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Check out this page for live pictures and videos – The journey started !

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Flag off – pictures – Sept 28,2012

London to Munich- pictures – Oct 1,2012

Zurich to Georgia

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All times mentioned below are GMT (UK- Local)

Sept 29,2012

First Major issue “diesel leakage from the car” but the journey continues towards Munich

Sept 29,2012

Inder has reached Luxembourg moments ago. All is well! He would update us once he takes a break! Thanking you all for the support that is keeping him Going!!!!

Sept 29,2012 20:33

Looking for a pension in Munich right now! any suggestions?

Sept 30, 2012 12:00

The human hospitality amazes me as is crossed all boundaries last night. I was looking for a hotel or a pension to stay for the night. Due to Oktoberfest everything was booked and i saw people are sleeping at train and bus stations. Fortunately all the Indian newspapers in Europe had covered the news of my journey (i had no clue). I went to an Indian restaurant where the staff recognised me instantly and had a standing ovation from all the staff and guests. The staff at Taj Mahal and Maharani (Stiglmaierplatz street) tried the level best to find a place for me but to vain. Finally the staff took me in with them giving me a place on my own. They would not charge me for the food (i have given up on insisting) and will be hosting me until i leave on Monday morning. A staff will be with me while i do video coverage at the fest.
They have even arranged for a garage to check my diesel leak first thing on Monday morning. Thank you is a very small word but Thank you thank you and thank you all!!!!!

Oct 1, 2012 08:16

Oktoberfest should be attended by everyone, once in a lifetime at least. I have never seen so may people in one place drinking beer from 8 a.m in the morning to 2 a.m the next day….millions and millions of litres. The beer is served in a standard size of one litre and amazing food. On weekends one has to get in by 10 a.m else you do not get entry into the tent (which holds over 5000 people at one time). I was accommodated when got there at 1 p.m. The owner of the place came to meet with his security and gave me special permission to take a video clip and loads and loads of picture. I was given security until the end of the day to make sure i have no problems anywhere. I met a few of their VIPs and national heroes (musicians). Was taken to a special party which is for invites at the end of the day. Staff at the restaurant called me at 12:30 as they were waiting for me, so had to leave mid-way and come back. One of the guys “Laddi” came to escort me back……German hospitality has bowled me over. Pictures to follow soon as my Mac is not allowing my camera (EOS 50D) to download pictures….need some software.

Oct 3, 2012 11:00

I left from Zurich to Innsbruck where i went to Toyota garage who repaired the leakage in the car. Since they had to order the parts, they did a temporary fix and i will be ordering parts for repair in Greece. They also fixed other small things and refused to take money for it.

From Innsbruck i left for Italy where in the town of Brunick (which was deserted at 8 p.m) i was lost. I asked someone walking down the road for a hotel not sure if he knows English. Turns out he was an Indian and drove with me to the hotel but did not allow me to check-in. He took me homw where i was treated to some home cooked food and sweets (Jalebi). He gave me a room to stay…..which i refused as i decided to drive with more energy in me. We went out for a cup of coffee and before leave i asked him for a name. We had a good laugh that without knowing even each others names, i had met his family and we had spent last 2 hours talking about the journey. I think that is called human spirit!!

Oct 3, 2012 12:33

I am over in Graz, Austria at a friends place. Ingrid is Austrian but every year comes to Goa to stay for a few weeks.She helped me with my Goa house decoration and house warming party. It is good to catch up with her after almost 2 years. The Austrian country side is beautiful and the sunshine has added a perfect touch to it. I wish i could have another house in this part oft he world.

Oct 4, 2012 11:20

Excellent news!! My last visa for Turkmenistan had come through and has been in my email since Monday. I have been so busy with my journey that had forgotten that i needed one more clearance. So finally it is here and i can see no interruptions w.r.t documentation. Just wanting for my Chinese car number plates!

Oct 4, 2012 11:40

Yesterday i zipped passed 3 countries. Started from Graz in Austria and went to Maribor, Slovenia. There was some youth festival going on….took some video footage but since could not understand the language, just enjoyed watching others sing and dance. Then i left for Letenye, Hungary and one wrong turn from GPS and i was at the border check post to cross into Croatia.

The immigration officer on Hungarian side wanted to know what is the laser light i have on my car dash board. They would have seen it when i was getting to the check post. I told them about the camera recording the journey and in no time i had a team of 12 offices curious to know more.

After this i was stopped by Croatian side and they asked me where am i going. I said India and he said no, i want to know where are you going ? I said India…….since he spoke little English. He said i know you are Indian but where you go ? I said India……. He had one of the most amazing expressions on his face. He said “but that is 7000-8000 kms”. I corrected him “no it is ~12000 kms from here”. He called 2 ladies from the office to make sure he understood everything……and then told me, “please go ahead we have nothing more to check”. With every car being scanned i was waived off with a big smile and a few hand shakes.

So far everything seems to be fine but i have decided to alter the route. I now want to explore more of the Croatian coastline and also go into Bosnia. Not many people know about the place and i am determined and curious to find out more. Should have something for you guys soon. The only problem until now, my camera needs a repair before i can use it. Hope to get it done soon!!

Oct 4,2012 21:06

Driving from Rovinj(Croatia) to Mostar(Bosnia) – via Split – just had my dinner at Seni. No matter what i would order the waiter would force me to order Scampis – with no menu. Finally the scampis arrived and were delicious! Only when the bill arrived, I found out it was scampis which ate me and not the other way around :P. To smoothen the blow, I was offered a shot of Local Plum drink. An advice for anyone travelling to Balcan countries: Do not eat in a restaurant where there is no menu! And be ready to run a half-marathon at the name of word ‘”Scampi” !

