The Rickshaw Run, India – Day 3
Day 3 had a tough start early in the morning due to sore heads from our expensive drinks the night before. We allowed ourselves some grace so didn’t start until 06.30am! Little did we know but this was to prove one very eventful day. After the usual 10min of trying to start the rickshaw I tried something completely new because I was just pissed off. I put some fuel passed the carburettor by unscrewing part of the engine. It was magic. It worked straight away. We found out at the end that most teams had a trick like that or similar to start their engines in the morning so we weren’t such genius’s.
The Rickshaw Run – Mud and Maps
After eventually leaving Bekal we headed north and came across some road works. One of our crew, Aoife, hadn’t driven yet as the surprise cows and deadly buses took some getting used to but decided this would be the morning to give it a go as it was quite. She couldn’t have picked a worse time. The road works were brutal. No road at all and everything on mud up and down steep hills. This went on for 15km which took a very long time when you have no brakes! We eventually reached Kasaragod and took a pit stop to consult the maps. Where are the maps? They must be in your bag. No, in your bag. On the back window? Nope, we didn’t have any. Now we had no idea of even the next town. All we could say was Mumbai which was 1000km away! We had no choice but to go back to the hotel. Another trek over the mud before checking our hotel and the hotel we had drinks in. No sign at all but the 5 star hotel did let us print out some maps from a computer so we at least had some idea of the road ahead. We rang our buddies from the night before but they were hungover and didn’t see or have any interest in our maps. After another wasted hour we were finally leaving and for a final time trekking over the mud road which by now they had covered in water to keep the dust down. Water on mud on steep hills? Very clever!
The Rickshaw Run – A Dodgy Indian Flag
On we buzzed riding our big hairdryer until we arrived in Mangalore. Lots of traffic, lots of stares but as we went through the signposts weren’t so good. We decided to follow a bus as they stick to the main roads and there is a good chance they are heading north. Follow we did and it seemed like we were getting places until we ended up in a big square. Oh sh!t we are in the bus station. Oops! Without blinking Mairead our driver just headed out as if we knew what we were doing. I saw the security guard waving his arms but said nothing as we just headed out into the traffic. Up to a roundabout but we had to do a 180deg turn as this one actually had signs and back passed the security guard who was now on a walky talky. Rumbling along very slowly in traffic for the next 10min before a policeman in a very similar uniform to our security guard takes a second look at us. Onto his walky talky. Another look. ‘Pull in’. After some very bad parking he tells us we have to go to the police station to show our documents. The security guard in the bus station was actually police and was not happy we didn’t stop. To show us to the police station the policeman hops in the front to show us where it is. I am now driving and after only 3 days I am not very good or confident driving on my own. Couple this with the fact that the front seat is made for just one person never mind a second which happens to be a policeman which means I am doing everything at an angle. Oh, I also have to drive like we have brakes! We made it to the police station and in we pop to the large bellied supervisor. ‘Why is your Indian flag upside down, you are insulting our country’? Indian flag? Oh, you mean the Irish flag that we have bellowing out the back that is vertical instead of horizontal. After much explaining and showing soccer photos and flags to try to persuade them the Irish flag is just by chance the same colours they eventually relent. They demand our documents for the rickshaw but don’t bother looking at them. They take down all details from our passport and want to know our father’s occupation. There were approximately 8 policemen there to deal with a flag upside down incident! It was like they all wanted some info but had no idea how to deal with it and nobody wanting to make the call of saying that this is a minor issue. After they believe our flag story they then get onto not slowing down in the bus station. Of course during all this time we were asking them where they were from, how are their children etc. We were charming the pants off them! We told them everybody waves at us and so we just thought he was saying hello. It sounds ridiculous but they bought it. (I didn’t mention the fact I saw him but ignored him). After much ado and more than an hour wasted we were let go. We fought through the traffic to the edge of town and pulled in to get something to eat. They place didn’t look great from the outside but we were starving and people were eating inside so we said we would chance it. In we sat on the plastic stools to realise this was a small builders joint. As the owner threw down large square banana leafs as mats we had no choice but to stay. Then came the large stainless steel bucket of rice and two spoons of it down on our mats, no sorry, our banana leaf plates. Then a bucket of spices on the side, 5 for everybody. It was very efficient, no menus, no cutlery, no hassle. Although this was just rice we were eating, it was actually very nice. As we looked very awkward with the rice and our hands the owner threw us all spoons but we reneged and persevered with the digger technique that had got us this far to finish it off!
