Thursday, January 31, 2008

Back to Civilization

Just a quick note, that Tommy and I are, in fact, still alive and have safely made it back down to Namche Bazar! The trip was hard (and very cold) work, but the views were, oh so worth it (pictures coming soon, hopefully)! Tomorrow, I go to Lukla for my flight back to Kathmandu (which is likely to be delayed a couple of days due to a snow storm in the area), while Tommy is going to keep hiking to Jiri from there with Buster and Fred, a couple of guys we met along the way) and is aiming to be back in Kathmandu on the 6th...

Monday, January 28, 2008

So Close

... and yet so far. After getting the heck out of Nepal I spent a couple days in Bangalore for Madhur's wedding. For those of you not familiar with the process, you fly into town and are greeted by a Madhur's dad and uncles. You then spend all night regaling them with stories of your crazy drive across India in a rickshaw and they spend all night plying you with tequila shots. You then spend the next 3 nights continuing to stay up late and party - Sangeet, cocktail party, actual wedding. About midnight on the actual wedding night, while the party is in full swing and the actual ceremony is a couple more hours away, you bid adieu and head to the airport...

My flight to Dubai was uneventful, but the flight to New York was a couple hours delayed, and I missed my connection to Seattle. They rebooked me on the next days flight, so I called up Katrina and Mike and met up for dinner and crashed on their couch. I'm now poaching internets at Mike's awesome rock climbing gym and will hopefully make it home home this evening.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Up to Everest Base Camp

I can confirm, Tommy and I are, in fact, trekking our way up to the Everest Base Camp! So far in the second day, and have found an internet cafe in Namche Bazar, Nepal. Elevation: 3440m! I'm going to guess this may very well be the highest internet cafe in the world...

We're in day 2 so far, progressing reasonably well, trying not to rush to avoid altitude sickness. The views started being amazing on the flight over, and haven't gotten any worse since! Will be posting lots of pictures, hopefully once we're back down - current ETA for back in Kathmandu is Feb 7...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Back to India

Or at least, Team Dave is now back in India. Team Alex and Tommie are still in Nepal and hopefully have now acquired lots of new warm clothing and other gear for the treak to Everest base camp over the next few days. And Team Cyrus has now headed off to a warm beach to let his lungs recover.

In case anyone was curious after the last post, I was finally able to purchase a ticket to Dehli on Jet Lite airlines which oddly enough I had to purchase from the lady at the Jet Airways counter. I'm now at the hotel internet machine in Dehli using the USB port to recharge the cell phone with India SIM I'm borrowing from Cyrus, and windows just reminded me that I have a few pictures of the train in Darjeeling on there.

All along the winding mountain road up to Darjeeling there was a very narrow train track. At first we weren't sure what it was used for, as it seemed too narrow for any real passengers. The cars are significantly larger than the train track would make you think, and it turns out there is in fact a steam engine that runs back and forth between Darjeeling, Ghum, and various other towns on the mountain a few times a day. The train came by while Tommie and I were at the welders getting the rickshaws fixed, and I didn't have my main camera on me, but the phone seems to have captured the scene pretty well:

Stoned in Kathmandu


Yesterday we got up early in Kathmandu and decided to go return our rickshaws to the storage depot near the airport. So the five of us (Dave, Dave, Alex, Tommy, and I) got in our three rickshaws and headed over to the Rum Doodle Bar (40,000 ½ feet) to work out what we needed to do to return the rickshaws.

There we met up with two other teams Discovering Earth who we had ran into quite a few times and a team of absolutely insane Brits one of who decided to return their rickshaw with us. So the 8 of us started driving convoy style through Kathmandu following our carefully planned out route.

Random Fact: Less than a week ago the government of Napal raised the price of gas about 20%

We made if a few blocks when we hit the first protest. We looked at our map and rerouted. Made it a few more blocks hit protest number two. Rerouted again. and again.