Oct 5,2012 13:49

Last night after having my dinner at Seni, I started for Mostar, Bosnia and suddenly my timing belt signal came on. Having had this checked before I left, this is quite frustrating to see this problem creeping up. Just six days into the journey, all this seems to be happening whereas all was well for 3 months when I had the car.
By 1 am I had a quick nap and I was too tired to continue. After few minutes of my nap, I continued the last 2 hours journey to Bosnia. 20 kms before the Bosnia border, I passed through a jungle, which is notorious for lootings. I took my chances but at 2 am, I saw this man running down a hill to stop my car. I pressed hard on Cheetahs pedal and went full force to make sure he did not get to me in time. That scary moment will last me a lifetime. At the border post,
the Bosnian authority would not let me into the country as the green card I had did not cover the region. I was asked to buy the required document from the next border but on request they ignored it all and let me in as a one off exception. The roads to the border on the Croatian side had been in bad shape but the perfect roads in Bosnia exceeded my expectations. The problem came when a huge truck came charging on me, forcing me to the kerb. I hit the kerb hard which shook the whole car and I bumped my head to the roof. Thank God we’re blessed with tortoise shell to protect the most sensitive part of the body(video capturing the incident to follow soon). Once in Mostar, I was astonished to see the night life in full force. I went to Golden Globe nightclub where the owner and the manager came over for an informal chat. I quizzed them about the Bosnian lifestyle where fashion, trend and fun was on everybody’s mind which is quite different to the worlds perception. They said Bosnian have had enough of the war and are determined to live life to the max. There still seems to be a little tension in the air and no one wanted to speak in front of the camera. They emphasized that they are Herzegovina from heart eventhough the country name is Bosnia and Herzegovina. Overall impression on the country is that the war has been long forgotten. In the morning I saw the signs of brutality that was forced on Bosnian. The city surrounded by hill was bombarded from all sides while the citizens sat in the middle a lame dust ( more information of the city with pictures and videos to follow at the end of the journey).

Oct 5,2012 22:42

Today has been by far the most tiring day of the journey. From Bosnia i left for Croatia again. From there i went to Montenegro which was some drive. The lady from Garmin tried to be too kind and took me though some remote short road but after 2 hours of neck breaking drive, i only covered 50 kms. From there i drove to get into Kosovo but after 4 hours of ride, i was told the border is under heavy army guard due to conflicts and tension. I have had to drive another 200 extra mms to get to the border where i could be allowed. Moments ago i entered the country but the roads leading from Montenegro have been empty. Suddenly my new loud horn took off without warning and would not stop. I had to work on the car in the middle of nowhere, pulling out wires. I was afraid of pulling out light wires as that would have been a disaster.

Signs were poor and when i asked for Kosovo, everyone looked me up and down. People are even afraid to talk about it and just wished me luck. Security at the border (Montenegro side) was one lazy bum. Took my passport and papers and then kept on chatting with his mates. Rather Kosovo side was quick and easy talk. I guess they are glad to have a volunteer come to the country :-). Well i am right now having my dinner (right next to the border post) and will try to drive out of the country asap. The situation does look grim.

Oct 5, 2012 23:50

With so much adrenaline flowing since last a few days, i feel like a bottle of champagne which is thoroughly shaken before been opened.

Oct 6, 2012 12:20

Was too tired last night after entering Kosovo but saw my kids last night which recharged me to start straight away again. I thought i had entered Kosovo initially but Kosovo is within Serbia and the previous border clearance was for Serbia. On Kosovo border post there were lots of army patrol and bunkers with 3 tanks on each side. I have taken a video from the dash board camera but could not take a picture. I was advised by the army to watch out for any bombs by road side and not ride over any area which is freshly tarred. It could be a planted landline. Was told that i should stop the moment police of army signals as failure can result in instant firing. I should not stop if anyone else flags me down. Now as you guys can see this was a win-win situation for me as i could be killed either
way. Anyways heading to their eyes i kept my eyes on the road all the time and can talk for an hour about their roads. I was as promised flagged by police couple of times but they were very friendly. In fact in one place, right next to the police post there was a party going on. I was looking through my car when one of the guys came over and invited me. They took me in and i have a footage but not sure if it really was a party (video for all to judge). Now would i recommend anyone to go to Kosovo, i would say no. It is not worth all the tension with eyes on the road.

Wanted to drive through the country but at 4:30 i could not take it any more. Had not slept the night before so parked my car in a petrol station and slept for two hours. Today i have traveled through Macedonia and am in Romania 20 minutes from Sofiya. Border guards have been kind all along waiving me through without any checks where as i have seen every one else checked to the finest detail. Every guard is curious about my snorkel and when explained in detail one of the lady guards said “wow your car is an amphibian car”. I laughed all the way to the next point of entry.

Overall you see some very basic living standards and no multinationals or fast food joints. Bulgaria has surprised me the poverty that i have seen. There are large number of Russian day buildings which are not been used. I hope to see better side of the people when i get to Sofiya. To be continued………

Oct 9, 2012 11:00

Entry into Bulgaria came with a lot of surprises. The country still lives in the soviet era and people do not have access to the basic facilities. There are huge buildings from the time which are not in use. Shows how a sudden halt after the end of the cold war brought people into poverty. I found a place in a small town before Sofia where i could connect to the internet and backup my videos. Two small boys came up to me. I gave them spoke fruits, chips and chocolates. While i was speaking to my Mom on Skype one of them came to me and said, Skype eh. I had a big smile on my face as they did not have proper clothes or food but knew about the internet. Anyways they wanted me to play them some music, which i did and i had them perform Bulgarian dance to Punjabi beats. Have been trying to load the video but since it is HD, needs a lot of time.

