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Neil Cooper: Adventure Story

NEIL'S TOP ADVENTURE TIP: Go with the flow. Be resourceful! Be respectful! India is India, they do things in the own way and in their own time. Chill, expect the worst, power cuts, water running out in the middle of a shower - usually when you’ve just soaped up! Oh, and expect a bit of Delhi Belly from time to time, it’s not food poisoning it’s just that you are getting used to their different bacteria!

I first went to India with Adventure Ashram around 7 to 8 years ago. Myself and my wife Kate drove an Indian traditional Ambassador car from Goa to Kerala in a Rally with about 20 other mad couples. We had never done an activity holiday like it! It was awesome and opened our eyes to beautiful India and it’s amazing people. The colours, smells and tastes, it hit everyone of our senses. Kate’s a very good photographer, and she was in the Tea Plantations helping the workers Clip the Tea, knee deep in mud in the Paddy Fields and took the most amazing photos. In fact she won Daily Telegraph Travel Photographer of the week and many of her photos from this trip were published in the paper! Anyway, we met Alex (and Solomon from Grace Charitable Trust - but that’s another story!), who told me about motorbike trips that he ran all over India. They sounded like something that I’d like to do. Only problem was I had never sat on a motorbike, ever, let alone ridden one! A few years past, my work circumstances suddenly changed. For the first time I had a bit of spare time. I decided to cram my motorbike learning from scratch into just one week, including the test! Somehow I passed! A few weeks later I was on a trip with Alex riding India’s Lost World. Not sure with one weeks riding lessons I was capable, but with Alex’s guidance and belief I persevered and wouldn’t let the mud, rocks, and off road riding beat me! Got back to France, bruised, but still in one piece and bought a Triumph Bonneville. I have now been on 4 motorbike trips (and met some great guys) and another Ambi trip (with Kate) and have a few more planned. I fell in love with India, and now go there every few weeks/months to help Solomon and Grace Charitable Trust in Masinagudi. I am very grateful for that first Ambi trip in giving me something so very special in my life. I now have lots of friends in India and I consider it as one of my homes.

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