Where to even start! As many of you following us on our Facebook page are now aware but to those still sitting on the edge of their armchair awaiting an update, Team MDA came screaming across the finish line of the Rickshaw Run late on Saturday evening bringing to a close a journey totaling 4003km’s (2501 miles) in exactly 14 days… And when I say we came screaming, I mean we made an grand entrance so grand that we could probably be heard all the way back down to the starting line.
For what now seems to have become our closing signature as we brought an end to another adventure rally, once again we lost the muffler somewhere on the last 200km’s of the journey climbing to 6400 feet above sea level where the mountain city of Shillong in the Meghalaya province is located… Talk about an out of the way finish line ! To say that we sounded like a world war two era bi plane would really downplay the noise emitting from our little 145 CC severely battered war horse. A 14.5 hour day which encompassed, being guided by the military through a civil strike by villagers on the highway, ushered thru intersections by the local police, running out of gas on a hill side traffic jam just 2km’s from the finish line, more night time driving, too many hair pin turns to recall, trucks and buses of all shapes and sizes belching out diesel fumes and jostling to pass us out on a mountain road with no street lights, no rail guards and don’t forget the “drive on whichever side of the road you feel like” culture, this was to be our final few hours. Emotionally drained, physically beaten to a pulp, deaf from the noise inside the cockpit, covered in dust, fuel stained bodies, tired, elated and relieved all combined with an adrenaline crash, this was our Rickshaw Run…. We arrived as team # 47 of 74 team to start from Fort Cochin, and most importantly, we arrived safely in one physical piece. Well Leon and I did, the Tuk Tuk was missing a roof rack & a muffler, there was more than a dent or three, a few holes here and there, a few areas of the roof cage will need to be welded back together before this trusty vehicle is put back together like Humpty Dumpty for the next Rickshaw Run in September… And in case you are even wondering for one split second, no, we will not be participating, safe to say we have seen enough Tuk Tuk action to last a lifetime…
So what is our overall take on this Indian experience? I think I would characterize it by saying that India is unapologetically in your face – loud, bright, alive, it’s on the streets and not hidden behind curtains. It attacks your senses, it is the most magical of people and mouth watering dishes, a colorful kaleidoscope of people and cultures, it is always on and never dull. Far and away the common feedback among the rally teams is that it was the interaction with the people at roadside villages that made this trip memorable. Being offered a cup of tea in a china cup on a tray at a gas station or invited to a break from the journey with a private tour of a Tea Factory by the owner of the gas station who also happens to own a tea factory. Taking a wrong turn and criss crossing the colorful countryside past tea fields and pineapple plants, landing up at the Bangladesh border (somehow), stopping for lunch at truck stop cafe’s, eating the unknown street food (frequently) it quickly became obvious that the way to increase the experience was to just say “YES” and see what happens. Coming from an environment where we inherently have our guard up, we found that dropping it and learning to trust people and trust your gut was what would open doors and our minds. I’ll digress from being overly philosophical, I better as I just finished eating a steak sandwich in India sitting by the pool in Delhi from where I am now writing – pure luxury seeing something other than chicken or mutton on the menu since April 1st. It’s also a “dry day” today, that is it’s a holy day of sorts to commemorate all the birthdays of the Gods I believe – whatever it is, there is no alcohol sold anywhere, except it seems in our hotel, so Thank God we elected to stay in a property with Western influences on the one day this month we are going to take an afternoon off and do nothing, except write…
I’ve mentioned the drivers in prior emails but now I’ll mention the passengers, we’ve seen groups of them camped atop the roof tops of busses, hanging out the door, arms clasped to the door frame and even one gentleman sitting atop the trunk/ front bonnet of a passing jeep as there was no room for him anymore on the roof. Passenger vehicles carry to maximum entire capacity, and yes, they may still be on the wrong side of the road and traveling at 50 kmph… During the course of the trip we debated what might be on the curriculum at driving school here, there is no such thing as waiting in line at a traffic jam, particularly if you drive a Tuk Tuk, just drive up the center lines for a km or two, or five, or off-road it and overtake, avoiding the crater sized pot holes and forget speed bumps, these are an opportunity to pass 5 trucks you can’t normally do when you’re max speed is 45kmph. And then there is my favorite – Rolling up to a railway track when the level crossing gates are down is like jostling for pole position in a Formula One race circuit, it’s every man for himself and only the fittest survive. See an opportunity, take it; want an opportunity, make it; because when the gate goes up all hell breaks loose, it’s engines roaring and it’s one side of the bridge versus the other like the charge of the mighty brigade.