Oct 9, 2012 11:20

Entry into Turkey was the biggest problem until now. I had to cross over 1 boder crossing between Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey. Now the reason was there is a small border for entry into Turkey from Greek side. All went well and the Greek immigration officer opened my website and shoke hands with me, whilst also passing food for the way. On the Turkish side, i have never seen immigration officers so lazy. One of them actually put his tea glass on my passport which the other was holding his over my car papers. I was so annoyed but after 30 mts they finished everything (which should have been less than 3 mts). After i enter Turkey a lady came from the office and told me, they have done it wrong. Since i need a special insurance which is not covered by my green card for Europe i will have to go to a different border. She said do not worry it is only 200 kms turn around. I had a laugh as yes for my over 15000 kms it is only nip in the corner. Anyways i had to turn back and Greeks were again very helpful. They pointed me to another border through Bulgaria which was only 50 kms away. I took their advice and went to that border.

Oct 9, 2012 11:30

The car has been in good condition accept a light of timing belt came on. I did panic initially as a problem in timing belt can damage the whole engine. I had checked before leaving that timing belt had been changed before and it could do at least 25,000 kms. So this could just be a warning sign and i will ignore it. Do not have a single moment where my brain can relax. In any case i am not a car lover but love Cheetah more and more each day. I have been taking myself and the car to the maximum limit and it seems to perform to the expectations. Looks like we both now have a special bond.

Oct 9, 2012 11:35

Now this border post is busy but corruption is to the max. Someone sold me a cr parking sticker as insurance. I could not read as everything is different language but over all this border pass is the worst i have ever seen. People are arrogant and it is very true….it gives you first signs of Asia. It took me over 2 hours for stupid formalities which are not to be seen in Europe. After i got out of the immigration a few meters from the border 2 people stop me They were formally dressed and gave me heads up on speed limits, never drive seat belt etc etc. I was impressed by the efficiency of the system to update people of different nationalities before they get into the country and drive. After 2 mts they were selling me Turkish flags for exuberant amount of money. Reality hit me and i poli
tely refused and carry on. Even in Istanbul while passing through toll barrier i was trying t swipe my card. Since swiping system is on the other side (wrong steering wheel side for me), there are people to help you. This guy took the card and told me i have to pay €100. I told him i paid at the time of entry into the country and money should be on the crd. He was adamant and spoke in Turkish and i did not want to stall the traffic. So i gave him the money and went through. After 5 mts i remembered he had pocketed the money and not put in any machine so i came back. I was angry but drove 8 kms round trip to get there. The person on spotting me, moved away and i was left to speak with someone else. I stopped my car right in the middle and refused to move until that person was called. He was called in as the traffic was building up, but he straight away refused taking any money. I then connected my dashboard camera to my laptop and showed them the video at which he panicked. He said he was sorry and gave me the refund. Overall you have to watch your back at every nick and corner. Turkey is not a very safe place for a single man, forget woman…lol.

Oct 9, 2012 11:44

Got my first speeding ticket yesterday. I had been going over 150 kms or 95 miles but no tickets. Today the day was good and i was driving at proper limits and just once went over by 12 kms in 120 zone. The officer was great as he gave me the ticket but after finding about the journey would not stop praising me and even hugged me before i left (captured on video). Anyways i was suppose to pay at the time of the exit from Turkey but the border post officials were least bothered. So sometimes laziness can be a boon. I am glad to be out of Turkey but worth mentioning last night i could not find a hotel. I was in the last open shop where the guy found out about my need for hotel and food. He took me to one of the last open restaurants in Samsun and then when we could not find a hotel took me to his house. I was initially reluctant but he had a very modern apartment. The gesture did make me sit back and think (as northern Turkey is different) but overall i would avoid Istanbul for sure. Istanbul did get me ready for the traffic conditions of India and Pakistan where everyone is right no matter what they do and how they drive.

Oct 9, 2012

Last night entered Georgia. The border crossing was smooth and officers were kind (a change from Turkey). There were a lot of people on the other side and things did not look promising. WIthout any expectations i went into the first city called Batumi, as i was took tired i thought let me stay back here as the ride of 5 hours to Tblisi will be too tiring. Vidhya Krishnamoorthy had just called me to get an update. I was telling her all is fine when i entered the city. I was so surprised to see the first sight and Vidhya could hear them live. Georgia in the first instance is a beautiful country. I thought i had entered heaven….wow at 11 p.m in the night the place looked smashing. WIthin the area of 2 sq mms these guys have created heaven. If this is just one of their city i have high expec
tation for the capital. The country is in stark contrast to Turkey and show how only 5 kms of difference can change people, language and culture. I spoke to my wife after this and for sure we are coming back to Georgia as she needs to see this. I would rate this city as no 1 in my list having covered more than half the world. until now. It is Venice, Rome, Las Vegas all rolled into 2 sq miles. The price of new apartments start from $20000 for a studio. Would love to have a place here…but need to move on to the capital now. This morning i was planning on a photography session of the city but rain has ruined all my plans. First much needed rain in this hot side of the world. I was told by someone on the way “I hope sunshine follows you all the way as with this drive you are bringing sunshine to peoples life”. It had been so true until now as with cold Europe it was required but this first rain has come as a relief. Over all northern Turkey and Georgia are known to have mild climates. Anyway need ti get going and will post more updates in a day or two.

