The Launch and first three days... - 11/04/2012

Cochin: rally admin done, we pick our steeds, not hard as there are only 7 left.... We are sure they are not the shit ones and were just overlooked. The lions are already here and have done a sterling job on their rides. Some driving lessons from the locals and we run out of petrol on route to the petrol station- good start. Furring starts but is rained off by the rainiest rain we have ever experienced. Wet through we called it a day and slept.

Rally prep day 1: All furballs united furring proper starts with a furry fury in sweltering humidity. The Alesbury's acquired a stuffed tiger to ride atop of their rickshaw on the condition it reached Shillong. Paddy and Cat had no functioning alternator but apart from this all was good.

Rally start: Day 1. Some final furry admin; mounting photos of Her Majesty, lashing flagpoles, fixing sound systems and a quick route plan. We donned our fancy dress, what furballer would be complete without it. The tigers, Charlie an Cate's 'Chav' (because of the horrifically loud pseudo tiger stripe) and Dickie and Naomi's 'Tiger' (because it actually looks like a tiger!), and Tony and Katy's Elephant 'Nelly' dressed as tiger hunters, the lion tuk-tuks Paddy & Smally's 'Simba' and The Twin's 'Leo' dressed as lions and this is how we departed. As usual we stole the show being invited to take pride of place in the starting line-up.

We took the West costal road and saw the backwaters of Cochin, Tiger had a blowout and we all lost Leo when their engine blew up..... The rest of the team noticed an hour later and learned some valuable convoy lessons in the process, sorry twins! Katy and Tony were run off the road in a scary truck vs elephant rickshaw collision- trucks fault- other furballers watched on in terror! All parties were fine, a bit shaken up.

How could this all happen in one day- would we ever make it to Shillong?

We stop in Guruvayur and await the Hattersley's in Leo all feeling very guilty for losing them. The hotel were rather made up about having 5 furry tuk-tuks taking centre stage on his car park, so called the local press! All the furballers needed now was a spokesperson; Dickie is nominated by the group on a

Twins arrive with Leo and join everyone for an excruciating 3 hour dinner. Leo's engine re-bore cost£3!!! Lesson: Don't trust the rickshaw run organisers who swear blind that no extra 2-stroke oil should be added to Leo's petrol- the engine will seize and rikshaw will stop!

Rally day 2. Off at 0630 hrs after a quick 1 hour brekki; Indian hospitality excellent, speed of service needs some work! Katy and Tony are attacked once again by a rikshaw pickup which side swiped them onto the dirt of the hardshoulder- once again victims of shoddy driving! Backwaters are replaced by winding jungle roads through cannabis and tea plantations, we push our steeds up into the jungle. It's beautiful and we are doing great. No couples have argued and there have been no breakages apart from Chav losing it's exhaust pipe, rather fitting that the Chav wagon now sounds 'Max-powered' too.

The rain starts and we all realise how crap our window wipers really are, we use the force and plough on. We pass a truck with the front completely stoved in: it was a motor cycle probably loaded with a family of up to 5people/children, the lady died, a sobering sight

Our route of 2 hours stunning hilly jungle terrain takes us to a Tiger reserve, we are told we cannot pass through in tuk-tuks due to the alledged risks of spontaneous combustion (it was lashing down). We despair!

Several minutes of negotiation sees us through and we trundle to just the other side of the entrance barrier. The reason for not continuing is Chav announces his brakes no longer work. Clearly not content with his 'performance' exhaust, now he's after a brakes upgrade. Dickie and Charlie fiddle a bit but thankfully a local truck mechanic appears and immediately sets himself to work diagnosing the issue. Tiger stays behind whilst the others continue on to try to make Mysore before nightfall.

Some three hours later, having had to fetch various parts from the closest town 10Km away, the two tigers rather nervously set off in the dark into the Tiger Reserve. One reserve backs onto a second and only after some sweet talking from Dickie did the nice chap at the barrier let us through "quickly, go, go , not supposed to go in dark, don't stop...", we rather hoped we wouldn't.

The advance party had encountered some issues of their own. Having had the highs of seeing monkeys, deer and elephants whilst driving through the reserves, the sun had fallen and night driving, not something that had ever been planned, was made essential to reach Mysore. Simba's alternator packing up made things that much more interesting when 1 tuk-tuk was blind and worse still, invisible! They made it and found a reasonable place to crash and waited to hopefully receive the 2 tigers with currys and Gin!

Two hours later, just before midnight, the tigers arrived at Mysore, Tiger suffering the same fate as Simba with no alternator equalling no lights! An emotional reunion with many tales recounted before some very well earned rest before the 6am start. A somewhat eventful first few days.

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Posted : 21/04/2012

Falakata: One thing Paddy did miss out of his blog was the way in which the fur ballers were informed of Na’s collapse; a young lad with very good English poked his head around the corner and announced ‘Sir, I think your friend is in an extreme situation!’ This was pure comedy on looking back, alt...

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