Zero hour approaches....

Trip Start May 23, 2008
Trip End Jun 22, 2008

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

So much to say, so little time....

We got info packs the other day, the main point from that was that now, due to the new government probably having more pressing concerns that a load of tuktuks leaving the country, we are free to take any border crossing with an immigration point.

We also learned our departure point - Durbar Square - which we thought utterly chaotic as we watched all the traffic go by....

It was definitely good to meet loads more of the teams, who have been arriving throughout the week.

Friday was a very lazy day; after chatting to other teams, we wandered round doing last minute personal shopping (rather than rickshaw related) before heading out to meet up again with the other teams. The chat was now mainly 'which route are you taking'? After much careful research (ie we flicked through the guidebook) we have decided that going through Sunauli seems a good bet - hopefully far enough away from the main freight crossing at Birjanj but not as far as Nepalgunj, the original point of departure, so hopefully we will not have too many fuel acquisition problems. Had a really relaxed night out with the others, really good catching up with them - the last time we saw each other was Southampton - which seems a long time ago.

Yesterday loads of the teams all caught a bus out to the Pepsi Cola district near the airport. Everyone was very excited to catch a first glimpse of their rickshaws. They were all parked higgledy piggledy but it didnt take us long to find ours. To be honest, first impressions were a little disappointing. We had been expecting a fuschia pink paint job but really, all I see when I look at her (yes, she is a she) is.... brown. Still, she looks great.

Some of the teams have really gone to town with their artwork and extras - stereos that sound like they will broadcast for miles, horns that will be heard in south east Asia (and maybe even in Europe too), lights that will blind oncoming traffic.....

We spent a while just sitting in her, getting used to her, while other teams seemed to be running around a lot more. We finally realised we had to register, so queued for that for a while. We received stickers and the vehicle registration documents (including an owners manual!) as well as a tool kit, which hopefully will be enough to carry out repairs. Then we decided we should do a spot of painting, so armed with brushes we set to work on the roof canopy, the wheels and the wing mirrors, painting them white. Most of the other teams had by now had the chance of a test drive and had in fact left for the afternoon. So, it was my turn to take the wheel.... Fortunately, it was fairly quiet, and I managed to get it into first, though I needed some help with starting - there is a handle at the left hand side which you have to pull up. Maybe I am just a wimp, but so far, I have not yet managed it.

I managed to put her into first - and off I hurtled... 5mph feels SO much faster when you are at the helm of a rickshaw.... Added to that was the fact that the test ground was probaby only about 60m long, so not only was I having to think about what my hands were doing (not very much) but I also had to remember to stop. I can advise that my emergency stops are pretty good... Needless to say, I stalled, but once the rickshaw was put in reverse, I managed to drive it back to the starting point. Am now having visions of driving backwards the entire way....

I had a couple of practices, the last one being enough to make me have serious doubts about this mad crazy adventure... Once again, I stalled just at the gate to the enclosure and could not for the life of me find neutral or restart the engine. One team found this very amusing, which really didnt help matters. Then, to make my trauma worse, I realised that the next bus load of rickshawers had just pulled up at the shut gate. I figured I had about 10 seconds to get going. The clock was ticking and in the end I shouted very loudly "will someone please come and help me" just as the gate was opening for the bus to pull through. Fortunately, three guys from one team ran to my rescue and pushed me backwards out of the way of impending doom.....

So, I feel I have set the bar sufficiently low that others will struggle to be as dreadful as I was - kind of a public service act, if you will. Things really can only get better. And in fact, in less than three hours, we will be setting off en masse. How exciting/nerve wracking....

Wish us luck!
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janers on

Good Luck
What can I say... all the hairy chest mate !! I would love to say I'm envious of you but I'm not - I'm in awe !! I hope it all goes to plan and that your problems are few and far between !

Anyway, take care both of you and I look forward to hearing all about your adventures when you get home.

I'm off to lie on a beack in Crete now, but don't fret pet... I'll be thinking of you tuk tuking away :o)

Janers xxx

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