We’ve seen people defecating in fields regularly, even washing their teeth at the same time. What we had hoped to be the jewel during our journey, the holy city of Varanasi turned out to be more of a open sewer than we had expected, yet we took a pre dawn boat cruise on the River Ganges and witnessed worshipers showering as the sun rose over the River while bodies were burned riverside, meanwhile others were in the squat position just a few meters away. I’ve explained that running water is not available to most Indian homes, the same goes for bathrooms, have an urge, then purge, matters little on your location.. We learned on this tour that pregnant women, lepers and priests bodies are not burned, they are tied up with stone and dropped off from boats but often float to the surface (witnessed) – the burning of the body at Varanasi is a sacred and coveted ritual, costing upwards of $300 and now bear in mind the average Indian may only earn $1000/year, the dead arrive from all over India and even abroad. It takes approx 3 hours to burn a body in the open air in case you are wondering or thinking to enquire about arranging for your future…
I last wrote to you headed to Pench Tiger Reserve right bang in the middle of central India where we had the opportunity to take a pre dawn safari adventure. Pench is the second largest national park in India, covering 1900sq km’s, however as we were to learn there are just 20 Bengali Tigers living there, a bit of a needle in a haystack hope of seeing one of these but we did see a baby leopard, a thousand spotted deer, wild boar, Indian buffalo and the beautiful Kingfisher bird. I think they are overselling the name of the park but beggars can’t be choosers and having arrived at 9pm in the only resort that had accommodation available within 50 miles (2+ hour drive on a Tuk Tuk during daylight or 4 hours in the dark) after a 12 hour day you take what you can get. The last two weeks were a collection of 5am/6am/7am “wheels up” starts when it is a little cooler and a little quieter on the roads. We often driving until after 7pm or 10pm on occasion, that’s 70-80 hour “work” weeks or like flying SFO to Frankfurt every day for 14 days straight, no jet lag, just life decision lag. We learned that journey planning meant adding an additional 3 hours to each day based on what you thought you could accomplish, a minor repair may take 10 minutes, a minor engine adjustment might unearth problems you never knew existed and result in a carburetor rebuild, there are gas stations that have no fuel or when they do, every local decided at that point in time to also fill up their tank. Leaving a town may take 10 minutes but getting out of a regional capital city like Perna can take 3.5 hours during morning “rush” hour… In terms of breakdowns for us, we must have had a few people up above looking out for us because outside of air getting in the fuel line daily, this was our only mechanical issue. Many of the teams had engine/brake/electrical issues, one team we travelled with on/off had no lights for the final few days and drove by torch light at night. To add to it, it was a team of one guy and three girls and he drove the girls the entire 4000km’s…. why you would want to stay in the back of a tuk tuk that long all cramped up is beyond my comprehension but he wasn’t the only guy to do this – call it chivalrous or pick your own adjective….