Finally we stopped and after much work convinced a cabbie to park his cab and jump in one of our rickshaws and get us past the protests. He was certain there wouldn't be protesters on the big ring roads if we could just get out to them. We then ran into two more groups of protesters who the cabbie talked to briefly and they moved stuff out of the way so we could get through. Most of the protesters went out of their way to be nice to tourists and went through what appeared to be the last protest before the ring road my rickshaw was nailed in the back by a brick.

Random Note: Most protests we encountered were just folks blocking the road and burning things. Small bushes, limbs of trees, tires etc. and chanting something that I assume translates to "Down with the King" but I can't say I've learned much Nepalese since I've been here.

Logan and I were a bit put out by the rude folks throwing large rocks at our rather flimsy go cart but we were driving away from the at about 50km and hour and they couldn't catch us. We had less than 2km to go and we were finally on the "Safe" ring road.

Random Fact: At this point we are in position 4 in the convoy. It's order was (Tommy + Cabbie, Discovering Earth, Crazy Brits, Us, Lott + Slepak)

We came around a bend in the ring road and turned down a hill towards what appeared to be the largest protest we had seen that day. The cabbie told Tommy to go ahead that they wouldn't bother us. So all of us went heading right for the protest. Time compressed at this point and I'm not sure how everything that follows went down. The crowd caught up with us and they was a group of people throwing rocks at the rickshaw and kicking it while I was trying desperately to turn it around. Finally I just floored it and tried to make all 7hp of that thing take off even though I hadn't made it all around and there were protesters in front of me. They got out of the way though. Discovering Earth stalled and was the last ones out. Oddly Tommy was suspiciously the first one out and as we were flying up the hill in flee mode he was sitting out of his tuk tuk taking pictures of us getting attacked (Film camera, we'll get copies someday)

After that we ducked into the airport with it's significant military presence and parked our rickshaws to regroup and settle down.


After consulting with not less than 20 people including military, random locals, cabbies, UN Folks, and airport officials we came to the conclusion that we had to wait it out at the airport. They almost let us just drive across the cargo area to get where we were going but one of the chief types at the airport realized this would violate international air laws. So we did what we've always done in the face of adversity.

We went to the bar.

We got out of there about 3.5 hours later once the protests had broken up and drove to the drop off point.

Random fact: Team Dave, and I are presently at the airport getting out of this country. As a rule of thumb I don't hang out in countries where the locals have tried to kill me. Protests were still going today and a general strike also started. Lott and I are in the Thai Airways lounge which might be the best place in the city to hold up and wait to get out. Logan is downstairs working on getting a ticket but sadly the airport is closed due to weather and he can't buy a ticket until the weather lifts. But we expect him to join us here in the next couple hours.

Alex and Tommy have decided that they'll just wonder up to the Everest base camp in the middle of winter. We hope to hear from them again.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Meeting back up

After seeing former co-workers Michelle and Gitika in Dehli yesterday, I'm off to meet back up with the rickshaws once more! So far, I've had an only marginally delayed (1.5 hrs due to fog) flight into Kathmandu, now waiting for a 30 minute intra-Nepal flight to Jankpur, where I should be meeting back up with the rickshaw caravan later this afternoon. In the mean time, apparently the domestic terminal at the Kathmandu airport has a cyber cafe! And it even lets me upload my pictures...


In the mean time, first impressions of the little that I've seen of Kathmandu - it's a nice breather from India! It seems so much more serene, quiet, and clean(!). Plus you get unbeatable views of the Himalayas! The outlook on the mountains on the flight over were amazing!

The mountains, as seen from my flight:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 18: EPIC

Seems to be the word most frequently thrown about to describe today.

It started at 0530 as we tried to clean the room of the last shards of glass from the case of beer we dropped the night before. We wanted to be gone before they discovered that we used the curtain to mop up the mess, and fortunately the guys with guns in the lobby had made sure our rickshaws didn't "wander off" overnight. There was a heavy fog, but we were itching to get out of Bihar so we decided to press on. We encountered a toll both that had been staffed by some friendly locals. Normally we run such setups, and Tommy did, bringing one of the locals along with him who'd grabbed the center pillar. Since Slepak's bags were in the back seat due to the broken roof rack, I decided that 10 Rs. was a reasonable bribe for them to ask and paid it to save Slepak's bags.

