Tuk to the Road

The trials and tukulations of Jo, Ants and Ting Tong the tuk tuk and our three-wheeled odyssey from Bangkok to Brighton...in aid of the mental health charity Mind. For more information please see www.tuktotheroad.com

Saturday, March 25, 2006

China here we come

It hasn't been the most eventful week in Tukland; no more Survival Courses or learning how to splint fractures. However, on the logistics front we made some headway since the CITS in Beijing have now confirmed that we can enter China on June 10th. Which means leaving Bangkok on May 30th, and leaving home on May 20th. That will give us enough time in Bangkok to become acquainted with our tuk tuk, get some mechanical training and generally fine tune our preparations.

Other main news this week is that we are getting our fundraising action plan in place and exploring security issues. We hope to have a launch party at The Cobden Club in early / mid May with some great bands, and also a fundraising event in Norfolk, in the less glamorous but equally entertaining surrounds of Cley Village Hall. We'll keep you posted about both events and dates will be confirmed next week.

Also, congratulations to Anna and James for their engagement. About time! Please don't get married till after we come back; Jo might even lend you the TT as your wedding car.

Jo's off to India next week to see her fiancee Raja. Does anyone want to look after her ferrets??

Monday, March 20, 2006

A mild case of Stockholm Syndrome

We’re just thawing out from having spent this weekend on the aforementioned survival course in Devon where we had to skin rabbits, build our own shelter and generally behave like Neanderthals. And believe it or not it was surprisingly fun, despite the sub zero temperatures and disgusting army rations.

As I drove down on Friday I was overcome by a desire to spend the weekend in a swanky hotel; the type with voluminous fluffy towels and delicious cream teas, not in a Devon wood. My initial impression of Nigel and Kim, our captors for the next few days, did nothing to alleviate my fears – hardcore ex-Marines in big boots and army gear. Neither did the prospect of our first task, building a ‘hasty shelter’ for the night using little more than tarpaulin and rope. But nothings ever as bad as it seems and a few hours later we were all happily hunkering down round the camp fire discovering the joys of life in the woods.

On Saturday we crammed in loads – skinning rabbits, plucking pigeons, night navigation, building a proper shelter, how to purify water, 101 ways to light a fire. Jo also taught Nigel and Kim a few of her own special survival skills. I think I can safely say that these weren’t anything they had come across before and probably won’t introduce into subsequent courses.

All in all it was a brilliant weekend and I feel sure that if we get stranded in the middle of steppe, mountain or desert we would have Nigel -AKA Uncle Nobby – and Kim’s wise words echoing in our ears. Failing that we will certainly have their numbers on speed dial.

One final thing – Jo and I have both come back suffering from a mild case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The countdown begins

When Jo returned from a holiday in Thailand a few years ago and announced that she was going to drive a tuk tuk back from Bangkok to the UK I never thought for a second I'd be sitting here four years down the line studying maps and wondering which route we are going to take through Kazakhstan. And now here we are, with two months till lift off, frantically planning every aspect of our 10,000 mile odyssey. Within the space of a few months I feel as if I have been transformed from a TV (assistant) prodcuer to a bona fide explorer.

Until you embark on setting up a mission like this you have no idea of the massive amount of organisation involved. Everything from which roads we are going to brave to which tent is the best has to be carefully planned. Nothing can be left to chance. Last weekend we were at the RGS, home of cutting edge scientific exploration, to do a wilderness medical training course. There were scientists who study snow leopards in Siberia, biologists off to Greenland, botanists heading for Borneo...and Jo and I, the Tukkers. I think the weirdest thing we learnt all weekend was that the American military suggest a 'rectal Mars Bar' in the case of all unconsciuos diabetics. And that 25,000 people die in India every year from Rabies. Gripping stuff.

This weekend its off to the wilds of Devon for more training. This time its Survival Skills courtesy of Intrepid Expeditions (www.intrepid-expeditions.co.uk) I'm horrified to see that the kit list includes mess tins and sleeping mats. Camping was never my forte but I had better get used to the idea if we're going to survive in the Central Asian steppes when there won't be a power shower or a Wi-Fi connection for hundreds of miles. Let alone Sushi or a black cab. Just us, a pink tuk tuk and the Great Outdoors.

People keep asking if we're nervous but at the moment it just doesn't seem real. It feels as if we are planning the trip for someone else. I wonder when it will seem real? When we switch on the engine for the first time and the GPS says in that irritating voice 'Go to the end of the road and turn left'? Or when we find ourselves stranded ina Russian pothole?

Very excited about the fact I can officially ride a fat bike now. Looking forward to buying a speedster on our return.

More later....

Friday, March 10, 2006

Biker Chicks

Wahey, not only is this our first blog, but it is also a time for massive celebration. Ants and I are now officially biker chicks, having both passed our tests this week on our 500cc motorbikes. My instructor told me he was relieved because he didn't think he could face taking me for lessons anymore- cheers Simon from Norton motorcycle training, I love you too! Ants' instructor told her that he got more satisfaction from her passing than he has from any of his other pupils- Ants obviously took to motorcycling like a duck to water! Anyway, we will celebrate tonight with a bottle of sparkling wine- tastes like champagne, half the price and still gets you pissed.