To Mumbai and Back in 6 days

Mumbai

Mumbai

That is Mumbai, but we’re in Delhi again. This quick journey South turned out to be semi-epic.

After having dinner and learning about the Sikh religion, we returned to the hotel turbanised and gifted. We received holy turbans, wristlets, prayer chains and a holy Sikh blade as well as tons of information about a different spiritual culture.

‘A beard is a gift you give your face. And a passport to awesome’

The Sikh are warrior spirits, and in the time before, they used to take off their protective turbans only for battle. They realised that the hair makes the head look larger, and therefore in the eyes of the enemy they seem more fierce. That means the power lies in the facial hair, and that a man without a beard is like a lion without it’s mane.

With power comes corruption, and therefore the metal wristlet on my right wrist (sword hand) is there to remind me not to use the hand for evil. An evil hand used for personal gain will not accomplish content in life, instead a protective hand will always protect the content in life.

The turban around my head protects my hair, my ears, and if necessary, my face. It is surprisingly good while riding the tuk tuk on the dusty roads.

The prayer chain is used to pray in the mornings, and each bead is given the intent, ‘Wah, hey, guru’, ecstasy beyond words, to remind the mind to think positively.

And the sword is carried at all times as a symbol of willpower and purification.

Just before learning all this, while waiting for our new brothers to come pick us up, we got a phone call from our Pakistan counsellor friend. Our visas had been approved, and we were to be back in Delhi asap. I received an email later that started with the words, Dear brother Pyry. I think this is the most peaceful way of starting a letter, and it should be used more ofter.

The next morning, after the lovely dinner, we contemplated whether to cancel the shipping and drive through Pakistan, or continue with it and go by foot. The shipping company had already started the shipping procedure and there were still so many question marks concerning Pakistan.

We tried to contact everyone we knew to get all possible information, but we couldn’t reach anyone. Juho was set on shipping, but Pyry was set on driving. We decided to see what the shipping company had to say.

Turned out that the shipping company had already ordered the container so there would be charges, but luckily the customs had not been started yet. This didn’t lean to either side, so we still didn’t know what to do. Then something unexpected happened.

Mustafa, the shipping agent, a man from India, told us to drive through Pakistan. This was an act of humanity, because it was against personal gain. Mustafa said that shipping is always and option, but driving through Pakistan is what our project is about. He encouraged us to fight on, no matter what happens. We will make it through driving, and fulfil this once in a lifetime dream the way it should be done. We should at least try, because if all else fails, shipping is always an option.

This was a clear decision, and something opened up in us. Teary eyed from the kind gesture, we offered to pay the charges that had come from our haste. Mustafa answered that we need not pay. He told us that this is part of business, and that sometimes these things happen. He knew that we need the little money we have more than him, so instead of taking our money, he gave us spirit to get home.

This was something so unexpected that all of the stress from India was released. It seems like one small humane gesture can make a huge change for the better in someone else’s life.

As a thank you, we would like to mention to all who are in need to ship vehicles to/from India, that there is a good hearted man in Mumbai called Mustafa, who works for the shipping company Sadikally Esoofally & Co. (Estd.1938). He does things effectively, knows how to deal with the infamous carnets, and it was a breeze dealing with him and his team. It was very welcomed after the horror of Kolkata.

Then, on that Tuesday, we left Mumbai to be in Delhi by 10 am Friday. It was already 2 pm so there was no time to waste.

On the first day we managed our destination which was a motel on the south side of Vadodara. We chose that because on the way we were there and it had absolutely fabulous food.

The second day we were supposed to drive an epic 800Km to Pushkar, but close to Modasa we had our first break down.

We had stopped for lunch and once finished we drove off.

Pyryhigwaystreetfood

After one kilometer the engine stalled and refused to start up again. It seemed like petrol wasn’t getting to where it was supposed to, but we didn’t know how to fix it. Almost 10,000 Km driven, it was about time to learn.

Hinaus

We managed to hitch a ride with a local auto-rickshaw who towed us to a mechanic in Modasa. You can probably imagine we gathered ourself quite a crowd.

mechanic pällistelyä

The problem turned out to be a blocked petrol tube and it was fixed with compressed air and while we were at it we decided to fix everything else as well.

