April 9 - 10
This is our final entry to this blog and we would like to thank those of you who has supported us with greetings and supporting comments during our adventure. This has, for sure, been the most thrilling and exciting adventure in our lifetime, and we recommend you all to try to make this trip some day if you have time and possibility. Yesterday we had a relaxing day, mostly spent around the pool and som strolling around in Panaji. Most of the people left for their flights back home, but we spent the night between Saturday and Sunday before our return flight around noon Sunday. Saturday evening was spent on a famous Greek Taverna, one hour away from the hotel. It was another crazy night with good food and a dinner show with a mix of robot laser and traditional greek dancers. We will be back home early Monday morning after short stops in Mumbai, Abu Dhabi and Berlin. THANKS AGAIN FOLKS!
Final race day and the organizers have decided an early price ceremony in Panaji. Panaji is the capital of the famous state of Goa. We therefore decided to have the earliest start ever. At 7. am we rolled out from Murudeshwar to arrive early. We have been running like maniacs today, feeling that we can handle the traffic, but the dangerous thing today was all the cows standing, strolling and running around on and onside of what they here in India call a National Highway. Our team arrived as the first to the finishing line at the hotel The Crown so we spent a couple of hours in the pool, had a few beers and other drinks, waiting until the rest of the teams came in. All the Swedish teams had a champagne party before we went to prize ceremony where all the teams were honored for their participation, good Indian driving skills plus a fantastic spirit. The final and most important prize, the World Championship was honored to one of the Swedish teams, Markus and Christoffer, a good pick from the organizers. The rest of the evening was spent on Goas only one-star restaurant, A Reverie, where we all enjoyed a absolutely fantastic test menu. All the young kids went on to a night club somewhere in Goa while the old, very tired, man went home to write this day report. Tomorrow I hope that we can add some new photos and videos from the trip.
Another very early morning. Our alarm clock started just before 7 am and it was time for breakfast and a short briefing from the organizers. Today we visited a school and were met by hundreds of happy kids. A spontaneous give-a-way happening followed and we handed over the gifts we had brought from Sweden, thousands of pencils and hundreds of tooth brushes, sponsored by the two excellent dentists from Mjölby, Adolfsson&Jernström. It was a tough job to be fair to every kid when we were stormed by everyone who wanted their share f the gifts. But it ended well and everyone seemed to be happy. This ceremony took us around one hour and after this we managed to get out of Mangalore and it's crazy traffic. First stop was Udupi where we visited its famous temple and solved a couple of today's tasks. Today we had a short race, not more than 150 km, so we managed to reach our hotel around 3 pm. A shower and a swim in the pool of the hotel made a great job for our tired body's. The hotel we stay in is built on holy land, so they serve only vegetarian food an absolutely no beer. We therefore went to a nearby restaurant where this problem was solved. In bed before 11 pm.
Early bird, rise and shine. We were en route by 8 am, thinking an early start would do us well on another day of long distance driving. 230 km, give or take, on rather busy roads (wait, what, really??). Still, we hadn’t covered more than 50 km in the first four hours! The reason for that was an impromptu visit to a magnificent bay where we watched some local fishermen get on with their business, mingled with some locals and just had a general moment of zen. Then reality caught up with us and we had to get a serious move on so we pushed our poor rickshaw to the limit. Still, it didn’t die on us, thank Krishna for that. Thus, the rest of the day consisted of listening to the high-pitched noise of our engine and inhaling fumes from buses and trucks taking us over. We reached Mangalore at around 7 pm, spent an hour trying to work out the internet access to no avail, then headed to the awkwardly timed welcome party, three days in to the race. The reason for having the party only now was that we had come out of Kerala state, where coincidentally local elections are going on, and one of every candidate’s mission is to limit alcohol consumption, effectively striving towards becoming a dry state… In practice this means that beer and wine are only served at a few locations and hard liquor is pretty much impossible to come by. None of our worries anymore though, as soon as we passed the state border there was an abundance of liquor vendors lining the sidewalks. Still, we were all too tired after a long day’s drive to cause a real ruckus. From what we gather, this was the roughest day and the next two days should be somewhat less intense, at least when it comes to distance. Let’s just hope the roads aren’t too bad and that our engine sticks with us…
The alarm clock woke us up at 6.45 am since we wanted to be sure to start early to avoid driving in darkness later during the day. After breakfast and a short planning session (see the video) we were on our way before 8 am. Today the driving distance was 230 km and took us from Alleppey to Calicut. We managed to keep three of the Swedish teams together for the full day, but it is a tough job to try to keep a convoy assembled in the chaos of the Indian roads. As usual we had three or four stops to fill our machines with gas, which is quite a procedure by itself since we have to fix the gas and oil-mix ourselves. We also made two stops for chai and/or water plus an excellent lunch at a fancy hotel. You should see the faces at the porters outside these places when we are entering with our armada of rickshaws. We managed to reach our hotel just after dark and Erik joined the boys for a couple of beers plus dinner and Pelle went into town to buy some good black pepper from Kerala. Early to bed since we have a long ride tomorrow as well.