Oct 9, 2012

Every time i take out my camera and big video camera people ask me “where from”. I tell them UK and instantly they say BBC. Well i think Channel 4 and ITV need to pump up to be a game in this part of the world.

Oct 9, 2012 12:10

Met with an envoy from Sweden which was taking some essential supplies (not Bombs…get a life) to Syria. I was so busy talking to them, that forgot to take pictures and video.

Also saw my first Iraq number plate car which pulled into my hotel in Georgia today. I am sure the guy saw my British car reg….i had smile but was met with cold stare. I think its his way of saying, can you speed up the leaving process from our country. So a request to all the politicians please speed up the process and if for nothing else, at least for my journey.

Oct 9, 2012 19:46

Crazy crazy crazy….drive from Batumi to Tbilisi. Cheetah has two gears, one for normal drive and second 4×4 for if it gets stuck in the mud or needs to pull a truck. I too have two gears, one to drive in Europe and other for Asia. I thought i would put that gear only when i reach Pakistan but people on this stretch drive with only one moto “you watch your $$$ and i mine”. Well the Sardar in me instantly popped its head and i was ready to take on the Georgians. It was triggered when at the tad end of the journey with only 1 hours drive left, a young guy of not more that 16-20, fully drunk stumbled in the middle of the road in front of my car. I had to steer so hard as this is on high mountains with no lights and single carriageway. Anyways i hope i shift back into Europe gear when i head for Armenia tomorrow.

Oct 9, 2012 19:48

Now about Tbilisi. I had mentioned Batumi came as a big surprise and i called it heaven when i saw it last night. Tblisi breaks all limits and all i can say is Batumi the mini heaven is for human beings and Tbilisi is only for Gods. I am surprised this gem has been hidden from the worlds eye and it took another Sardar columbus to drive from UK to discover the place. May be i will start the spice route with Georgia and then with my “East n West India” company will take over the place.

I would love to live in this city in my next birth and i am putting in an application with God as soon as the day breaks (I am sure if i disturb God now he may outright reject my application, which i cannot afford). I was suppose to spend only one day ion Georgia and now even the second night seems less. In any case i am coming back here for sure. Who needs Europe when you can fly to Georgia.

Well i can go on and on but should i be wasting the God send precious moments on internet when heaven is ready to be explored. More updates before i leave tomorrow and i hope i can send you the taster for it.

PS: Georgia tops in my list of countries to visit before one dies (sorry for the crude way of saying it) and Tblisi the top place in Georgia.

Oct 10, 2012 11:03

Some reasons why people should visit Georgia are: a good hotel up to £35, £2 for a ropeway return trip to the castle and free parking ( all you need to do is drive down from UK with a few visas and couple of tank full of diesel. The Georgians are happy go merry ppl who live life to the max irrespective of the weather unlike we British who keep mourning for sunshine. The moment we have good sunshine we beg for mercy and ask for a relief. Other things worth mentioning about Georgia is they share the same love and passion for cows as we Indians because they seem to be all over the highways except the main city.

Oct 10, 2012 11:23

I just passed the training to be enough next James Bond movie. In the middle of the city, Britishness took over me and on the main roundabout, i drove to the left. The policeman sitting n the car were so flabbergasted, they did not know what to do.I apologetically and confidently continued to the roundabout correcting myself after having entered my exit. By then the policeman came into senses jumping into the car whilst fumbling for their caps. A chase started between them and me .
Entering Armenia…to be continued……

Oct 12, 2012 10:32

Got into Iran and in the first instance made a blunder. I could have been arrested and thrown into Prison for at least a few days. Will update the reason one i am out of the country. Over all the people in Iran are too good to be true. They bend over backwards to make sure you are fine. I feel so safe from the time i have been here. Istanbul is not safe for a single man forget about woman but i feel absolutely fantastic here. I had to enter Russia from Armenia to get to Iran and Russians stripped my car naked. After 30 mts of passport checks and over 45 mts of car checks (including every bit of engine) i was allowed to go. It made me think of the time of cold war and Russians still like to keep the authority with Mr. Putin’s picture in the background inspiring them. When i drove into Iran i was tired having been on the road for over 11 hours. It was darkness all around and when i got to the next city i was feeling low. I asked someone to do the t
ranslation for me to buy a sandwich. Whilst i was eating all those guys got together and came to me and said “can we pay your bill”. I said i am fine thank you. They said i am their guest and they would like it if they can pay for it. This kind gesture made a lot of difference to the spirit. Though money made no difference but in seconds i had 5 friends. I went to petrol station where i was required to have a card to fill diesel (should have bought at border but was too baffled). The owners son asked the attendant to fill the car(150 litres) and would not accept money. I would not move and finally made the payment of £10 which in UK would have been £220. The fuel is of so good quality that Cheetah has been in a happy mode too and is ready to race to Tehran (650 kms). Earlier i was suppose to only go to Tehran but now i would be going to Isfahan and Sheraz as well. Last word people are too good in Iran as right now a shop keeper just allowed me to use internet

Oct 15, 2012

Ok where do i start. I could write all night and still will not be able to finish everything i have to say. In last 4/5 days i saw both heaven and hell. Iran was amazing from the word go but so much happened after my last update.