Our journey took us up the back bone of India, up side streets, country roads thru places that have never seen a tourist, not to mind say 4 or 5 Tuk Tuks of “whitey’s” in colorful convoy. The finish line of Shillong up in the mountains and the surrounding countryside is likened to Scotland in the guidebooks and well it might be – wild barren landscape, rolling fields unsuitable to much in the way of agriculture and it poured rain for the two days after our arrival – Shillong was a favorite vacation destination under British rule for the British, a place where one could escape the oppressive heat, it was bone chillingly cold and dull… We took the obligatory tourist sight seeing tour one day in the pouring rain, I don’t have much to write for you I’m afraid, nor did we see a Gin & Tonic for sale. Shillong though was one of the few places where you could order a beer with dinner in the restaurant. Often the “family restaurant” does not serve alcohol as drinking (which is extremely rare) here is something females do not partake in, we’re not sure if it’s a religious thing but Indian men do not like to have their wives/daughters surrounded by an environment that supports it, in the areas where Muslims are more predominant, women are not allowed in the bars as many of our rally mates were to find out…
Having driving nearly half way around the world together at this point (Mongol Rally 14,234km’s, Rickshaw Run 4003km’s – circumference is 40,075km’s), this has by far been the toughest journey we have undertaken. As for Delhi belly you ask, well surprisingly we along with most of the Rally seem to have been given a get out of jail card free. We did hear that two teams had to quit the rally and leave the country due to severe illness, we also heard that one team member had a seizure and technically died for a few minutes before being revived. We heard of teams crashing in to trucks and even in to a cow, but Team MDA has been saved off all such events and matters of the body, we are eating everything in sight on sight, may our stomachs stay strong. At Shilong airport en route to Delhi there was a weigh in at the airline check in desk, yes, we all stood up where your suitcase goes and no one actually lost any weight – the curries are that good!
And so to close; we were humbled by the reception we received all over India and by your generosity in our fund raising efforts. For Muscular Dystrophy and the FRANK Water project we have raised a combined $5850 for which we graciously thank you. We flew to Delhi late last night, took a guided tour conducted by an organization which helps the street children of Delhi this morning and will head to the Taj Mahal at the weekend before departing early May 1st for the marathon journey home. We sincerely hope you have enjoyed following us on our travels.
Signing out for Team MDA
Ian & Leon
BLOG Entry - Monday 15th April 2013
Rickshaw Run Volume Two
Quite the apt title for segment two of the Rickshaw Run.... Departing Fort Cochin amid a fanfare send off in the village we headed north along the western coast, our initial plan to head towards Goa, a trek of 1000km's. As I mentioned before, Kerala State is one of the most advanced (wealthy) and our journey took us through villages and towns surrounded in lush forests, seas of Palm Trees and tropical gardens fronting large villa style homes.. Where is the mythical India we were told of, beggars, open sewers and food poisoning...
Day one of driving brought us to beach town of Kozikode approx 7 hours and two ferry crossings later. Alas an Indian beach resort and by that I mean an old run down city where we stayed in a construction site of a hotel, not much in the way of summer spent on the boardwalk here and more like an evening spent listening to the whaling of a Muslim Cleric at a gathering on the beach, , he was loud, he was passionate and my can he talk at the top of his lungs for hours on end.... In my prior email I neglected to mention that southern India currently suffers from rolling electrical blackouts, so just as you are about to order dinner in a restaurant with the Cleric adding the ambiance some 500meters away yet still passionate and audible, it's lights' out and only certain things are on the menu until the electricity is a little more reliant (post 9:30pm), note we and our server lacked in-depth conversation so when after 45 minutes with the look of starving children in our eyes and enquiring as to our order he duly informed that it could not be cooked due to lack of power so we had to choose from food prepared earlier, a minor over looked detail in the training he received i am sure. When the rains come again in May, "normal" electricity will resume.