Flag-off! Today the race started, and we are sure to be kept busy for the coming five days. This entry is slightly delayed since there was no internet at the hotel in Alleppey, which is where we ended up after covering 180 km today. Miraculously, we had no major breakdown, apart from running out of gas at one point. Driving in this kind of traffic, which bares a slight resemblance to an amusement park bumpercar-ride without the running-into-each other bit, requires total and undivided concentration. It is not uncommon to see two buses and a truck overtaking each other - at the same time - leaving little space to maneuver for traffic in the opposite direction. But in all the apparent chaos, we are starting to pick up a strange kind of logic and we're feeling more and more comfortable cruising around. The heat is also intense so we need to make sure to stop every hour to hydrate ourselves with some cool water or hot chai, and to let the engine cool down. It turns out that rickshaws aren't really built to be pushed this hard so we are trying to treat the Bluesmobile well and keep the inevitable breakdowns to a minimum... Our days are however not only filled by long distance driving, the organizers have thrown in some daily challenges to break thing off a bit. Today we needed to get behind the counter and prepare some chai for ourselves and track down a holy cow to take a photo. The chai was pretty easy but the cow was another story. We expected there to be cows pretty much everywhere on the countryside, especially after seeing quite a few of them in Mumbai, a city of 13+ million people, but low and behold, they have so far been pretty difficult to come by. Finally we spotted one on a field so we simply drove out there and got the job done. Once we reached our hotel in Alleppey we had som well deserved beer and early dinner, then straight to bed. Tomorrow we have the longest leg of the trip ahead of us, so we want to be well rested.
Before the real race starts tomorrow morning we got a couple of mini challenges to do as a training using our HPS (Human Positioning System). If we should arrive to our final goal we have to learn to communicate with the local people to get their assistance and help. First mini challenge was to go to the central station, find a way to park the rickshaw and buy a platform ticket. Second one was to find a special temple and prove that both Elwood and Jake plus the rickshaw were there. After accomplishing these mini challenges we took a ride to the beach at Leela Kowalam, about 15 km from where we live. Today the temperature was brutal, I guess it was between 35-40 degrees. Tonight, the Swedish Gang will have a common dinner at the same place we went to yesterday. When we left we ordered mutton, and the owner of the place promised to slaughter a nice animal, just for us.
And so the adventure begins, or at least we got a sneak preview of what's to come... Absolute mayhem! Rounding up the 21 participating teams, all in fantastically good spirit, we spent the day getting to know our rickshaws at a local cricket field only to soon thereafter be pushed out into traffic and be left to our own devices. No injuries, however, Pelle shaved off the paint of a motorcycle and inaugurated our ride with a respectable dent down the left side so now we can drive comfortably without being too worried about the paint job... After making it back to the hotel safe and sound, we immediately needed a sturdy whisky to help us digest the impressions of the day, followed by a swim in the hotel pool and a lavish dinner at a local joint where we ate and drank like maharajas. Now bedtime so we're well rested and alert for tomorrow's two mini challenges...
Today two became five after Alexander, Marcus and Christoffer joined us here at the Leela Kowalam Beach. We have spent most of the day at the beach, with the temperature we have here isn't much more you can do. All of us had a fantastic and genuine dinner at a place nearby, where Marcus ordered the complete stock of all their food, beer and wine. We also got a fair share of culture since an Indian traditional dance group showed us their skills. Tomorrow will we meet all of the other Rickshaw teams in Trivandum and start our trading for the race.
Today we have mainly spent the day transporting ourselves. After a long breakfast and a short visit to the pool we checked out and went to the airport for a flight down to Trivandrum. We have now reached the fancy hotel The Leela Kovalam and already decided to hang around here tomorrow since we have a beach right in front of our room and three pools in the area. With a little help from the people at N.nu we hope that there is a possibility for you to get in contact with us using the contact form under the flip "Contact us". Be the first one to try!
The alarm went on at 8 this morning, one hour before yesterday. We are soon adopted to the Indian timezone, which is good since many of the racedays will start before sunrise. Todays mission (not from God, but from Pia) was to visit a giant shopping mall, which we did! Such a different atmosphere compared with the street-life here in Mumbai. Almost empty but with a perfect AC. This experience was followed by a few hours rest in the poolarea. Late afternoon we spent in our normal quarter in Colaba wher we had a good dinner and made the final purchases for the Blues Brothers pimping. Tomorrow we will fly down to Trivandrum, the start of the race.