Anandu Sasidharan is a final year mechanical engineering student from Kollam. He is really passionate about long trips and have covered entire South India while riding on his Royal Enfield Electra.
Which is the longest trip you have been to?
The longest trip I made was my South Indian trip which covered 6 Indian states. I went on the journey with a friend of mine, who is also as passionate as me about such long rides. I took my Royal Enfield Electra for this trip.
Did you plan for this trip beforehand?
Actually, I had a Ladakh trip in my mind. I wanted to travel all the way North to Khardung La and return by my bike. But due to budget constraints, we had to cancel our plan. But since we were so eager to go on a long ride, we decided to travel all over South India. Looking back, it was a perfect decision. Because it is a bit challenging to attempt K2K as the very first long trip. Challenging in terms of budget and endurance. I’m a student, so I don’t have many options to fund my travel. So Ladakh trip was a bit out-of-reach. Also, if I ask my parents to let me go on a K2K trip without any previous experience travelling that far, they wouldn’t have given me permission. After I successfully came back from my South Indian trip unscathed, I got the confidence to travel even longer distances. Also, my parents were so happy that I returned within the time I promised without any issues. So, I’m pretty sure that they will have no problem letting me go on my dream trip - from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
Don't go on trips like K2K as your first long ride. Travel to nearby places and earn enough experience before tackling long routes.
When are you planning to go on this K2K trip?
Most probably, we will go by the end of this year. I’m trying to save money to fund this trip and to customize my bike for such a ride. But some repair works are needed for my bike which is putting my budget off-balance. Let’s see how everything works out.
We hope you can surely pull that off soon. Any valuable lessons you learned from your previous trip that will help you on this one?
Yes. Since it was my first long ride, I got to learn a lot of valuable lessons as a rider. One of the main things I will change for the next trip is to limit my luggage. I took about 6 pairs of my clothes for that trip as if I was going on an excursion. This excessive load made my bike’s carrier break off during the journey. So I have decided to pack only the essentials next time. About the budget, I am planning to carry a portable tent with me, so I can use them whenever possible. This not only ensures that I have a shelter to take rest when I’m tired but also helps to save money. Staying at hotels is really expensive if you are travelling on a budget. So carrying a tent helps a lot! But you have to be careful about choosing the places to pitch a tent. Otherwise, there is the risk of burglars and wild animals. During our South Indian trip, we got to experience camping in Ooty. Sleeping in a tent and sitting near a campfire was a pleasant experience. So we are looking forward to more camping when we travel to Ladakh, where it is not just an experience but a necessity for survival.
Only pack the essentials to carry with you. Don't put too much load on your bike.
Did you try local cuisine from the places you visited?
We didn’t bother too much to try out everything the local cuisine had to offer since we were on a tight budget. But we did try out must-haves such as Hyderabadi Biryani. For our next trip, we are planning to stick to a strict diet by avoiding foods that encumber us. Bread and fruits will be enough to give us enough stamina and keep us focused on the ride. Also, as a tip, make sure to drink enough water. Never ride dehydrated!
Bread and fruits were enough to give us stamina and keep us focused on the ride.
What preparations are you going to make before hitting the road to Ladakh?
I’m trying my best to learn more about bikes - their engine, their working etc. I believe, as a rider, it’s a must to know the basics. It can save us money on repair works. Some workshops can rip you off if you are unaware of the exact problem with your bike. Right now, I feel like I have wasted too much money on repair works for my bike. Also, I think it is a must-know skill while travelling through long highways of Ladakh.
Learn to fix small engine problems by yourself. It will help you to save time and money.
Did you get stuck on the road while on your previous trip?
As I mentioned earlier, my bike’s carrier got damaged due to excessive load. It was when we were passing through a remote village in Andhra Pradesh and the time was around ten at night. I thought I might get stuck there for a while. But it was then I realized how helpful the people can get. I was approached by many local people and they helped me to carry my bike to a nearby workshop. But it was closed since the time was well past dusk. But the people convinced the workshop owner to open the shop and he checked my bike. I was so overwhelmed by all these. Never expected to receive such a help from total strangers in an unknown place! There is another experience that I fondly remember. When I was roaming around Hyderabad to find a place to stay, I was approached by a middle-aged person. He asked for our details and we had a good conversation. We came to know that his brother is working in Kerala and he has a special respect towards Malayalis. When he realized we were travellers, he promptly arranged for us a place to stay. Soon we realized that he was a rich and popular person in that locality. He even took us home and treated us well with Hyderabadi special dishes.
I thought I might get stuck there for a while. But it was then I realized how helpful the people can be.
How did you choose your routes to travel?
We used Google Maps for pathfinding. But blindly trusting the Maps was a big mistake. We got stranded in many places as Google Maps showed us the worst possible roads. Most of them were closed out or in poor condition. It’s always better to ask local people or other riders to get the best routes to your destination. Language and communication was another issue we faced while on the trip. I speak Malayalam, English and Hindi to some extent. But in many South Indian villages, even Hindi is useless for a proper communication, let alone English and Malayalam. In such situations, gestures can help you. A lot!
Which were the accessories and gadgets you took with your on the trip?
We had carried battery banks, a digital camera by Sony and some essential cables. I’m planning to buy a GoPro before the next trip. If I cannot buy one, I will surely borrow one from any of my friends as having an action camera is a must for long rides. Keeping memories forever is absolutely worth it! I’m also planning to buy a good quality tent that protects from the cold climate of Ladakh. If you are buying one, make sure that it is made of a higher quality material that won’t leak.
Which other preparations are you going to make for that trip?
I’m thinking of adding Bhutan too into my itinerary. Since we Indians don’t have any trouble gaining access to that country, it’s foolish to miss out. So many places to see in Bhutan! We are also keeping an eye for updates about roads in that area. As you know, many of the roads in the Himalayan region will get closed out during some seasons. So do your homework and make the most out of your trip - an advice to inexperienced riders. I remember when I missed Dhanushkodi due to the lack of planning. I was riding to Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi. I was asked to pay a hefty amount to enter Dhanushkodi, which I didn’t have with me at that time. So I had to return without seeing that wonderful place.
Will you be riding solo on your Ladakh trip?
I might go with my friend who rode with me on my previous rides. I don’t prefer riding in a group. My co-rider is a good friend of mine and I can go along with him really well.
Do you have a dream bike?
Yes, my dream bike is the Triumph Tiger. I cannot afford that now. I don’t think I can buy it anytime soon. But I will surely get my own Tiger someday!
Avoid night ride as far as possible.
Don’t trust Google Maps blindly, especially in remote areas.
Use a portable tent to minimize budget.
Learn basic repair skills.
Don’t carry too much luggage with you.
Make your own travelogues
Article Info & Credits
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- Interview byCharles Andrews