The roads were pretty good and we could make about 30kph and still be able to see oncoming traffic. The tricky bit is that some of that traffic is ox drawn carts which are really slow (and don't have lights). The lorries can't really pass them so they end up going slow too and you're really tempted to pass them. But you can't see oncoming traffic. But Tommy's leading. And he's crazy (rode a motorcycle from London to Mongolia) And no one wants to be alone in the fog in Bihar. So you assume when Tommy passes someone, it's safe for you to follow. And then he swerves left way too quickly and you see the close set headlights of a tractor hauling a cartload of sugarcane. And then you find your brakes are surprisingly effective as all three wheels lock up and you frantically skid sideways trying to tuck in behind the lorry and miss the tractor. And you give the guys in the chase rick a heart attack.

We decided to stop for breakfast, of amazing puri, to let the fog clear and lecture Tommy on passing etiquette. Neither worked. Fortunately the finished portion of the road ended and passing on broken dirt went much more sedately. It also kicked up a lot of dust which turned to mud on the windshields.

Eventually the fog burned off and the road returned to being paved and we sped on to guided by by helpful signs like the above. A quick stop by the Bajaj Service Center to tighten the muffler yet again, and an entertaining railway crossing where a 5 year old was walking around with a big snake in a basket offering to let us take pictures (100 Rs, sorry no pictures) and hit the mountains.

The road to Darjeeling tenuously clings to the hill side. On your left, there's a sheer drop to terraced tea plantations. On your right, there are jungles. A railway line weaves back and forth across the road as you drop the rickshaw into third gear, open the throttle and race up. Along the way all the locals smiled and waved. With the sun streaming it was one of the top 3 all time drives we've been on.

By 4:30 we had crested 7400 feet and severely damaged two rickshaws (broken fuel and battery mounts) and ended up in Darjeeling proper. We had High Tea at the Windemere and checked into the Hotel Elgin for the evening. After hot showers, a delicious dinner and scotches in front of the fire, we closed the day.

At the Elgin in Darjiling, Looking forward to a new set of lungs.

We are at this old Victorian hotel in Darjiling recovering from the long trip across India. Hopefully we'll enter Napal tonight and be in Katmandu in two days time.

Reguardless I'm now looking forward to the announcement in 20 years that they can grow me a new set of lungs because I'm starting to think all the polution might have done some real damage. Oh well. Who needs to breath anyway..

See you all soon. Hopefully we'll get some more pictures up shortly.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


6AM Friday morning, in my reasonably comfortable hotel room in the reasonably uninteresting city of Patna, Bihar: my phone rings... Wondering if maybe it's my parents not quite getting the time difference right, decide to pick it up: turns out it's only Cyrus... clearly unaware that I have little desire to be awake at 6 in the morning, while away from the rickshaws! So, an update on the caravan: after dropping me off in the afternoon. continued to make good progress towards Darjeeling, and stopped for the night in Purnia. No problems with the rickshaws, and will probably be reaching Darjeeling/the border crossing later today. Depending on how much time they want to spend in Darjeeling, I'll fly back from Dehli either to Darjeeling or to somewhere in Nepal to meet back up with them (the second option involves Lott being able to take our rickshaw into Nepal without me there, which should work, but may bring up some extra questions...)

In the mean time, I'm in Putna. Getting to Putna involved navigating the Indian railway system, which is actually not as terrible of an experience as one might expect (if you're only on the train for three hours). Met a guy there traveling all across the country from Nagaland, in the very, very eastern part of the coutry all the way to Mumbai - that's a multi-day journey I don't want to try... The guy, Imtinungkum was actually quite interesting - he is a Christian missionary (Nagaland is mostly Christian) working in Mumbai, and was just on the way back after spending Christmas back home. They also don't speak Hindi in in Nagaland, so he was also using mostly English to communicate with the others on the train... And he spoke rather good English. And was appropriately surprised to hear that I was in the midst of driving an auto-rickshaw across India, much like everyone else here!