Day one was a hot one but day two the temperatures increased and we took a turn and headed East over a mountain range in search of the city of Mysore, the former jewel in the crown of Wodeyar maharajas. Day two was a 12 hour day, we tracked up the mountain at a bristling 6mph for over an hour and a half, stopping just once to make sure the engine did not blow up. It was during this stop some random gentlemen wielding a sickle in hand stopped their motorcycle and climbed into the hill-top field beside us. While the sight of a knife was mildly discomforting, we exchanged pleasantries and they went about their way. We climbed I believe in excess of 3000 feet, no mean feat on a lawnmower. As I type right now on day seven, the most bizzare of things continue to happen to us so I'll digress a little. I am typing from the back seat of the Tuk Tuk as we drive along a real highway. we stopped to change a puncture and as we were about to depart someone shows up randomly having seen us. Except he has just driven down the wrong way on the freeway on his motorbike to take our picture.. Driving on the freeway is no different to driving on the Secondary roads or thru cities & towns for that matter; you have no idea what is going to be coming against you - in your lane headed against you. We have seen trucks, tractors, oxe drawn carts, herds of cows, men walking their Camels, take your pick, the "NO rules" of the road here are different, yet we have seen few if any crashes, the only ones are the Large Goods carrying trucks filled to overflow who drive overnight and are slamming in to each other due to non existent roadside lighting or driver fatigue.... And there goes a Tuk Tuk right now against us on our side of the freeway - he was in the fast lane too, never a dull moment....
The Tuk Tuk has so far held up, in fact betweeen our group of 5 vehicles there have been no serious repairs needed, Thankfully I can report all body systems are continuing to function according to plan.. Food wise we continue to eat like Kings, breakfasts are road side affairs, lunch (if we ever have it) is also on the go as we have had a lot of terrain to cover. Tonight our achieved goal was approx 150km north of the city of Nagpur which is bang the center of India, approx 600km's due east of Mumbai... we are resting over night at a Tiger reserve and the plan is to take an early morning safari..
As we traveled further north each day we started to notice the poverty more and more, the farmers who live on subsistence agriculture methods, the village people who walk each day to the well in the morning time for fresh water with their ceramic water containers balanced on their heads, the homes constructed from dried clay bricks or worse yet sticks and sheet metal roofing. At sun rise and sunset these buildings of various sun bleached pastel colors, particularly set against the countryside provide a photographer or water color painters dream. A few nights back we stayed in Solapur, a city of 800k and yet which resembled a shanty town even as we approached the outskirts. However for as poor as the people visibly are, they still walk around with a big smile on their face, no one appears starving and life goes on amid a lot of hustle and bustle. There is virtually no aggression in the air the likes of which we encountered in many different parts of the Mongol Rally when we would pull into towns and we were prime targets to be accosted and/or have our possessions robbed from our vehicles, there is very limited alcohol abuse here. Trash is rife in India, it's along the roadsides everywhere, there are no rubbish bins to be found anywhere and asking or handing trash to someone for disposal is looked at with curiosity on their part, they simply point to the ground. The trash is burned, or the trash is consumed by the cows/goats/monkeys etc. What ever is not taken by the aforementioned is often reused and recycled which translates into a very efficient and affordable "spare parts" market. There is no need to book one's vehicle in for a service, just show up at a hotel and ask someone for help, it arrives within two minutes, is taken care of within an hour and costs just $12. Need an on the spot weld to try salvage a disintegrating roof rack, no problem, it's fixed inside of three minutes for 50 cents at a roadside shop..