Let me first start off with my James Bond chase. As i had mentioned i took one wrong turn and the police was after me. Now i could not afford 3-4 hours of interrogation, though Georgian police are nice. I had to go on. The night before as you would remember i had done a taxi training course (i.e. i always do that in every city i go). So now when i come back with my family i can drive around the city like any taxi man would do. I can do that for Zurich, Geneva, most cities in UK, India, Toronto…blah blah blah. So anyways last nights driving around came in handy
and i sneaked into one street after another. You would not believe it, i saw the police car going in wrong direction after 7-8 turns. Now they could see me after 2 mts but we were in opposite directions. They could not turn as they had a lot of traffic behind them. I am sure they radioed but i found a safe spot and went for lunch. After an hour i went to my car hoping it was still there whilst talking to my wife. She knows the live moments when i almost had palpitations. I found it was still tucked in the corner and police car 25 mts from it. I took their picture as a tourist…lol…woill post it and in a few minutes hiding behind big trucks got out of the city. Will remember the live chase for the rest of my life.

Oct 15, 2012

I was cought on camera in Iran (huge flash) and i am sure i was sleeping. That night i drove 1300 kms non-stop from Armenia at 9 in the morning to Tehran 9 am again. I was so tired that i could sleep in the middle of the road. People of Tehran are like any other metro with only one attitude “%£$@ You” Alli could say was “thank you”. I already was shit scared and all i needed was some encouragement (which i got earlier) to continue to see other parts of Iran. I could not find parking or internet connection. I tried to find an open wiifii. All over the city every internet connection is locked (for the right reason). There is no Facebook, youtube etc in Iran. My roaming mobile would not connect anyone in the world. Sensorship is at its heights and it feels like someone has pushed your face into the water. I cannot put everything that happened in Iran but like i said i was mistaken for a spy. I had police surround my car and there was a time when i was shivering like a wet mouse on the top of a cold mountain. I cannot imagine any place on earth where i would feel so vulnerable. I was helped by a lot of people, stories and exact details will be in my book (with pictures) but if there is hell it is call Iran and Turkmenistan.

Oct 15, 2012

There was a time in Iran on the way to Turkmenistan when i cried and cried loud. I missed my wife and kids and desperately wanted to be with them. There was no way i could get in touch and it was a felling of hopelessness and desperation. I was speeding my way to the border and every a few kms was flagged by the police. They could see the desperation on buy face and in the sound of my voice…after all they were living in the country. Everytime they would let me off with a warning. Once one of the police officer who spoke little english said “Dear sir…you are very very careful. We have been getting reports….. and can i request you to be very very careless next time”. I forgot about all my loneliness and had the biggest smile on my face. He got the hint and said “ok enough laughing……now careful or careless do what is right” and i followed his advice and increased my speed from 140 to 150 kms/hr

Oct 15, 2012

I have lost track of which country likes which Bollywood star. In Georgia i was speak to a waiter who said “Shahruk Khan”. Suddenly there was activity and a newly married couple came to me shaking my hand saying “We love you”. I was baffled then it all came to me. I said “I am not Shahruk Khan”. He is getting old to do this journey but if i meet him i will pass on the message. When i was under pressure in Iran border i had a border guard dance to me on “Mera Juta hai Japani”. I had an immigration officer tell me “I love Sholay…..hey i am Veru are you Jay?” All i could say was “i can be Shakti Kapoor or anyone, please get me out of immigration”. There was one guard who said i love Amitab Bachhan and Dharmendra but sorry to hear he is no more”.Very good man. I thought how can Dharmendra pass away in a last a few hours. What he meant was Raj Kapoor. A guard on Uzbek border loved Mithun…..one loved Salman Khan. So overall vote bank was inclined towards Shahrkh and i am sure my wife loves to hear this as she is the biggest fan.

Twice i had to help other people who were stuck in the middle of road. Once it was a couple and all i had to do was pull their car with mine. The other time, i saw this huge truck stuck on the side of the road. I was curious, so i stopped as we humans like monkey business. When i saw none of the other trucks could pull this high truck (there was no room to get the proper angel), i said “can i try ?”. There were at least 7-8 truck drivers and they all laughed. They said fine, get ur little devil in angle while u support it and we will pull from the side. I said “can i for once try then you can hel me ?”. I am sure they must have thought, let him screw his car. The moment Cheetah pulled the truck out….and i dragged it uphill like a reluctant child is dragged by a mother to the school for the first time. I saw the best expressions of my life……..Cheetah was a hero……and there were so many pictures taken at the moment. My biggest regret…..take a video even if you are not 100% confident. I have never been in love with a machine before as much as i love Cheetah now. The best part is……he knows i am married and we are not gay.

Of the last so may days…..i only slept in the hotel 4 times including today. The night on Iran and Turkmenistan border was the coldest and i shivered like seismograph needle in Japan when temperature dropped from 23 to -1, in matter of 6 hours. I was like a Tarzen boy (aka Salman Khan) ready to strip, reduced to a pregnant woman who would do anything to deliver her own child.

If you think money rules the roost…….its only the life that matters when you are suffering through cancer or driving on my footsteps. Please keep the donations going as i see no more donations happening at the moment. Can i ask you to pass this information to your colleagues so the reason for the drive is not lost ?

Just a word of advice……if you ever decide to do this journey…..”make a WILL as i did”. Do not trust anyone in your life as the only person who will ever deceive you will you will be your own relative….especially your own brother.