Now finally in Putna... Lonely Planet isn't particularly impressed with the city, struggling to find a couple of attractions to see - one being a granary built by the British over two centuries ago, which should offer great views of the city and the Ganges river, but instead was offering great views of the haze covering the city and the river this morning! (not sure how much of it was pollution and how much was just clouds, but I'm fairly certain it was a combination). The other is a Sikh temple, which I may still go to, but it's 11km away, so it's a fairly long ways away... Then again, I don't have much else to do right now! 7:30 tonight, fly to Dehli. On one hand though, Putna is quite refreshing - after the tourist meccas of Varanasi of Bodhgaya, it's nice to not be immersed in a sea of beggars, eager salesmen, and competing rickshaw drivers (actually those are still here...). But I have found that most people that say 'Hello' out here really are just curious to see a tourist, as opposed to trying to sell me something...

Varanasi and beyond

So far, the most time we’ve spent in a given location has been approximately 24 hours, in Agra… and then we got to Varanasi, and spent almost an entire two days there! And Varanasi is a fascinating place, a Hindu cultural and religious center, but we had been planning on spending just a few hours there to see the people at the river-side Ghats… So, what happened? First, we had made plans to meet up with Tommy (the one remaining Chapati Chaser) in Varanasi, but his rickshaw continued to have an unimaginable litany of problems, so he ended up being delayed by half a day… But that didn’t actually slow us down, as by then we were already committed to spending an extra day in Varanasi as the Dave’s (Lott and Logan) were in no mood to just get out of bed, let alone get into a rickshaw, as they were recovering from food poisoning… Finally, on Tuesday (Jan 15), we seemed ready to go, but needed to go by a service station to finish some repairs on Tommy’s car, which was, of course, promised to be a quick operation, and ended up lasting from 9AM till 3PM! But, late Tuesday afternoon, we were finally set to go!

Our 'door'

So, what did Cyrus and I do in Varanasi, while not bed-ridden or struggling with a mal-functioning rickshaw? Well, aside from gazing at the spectacle of, I’m not sure what, that is Varanasi, we did a few productive things: bought a few blankets to make it a bit warmer in the rickshaws before reaching the Nepali mountains, I built a ‘door’ in ours, out of plastic and duct tape to shield against the wind a little better, and having learned our lesson from the day before, when Cyrus and Logan’s rickshaw died from a dirty sparkplug, I picked up a pair of spare spark plugs… Back to Tuesday: having left Varanasi, we had a rather reasonable goal of reaching the famous Buddhist shrine of Bodhgaya (where Buddhism originated). This was a fairly reasonable 250 km away, so we were well on our way, even with a late start… until about 7PM, when our rickshaw promptly died. Having now learned from the local mechanics that most rickshaw problems are caused by either the gas supply system or the spark plug, we didn’t waste any time in taking our old spark plug out, and replacing it with one of the spares. This worked great… for a couple of hours, when the rickshaw died again… This time we managed to verify that the fuel was, in fact getting delivered, the carburetor was spotlessly clean, the air filter was clean… and the spark plug? Well, we didn’t have to check that since we just replaced it, right? Having exhausted all the options we could think of (and watching Logan fall asleep in his rickshaw as the clock wound past midnight), we gave up and decided to simply tow the rickshaw to the next town and deal with it in the morning.

The hole in the piston!

In the morning, we first discovered some good news: there was an actual Bajaj dealership/service center just across the street from our hotel! Then we found some bad news: for all the things that are wrong with the state of Bihar, they have gotten some things right: 2 stroke rickshaws (like ours) are not sold in Bihar, which is great for the environment, but not so great for us, since this means our mechanic doesn’t generally deal with rickshaws like ours and doesn’t have a lot of spare parts for it available. And then, we found the really bad news: the reason our rickshaw had stopped running was that there now was a sizeable hole in our piston! Rewinding, it quickly became apparent that the spare spark plugs I had purchased did not fit our engine, and after pounding on the piston for about two hours, the spark plug had burst a hole in it… (Lesson learned: just because the guy at the shop swears that he knows what he’s doing and that the spark plug you had asked for will fit your engine, don’t believe him! Double check then! And triple check again, before actually installing the sparkplug!). On the bright side, we finally knew what the problem was and could start trying to solve it – the service center, of course, did not have the specific part we needed, but eventually found a similar one that fit, and over 4 hours and 1600 Rupees (~$50) later, our rickshaw was alive again! This, finally (finally!) allowed us to get back on the road, and by 5:30, we reached Bodhgaya.
The temple at night

