My Destination is Sydney

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Motor Biking Munnar, India: Discovery Along the Broken Road

"Don't worry!" David, my travel companion, said. "You're safe with me."
Biting my lower lip, I hopped on back of the bike and kept my eyes closed. As we set out on a 1,000-kilometer motorcycle journey around southwest India, an indiscreet silence fell upon the bike's throttle.
Noticing our predicament, one hundred and one Indian men sprang to action from around the Port of Kochi (capital of region, Kerala). Eager to help, the men encircled us and pushed their way to the front of the forming crowd around us. Hands from all directions grabbed for the handlebars, each man swearing he knew more about motorcycle maintenance than the last. We laughed together as we scratched our chins in bemusement.
System check: gear in neutral, engine on, starter switch .... nothing.
"I know what is wrong with it," one man declared from the center of the crowd. "It's broken!"
They patted me on the shoulder, then dissipated. Heads low, David and I wobbled the 350cc Enfield Bullet back to the shop. Staring at the bike, the owner wrinkled his unibrow at us, then tore off the bike's side panel.
As I watched him prod a tangled web of corroded wires, I daydreamed about the prospect of Kerala's open roads. Through coconut groves and around elephant sanctuaries, the paths wind. In Munnar, misty verdant valleys form the gateway to wildlife sanctuaries and in the Western Ghats, tea plantations abound along jagged mountain peaks. Despite earlier insecurities, I had convinced myself that the tranquil landscape would outweigh the risk of motor biking around some of the most dangerous roads in the world.
At the bike shop, I snapped out of my daydream as a man with a battered face limped up the path. His casted arm drooped in a sling.
"What happened to you?" I asked.
"Motorcycle accident," he shrugged. Then, he hobbled up a set of stairs, dragging one of his legs behind him. I gulped.
The shop owner refused to return one hundred dollars worth of petrol in the broken bike's tank. Determined to get the funds back, David vanished and returned with a parade of rickshaw drivers. He had run around town bargaining like a local until he found an entourage of eager buyers. Twenty Coca Cola bottles of drained fuel and a few handshakes later, we took the bus to Munnar, a land replete with tea plantations.
While traveling, plans don't always go the way you envision, but the mishaps and surprises become your most comedic memories.
Now the best negotiator in India, David got me a reasonable price on a helmet once we reached Munnar (the motorbike rental there had insufficient equipment, so we bummed one off a random rider in the street). Finally aboard a working motorcycle, we cruised around elephant sanctuaries, Hindu temples, and secret gardens. On the way to Neyamammad Falls, we found ourselves in a serene, evergreen valley: most likely the safest place in the world.
Off the beaten path to Nyammad Falls, we stop off at a Hindu temple. During the ride, I caught up with this woman and her son. Biking through the hill stations, I paused to enjoy the view
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Megan Snedden

Megan Snedden

Currently located in:
Sydney, Australia.
Twitter: @megansnedden
About me in 140 characters or less

"Optimistic, energetic, and daring, California-born travel journalist Megan Snedden races around the world with camera and notepad in hand. "

A bit more about Megan:

"I draw the line at eating... Nothing, I'll try anything once"

"My most essential travel phrase is... Are you local?"

"My most memorable souvenir is... My photographs! After I get back, I love making prints for friends and family. It's the souvenir that pays itself forward."

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