Dadu Aur Madak

The Restricted Zone
After three days I had had about of much of Rampur as I could take. Not that it is a bad place, but it is just a wide spot on the main highway that runs alongside the Sutlej River. It is not a place that is a tourist destination. We would learn that this distinction would become important. We needed to get Karen's bike in for regular service, so we decided we would head down to Dehra Dun. We figured on taking it easy the first day, so we headed for Rohru, which was only about 90 kilometers away.

The terrain was pleasant, and the riding not to difficult. We arrived in Rohru early, and found a hotel run by the Himachel Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation. These government run hotels are all over the state, and since it was low season, they were offering discounts of 30 to 40 percent. The place we stayed in Rampur was one of them, and we had stayed at another of them in Shimla. They usually have perfectly adequate restaurants and good service. The one in Rohru, however, looked as if it was from the fifties and hadn't been updated since. The menu was identical to the several page menu in Rampur, but they unfortunately only had one thing. We were shocked when we saw the plaque in the front lobby that said they had begun construction in 1997, and that it was dedicated in 1999. The common areas looked like it hadn't been cleaned since 1999. Rohru is way off of the tourist track. Early the next morning we pressed on.

The landscape becomes a little more sparse as you approach Tiuni. We saw several camps of herders along this route. The main road heads south through Chakrata, but we were stopped by locals in Tiuni and warned that that route was restricted to foreigners. We had heard from another motorcycle guide in Kalpa that that might be the case. The alternate route was only about 30 kilometers longer, but it was a paved road that had been the victim of so many landslides that it was now more than 50 percent dirt and rock. You could not go 1000 feet without mud and scree strewn over the road. One 50 Kilometer stretch (a little over 30 miles) took us over 4 hours. Once we got out of the mountains though, we ticked off the last 50 kilometers to Dehra Dun in under an hour. As to why the good road is restricted to foreigners, no one could give us an answer. Maybe it's where India has its nukes.

The alternate route took us through several towns that were REALLY off the tourist circuit. A friend of mine , Steven Baigel, who had spent  a fair amount of time in the north of India had warned me about the expectation of privacy. In what is in reality the fairly good sized town of Shalai we were quite the event. You would of thought that they had never seen a white lady drink soda. We had actually drawn such a crowd, that traffic in both directions stopped for twenty minutes. We decided to head a few miles out of town to finish our soda. The funniest thing though, is that the town trotted out its one albino, who they laughingly pointed out to us as their own "foreigner" because of his white skin. Watch the video!