you get a chance to travel a country on a bike with your best mate alongside you? It was an absolute blast! Thanks Mass for sharing the journey, the curries, the hard stares, and the laughs in between :-)
See you at some point in the future, somewhere else in the world!