This was largely the end of the adventure for the day, as we simply went sight-seeing visiting the famous temple, getting immersed in a sea of Buddhist monks from every corner of the universe that were there (I hear Buddha’s actual birthday is this week, so it must be an especially busy time). Thursday, with a three-rickshaw caravan fully intact once more, we were finally able to get an early start to the day (left at 6:15 AM) and head off towards Darjeeling and the Nepalese border!

As I’m typing this, the caravan is somewhere on the way to Darjeeling, I however, split off from them just before 1 in the afternoon in order to go to Dehli for a former co-worker’s wedding reception on Saturday (so I don’t really know how far they’ve gone, but I suspect I would’ve heard by now if something had gone seriously wrong). Sunday, fly back from Dehli to Darjeeling and meet back up with the crew! Currently, sitting in my hotel room in Patna, the capital of Bihar, and a wholly unremarkable city – will try to find some sights to see early tomorrow before catching a flight to Dehli in the evening, where I meet up with Michelle again, and we’re both off to the reception on Saturday, assuming everything goes to plan!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Varanasi Update

To quote Mark Twain, "Benares [Varanasi] is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."

Also to quote Mark Twain, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Amazing what spending an entire day in bed will do for you. Logan and I are alive and back in tip top shape. Now if only Cyrus, Alex and Tommy would shake off their hangovers and get moving.

P.S. Aunt Deb, the Mountain Man Mix was key in settling the stomach.
P.P.S. Liv I didn't drink the Ganges water, but I did touch it. Not sure that helped.

Now in Varanasi!

We have now reached the ancient city of Varanasi!

Taking a morning boat ride on the Ganges

Lott is starting to feel sick (Logan was already sick in bed...)

Sickness update: Logan seems to have mostly recovered, Lott's not quite as far along, but should be on his way to getting better... Cyrus and I still healthy (knock on wood!). Tommy (from Chipatte Chasers) should be joining us here in Varanasi later this afternoon, we're staying in town till tomorrow)

The Taj!

First, there was the Mini Taj Mahal:

Then we got to the real thing (3 days and a few breakdowns later):

Not the best picture, but all four of us at the Taj Mahal:

By the way, it gets cold in the morning!

Cyrus has us staying in style once more!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Pictures

As Cyrus promised, a few more shots from Ajanta:

Spider Buddha!

in one of the Temples

taking a break...

Ajunta Caves

Well we are in Varanasi for the day while Team Dave is ill. Don't worry we expect a speedy recovery. While we are sitting around though we are stocking up on supplies and we'll try to post some pictures. The first three are from the Ajunta Caves. Expect some better photo's later from Alex. Who knows maybe we'll go crazy and post some video's of driving....


It seems like every day we set out to make a long haul drive to the next city some mechanical issue crops up, and today was no exception. Less than a kilometer after pulling out of the petrol station after filling up this morning our rickshaw started losing power, then died, and refused to start again. When draining the gas and replacing it, and taking the carburetor apart looking at it and putting it back together didn't solve the problem (Cyrus is quite proud that he was able to take the carburetor apart and put it back together and have it work by the way), we eventually had Lott and Slepak bring us a mechanic from town who discovered that our spark plug had issues. A little sand papering and cleaning later, along with some tweaks to the engine idle, and we were back in business running fine. Unfortunately during the fixing process we neglected to keep an eye on our screw driver with replaceable nibs and it "disappeared." We're assuming one of the many kids who were around watching us made off with it. Our funnel also disappeared, but that one is probably mostly due to team negligence as we had left it on top of the rickshaw during the fixing process and we probably just forgot to take it down before doing the test drive with the mechanic and it fell off somewhere along the way never to be seen again.

