Category Archives: General Update

Update – 31 July 2014

Containers were loaded at the Tilbury Docks on Friday 18th July and have been inspected, sealed and sent aboard the container ship, Venezia, with an estimated transit time of 29-35 days. As usual with officialdom there seems to be a multitude of what appear to be superfluous pieces of paper to organise. One of the rather frustrating pieces of Indian bureaucracy is their penchant for paper; I can only assume it is a residue of colonial times. I fly to Mumbai well in advance of our start date to meet and encourage the local authorities to swiftly process the temporary importation of vehicles.

The Jingers Jaunts robust Land-Rover Defender which we used to great effect in Australia has been further updated to enable better support of our clients. It has been refitted in the load-space to allow a wider range of mechanical tools to be carried and its ability to morph into an ambulance has been improved with a much enhanced medical section. It left for Mumbai on July 16th, having already travelled to a port elsewhere in New Zealand because the docks here were heavily damaged in the earthquakes.

All hotels are booked, the details of some of our excursions are being finalised and Lally is managing the administrative aspects of all vehicle documents. I am working on details of how GPS will help everyone find a correct route through the chaotic maze of city streets; however, we shall also need to use a ‘Tulip’ roadbook for some sections.

I am very happy to report that the mountain road over Umba La is currently open. We surveyed nine tenths of it last year but were prevented from crossing the final ridge by landslides. It is a harsh, sometimes narrow, mountain track climbing to over 16,000ft but it’s operational again for those wanting to try a serious mountain road with some BIG drops and beautiful scenery.

Our welcome dinner is scheduled for the evening of 11 September at one of the pre-eminent restaurants in Mumbai. Of course, the evening will be an Indian affair but we have asked for the spice-levels to be in tune with a western diet. From there we will push north into the deserts of Rajasthan staying in palaces and forts where service and our comfort are assured.

Update – 02 January 2014

Entries continue to trickle in and whilst in Europe I plan to visit various people who’ve shown interest in joining us in September.

A number of customers have indicated they would like to hire a vehicle for the event; indeed, we chose this option for the survey. There is a very limited number of Toyota 4x4s’ available after which ‘locally grown’ Mahindra’s are the next best option. These vehicles appear to be reliable and, of course, have a very good local service infrastructure behind them; however they will not compete on European levels of ride and comfort. Hire cars will be issued on a ‘first come, first served’ basis so it might pay to keep this in mind if your intention is not to ship your own vehicle.

The import of vehicles into India is not straightforward and in addition to the numerous documents required, the named driver on those documents will need to be in the country four to five working days prior to accepting the keys; this is one reason Day 1 of the event is scheduled for a Friday.

Whilst surveying we made a few short video clips of the hotels and palaces where we shall be staying. The second property in the following clip is where Elizabeth Hurley married Arun Nayar, although the relationship was doomed after a short spell.

Another clip worth viewing is the road in the high altitude section;

Otherwise, take a look at everyday life on the streets of India.

Even before you leave Mumbai the Indian ‘experience’ will be in full swing! Colaba, literally a stones throw from our start hotel, is the unofficial headquarters of Mumbai’s tourist scene; it sprawls down the city’s southernmost peninsula and is a bustling district packed with street stalls, markets, and bars. Where else in the world would you come across persistent giant balloon sellers, who for some reason think everyone needs a psychedelic balloon the size of a full-grown man, or perhaps you’ve always wanted your name written on a grain of rice? Although for a break from the teeming crush of humanity you can pop into Leopold’s Café or Café Mondegar, two very well known Mumbai hangouts oozing character and atmosphere, for your daily helping of black Dal and Naan bread.

The familiar Dr. Terence Mulligan will be part of the team once more striving to ensure the health of participants and staff remains no more serious than the ever present threat of ‘Delhi Belly’. Furthermore, his cover will be comforting through India in general but, especially the high altitude sections where we need to keep exertion and alcohol intake to a minimum.