The journey further continues. We started as early as 4AM in the morning. Chilly weather open roads, we are now quite used to with the daily routine Wake Up - Eat - Ride- Repeat. Our bikes are ready to eat the tarmac as the bikes have fresh engine oil and filters. The journey begins in super chilly morning and total darkness. We decided to have breakfast by 8AM or so as we were not hungry. We continued riding, I had earphones plugged with good marathi music to listen in such a pleasant morning on low volume and suddenly my bike also started dancing. I thought it might be a puncture again so I stopped and checked tires but nothing. I thought it might be a illusion or something as we all were actually sleepy. Now again bike started no wobbling, the bike is smooth. We almost reached near Thirunelveli again suddenly bike started wobbling and I was about to hit a car in the next lane. It was a scary moment which took my breath away. We all came to halt and Mazal Tov, the front wheel bearings are now powder. We somehow reached Thirunelveli but at such a early time, no mechanic was to be found. We halted near a Sweets shop and Francis and Mandar went in different direction to search for mechanic. One Traffic Police Constable told us about a garage some 10kms ahead on the highway itself. Meanwhile we found that being in Thirunelveli and not having Thirunelveli Halwa is a major sin hence we indulged in Halwa affair sharing 1kg of Halwa among 6 of us and along with it Samosa and other stuff as well. After quick sweet toothed breakfast, we went ahead, finally found mechanic and he took about 1 hour to repair the wheel bearing as he had to go to town to get bearing and the shops were yet to be opened. Hence we were behind our schedule but still we were determined to reach Munnar before dark.
The bike is again ready to roar and now we are heading towards Madurai and Kodaikanal. It was a lightening quick visit to Madurai and headed to towards Kodaikanal taking left from Madurai. Let me tell you one thing, if you want to explore beauty of South India, travel through the Western Ghats starting from Karnataka, you will be speechless by the beauty of nature. It can not be contained in words how beautiful this region is!
While travelling through Kodaikanal after a quick visit to Kodai lake, Pillar rocks, Devil's Kitchen, we moved towards Munnar the beautiful ghat sections are bliss for riding bikes its beautiful and at the same time terrifying as its just straight cliff. The cold wind along with fog was really mesmerizing and we all were just lost in its beauty. Stopping to admire the beauty, clicking pictures and suddenly by the time we reached near Manthal, BAM! Francis' rear tire was punctured. Luckily we found one roadside puncture repair shop ahead. A lady was going to repair the puncture but as she waa confused with Bullet's mechanicals she called her husband to help. Meanwhile we also found a Narial Pani wala next to the shop and we raised Narial Toast for our journey. Puncture was fixed and so the Narial Pani was over and we headed towards Munnar.
We reached near Tamilnadu- Kerala border near Bodimettu and Francis smelled something. He made blowing horn signal gesture for us all to stop. We started looking and found that after the puncture was fixed, he forgot to place the distance bearing and the tire was touching the mudguard and by that time we dragged it so much that it was almost like burning and left profile of tire was totally scratched like it was done with sand paper. It was almost 5.30PM, we are in the middle of the road. One local resident told us to move near his restaurant area which is just 400mtrs away from there as this entire area is a forest reserve and by evening, Elephant herd starts moving and crossing through this area which can be dangerous.
We reached near restaurant, inquired him about mechanic to fix it. He told us to move yo Pooppara where we can find a mechanic and also suggested to stay in Pooppara as it was dangerous to travel on bike after sunset in this forest region.
We mutually decided to move to pooppara and we were crawling at the speed of 20-30kmph. Francis was in the middle and Mandar was on the tail. We reached Pooppara at about 7.30pm or so and wasted about half an hour in finding mechanic but couldn't find any.
One Local Tea vendor who had multiple flavor of tea, another beauty of this region. Tea in the flavours you can never imagine, his younger brother was with him who could understand and speak english. He asked us through him if everything's fine. We told him our problem and he spoke to his younger brother in Malayalam. We couldn't understand language but we know for sure hw told his brother to help us in everything.
His brother's name is Akmal Suleman. Now Akmal is our regional guide here. He also offered various tea for testing and also refused to take money. We forcefully made him take atleast for some of the tea cups if not all and he happily agreed. He took francis and Baptist yo local mechanic who was about to close his shop but he happily helped us and repaired with the new part which was missing. Akmal also suggested us that we should stay in Pooppara instead of moving ahead in the dark. It was almost 9PM at night.
He helped us find a good hotel showed all possible options and we finally zeroed down on one Lotus Hotel. Such a wonderful guy helping us throughout even to pick our luggage to drop it in the hotel. We offered him some money but he refused with a smile and gave us our number and told as long as we are here, if anything is needed we shall call him. He told, he would also come and check on us next day.
Now we are in Lotus hotel in Pooppara. The hotel owner was very generous. As we entered we saw he had some wines. Which are known as Munnar wines. He offered us best rooms with balcony to get the beautiful view of tea estate across the road. We were relaxed meanwhile ordered for food. The owner made a good set up at the poolside for us to dine. Food was really delicious and Francis and Baptist were happiest as they got Beef to eat. The owner also offered us the Munnar wine for which he did not charge us anything. He was also a ln avid bullet fan having couple of old bullets and was very fond of us seeing we travelling on bullets. He also had dinner with us. We are now really to lucky to have such a great host and were happy with the hospitality.
After the dinner we are back to our rooms. It was about 4-5C temperature outside. Baptist opened up his Chivas Regal and now we are drinking just sitting in balcony. We could hear the roar of the elephant herd coming from internal tea estate.
Best part was the bed. It was so comfy that we never wanted to leave it.