I passed thought three big cities of Turkmenistan i.e. Ashgabat, Mary and Turkmenabat. All the three cities are very neat and clean. For every 10 citizens there are 5 police and at least 3 cleaners. I would prefer Glasgow where for every 100 people there are 5 policemen and 2 cleaners. It feels as if the veil from Iran has been lifted but someone is still gripping your throat with a leg on your chest. No Facebook or youtube is allowed in Iran or Turkmenistan. Your rights are limited to a place in jail or a corn on the cob. I chose the later and had diarrhoea which forced a diversion on the highway. With no restrooms for 500 kms, I had the 12 biggest bite marks on my bums.

You can have a look but this is once in a life time opportunity with $20 ticket and no room for photography.

In Turkmenistan i was bought by police at least 8 times. The country is like as it was in old times where the police is the boss. Every small city has at least 4-5 fishermen called police officers. They spread their net on the roads called speed guns and catch live fish every a few minutes. I was the biggest fish of all with Mr. Washington and Queen Elizabeth peaking out of my pockets.

I too had studied Darvin’s theory and was ready for the survival of the fittest. When caught the first time, i was asked to repent for my sins and pay at least $100. I said i know i was in limits (was forewarned) and no way i will agree to that. Then showed me a phoney speed gun with a speed over the limit. They would not understand what it means to drive and raise money for cancer. They said “either you h
ave caner” or “you are a doctor”. You know what i chose. He asked me why he has infection around his lips…..all i could say “try to kiss less”. I am sure you know how we are treated by British GP’s (Pay £10 for a sick letter, take paracetamol and get lost.) You can wait at least 6 months for a specialist to tell you “dhakan……you are as fit as a horse and only come back to me when your lid is off”. For now all you need is a chewing gun,

I became a giraffe and in a few moments could reach the top leafs. Every time i was cought i would say “i am a doctor” after all they too were lying about my speed. For once even an officer on the other side of the road came running to ask me treatment for back pain. I felt sorry for all and i hope to have a doctor friend of mine who had volunteered to speak to all.

I passed thought three big cities of Turkmenistan i.e. Ashgabat, Mary and Turkmenabat. All the three cities are very neat and clean. For every 10 citizens there are 5 police and at least 3 cleaners. I would prefer Glasgow where for every 100 people there are 5 policemen and 2 cleaners. It feels as if the veil from Iran has been lifted but someone is still gripping your throat with a leg on your chest. No Facebook or youtube is allowed in Iran or Turkmenistan. Your rights are limited to a place in jail or a corn on the cob. I chose the later and had diarrhoea which forced a diversion on the highway. With no restrooms for 500 kms, I had the 12 biggest bite marks on my bums.

You can have a look but this is once in a life time opportunity with $20 ticket and no room for photography.

Oct 15, 2012

In Turkmenistan i was bought by police at least 8 times. The country is like as it was in old times where the police is the boss. Every small city has at least 4-5 fishermen called police officers. They spread their net on the roads called speed guns and catch live fish every a few minutes. I was the biggest fish of all with Mr. Washington and Queen Elizabeth peaking out of my pockets.

I too had studied Darvin’s theory and was ready for the survival of the fittest. When caught the first time, i was asked to repent for my sins and pay at least $100. I said i know i was in limits (was forewarned) and no way i will agree to that. Then showed me a phoney speed gun with a speed over the limit. They would not understand what it means to drive and raise money for cancer. They said “either you h
ave caner” or “you are a doctor”. You know what i chose. He asked me why he has infection around his lips…..all i could say “try to kiss less”. I am sure you know how we are treated by British GP’s (Pay £10 for a sick letter, take paracetamol and get lost.) You can wait at least 6 months for a specialist to tell you “dhakan……you are as fit as a horse and only come back to me when your lid is off”. For now all you need is a chewing gun,

I became a giraffe and in a few moments could reach the top leafs. Every time i was cought i would say “i am a doctor” after all they too were lying about my speed. For once even an officer on the other side of the road came running to ask me treatment for back pain. I felt sorry for all and i hope to have a doctor friend of mine who had volunteered to speak to all.

Some facts until now:

No of kms in one day : 1300 ( 3 times)

Max no of border crossing in a day : 14 (all recorded)

Maximum height : 2500 mts (~8000 ft)

No of days did no t bath : 4 days (80 hours), followed by 72 hours twice

No of days slept in the car : At least 12 until now, with my nose touching the roof of the car