The wire for the back charger was changed, a chipped metal bracket that holds the electrics was reattached, and the belt was tightened. We spent 3 hours learning about our engine as well as the locals.

mechanic

In the end we let the mechanic do a test drive with the tuk tuk around town and he drove around stopping every once in a while to show this strange phenomenon to his friends. He bought us some pidi cigarettes as a gift and drove back.

Once asking for the cost, the mechanic refused to take any money. Everyone was smiling so we accepted it as a gift. With humanity completely restored, we headed off for Pushkar.

Every once in a while the blockage came back, but this time wiser than before, we could unblock it by opening the petrol tube and blowing hard. We’ve also found out that if we clean the air filter often, our engine keeps it’s power. With a lack of air the petrol doesn’t burn properly and power is lost. Keeping air and petrol coming keeps the engine working effectively.

We had lost 3 hours of driving, so we only made it 100 Km South of Pushkar, to another roadside hotel. This was close to a beautiful small desert mountain village and they happened to have the best food we’ve had so far. I found a new favourite dish, though unfortunately I cannot remember the name. It starts with a K I think and there might have been an L.

On Thursday we drove all the way up to Delhi so we made it for our 10 o’clock appointment at the Pakistan High Commission. Once again the meeting at the Pakistan Embassy was superb. I’ve noticed that all of the Pakistani people I have met so far have all been honest and humble. Every place has it’s good sides and bad sides, but most countries cannot openly say that they have problems. Most prefer a path of illusion, but the counsellor we talked to told me that in Pakistan, they believe that in the end honesty will prevail. The country is not perfect, but they are still good people, hopefully.

We have now strengthened our tuk tuk, cleaned the suspension as well as everything else, and we are ready for the next unknown. By next week we will be in Pakistan continuing our adventure.

mechanic posse

A new hope

After an agonising few days of disproving every lie and every excuse, we finally came out with our Tuk Tuk. To this day, we haven’t had to pay a single cent to corruption, and we didn’t even have to pay for the detention charges. Victory!

It was however, one of the most frustrating things I have ever done in my life. The good thing is that I found a new side of myself. A side I have kept hidden all my life, because I have feared it.

I had to harness every ounce of willpower I had for three days straight so that we got the tuk tuk out. They delayed everything with lies, deceit, and accusations, and we had to counter every one with honour and respect. It was without a doubt the dirtiest game I have ever played, but we were the only ones that came out with a clear conscience.

lorry

Now we finally have our Tuk Tuk back, but only 3 days to get to Amritsar. We thought we’d leg it to Varanasi on the first day, Delhi the second, and the rest on the third and hopefully have 2,5 days to clear customs and get to Lahore. We had to promise not to film anymore in India to get our visas, so it’s a good thing to go quickly.

We left Kolkata at 5.30 with our 3 wheeled Panther, and weaved through the giant snakes of trucks. Our tuk tuk is just the right size to squeeze and manoeuvre while the beast weaves itself along.

Every so often a toll collection point came, but our tuk tuk seems to bring out sympathies from people so we only had to pay at one.

It was nice to know that we were heading home again, because the sun set where the road led to.

rekka ojassa

 

We rode in the dark for the last 3 hours, and I felt like Luke Skywalker. I had no choice but use the force most of the time, because we needed to make time by going an average of 60km/h, and visibility was next to nothing.

Everybody, and I mean everybody has the long lights on all the time, which glares the eyes and makes it almost impossible to see. Luckily the dust in the air reveals the magnificent beams of light heading to the heavens, leaving only silhouettes of the trucks, tractors, mopeds, bicycles and people, which can be used to navigate through. Someone having tail lights was a one-in-fifty chance.

What made it even more difficult, is that sometimes there was row of headlight all coming towards, and they seem to be wanting to pass from both sides. Some drivers here find it more effective to get home, driving against the traffic on the wrong side of the highway. Mainly motorbikes, and tractors, but every so often a truck comes towards.

Luckily we found an ambulance on alert,  and used them to show us the way. They had good lights and a patient in the back, so no bumps, but as fast as possible.