As we have travelled the scenery has evolved. Following our mountain climb Leon and I were headed to Mysore to meet up with our travel partners, this took us through our first National park (missed the Tiger reserve but did randomly come across an elephant sanctuary) and then we hit the agricultural hinterland which brought back memories of our trip to Mongolia, that is no roads for a few hours of torture.... BTW, there goes another truck against us on our side of the freeway, while on the other side a motorbike was headed in our direction but on the wrong side of the freeway, you will probably now start to get the picture, it's frequent. Should I even mention city driving, particularly at dusk! Many of you if you have not yet would have a heart attack, it takes nerves of steel but is actually a lot of fun..and a great tonic for road rage. Picture yourself coming to a large intersection or roundabout but there are no yield signs (slight interrupt, there goes a herd of cows crossing the highway), there are 4+ lanes of traffic and no one stops. You just pick a point and go for it at a respectable speed so as not to cause surprise, you are free to go around the roundabout in any direction you choose and may complete your turn on the wrong side of the street. As you negotiate yourself thru this jungle of vehicles and people crossing in front of you remember you are also trying to navigate where you are going in cities with few if any street signs, by the time you peel yourself out of the Tuk Tuk after a 12 hour day of driving you are mentally and physically shattered. Our average speed is working out to be approx 35km/hour (22mph) so in that time, if we are lucky we might cover 320kms in a full day. Our day's begin with a 5:30am alarm clock and we are on the road around 6am, the advantage to this is it is cooler in the mornings until the heat of the sun kicks in at 9:30am, and then it is like an oven until after 5pm. Remember we have no doors or windows, no air-con, it is us and the elements, the driving is intense, being a passenger is a little more relaxing but remember the cockpit is small, there is room for two to sit side by side in the rear all be it tight nice but all our luggage is also back here, there are some teams of 3 and even some with four, God knows how they are enduring this journey, they will be pushing the Tuk Tuk up the smallest of hills for sure. We thought the Mongol Rally was taxing, this is by far a harder journey on the body. Good roads lead to no roads at the blink of an eye, freeways end suddenly, there is the carbon monoxide and smoke from fires in the air, not the mention the noise, engine noise and that every passing vehicle shreeks their horn at deafening decibels and oh btw the average day time temperature is 43C (116F). Leave a bottle of water in the vehicle during the day and you can make tea from it in a matter of hours, it will burn your hand - it has...
And so to the movies stars... Well that will be us. We take short breaks during the day to rest ourselves, the vehicles and to stock up on what is available roadside be it water, fuel or breakfast. We pulled in to the town of Adilabad this morning at 9am and actually shut it down! Traffic ground to a halt and we were besieged by upwards of 200 curious onlookers for the next half hour. As we tried ordering from the food stands cell phones popped out of everywhere with requests for photos of us. The paparazzi could certainly learn some manners from the Indians, yes they were on top of us like a mob scene, yes there were a thousand curious heads stuck in to the Tuk Tuk and yes they had huge smiles and an animated pitch in their conversation. The same happens in small towns & even on seemingly empty roadsides when we stop for a stretch, people come out of the woodwork and in from the fields. They stop their vehicles and just stare at us with curiosity, who are these white people in brightly color Tuk Tuks. Driving along the roads, the world and it's mother must wave at us for passing motorbikes, busses and cars to the kids who chase after us smiling, the police have stopped us on a few occasions to take our photos amd we do not pay tolls on toll roads - we have our photo taken though! Coming back to reality in a few weeks will ego shattering LOL.
To put the roadside stops into perspective, they are not the luxurious Service stations found on the German Autobahns (we wish), they are mostly shacks and they all unlike Tesco or Safeway all sell virtually the exact same 15 products. There are no Starbucks (Thank God - the coffee here is good and served sweet) but they do sell local "Artisan" products like Samosas, Dosas, Fried Donuts with Spicy coconut sauce etc etc at every other food stand. The Chai is also sweet and served in a shot glass having being brewed over an open flame. Breakfast might cost 40 cents all in if you are eating large.
Crazy sights wise - Tuk Tuks are used in the more remote towns as a local bus equivalent, we have seen as many as 12+ crammed into them - we are just two with luggage inside and I can tell you it's a tight squeeze. As per normal there are 3, 4 and 5 to a motorbike, from as young as new born to grand parents, often three generations on one machine, and forget helmets, they are very few and very far between. We've seen women balancing farm tools on their head walking by the side of the roads (Hoes/Axe) and one man balancing 20 gallon gas container going for a walk. BUT by far the strangest to date - we have seen one gentleman in a town running his errands, he was parked "curbside" sitting atop of his Elephant, I kid you not...
And so to close.. Thanks to your generosity we have raised $4300 to date for our charities. As I send this message we have covered 1950 KMS (1220 miles) since the starting line and are at approx the half way point distance wise. . We anticipate next week is going to be heavier from a tourist perspective starting tomorrow morning with a Tiger safari (4:30am departure, I swear there is no sleeping here). then we have plans to visit and stay in Varanasi and Darjeling as we make our way to the finish line, only to them have to figure a way out of there
As noted in our trip announcement we are undertaking this journey and adventure to help raise funds for two charities, the Frank Water foundation which helps make clean drinking water available in rural villages across India and Muscular Dystrophy, Australia. If you have been enjoying our stories and pictures and would like to help us in our fundraising efforts you may do so at either of the following sites.
