I may know india better than the natives, says biker

I may know india better than the natives, says biker

Mark Ward (56) is an Australian, who began riding a bike at the age of six. He started travelling the world when he turned 18 and has since covered six continents; 90 countries and territories. “My aim is to travel to 110 countries in total,” he shares. 

He first came to India in 1990 and has since come back over 50 times and travelled through all 28 states and 8 Union Territories extensively. He, however, stopped riding almost five years ago. “After travelling with me for six years, my wife decided that she wanted to lead a more normal life. It felt weird for me to continue riding without her,” he shares. 

He says that pollution too played a huge role in his decision. “About 10 years ago, while I was in Darjeeling, I had a heart attack. 18 months later, I had a stroke. It took a while to recover, but I realised I needed to make some changes,” he says. India, especially North India is one of the most polluted places that he has travelled to, he explains. However, he keeps coming back here so he can spend time with his daughter who is currently pursuing her degree in Psychology from Christ Deemed to be University). 

He recollects a trip from Shillong to Srinagar in May 2006 to be one of his most memorable trips. “I covered about 7,670 kilometres. It was extremely hot. I rode the entire way in shorts. I had blisters along my arms and thighs; I was dehydrated, but I kept pushing myself,” he shares. The most chilling part of the journey, he says, was the fact that it was on the day he left from Srinagar that the Amarnath attack took place, where pilgrims who were travelling in a bus to Srinagar from Baltal base camp were attacked by terrorists. 

He was in Philipines during the November 1994 earthquake. In 2004 when the tsunami struck Asia, he volunteered to help bring back the bodies, bones and debris that were underwater. However, it is the experience he had of being stuck in Tibet during the uprising in March 2008 that he remembers most vividly. “We were stuck in a guest house for two days, and it took another four days to get out of the country,” he says. Despite having witnessed such crises in close quarters, he says that people are inherently good. “You learn more about people when you travel. Don’t just blindly believe what the news tells you. I have come to India so often, that I often feel I know this place better than the natives. I may look like a foreigner, but I don’t feel like one,” he says.