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Dear folks – check out the report of the Rickshaw Run by clicking the link to the page ‘***The Rickshaw Run – The Record***’.  If you want some other stories, you can check out Robbie’s blog at: www.whelanstravels.blogspot.com

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There are heaps of new Rickshaw Run photos online.  In fact there are 400. Because there are so many, I needed to upload them to different accounts.  You can find the first batch of 200 at www.flickr.com/photos/boondogglers (The start to West Bengal)

You can find the second batch of 200 (West Bengal till Sikkim) at: www.flickr.com/photos/theboondogglers

The photos are in reverse chronological order (except for the first few photos) so you need to make your way from page 11 and finish on page 1 etc.

Enjoy!

On Thursday, January 11, at 5:45pm, the Boondogglers rocketed into Darjeeling like a runaway freight train.  They emerged from their battered chariot stinky, crusty, and generally unkempt, yet they emerged as champions, even heroes to some.

We did it!!! To all those who thought it was impossible, that the task was too challenging, that it was too dangerous, too crazy and too absurd… we did it.  So there.

In a few days you will be able to read a full account of the journey, replete with all of our bizarre episodes and general antics.  You’ll get an email when its done. 

4,200 kilometres later…

The Route

…we hope.

 Robbie here, the latest and greatest boondoggler to meet up with the team. We’ve decamped in some town called Bankura, in the middle part of West Bengal. Roads are choppy, forecast is chilly, and the beer flows like the holy Ganges. All that remains is a beeline to National Highway 34, then some 400 km up the narrow strip of land between Bangladesh and Tibet to the Himalayan foothills, with their cricket matches, tea plantations, steam trains, and glorious peaks. We expect to arrive by Thursday night, if all goes well, in time for the Friday Rickshaw Run festivities.

 This afternoon we gave Sally, as we are calling our noble steed these days, a veritable rickshaw hysterectomy — oil change, muffler tightening, the works… We’d been working her way too hard (65 kmph! Grrr!) and she was being a noisy tart about it. Now she purrs like proper little hussy. Also, we were afraid the muffler might actually fall out. No more.

 The Rickshaw Run film crew caught up with us at a hotel in Jarkhand last night, and this morning we gave extensive and silly interviews, and also debuted the Boondoggler’s first two singles, the country-tinged singalong “I Saw It All From a Rickshaw,” with Benji’s shredding harmonica solo and Rogier on the pill-bottle-filled-with-rice shaker, and Rogier’s neo-funk blues number, “Ridin’ in a Rickshaw.”

 We then went back into the canteen and had some Old Monk n Thumbs Up (that’s disgusting Indian rum-and-coke) with “Sabertooth” Pani, head of the infamous “Scorpio” gang, the scourges of south Jarkhand. He and his buddies assured us that it was not their pleasure, but their duty to take us to a proper mechanic in the morning at 6 am and then show us around the countryside for 3 hours, promising to get us safely back on the road by 9. We were doubtful, however, when Sabretooth started his motorbike completely battered and drove into some mattresses that were set up outside the hotel. We were further doubtful when he reversed the bike and did the exact same thing again. Our fears were confirmed this dawn, when we woke up for chai at the ungodly hour of 5:45 and were cruelly stood up by the Scorpios.

 Just one of our many adventures.

 More from the frontlines soon! Everyone take care, and don’t worry, we’re safe and sound. Rogier has taken a Bengali concubine who is acting as our guide through the backwater, and she shouts abuse at aggressive drivers almost as well as she cooks.

Cheers!

The Boondogglers, although bedraggled and exhausted after a totally hectic New Years Eve Goa style, are in fantastic form.

After bounding up the gorgeous (just see the photos!) west coast of India through the states of Kerala and Karnataka, we arrived into Goa on mid-morning of the 31st.

We met up with some friends in Baga beach and spent the earlier part of the evening shmoozing, drinking and dancing around a small fire abutting a lighthouse which overlooks almost all of Goa state.  Due to the worst fireworks lighting in recorded history, we almost started two more, much bigger fires in the surrounding bushland when our fireworks shot first directly at us and then directly into trees and dried grass bundles.  Thank god we had two crates of beer to douse the flames.  After the lighthouse fiasco we returned to Baga where Rogier and his cronies did the RnB thang while Benji beach-hopped and hitchhiked around Goa’s northern beaches in search of the perfect trance party.  He finally found it at 3:30am in Vagator at a huge rave at ‘Hilltop’.  Best start to a new year in recent memory.

Early tomorrow morning we are heading inland and are looking to make it to Hyderabad in 2 days, where we will be finally joined by our third wheel – Robbie.

Updates to come.

The inaugural Rickshaw Run kicked off today with convivial fanfare – and noone was in better form than the Boondogglers.  The day started way too early (7am) with a last minute “pimping” (read painting and decorating) session, and proceeded with a game of cricket against the local sports team, which the Rickshaw Runners can proudly say they won.

Our plan is to drive to Goa by New Years Eve, then cut across the country to Hyderabad, and then find ourselves somewhere along the East Coast, before shooting up along the Bangladeshi border from Kalkuta to Darjeeling. 

So far we have driven 112km (out of a mindboggling 3,500) in about 3 hours, so we figure that we can manage the job if we drive about 8 hours per day…

Here are some piccies for your squizzing pleasure in the meantime before I set up a more tech-savvy Flickr site or other.

Benji

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