The Rickshaw Run – Problem Show
After our $1 dinner we went out to our rickshaw to find 3 people hanging around with a camera and microphone. It turned out they were from Citi Channel, a local TV station. Some on our team couldn’t get enough of the limelight while others tried their best to get out of it but after 20min of interviews about the rickshaw, the Rickshaw Run, Ireland, how we navigate, how we drive etc, they wanted us to visit their studios which we had inadvertently parked under. We obliged and got a tour of their not so impressive studios, their server room, their editing room and their staff. There were plenty of photos from all angles. Some people wanted photos on cameras and on their phone as well as the video. My Hindi isn’t great but I’m fairly sure a lot of photos were going to end up on Facebook. We had to stay for tea which of course meant more photos with the same people. Then they presented us, yes that is correct, they presented us with gifts. They gave us a jug and 4 glasses each. One of them let it slip that they are gifts for one of their shows where people ring in with problems and the best problem of the week gets a gift! A gift surely only encourages people to make up problems! After this random hour of photos and videos we finally left Mangalore. Despite having done many kilometres at all it was one our most eventful days. We made Bhatkal after dark and stayed in our first dodgy hotel. Although it was dodgy it was clean. There were no rats or cockroaches so it was good in my book and they had good wifi so we took it. Bhatkal got crazy busy at night. So busy in fact that one of our team couldn’t actually cross the narrow road! Crossing the road in India requires a technique which doesn’t work in the west. Basically you just walk out onto a very busy road and just keep walking. All the traffic then just goes around you. It works but requires balls like a Bengali tiger. If you wait until there is a sufficient gap in the flow then you could be there for hours.
The Rickshaw Run, India – Day 4
After such a slow day 3 we decided to try and make up ground today so set off early. By chance we discovered there is a monstrous temple on our way only 15km north of Bhatkal. It is the Murudeshwara Temple and is the world’s second tallest Shiva statue no less. We called in at 6am but it was almost pitch dark. That didn’t stop quite a lot of people there praying and chanting but for us we couldn’t see much only the outline of this huge (123ft) statue. Rather than waste an hour waiting for the light we wasted 15minutes getting lost getting out of the place! On we went ever northwards for the next 4hrs until we got to Goa. Goa is a well known tourist destination and is actually a state and not a town.
The Rickshaw Run – Goa-n, get out of here
When we arrived in Palolem Beach it was like arriving on the Italian Riviera with plenty of tourists swishing around. Well, kinda like it except we were in a rickshaw and cows were eating rubbish on the street. It was however a marked change from the wilderness we had been in for the previous few days. The reason we were on the beach was to collect our maps from our friends who had stayed here the night before and had discovered them in their back seat the day before. They had agreed to meet us so after 170km before 11am, which in rickshaw terms is good going, we were ready to collect them. They weren’t answering their phone so we took a dip in the sea and lazed in the sun. We enjoyed our first bit of relaxation of the holiday. At lunchtime they eventually rang back to tell us they were gone. Gone? After us agreeing to meet them, driving out of our way, wasting 3hrs (although we did enjoy it) and they having their phone turned off all morning. We were not happy. Back into Rick Astley and up the hills on the way out.
The Rickshaw Run – A Good Ending
About 20km from Palolem Beach on a back road we were taking we started to lose power on the way up a steep hill and then suddenly we had no power. It sounded funny trying to start it but no amount of switching spark plugs would work this time. We were now in the middle of the country with almost nobody around. We tried to jump start it but to no avail. The only person around was a local man that didn’t say very much who’s house was next door. After 20min we knew we weren’t going anywhere fast when a fellow Rickshaw team passed but actually stopped. They were so kind as to bring one of us back into Palolem to find a mechanic which would have been a major pain in the …. neck. Thanks a million Team Nawaday Lan. Three of us stayed in the heat with me then going where I had never gone before and went to level two in the mechanics test! This involved taking off the carburettor to clean it. This took a long time (as I was doing it) and it was indeed very dirty so we were thinking this may have been the problem. By the time I got it back on and figured out it still wouldn’t start the mechanic was nearly with us. We now weren’t sure whether the carburettor was now the problem! The mechanic arrived in a taxi with Niamh and within 2minutes told us the piston was blown. It will take 24hrs to get the part in the big town, tow the rickshaw back to Palolem and then fix it. We had now spent 4hrs on the side of the road and were very disappointed with all this bad new information and the lack of progress we had made. On the other hand it meant we could get the rickshaw serviced as we had nearly done 1,000km, could get some clothes washed and we got to spend some time on the beach. It wasn’t a bad ending to the day after all!
|Launch location - Fort Cochin|
Cochin, Kerala, India
|Day 1 - Tirur|
Cochin, Kerala, India
|Day 2 - Bekal|
Bekal Fort, Kasaragod, Kerala, India
|Day 3 - Bhatkal|
Bhatkal, Karnataka, India
|Day 4 - Palolem Beach|
Palolem Beach, Goa, India
|Day 5 - Belgaum|
Belgaum, Karnataka, India
|Day 6 - Pimpri Chinchwad|
Pimpri-Chinchwad, Maharashtra, India
|Day 7 - Nashik|
Nashik, Maharashtra, India
|Day 8 - Surgana|
Surgana, Maharashtra, India
|Day 9 - Bharuch|
Bharuch, Gujarat, India
|Day 10 - Udaipur|
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
|Day 11 - Sheoganj|
Sheoganj, Rajasthan, India
|Day 12 - Jodhpur|
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
|Day 13 - Jaisalmer, the finish line|
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India