Neil Ambler is participating in the 3-week Rickshaw run adventure in the Nepalese Himalayas. The Rickshaw Run is a tuk tuk race starting on 1 June in Kathmandu, Nepal and ending some 3 weeks later in Pondicherry, India. Neil will be sending updates as his team faces the usual dirt tracks, jungle, bad roads and awful driving.
I came across the Rickshaw Run website very randomly last year and it sparked me to send a group email out to my nearest and dearest to gauge their interest in taking part. Since then we have had people drop out and others join up so that we are now leaving for Kathmandu this week with a group of 11 people – although we’ve all managed to get ourselves on different flights!
We have 5 rickshaws out of a total of 70 that are taking part. Most of the group are leaving today and tomorrow and should be in Kathmandu by Saturday ready to depart on Sunday 1st June.
The theory is that we will be in Pondicherry, just south of Madras, some 4,000 km and 15 days later for a celebratory party with one or two drinks. The route was chosen over a few beers one night, hence the ‘zig-zag’ nature of the line! We wanted to get to the finish as fast as possible but also wanted to take in some sights – the top of which is Bandhavgarh national park where we will be doing some tiger safari.
The weather is of particular concern – it ranges from a relatively cold 25 degrees C (77 F) in Kathmandu to 45 degrees C (113 F) in Raipur! The rickshaws themselves, also known as tuk-tuks, are powered by a 150cc, 0.5bhp engine that can propel the 3 wheeled monster to a top speed of 30mph. Great news when you have to cover over 2,000 miles in 2 weeks!
So now you get the idea as to what it’s all about here is some recent news. One member of the group failed his driving test last week, and therefore will be just a passenger! His driving partner will no doubt be thrilled at having to drive for 8hrs per day! My travel companion, and girlfriend, has been refused a visa by the Indian Authorities in London and as such won’t be joining me for at least the first week! Brilliant…
We have also just been informed that there is severe fuel crisis in Nepal with the country down to its reserves. The organisers have managed to secure a tank of fuel for each Rickshaw from the Nepalese Army at a bargain price of £12 ($24)! Apparently it is easier to get fuel outside of Kathmandu but the potential to run out of fuel in the first 2 days is high.
Nepal itself is expected to become a Republic on Wednesday, announced by the newly elected assembly. As such the authorities have banned rallies and mass meetings in strategic areas due to fears of violence. All in all it has been an interesting 48 hours!
My top 3 songs for the journey are currently Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma, Bob Marley – Waiting in Vain and Stereophonics – Dakota. Although I’m sure the iPod will be on continuous shuffle!
Please feel free to post questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. Over and out.