The Rickshaw Run – Part 1

We recently decided to do the dumbest vacation ever, the Rickshaw Run. The idea was to spend three weeks in India, two of which to be spent driving an old, crappy motorized rickshaw across the country. Was it a smart idea? No. Was it at least safe? Also no. But, it was super crazy fun.

 

We decided on a run from Cochin to Jaisalmer, basically Southern India to near Pakistan. This run was in January. Let’s just kick this off by showing our rickshaw:

Yes… we chose the colors and style. And what says dumb idea like zebra stripes? We originally agreed on pink zebra stripes but there was some confusion somewhere *cough Rob *cough.

 

The first few days are just for paperwork and test driving your rickshaw around a heavily populated urban environment. We luckily didn’t damage anyone or anything local, but I did manage to give a solid ram to a friendly rickshaw while making a U-turn.

 

N-E-way, after some test driving, we went a picked up some essentials and spare parts for our rickshaw at a local motorshop… most of the spares would be unneeded, but *spoiler alert* the spark plug would save our bacon one day.

 

One quick bit of advice for anyone thinking about doing this: buy everything you need as soon as you can. Every day that leads up to the run, prices go up by a lot. Our first day we could get a taxi rickshaw from our B&B to the grounds for 20 rupees, by the day of the race that was 100 rupees. Same goes for rickshaw accessories and parts.

 

During this absolute mess that was the prelude to the run, we manage to burn through quite a bit of booze… which I am sure is obvious from the horse masks. Acquiring the booze was a rather off-putting experience. The liquor stores in Kochin and all old broken down wooden affairs, with a white sign with red text. We stepped up and hopped into the line of pretty destitute looking drunks. People immediately started pointing at the front and gesturing for us to go. Regardless that I stated that I was comfortable waiting in line, they continued the gesturing… eventually getting rather emphatic. In the end we walked to the front, by passed everyone and bought our booze. It turns out that upper-class (which includes white people) aren’t supposed to wait in line. We also don’t seem to have a cap on how much alcohol we can buy. While I appreciate not waiting in line and being able to buy my body weight in beer, it continued to be an awkward affair to purchase booze.

Two days before launch we attended the launch party. It was a wonderfully hedonistic party full of inebriated people, horse masks, dancing, and the occasional snake bite. I would go into more detail, but… I don’t want to. You should just attend an Adventurists party yourself. However, I will point out one thing. The party was held on an island. At 2 AM, there was supposed to be a boat to take us back. Unfortunately, everyone was smashed, so no one managed to make it. They did manage to get another boat later, but I also managed to miss that one. So, I woke up on that island at about 7 AM feeling like the Roman Army marched over my body. My teammate Rob was also with me, so we set off to find a way to return to the mainland. Here I am, hung over and dehydrated to hell wandering about trying to see if we can see a boat, or a sign… really anything. We wander about… and nothing. Eventually, we manage to ask a security guard to a random building and he points to a fence. Said fence has a gate… closed, rusted, and appearing completely unused. Of course, the boat is past that gate. It’s India. We squeeze through the gate and find a small boat jetty, which is a bit flooded. After a short wait, a small boat pulls up and we ride it to the mainland. Once there it was a simple matter of a half-hour rickshaw ride back to our B&B.

The next day, we saddled up and started our journey.

 

So, this is just the intro. I’ll get to the actual run in Part 2!

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