Adventure Travel, India

Rickshaw Run Update From the Road #4

7 Comments 16 April 2014

I’m traveling 2,000 miles through India by motorized rickshaw, raising $15,000 for charity: water.   While I’m sweating buckets, becoming one with my horn, avoiding cows, and getting grease under my nails on the road you can follow along with my Instagram updates.

smiles from the side of the road in India

Got a lovely smile from this woman as we passed by. This morning’s drive was gorgeous and so any little towns. Then we had to cross the Ganges River on the highway and of course the day has taken a turn. The road is HORRIBLE. Our rickshaws are taken a beating and we are moving at a crawl. Ugh.

Rickshaw Run Day 9
We are in Bardhaman West Bengal tonight – just west of Kolkata as we wanted to avoid that craziness. But I’ve determined that craziness it not avoidable in India. We are staying in yet another horribly dodgy hotel that we had to take as it was the only thing we could find and it was an incredibly draining afternoon on horrible little roads and we were all stressed out and had to find somewhere to sleep.

Speaking of sleep – we are getting very little of it. We are up most mornings by 4:45AM and go to bed at night at 11PM or midnight – I haven’t been this exhausted in a while. I think I could sleep for a week. Real sleeping in the rickshaw really isn’t possible – you can sort of doze – but not for long. We are starting to get to the top of India now and just have to skirt around Bangladesh.

I will say that after 9 days our driving has greatly improved…or maybe it’s actually gotten worse – which is actually what is necessary to fit in in India. We’ve been taking a ton of video footage of everything – so more to come on that.

Today the convoy had one breakdown but some determined and friendly guy on a motorbike pulled over and had it fixed in about 30 minutes. We also had some great moments drinking chai masala at a gas station today.

We are officially in bandit country and there’s been some terrorist attacks in the next state over – so we are trying to really be aware as we go through these next two states – it’s good we have a convoy. Charlie and I are doing fine – we both have weirdly swollen ankles and are both tired and sick….but we push on towards Shillong!

rickshaw run charging station

I outlet in our hotel room charging 8 things.

rickshaw run mechanic in India

Yes at the mechanic again. NYPD’s rickshaw lost the muffler and we had to get it welded back together. Happy morning on day 11 of the Rickshaw Run.

roadside breakfast in India on the Rickshaw run

Favorite breakfast stop so far. Not only did the guy have chai, but he also made toast w butter, sugar, and some other random spice. Delicious!

Rickshaw Run Update Day 10
I love driving the rickshaw in the mornings. The mornings are spectacular – the traffic is reasonable, it’s cool out, everyone is waking up and starting to move – it’s perfection. Then midday happens and everything seems to go to hell. And so it went again today. You’d think that after 10 days we’d just learn to not set any expectations…but we continue to do it and they continue to get shattered.

Our morning drive through the rice fields and small villages was gorgeous. Villagers were amazed and excited to see us. We’d stop and be surrounded in minutes. We even found a little breakfast place that served butter/sugar toast!

The roads weren’t great – but still worth it to go slower just to see the smaller villages. By midday we were hitting the highway to quickly make it another 200 km and have an early day ending. However when we hit the highway – the highway hit back. I can barely even call what we drove on for hours and hours a road – it was a mine field of rubble swallowing our rickshaws. Backbreaking, jaw jarring, absurdity they call a highway in India. We crossed the Ganges River today and hugged the border of Bangladesh. Then our rickshaw broke down (3rd time if you are keeping track) and the hunt for the mechanic began – and never easy to find anything you are looking for in a city chaos. We thought our clutch was trashed but learned instead that the oil was slowly leaking out – so essentially our engine had no oil and the clutch was grinding.

Now we are at a ‘new’ hotel – maybe the worst we’ve had yet – however the people who own it are complete sweethearts which makes the cement walls, no ac, no window screens, no hot water or shower, and a shared squatty potty all worth it. All to start over again tomorrow morning when it’s beautiful again.

cricket with kids in India on the Rickshaw run

Update from Charlie: An afternoon of cricket with the kids as we wait for our tuk to be made better.

tranquility in india on the rickshaw run

Tranquility this morning before the road went to shit and gears started to grind.

Indian mechanic eats ice cream as he repairs Rickshaw

We offered the mechanic an ice cream – except it only slowed down the repair.

rickshaws take a rest

Rickshaws take a rest on the side of the road.

breakfast in India on the rickshaw run

A typical breakfast in India.

For more from our adventures on the road follow along on my Facebook Page Ottsworld Travel and Life Experiences.

Your Comments

7 Comments so far

  1. Loving reading about your trip. It seems like you are getting the hang of driving in India which is something that not everyone can lay claim to.

    • Sherry says:

      Yes – the driving is not as hard as you think once you are in it…but there are absolutely no rules and you have to be ready for anything. My experience driving in Vietnam has also helped quite a bit with the craziness of it all!

  2. Go, Sherry, go! See Sherry go and break down and go. Run rickshaw, run!

  3. Andy says:

    Sounds like a fantastic experience Sherry. I’m sure you’re honing your patience and flexibility! Looking forward to seeing your footage.

    • Sherry says:

      Yes – driving in India definitely requires flexibility and patience. This type of travel – rally/race travel – is some of the hardest I’ve ever done for so many reasons. Decision making, patience, flexibility all come into play.

  4. Sounds like quite the adventure with ups and downs all over the place! I love the reason you’re doing it, and this looks unforgettable!


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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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