When I first started traveling I remember reading about a phenomenon known as “The Mongol Rally” – which basically consists of driving a piece of shit car from England to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. While it sounded like a fun way to explore Eurasia, this was well before I had ever traveled for more than two weeks at a time, and had never really been outside of a major city. Multiple years and countless countries later (okay 47, but who’s counting?), I decided to give it another look.
While I still lack the mechanical, cartographic and general driving skills, to competently maneuver a beater through Europe, the Middle East and Asia, I realized “The Adventurists,” who organize the event, also host a number of other activities. Cue, finding the Rickshaw Run – a race in which one drives a rickshaw – AKA “TukTuk” AKA auto rickshaw AKA those crazy vehicles somewhere between a scooter and a smart car, ubiquitous throughout Asia and other parts of the world with psychotic traffic – through India, Sri Lanka or the Himalayas. And lack of skills be damned, that’s what you have teammates for. #ImJustHereForTheRide
So, in a few days, Handsome and I and some yachtie friends will be joining the Rickshaw Run through Sri Lanka, starting in the northern city of Jaffna, and finishing up in Galle in the very south. Along the way we have been told to expect the vehicle to break down, google maps not to work (usage is discouraged anyway), and to watch out for wild stampeding elephants. And what we weren’t told ahead of time, and didn’t realize until a few days ago is that we’re in the tail end of monsoon season and the locals have told us that it rains basically every day in October. Hooray.
SO, THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD IDEA
A gruelling journey in an uncomfortable form of transport across many hundreds of kilometres
Well, sign us up. From the start, The Adventurists are committed to testing your adventurous spirit and inclinations toward bad decisions. Joining the race is as simple as entering your credit card info BUT … dum dum dum it’s into an unsecured website! Not to worry. We were committed enough to risk cyber chlamydia! The harder part was figuring out how many idiots we could coax into doing an event self-described as
A week of tyre-tearing madness hurtling across the spectacular scenery of Sri Lanka in a comprehensively terrible 10.5hp rickshaw that’s barely powerful enough to carry itself.
While a shocking number of people were enticed by the idea of spending a week sweatily cramped into a vehicle prone to self-destruction, getting a commitment was the bigger problem. In the end we had three couples, with three seats per rickshaw, so MATH! and voila! three rickshaws with room for three third wheels. And, in the case of a rickshaw, they run on three wheels, so really, the “third wheel” is the most vital part of the menage à trois. Randomly talking to Xochipilli one day, it turned out he also had friends doing the race but were one spot over their tripod.
A few weeks later we put down our 1000£ deposit, and Handsome and Xochipilli having never met each other, telepathically concurred that I’m not driving – so, we should be getting our deposit back.
GETTING OUR RACE FACES ON
After the boring admin stuff:
- VACCINATIONS : mostly stuff you already have if you live in the Western world
- INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS PERMIT (IDP) : which took all of 15 minutes at AAA
- TRAVEL INSURANCE: optional but highly recommended
…it was time for the fun stuff!
We set up our charity page and it was onto preparing for The Rickshaw Run! Except all of our teams were neither the punctual nor creative types, so we all waited until a day or two before the due date to scramble up a last minute name and design. I was under the impressions that, “if we draw it, the team name will come,” but all we were drawing were blanks. Looking at previous designs for inspiration, we realized that bigger patterns looked awesome in photos, so we looked up the national animal of Sri Lanka (there is none) and the national bird: the jungle fowl. Which is essentially a rooster.
Our first shots at rooster related team names resulted in a dozen dick jokes, but I felt like driving around Sri Lanka explaining “Two Cocks and a Clam” or “I Love Cock and Roll” or the rest of the assortment of cock puns, might not do us any favors. And thus, “Poultry in Motion” was born.
Drawing from the theme, Handsome also said he had a great idea for the design and sent me a sketch of his masterpiece.
To which I responded a few hours later with this:
To which he responded, “That’s exactly what I was thinking of!” Yup buddy. That was all you.
PACKING FOR THE RICKSHAW RUN
Of course for a chick one of the most exciting parts of a trip is packing. Except in the case where you know it’s gonna be hot and humid AF and to respect cultural norms your shoulders and knees need to be covered pretty much at all times. Heads and toes can exist unscathed.
We also had to prepare for practical things for fixing the rickshaw, so my idea of being practical consists of a roll of duct tape, a solar panel with USB chargers and some industrial clothes pins. And chicken costumes. Handsome brought bungee cords, a multi tool, a first aid kit and a North Face winter jacket to repel the rain- 86 degree weather be damned. Supposedly, the Rickshaw Run provides a basic tool kit, and none of us wanted to lug tires across the world so we crossed our fingers on being able to buy everything else on location. But otherwise, here’s what I packed.
I figured I’d basically be wearing whatever I felt like in the discomfort of my own rickshaw and would throw on button ups or pants whenever we left our motorized death tricycle. I also brought my feet in case it needed to be that kind of rickshaw, and I’m the only Chinese person on our team.
And here’s what Handsome packed.
… essentially a lot of gadgets and no clothing. #SmellyWhiteBoyfriend
I have no idea what Xochipilli has packed but after the last few days in Sri Lanka taking tuktuk taxis at $0.56 a pop, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a tight squeeze with us and our gear in the back seat.
Wish us luck!
…and don’t forget to donate to our fundraising page!
(Kindly send your moneys here)