Two lane "super highway" for the next few hours allowed us to make good time most of the afternoon, and we made it into Varanasi and Hotel Divya a little after dark. We were surprised to discover another rickshaw from the rally parked outside the hotel next door, and they were actually people we had met before. We ate lunch with "Discovering the Earth" near Khozikide beach while we were still far to the south (on a side note, that lunch featured the best tasting bread we've ever had and we're still trying to figure out what it was that we had so we can order it again). We tried to convince them to come eat dinner with us again this evening, but they were retiring early so they could see a temple in the morning and then press on through Bihar and toward Kathmandu in the afternoon.

Speaking of retiring, that is where I am going to head and leave further blog posting in the able hands of Lott and Slepak as we're planning on waking up very early tomorrow morning in order to catch a boat and watch the sun rise on the river. I hear there's also a kite festival hapenning tomorrow. That should be interesting...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Actual Logan

Actual Logan (tiny dot on the left, I am the even tinier dot on the right) is significantly smaller than the Taj Mahal... The Taj itself, however, is quite awesome, and well worth the detour!

Day 8

While loading up the rickshaws, a local noticed that ours sounded horrible and our muffler was bouncing around a lot. Apparently the nut that held on the muffler had fallen off and the bolt was busy being worn down to nothing. After a bit of poking and 5 Rs., we had a new bolt and a quieter rickshaw for our drive to The Poor Man’s Taj Mahal. It’s got the big dome, four towers, and looks cute and manageable. It was nice going early in the morning so that we had the place mostly to ourselves. Next we headed for Ajanta, one of two sites in India famous for their cave temples carved into the cliffside (the other is Ellora, but it was closed Tuesdays). They charged for parking the rickshaw, walking through the tourist shops to the shuttle bus, the shuttle bus to the caves, bag check, admission, the bathroom, and the bus back to the parking lot. But despite all that it was totally worth it. Lonely Planet can give you the full rundown on the history of the cave and the artwork they contain, we’ll just stick with saying whatever the history is – Buddhist, Hindu, Jainist – they look very impressive! Some highlights – a huge reclining Buddha, a bunch of ‘spider’ Buddhas in one of the temples holding up the ceiling, and two story caves…

After the caves, we came to what, I suppose, was an inevitable decision point: do we go to Agra or not? The original plans, had us going to Agra simply because you really can’t go to India and not see the Taj Mahal! Then we got to Kochi, talked to everybody else, heard over half were going directly East, and how long they thought the drive was going to take… and figured we had to skip Agra in order to stick within our timeline. Wildly guessing on a map, Ajanta is 1100 km from Varanasi directly and 1400 km via Agra, so for the price of one extra day driving we get to see the Taj Mahal Friday! Two hours of driving in, Lonely Planet brings an enlightening discovery: the Taj Mahal is actually closed on Fridays. (Side Note: why in the world is the Taj Mahal, the greatest tourist attraction in all of India, closed? Ever?) Another brief conversation on the side of the road later, and we’re going anyway – we can just spend Friday in Agra, see the Taj Mahal at sunrise on Saturday and still leave for Varinasi before noon, which could get us there in time to spend most of Monday there (with some good fortune in terms of roads conditions, traffic, etc.)

Trying to push some extra mileage in the evening we tried to take a back roads short cut around Jalgaon, against the advice of the locals. That didn’t work out so well. We also ended up being commandeered as a taxi cab for the chief of police of Erandol, who told us his town didn’t have any decent lodging. Not sure if he was just trying to run us out of his town or telling the truth. But we embarked on our first stint of highway night driving to get to Parola for the night. It’s pretty scary when you can see the potholes better by the light of oncoming traffic (in your lane since they’re passing someone) than you can by your own headlights…

I have seen the Taj Mahal

with my own eyes. And it is gorgeous. Admittedly it's much smaller than Logan:

But hopefully at dawn tomorrow it will look bigger. We're off to dinner, but should have time to write up some stories this evening...