We arrived to Varanasi at 10 pm.

Same thing the next day to Delhi, and the next to Amritsar. We could make it, but it would be suicide.

We will rest a day in the city
that is said to have the longest running continuous population in all of the world, and take 1.5 days to drive to Delhi.

We will get new Pakistan visas from there.

Varanasi

Odyssey

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First barrier broken, our own fear.

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We were as high as we could get in Thailand, at the Northern most point, smack bang in the middle of the infamous Golden Triangle. “What if we just go through here? We’re not a threat to anybody, on the contrary we want to help everyone as much as possible. What if we just ask?”.

So we did.

In the morning we were scared as hell. We decided that we are just going to try and cross the border to Myanmar. I don’t know which was scarier, the thought of actually being let through, the thought of ending up in a Myanmar jail, or all the other unknown possibilities how it could end up going horribly wrong. But we had to try.

The Thai personnel were a little iffy at first, but talking mano-a-mano, we bonded and they let us through no problem. They even shared their breakfast with us.

The Myanmar side was also close, but like we thought, it’s not so easy. They did their job like they are supposed to, and we had a good laugh. They looked through all our papers and said that we need to get one paper from the Myanmar embassy, and things should be ok.

We didn’t get too far, yet, but now we know it can be done. It is no longer a question of the unknown. We realised that we need to have no fear, in order to go through the borders. We realised that we were the ones making the border, by believing what we are told, like always.

On our way back to Chiang Mai, the rain came again. It cleared the air and now its easy to breathe. The sky was beautiful, with to nicest cotton swab jesus cloud there ever was.

Photo: Juho Sarno

Now we know what we need to do to get ourselves and the tuk tuk past the border, but this time, everything remains possible. We learned from our last mistake.

Today is a public holiday in Thailand. It means that we can rest today, and tomorrow we will walk in to the Myanmar consulate. Let’s hope they will be understanding. If not, then there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Nobody would remember Ulysses if he would have found his way home on the first try.

The Odyssey continues.

Breaking it in

1038 Km done,

and it still feels good.

Everyday it seems that I fall in love with our Tuk Tuk more and more. It is simply the best motorised road vehicle that has ever been designed, and it’s also the first motorised vehicle that I own.

We wrote in one of the first blogs a quote that came from someplace that I cannot remember anymore, but it went more or less like this.

The Tuk Tuk is the worst vehicle ever made, because it has all the bad sides of everything. It gives no shelter or protection like a car, and it cannot weave through traffic like a motorbike. Oh yeah, and it tips over really easily.

They were wrong, and so wrong they were. Based on this paragraph, I think the author has never driven a Tuk Tuk before because they only dwell on theory, not practice.

After a few days of driving around Thailand, I can give you a more detailed, practical approach to what the tuk tuk is. So let me rephrase the earlier paragraph into what I think is more suitable for the King’s Wagon.

The Tuk Tuk is the best vehicle ever made, because it has the best sides of all other vehicles, and even more.

With the Tuk Tuk the legs do not need to be placed on the ground when stopping, unlike a motorbike, and it is way more agile than any car on the market today, because there is only one front wheel.

Then I would continue,

The tuk tuk is more like a boat with wheels, rather than a car or a motorcycle, because it allows passengers to move about, to stretch the legs, or if needed, even to climb about on the outside. Click here to see it in action.

The Tuk Tuk is designed so that things can be hung from the roof, and they are easily accessible when needed. This cannot be done in a car, and the motorbike doesn’t even have a roof.

The Tuk Tuk is the only vehicle that a Hammock can be tied to, on the inside as well as the outside.

Unlike any other road vehicle, the Tuk Tuk allows the driver to change position while driving, perhaps into a lotus position, or even into a squatting position, because the throttle is operated by the right hand (or sometimes the left if you like to change).

The Tuk Tuk gives you the same feeling of freedom as the motorcycle, because there are no barriers between onboard people and mother nature.

