Jun 26, 2015

Our India Rickshaw Run - Day 10-11 in Highlights

Day 10 (total km’s for day 10: 413 km)

-5:39am start to the day. You know those days when you are too tired and things just don’t go right. We stopped at an ATM to get some more cash, the machine went through the whole transaction and then didn’t spit out any money. grrr. It was just a whole in the wall ATM too, no one to talk to. We just wrote down the time, date, amount of $, and would have to follow up with a bank later. We moved on to another ATM and had better luck there.

-Eben and I took turns sleeping in the back of the rickshaw while the other one drove.

-We stopped for chai and met the smallest little pigmie man we ever did see. Eben is not a tall guy, but next to the chai shop owner Eben looked like a giant! His kids, that ran the chai shop, were quite enthralled by us and just starred. That’s once they got over the “scare of the foreigners” that is!

-Crossed paths with another rickshaw that lost their rear wheel while driving 60km down the road. They were ok, and had two local mechanics helping them out.

-Suk and Avi had some connections with a friend of a friend that owns the Summit Milestone hotel in Siliguri and got us a free night’s stay. So instead of paying for our rooms we all got massages at the spa instead. We got to wear these really horrendous paper granny-panty undies for our massages. Too bad I didn’t have my camera with me! Then it was too late for anyone to be bothered to go out to eat so we ordered in some KFC (which was a little cold and stale) and all passed out.

Day 11 (total km’s for day 11: 204 km)

-7:07am start driving.

-This whole trip Eben and I really wanted to ride an elephant. We sort of made that our mission, I don’t know why we got so stuck on that idea, but we did. And Avi and Suk were nice enough to accommodate our hopes to find some. So today we did some off-roading in the hopes of finding some wild elephants! It was fruitless, but way fun!

-We have crossed over into tea country. We didn’t really know what tea fields looked like, but wow are they gorgeous. They are perfectly manicured fields of shrub trees as far as the eye can see.

-After stopping at 2 different places and being told that elephant riding was not going to happen, we grumpily drove on. Until we passed the sign in Jaldapara advertising elephant safaris. We stood on the side of the highway for about an hour, talking with every rickshaw team that drove by (and surprisingly there were quite a few), and finally decided that we could stop here for the night, do the elephant trek tomorrow, add in a lot of rickshaw driving, and still be on schedule to hit the finish line on the final day. So we did.

-Since we stopped driving midday, we took off for a tour of the Karbhari tiger rescue center. The 10km drive to this center felt like we took our rickshaws on their own private jeep safari. We were lost in the wilderness, driving on roads that our rickshaws could barely handle, but it was stunning. At the end we got to walk around this zoo-like center that houses a few tigers and a handful of leopards.

-I got my horrible henna done! We were at a late evening chai stop and we asked the chai lady where I could get mend done, she said she knew a lady and her son went off to buy the henna and find the lady. He came back with the henna but couldn’t find the lady, so the chai lady offered to do it herself. I could see that this horrible mess on my hand was growing and making its way up my arm, but I really had no way of politely asking her to stop. So I let it happen. At the end she told me, “think of me whenever you look at this”. Well that happened, every time I saw my hand I had to laugh, and hide it!

The family that made us chai

This is what happened when I asked them to smile

Eben is not a tall guy, so this man was pygmi size

Where they did the dishes

corn husks

Another team lost their wheel while driving!

tea fields

a lot of people thought we were driving these rickshaws across India!

The lady I will remember forever thanks to my horrible henna

snot fruit

Every vehicle has this on its backside

Jun 23, 2015

Our India Rickshaw Run - Day 8-9 in Highlights

Day 8 (total km’s for day 8: 278 km)

We had planned to do the sunrise boat ride on the Gange river but no one was up to snuff at 5am, so we all went back to bed and started our driving day way later than usual.

We are back on the main highway and it is completely boring. So glad we didn’t take that route the whole way across!

Went to a hotel where 11 other teams were, pretty weird to see so many rickshaws together again. It was nice to catch up with everyone and share some stories. Unfortunately for us, because so many teams arrived here on the same day they did not have any rooms available for us two until 9pm, so we stored our bags in their lobby and went out to enjoy Bodhgaya while we waited

Bodhgaya is where Siddhartha became Buddha, it is where you will find the Boddhi tree he meditated under. Visiting the temple where this all took place was pretty spiritual. We were surrounded by monks there on pilgrimage, tourists, from all corners of the world, and lulled by buddhist chants as we walked the grounds.

Day 9 (total km’s for day 9: 271 km)

Started driving at 6:45am and made our first stop to see the Giant Buddha in Bodhgaya, this thing is 60 meters tall! The gates were still locked when we got there, but the statue is so big that you don’t have to be anywhere near it to see it, so we snapped some shots through the gate and were on our way.

 Drove by a wedding procession on the side of the road, they had an elephant, 2 camels, and a slew of women carrying pots on their heads.

Driving through Muzzaffarpur, it was obvious that we were not the first Rickshaw Runners to come through. The police were used to seeing these crazy foreigners driving (or not knowing how to drive) these rickshaws, so they were stopping traffic for us and ushering us through traffic circles and busy intersections!

-We crossed a bridge in Patna, and learned later that we were lucky we got across. There was some sort of electoral meeting going on in Patna that day and the one side of the bridge was so jammed it was at a standstill. A bus told us that they ended up stuck on that bridge for 6 hours!

As we drove the insanely tight streets of this city, in the province where we were told to “keep an eye out” because there have been a number to carjackings and attacks, we had our first fender bender. There was literally only an inch here or there between all the vehicles on this road, we were moving at a snail’s pace, and what we assume was a pushcart and our rear fender made contact. The bolt in the center of the pushcarts wheel caught our fender and nearly ripped it right off, it was hanging on by one bolt. Because of all the cautioning we had been warned about we tried to just drive away. But our getaway did last long as our fender was dragging on the road. We had to stop and rip it the rest of the way off. In that time the pushcart owner made his way to us and was yelling at us in Hindi!!! We had no idea what he was saying but he was angry. Then the crowd started to form. This is the last thing we wanted was to get stuck inside an angry mob. Suk brought the yelling man away from us and tried to figure out what he wanted. Eben joined him and soon realized that the angry mob, they were in OUR favour! One bystander told Eben, “You do not pay him any money. You are a guest in our country. He should leave you alone.” To appease the situation Suk handed the pushcarts 100rupees ($1.30) on the sly and we all drove off before the crowd had us stuck in there. That was stressful and I am so glad that a fender-bender was the worse thing that happened to us during our trip!

- Stopped in Darbhanga for the night.

The Temple
This place left us in awe

The bodhi tree

Buddha's footprints

They say each of these lotus flowers was a step he took when he paced back and forth

Suk spinning the prayers wheels
Giant Buddha

Back to the traffic and mayhem of driving a rickshaw

This is the bridge bottleneck that caused traffic to be backed up for 8 hours! 

yep, our wheel well is gone. Ripped off by a man in a cart and a really tight squeeze!

But elephants on the road always cheered me up after stressful moments!