Maximum temp until now : 25

Minimum Tem until now : -1

Best country until now : Georgia

No limit to kindness : Iran

Place of historical significance (Country) : Uzbekistan

Place only visit in emergency : Turkmenistan

Cleanest cities of the country : Turkmenistan

Worst roads of the country : Turkmenistan

Biggest cheats in the world : Turkey

Hardest border crossing : Turkey

Most fashionable (fashion conscious) city : Bosnia

No of times i had proper meal : Do not remember

No of times i missed my kids and my family : Infinite

Would i ever do it again if i was born a human : YES YES YES

Oct 16, 2012

Made some good friends in Bukhara and the owner laid out a special breakfast for me. This is one of the most lavish breakfasts of my life as i could not finish half of it. I have a friend of the owner take me around as there are a lot of places of historic significance. Bukhara is like Jaipur of India and i am glad i took a stop over. Until now this is the place where i have seen maximum number of tourists. French seem to rule the place whilst British are busy on the beaches of Spain and Portugal. I hope my documentary can inspire more people to visit the country. The road network in Uzbekistan has been not too bad. I would not call it perfect but it is in stark contrast to Turkmenistan. Police here to thinks they are the kings. Yesterday a police car was driving on the road at the speed o
f 20 kms and all the trucks, busses and cars stayed behind in a huge queue. No one would dare to cross them and the guys were enjoying the power. I could not afford to lose time on such stupid stunts so i took over the whole traffic and went ahead of the police car. At the time the guy did not know what to do, but called the police check post at the entry of Bukhara. I was flagged down and told i would have to pay the fine. I told the officer “give me one good reason and i will pay”. Was i speeding or is there any other reason. The speed limit says 80 kms and i was only driving at 60 kms. Just when we were talking the same car passed us with the traffic behind them. The police officer announced on the big radio, instructing the officer to set an example with me. I am sure many in the traffic would have chuckled at my heroics but i stood my guard. I refuse to accept any fine for crossing a stupid police car for no reason. At last the officer relented and i was allowed to get into the city. It just goes on to show how these pre-Russian countries still live in the old time.

Bukhara was an experience in itself and i loved every moment of it. For the first time i enjoyed my shower and subsequently took Cheetah for a shower as well. We both were nice and shiny after almost three weeks and were confident people could see their reflection on us. As mentioned i had the best breakfast and at precise 11 a.m my new friend Bob was waiting for me at reception. We went around the city where Babar was born and saw all the historic buildings. Bob took me to some exclusive places and helped me take photos and video footage. More detail about the history will be in my book. Late in the afternoon we went to a Chaikhana to have our lunch. A small meal cost us almost 40,000 Som which i had in 500 notes. The total value of which was equivalent of $15 and i was quick to mention to Bob. If i was shop with Som’s in UK the way we do our weekend shopping, i would need to tow the bank along with me. Anyways around 4 p.m i said goodbye and started for Samakand. Another thing worth mentioning…..i met a couple from Hong Kong who took lot of pictures with me and lovely family from Pakistan. A few words exchanged in Urdu in Bukhara and i felt i was home. I would be joining Suhail Butt ji for a cuppa when i reach Lahore. Made a small video in Uzbek of how to make Pulao in up class restaurant.

Got to Tashkent moments ago (at 3 am). The delay of 4 hours followed by two police kings on the road delayed me by 6 hours. I think it is a good idea to drive at night in Turk and Uzbek as there is less police stops though there is police every where. The roads are not for every driver but for me it has been fine as i have always covered the maximum distance at night which is not how i had planned it. Anyways got to Grand Mir Hotel where there is no room available. I was speaking to the hotel staff and the manager Dilshad (who is from border of Uzbek and Kyrgyzstan) got me connected to internet, designed my sightseeing for today and drive into Kyrgyzstan. After 2 cups of coffee my eyes are still drooping but i will have to pay the price for staying at Bukhara by skipping sleep today. In th
is daze i have been asking for Ashgabat town centre in the middle of Tashkent. Three times different people shrugged and moved on and then i realised what i was talking about.

The biggest problem for now is, I have to be in China on the 19th afternoon (3rd check point) and there has been a route change. With nearest border road as good as closed, i will be taking a longer route and another 600 kms have been added to the journey. I have almost touched 13,000 mms so far and look like i will go 15% over my estimate with addition of 4 new countries. So now it is 29 countries in 4 weeks and over 18,000 kms. Yawn…..Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Whist on the way to Samakand, i had the first major snag (which i feared the most). As the sunshine faded away, i switched on my lights. I noticed it did not make any difference, so i stopped my car to have a look and there was my lovely shinning scholar Cheetah without its reading glasses. Of 8 of my front lights only 2 fog light were on which was not at all enough for me to continue. Panic set in and i tried to calm myself thinking, it would be some fuse or bulbs and i will be able to do it (inside i was cursing myself for having stayed in Bukhara losing a full day). My heart said “all is well” and brain said “sir you are too deep in the well”. If it was a bulb or fuse how can all the lights go at the same time. In panic i started checked wipers, horn, window electrics etc. The back door
window pane would not move and i knew mind was right……i am deep in the well with a lid soon on top as i had 15 minutes before daylight disappeared. To my luck i saw two garages pass by….i quickly reversed on the highway and was trying to establish communication with 20 people (8 from the garage and rest were curious bypasses looking for end of the day fun). No one knew english which forced me to imitate my ancestors and use sign language. Within minutes the bonnet was up and two young boys started checking while others started passing expert advice. After two hours they said “don’t know…..go Tashkent….Toyota and change things dashboard”. The big question was how do i do the 450 kms long journey in this darkness as i could not afford another days loss. I said can you wire the lights from fog lights to main lights and put in a relay. They said yes and got back to work. Mid-way it turned out they did build a railway line but not meeting in the middle. Finally a call was made to the boss who had left minutes before i got in, leaving the lads to clean up and close. He came after 30 mts and got back to work. All along he kept talking about dollars, price of the car…etc etc. After 4 hours he found the fault but had also learned about my journey in the mean while. The whole mood changed……someone was sent to a shop to get new fuses (i am not sure why my spare ones did not have the ones required) and after a few minutes all was ready. They would not allow me to pay them, rather forced me to come to their house (8 in total) and we had a meal together with his parents, wife, sister and little son. I learnt that his mother was not well and she was not getting proper treatment. I took her papers (written in Uzbek) to be translated in English and will show them to a good doctor in India. If required they are ready to come to India for treatment and hope i am able to arrange that for them. Finally goodbyes were said and i got on my way.