Monday, January 7, 2008


Alright, well, pictures of fort will have to wait but here are some pictures of the mountains, pictures at Le Meridien (in picture number 1 we had just discovered that there was not only a 42inch HDTV in the entry way, but there was also another 42 inch TV in the bedroom as well), and a few others with the locals. Time to go give our passport information to the guy running the hotel so he can go to sleep, and probably time that we went to sleep as well.

Over the mountains and to Aurangabad

We're currently in an iWay internet cafe in Aurangabad where we are spending the night and preparing for a day of site seeing tomorrow at the Ajanta caves about 100km northeast of the city. We had planned on seeing the caves at Ellora as well (20km northwest of Aurangabad), but apparently those are closed on Tuesday so we'll just head to Ajanta, and with the extra time perhaps we'll be able to stop and see the fort along the way.

Speaking of forts, Protapgad fort outside of Mahabaleshwar was amazing. On the way to Pune we drove through Mahabaleshwar, which is a city high up in the Western Ghats about 1300m up or so. About 20km outside the city, there was a fort at the very top of a hill that surveyed the entire surrounding mountain ranges. (Yes Varun, we went through the mountains. I know that was the one piece of advice you gave us to be careful about and avoid, but we survived, it was beautiful, and the driving was good practice for climbing the hills in Nepal I'm sure). I'll try and get Alex to post some pictures from the fort sometime soon....

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Beautiful Goa!

Spent a full day at Goa beach - swimming, hanging out on the sand, and tossing a frisbee around!

SMS messages to the website

We're mastering technology (a little), as we've figured out how to send text messages to the Rickshaw Run website with brief updates. They should all show up here:

Now that I've announced this, I guess we'll have to make a conscious effort to keep up updates!

Skipping Mumbai, heading to Pune

We've reached the city of Pune, India, population 3.8 million, which makes for some absolutely insane traffic conditions! But we made it through! Original plan had been to go to Mumbai, but we decided to divert to Pune, since it's more on the way, and we were terrified to drive through Mumbai, an even bigger city!

In Pune, met up with Michelle, who is a former co-worker of mine, currently traveling around India. She's being nice about our rickshaw-driving exploits, but I'm sure she finds us to be just as crazy as everyone else does for doing this! But that's ok, we're good at doing crazy! On the bright side, the first words out of her mouth upon seeing the rickshaws were 'What's first and second?'

Currently staying at an extrmenly posh La Meridian hotel in downtown Pune, which costs16,000 rupees a night! ($400), but Cyrus is getting for free via points... stark (really, really stark) contrast from our lodgings the last three nights! Tomorrow, taking off towards Ellora and Ajanta caves, which are supposed to be amazing, and we'll hopefully see on Tuesday...

On the less exciting side of things, just heard from Tommy, of the Chipatti Chasers team (that being the Brits we knew from the Mongol Rally), and they had apparently fliped their rickshaw (again... Mongol Rally also ended in a similar fashion). Nobody was hurt, fortunately, not clear if any of them will continue...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Heading North!

Can't remember the name of the town we're currently in, but we have a dial-up internet connection, so a quick update. Things going well so far, after five days of driving, the rickshaws are still alive (had a tune-up this morning and fixed a broken roof rack on ours), and we are a day away from Mumbai. It looks like most teams have gone East, but we decided to head to Mumbai and try to see the caves in Ellora/Ajanta. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we'll have time for Agra (Taj Mahal), so I'll just have to come back after Nepal.

Spent most of the day yesterday in Goa, hanging out on the gorgeous beaches with a few other teams and the Rickshaw Run video crew; went swimming in the Indian ocean! Lots of stories and pictures queued up, but nee better internet! Should be somewhere near Mumbai by tomorrow night, hopefully we'll solve that problem then...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2 days of driving done

2 days of driving the mighty rickshaws has put up into a rather nice hotel in nileshwar, india. no particularly serious issues with the cars so far, just not making quite as good me a time as we had hoped, but still ok. more later!