If you would like to sponsor us on this journey you may do so at the following sites:
Note the MDA donation site is in Australian $$$ (1 US$ = .95 Australian)
Signing out for Team MDA,
Ian & Leon
Ian & Leon with their Rickshaw and MDA T's
BLOG Entry - Wednesday 10th April 2013
Long day and poor WiFi at day's end travel. So here's we we are up to so far.
BLOG Entry - Tuesday 9th April 2013
I actually created this two days ago as we prepared to depart the start line in Cochin, SW India but due to no internet access and rolling electrical outages have been unable to publish. It's 5:30am in Mysore at the moment and we are departing on our third day of the adventure. Yesterday we travelled a whopping 128 miles after a full 12 hour day, with just a 15 minute break to rest the engine while trying to climb a mountain at 6mph... We are now off towards Hampi which is approx 300 miles and unsure how far we will make it today.... It is hot beyond belief, the driving so far is intense, there is no room for lack of concentration or a truck/bus will plow you down, not to mention needing to avoid the 1.2 billion people that walk alongside the road.... Just before I left I also created a blog site at www.teammda.wordpress.com if you want to check that site, anytime we have wifi we will post some photo's.
BLOG Entry - Sunday 7th April 2013
It's 9am on Sunday morning here in Fort Cochin, already very warm and humid and I am sitting at breakfast, likely having my last western meal as I sit facing the Arabian ocean from the balcony of our colonial era hotel. In 2 hours we will board our Tuk Tuk with 72 other teams and enter the great unknown and head off on the Rickshaw Run, tearing across India for the next two weeks... The Run is now in it's sixth year and happens three times per year, the Spring tour being the longest and we anticipate we will journey approx 2800 miles (4400 km's) on our little 7 horse power "go kart"...
We've been in India since late Tuesday evening after a 35+ hour journey and so far there is no doubt in our minds that we love it and have had the most amazing welcome to this country... Thankfully Delhi belly has so far decided to remain in Delhi and we have actually eaten like Kings since arriving in the State of Kerala. Kerala is we believe the most developed State in the Nation and happens to the capital of the Spice production. While today I sample on simple fair (mindful of the journey ahead), we have actually spent the past 5 days gorging ourselves on all styles of Indian curry's and Dosa's (Indian style pancakes) for all 3 meals. After a while though 5 types of curry's for breakfast just isn't cutting it.
Fort Cochin has been conquered by the Dutch, Portugese and British and the influence is felt here in the architecture, albeit it crumbling and almost derelict in appearance. The capital of the Kerala region. while glistening modern skyscrapers it is not, there is an incredible energy in the air and life on the streets. The population is made up of Hindi, Christina and Muslim, evenly split, and everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful... that we are part of a 200 person group of unusual suspects in brightly painted Tuk Tuk's of course only peeks their interest.
On Wednesday morning we were introduced to our Tuk Tuk and set about making minor alterations, repairs and painting the exterior, if we've spent $100 in all I would be shocked, it is incredibly cheap here, a minor service cost $2, a full paint job $60! It was Wednesday morning that we befriended a local Tuk tuk taxi driver "Babu" and it is safe to say that Babu is the brains behind the operation for the past few days, shuttling us here and there, thinking of things five steps ahead, without him I doubt we've have figured out yet where to purchase fuel! Speaking of fuel and costs, a litre of petrol/gas is approx $1.50, a tank holds 5 litres which driving style aside should carry us approx 150km's. Lunch for three in a locals restaurants cost $3, beer is approx $1, water approx 40 cents etc... Alcohol is not widely available in Kerala, the first day of the month is "dry" and there are liquor is practically non existent
Life here is fast and furious and with a population of approx 2 million in the greater city, we've seen just one traffic light. While driving is on the same side of the road as Ireland/UK/Aus with two official lanes for traffic, reality is there are no lanes, no rules of the road, near misses occur approx every 8 seconds, driving here is not for the faint at heart... There are hundreds of thousand of motor bikes/tuk tuks coming at you from every angle imaginable, large busses and trucks that do not pull over for you and which will drive straight thru you and at the same time you need to watch out for the jaywalkers and the man carrying a bed frame on his head walking down the median. Lest we not forget the cows and goats everywhere and of course the entire population who also walk on the streets as there are no pavements.
