The high country

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Flag of India  , Maharashtra,
Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let me preface this by saying Ave is a lovely old duck. She's been extremely hospitable to us, who she's never met, shown us around Pune, fattened us right up, helped organise our movements, even had the bikes washed... we've been living the high life. Thankyou so much Ave. On this occasion though, she just slightly missed the mark...

The game plan was to get going around midday for Mahabaleshwar, a hill station a hundred odd clicks south of Pune, after having Maccas for brunch. Ave, it seems, is quite the Maccas fan. With Suraj out of town (who's not too into it), and us still keen to wrap our laughing gears around a McChicken while we could, it was the perfect opportunity.

So we were ready and raring mid-morning whilst Ave sorted out a couple of last minute things, including the best way for us to get out of Pune and onto the NH4. To be honest, we were more than happy to have a brief look at the book and then just wing it, like we have every other time. We rarely get it exactly right, but it always works out. Ave, however, being the caring soul she is, was well and truly on a mission to have detailed insturctions and was going to be our escort car through Pune until we got on the highway... like the "Follow Me" cars we get when we land in the soup.

Long story short, hours later, after numerous phone calls to friends and family, frantic scribbling, pages of hand-written notes and even an email, both ourselves and Ave had detailed instructions of how to get to Mahabaleshwar, which as it turns out Ads and I didn't use once! To be honest, I think these directions were more for her than us!

Once our planned timeframe was well and truly blown out of the water, it was actually quite comical to watch, and we accepted that if nightfall or afternoon monsoonal rains hit, we end up where we end up.

We eventually got on the road around 1430, led by trusty Ave. We started to suspect that she wasn't exactly supremely confident after a few false alarms... the old "i'll get off the highway here" indicator, followed by the "ah shit thats not it" crazy swerve back onto the highway. Our suspicions were confirmed when she pulled over and asked for directions!

Anyway we eventually made it to the highway, said goodbye and thanks, and got a wriggle on. The roads were good and traffic light (sunday). Once we started getting closer, it got a bit more interesting. A couple of  awesome winding mountain roads (ghats) with a few lookouts along the way. Once we got right up it was actually cold on the bike... that's a new one, so far.

As we approached Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar, it was obvious the place had been well and truly tourist raped. Go-karts, paintball, fun parks, ten-pin bowling, 'striking cars' (aka dodgem) etc... The surroundings are still beautiful, as long as you can handle people trying to flog you stuff and ferris wheels in your mountain views. We found a place to stay after checking a few out, got fined by some crooked, prick cop for going the wrong way up a supposed one-way street (which he then allowed us to do anyway once he had his dinero), and here we are. First impressions... I doubt it'll be an extended stay.
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