The Rickshaw Diaries 2011

I was recently stumbling through some (very) old emails and found my diary entries from my first proper adventure. The Rickshaw Rally 2011.

The Rickshaw Rally takes place in India and consists of driving a three-wheeled Tuk Tuk (an auto-rickshaw as shown below), the length or breadth of India. At the tender age of twenty-three years old my friends John Sullivan, Dean Record and myself signed up to the adventure of a lifetime.

We would travel an un-planned route of 2500km from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan along the entire west coast of India down to Kochi in Kerala. That’s the equivalent of driving from Lands End to John O’Groats, back to Lands End and then back to Manchester. At the grand speed of 30mph (33mph downhill, with the wind behind us) in a three wheeled tin-can that had no doors and powered by a glorified lawn mower engine.

When I say it was un-planned, we had a start line location, a finish line location and a date of two-weeks time to get there. The rest was made up as we went and as far as our little yellow rickshaw could manage each day. We had no accommodation booked each night, which led to some unbelievably unfortunate resting spots (more to come on this, but imagine a cow shed). We also had no route or map. Possibly under-prepared you would say. This was also before the days of 3G and 4G mobile phone data, and none of us had an iPhone.

The blue line is a potential route of the start and finish line.

No iPhone, No Problem…

My, I feel old thinking about this now, but the phone I had was the Sony Ericsson W800 walkman. Even that phone was old at the time as it was released in 2005. Kobbie Mainoo the Manchester United midfielder who made his England debut last week, wasn’t even born. Although being manufactured nearly 20 years ago the battery life was still something to be desired even these days. The selling point of this 520 megabyte phone was “The key feature is the 2-megapixel camera with autofocus, video recording function, and flash.” TWO megapixels! TWO!!! hahaha.

So yeah, we had no 4G data, no google maps, no AA map. We had a Lonely Planet guide which focussed on Delhi and Agra, which weren’t even on the route for the rickshaw. I am not kidding, all we had was a compass. A compass and NO map. We knew we were heading south. So whenever we would get to a T-junction or a roundabout which had multiple exits, we would point the compass, which was tied to the steering wheel, and head in the south direction with the hope that the next road sign we saw would be something familiar. I can also pre-warn you, roads in India do not have road markings, painted lanes, and sometimes even tarmac.

But first, we had to get to the start line. We were flying to Delhi. From there we would try and get to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, which is a 14-hour drive or a 15-hour train. Neither of which we had anything booked.

To show you how unprepared we were, here is the diary entry from just before we’re about to land into Delhi airport. Enjoy. Oh and we were doing it as part of a race raising money for charity. Whacky races style. And our team name: Fight For Your Right Chipati.

A photo of our trusted Rickshaw, Marlene

Rickshaw Run 2011

Day 1- 28th January 2010

So, currently John, Dean and myself are on the descent coming into land in New Delhi, India. My head feels like it is about to explode and my eyeballs are going to burst out of my head. The flight has had mixed reviews. It has managed to be the best airline ever with the extras that were on offer, including the several complimentary G and T’s. However, it’s also been the worst flight of all time as I must have slept for all of 40 minutes with this cold/hangover. It has been unbearable at times. I had to take a walk to the WC to look in the mirror and have a team talk with myself. Also, for future references, don’t ever do a celebratory twirl after walking through the security buzzers at London Heathrow. I was asked to walk down the corridor where they proceeded to give me a little more extra frisking than you’d normally receive. This wasn’t too much of a problem as it was the most love I’d received for a while and felt like a late Christmas present.  We have just worked out our next stage of the journey, which should have probably been sorted weeks ago, and not an hour before we’re about to land.

It would be useful if we had two rupees to rub together between the three of us. So we need to find a competitive exchange rate in Delhi which could be interesting. However, we have got John ‘gift of the gab’ Sullivan with us so I’m sure we can haggle. I hope my luggage hasn’t been lost!

John and his celebration of two spare seats.

If you enjoy my style of writing, please consider purchasing my book on the button below. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.