It seems that everyone has a job and there is none of the poverty we had expected. People are very hard working (6 days is the norm, 12+ hour days) and honest, we've made mistakes and left valuables behind on occasion and never need to fear we won't be united again. The culture shock we had anticipated is just that, a culture shock that it is not. For those who have visited Vietnam or parts of rural Thailand, this is where Kerala is best likened to... That being said, we know things are going to change as soon as we leave today and head up towards the Western Coast towards Goa, a 1000km distance which should take us approx 3 days.
The teams traveling are made up of the usual suspects, Irish/UK/Aus/Kiwi with some US/Canadians mixing it up but the vibe we are getting is very different than from those who did the Mongol Rally. People are a little stand offish, no surprise that Leon and I are amongst the older participants but we are not the oldest, one Aussie couple are actually doing the trip again having completed it four years ago. Today we will travel with a large Sydney Pilot contingent who Leon has a friend in common with from the airline industry and I expect there will be others in our convoy.
A few Thank you's to close. First of all to our generous donors, as we set out on our journey today to help raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy and Frank Water, Leon and I have raised approx $3200 so far. The Rickshaw Run teams combined have so far raised $80,000 for Frank Water which helps bring fresh clean water to rural villages across India so your generosity is making a huge impact over here. I'd also like to thank Caleb Stephens from WordPress who has set up our blog and lastly the staff at Le Meridien, Cochin where we stayed for the first three nights, it is likely I will never eat better Indian food again.
First BLOG Entry
In 2011 we drove a 1.3L SuzikiJimny 15,000km (8896.7 miles to be exact! ) across 14 countries from London to Mongolia over six weeks. You followed us along the way, you supported us, questioned our sanity and reveled in our tales…. “Are you crazy?” remains the common response to this day, and now we are about to embark on something even more ridiculous!
On April 1st (April Fools’ day no less) Leon leaves Melbourne and I leave San Francisco on a 33 hour journey to the starting line inthe rural SW corner of India. A few days later we will climb aboard a 7hp, 145cc engine, 3 wheeled “Tuktuk” and attempt to cross the Indian sub-continent in just 13 days!
From Cochin in the S.E. to Shilong in the N.E corner, that’s 4000km or 2400 miles there or thereabouts on the equivalent of your garden lawnmower – the small one you had back in 1970 something… Need to put this distance into perspective? Picture Sydney - Perth OR San Francisco - Honolulu on something as comfortable & completely inappropriate as it sounds…
Why ???Why indeed…
In 2011 through our many fund raising events, your generous donations and the sale of our trusty battered vehicle in Ulaanbaatar we raised >$16,000 for Muscular Dystrophy Australia and the Christina Noble Foundation (Mongolia).
For the “Rickshaw Run” we along with 75 other global teams will seek to raise donations for FRANK Water which funds sustainable clean water projects in rural village of India and again for Muscular Dystrophy of which Leon’s brother Ryan suffers from this debilitating disease.
Once again I will be writing a regular travel blog and Leon will be posting photos of our adventure. Don’t forget I am technically challenged and my mechanical skill-set can just about see me change a tire (and that’s it), Leon got “lost” trying to exit a Petrol/Gas station in Mongolia. Together we are confident that we will probably arrive at the finish line in first place...in 2038…
If you would like to sponsor us on this journey you may do so at the following sites:
Note the MDA donation site is in Australian $$$ (1 US$ = .95 Australian)
Ian and Leon