Unlike modern cars, the Tuk Tuk has no computer chips, so the driver has full control of the vehicle at all times. Because of this, if a problem arises, it can be fixed at any local moped shop, or even by the driver themselves. No authorised, specialised, monopolised, money-vacuum garages are needed. Only a mind that has the capability of thinking on its own, and has a little logic in it.

The Tuk Tuk also makes everyone that drives past raise their thumb and cheeks towards the sky, and this makes all the people within the Tuk Tuk smile and happy.

I understand that they couldn’t write all of this into the article, because it’s a little bit longer, but at least they could have been truthful about what the Tuk Tuk really is. I believe the tuk tuk is the most versatile of all vehicles because of all of the above, and last but not least,

The Tuk Tuk is the only vehicle that can easily be modified into a transportable gastro-machine, and drive halfway across the globe to fulfil a crazy dream of making the world a better place.

Photo: Juho Sarno

Photo: Juho Sarno

Motor Vehicle Merry-go-Round

When travelling around the globe on a motor vehicle, there are a few things that all motorists should know. First and foremost, and the most obvious, is to be prepared for anything.

The real world is full of potholes, gravel roads, no roads, steep climbs, steep downward slopes that overheat the breaks, rocks that hit and break things, twigs that jam and scratch, rainfall that makes some roads into huge mud cakes etc. etc. etc. It takes just a moment for the wrong thing to happen at the wrong time and suddenly you can feel all your hopes and dreams slipping away as your motor vehicle comes to a stop, or refuses to move.

Prepare as much as you can for everything, and then let it all go. Don’t be stupid and take a truckload of stuff just in case. Take tools that can do many things, get a good understanding of physics, try fixing something before you go, think of many situations that might happen, use your imagination, and trust yourself to find a way to keep going.

The fact is, If you thought of it, it probably won’t happen. Life doesn’t want to do things the way someone thought it would go. Life is full of surprises, and thats the best part. And when it comes to breaking down in the middle of nowhere, there’s a 99.9% chance that there is at least one person around willing to help. It’s human nature, it’s life.

But then there’s bureaucracy. It’s not the real world, it’s the world on paper. If per chance you are driving your motor vehicle from New Zealand to Europe, around Africa or along the west coast of South America, it is mandatory to have a piece of paper called Carnet de Passages.

The Carnet allows you to temporarily import your vehicle without having to leave a cash deposit at the border. It is, in essence, an international guarantee for payment of customs, duties and taxes to a government should the vehicle not be re-exported from that country.

In other words you give around a few thousand € (depending on the price of the vehicle) as a deposit and you get it back when you import the vehicle into the final destination.

The Carnet de Passages en Douane can be obtained from the national automobile association or touring club of where ever you might be.

For more info visit the wiki @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnet_de_Passages

Other bureaucratic papers are of course Visas. There are a few options for this. Transit Visa, Tourist Visa and for those filming something you might need a Press Visa.

A transit visa is usually quite easy to get, but it’s for a very limited time. Iran gives 5 day transit visas, Azerbaijan gives 72 hour transit visas etc. It depend’s on the size of the country and your route. A transit visa cannot be renewed or lengthened.

A tourist visa can be obtained for a much longer time and thus you can enjoy the country a little better while driving around. In both cases Point of Entry and Point of Exit must be given and some countries want the whole route with all the names of the places you want to visit. If you stick to the plan you should be alright.

Usually the Carnet and Visas will suffice, but some countries have places called restricted areas. For example north eastern India is mostly restricted area. If you want to pass through these, you must obtain a special Restricted Area Permit.

This can be obtained along with the visa, if they see you fit for going through. Restricted Area Permits in India are for a maximum of 2 weeks, even though the tourist visa is for six months. You MUST have the Permit with you at all times while in the restricted area, and you MUST leave before it expires.

Then there’s of course the international driving licence. This is just a passport photo and filling in a piece of paper. It’s as easy as frying an egg.

Bureaucracy is a bunch of obstacles designed to milk money from your nipples. Its annoying, but if you comply and go with it, it’s easy. Try and fight it or lose your nerve and the bureaucratic cow kicks you in the face.

Apart from these you should be alright. So if you prepare and get the paperwork you’re all set.

And the rest is up to you.

 

PS. If you have more good tips, give us a comment.