Forgot to mention on the day when i was to enter Turkmenistan from Iran, i got to the border from Mashhad. There are two ways to go to Ashgabat, one which is mainly for the trucks and other for local cars etc. The one for the trucks covers a distance of 240 kms to reach Ashgabat and the other 50. I did not want to take chances so enquired and was told to take the short one. By the time i got there, the check post had closed. I was advised by the army guys to stay in a hotel (the only one in a small village of 20 houses). I went to the hotel but then the thoughts came back to me. I had read some where that this is the drug smuggling route and one has to be very careful. Drugs are planted in people’s cars and i could see everyone is hand in glove in it. Now tonight i would be the biggest tar
get. Hence i denied the accommodation and slept in the car. Around 2 a.m in the morning a car came and stopped next to mine. I saw two guys get out and they started to inspect the car from all sides. They were not aware i was in the car as due to the cold there was slight fog and i was fully tucked into the sleeping bag. I got up and moved in the car and they moment they saw me, they ran, jumped into their car and were off. If someone wants to steal they would try the front door and not the back bumpers of the car. In any case freezing in the car was worth it though i was still pissing in my pants at the border crossing in the morning. Turks would never let you off if they found drugs. At the crossing they kept asking me if i have drugs. I kept saying no and at last he said “how about some guns or bombs”. I said no i do not do small stuff…..i just have a rocket launcher. He had a shocked look on the face and said “where Mr”. I pointed to the cars snorkel and at las he smiled. They still knocked on all windows and sides to make sure with a small dog running around smelling for drugs. The good thing has been accept the Russians i have not been required to empty my car for checks which can take unto 1-2 hours. I have a video of each check post giving some idea as to what happened.

On Sunday night while driving from Ashgabat to Turkmenabat, i passed though a city of Mary (pronounced Mari). I was asking for directions when i entered into a marriage palace. Within minutes i became a guest and within minutes was taking a video footage of the couple and other people dancing with them. My co-ordinator moved the real camera and video guys so i could have 2 minuted of exclusive shot (which was embarrassing). At the end they would not allow me to leave without joining them for food and drinks. I told them i had a massive drive to do and with stomach full i would be asleep in next 1 hour. That reminds me i think i have been losing at least a pound a day. My appetite seems to have reduced and this journey had done what the gym could not. So anyone who plans to lose weight, this is another way of doing it.

October 22, 2012

Tashkent, Uzbekistan
As mentioned earlier Dilshod the hotel manager spoke to me in detail. I asked him if there is a chance any hotel room would be free before 12 p.m. as I needed to take shower. I was tried from the drive of last night and since it was only 5 a.m wanted a nice hot shower. To my amazement he asked me to come to his place. I was not sure but on his persistence I joined him as he finished his shift at 6a.m. By then i had been treated to some cookies and 2 cups of coffee and internet connection. He asked the security at the hotel to look after my car whist we first dropped his wife to work and then I took a shower at his place. We had breakfast together and his little son gave me company (I could not stop taking his pictures).His house still has the feeling of soviet era and I loved spending every moment with him. After that he took me around the city to show me all the historical places to visit. When his son fell asleep, we left him with some of Dilshod’s relatives and continued visiting other places late into the evening. Without his company I would have never been able to see so much. What surprised me was that he had a lot of Indian music in his car. He could sing along to the tunes of DDLJ and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam without understanding the meanings. I saw a big poster of Don2 on the side of the road and Dilshod told me that they get a lot of movies from Bollywood which are professionally dubbed here. At the end I took leave from him to head for kyrgyzstan border. I was looking to fill up diesel in my car after travelling 10 kms out of the city centre when I saw Dilshod driving towards me at a very high speed. He came out with a bag which contained my toiletry and clothes that I had taken to his house. I just could not thank him enough. I plan to come to Uzbekistan again with my wife and kids and promised I would stay with him.

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After Tashkent I headed for the border but by the time I got to the city of Namangan it was almost 6 p.m. I was told the Uchkurgan border crossing closes at 4 p.m. So I went to the nearest store to buy some essentials. Since people do not speak English I tried asking in sign language for a hotel. One of the boys who spoke little english volunteered to take me personally. On the way he asked me about the trip and asked me to come stay with him. I declined and said thank you but after checking in I will come over for a cup of tea. At the two hotels we went to, he said I was being charged more that i should be and he would not let me waste money on not so good hotel (there was no choice in this little town). He called his parents and his brother (they have two houses and he lives with his brother) and took me to his house. He was persistent that he would not allow me to stay in the hotel. One of his cousins joined in and all 4 of us cooked food and talked late into the night. In the morning I asked him to come along, as I will drop him to work and then head off for the border which was a drive of 50 kms. When we got to my car, we found the car window had been broken in and all my clothes were stolen. I looked around and everything else was in place. I can understand the temperatures in this part of the world can go really low and someone was in desperate need of warm clothes. What angered me the person did not leave me a thank you note J. Anyways he gave me an opportunity to update my wardrobe again. The only thing which I would miss would be the T-shirts of my drive and I will not be able to replace them. Now the bigger headache was low temperatures, not time for shopping and broken window. I was not sure how and where would i be able to replace the window.

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At the Uzbekistan side of border, they first told me to drive another 120 kms. There was another border crossing that I was to use. I told them I cannot do that as then I would be required to drive through Kazakistan for which I do not have the visa. I had tried for the visa in Tashkent but unfortunately on the day the embassy was closed (reasons unknown). I could not wait another day to get a visa. Finally they agreed to see me through on one of basis. On the kyrgyzstan side it took me less than 5 minutes to get into the country. Until now it was the easiest country to enter for me. The temperature at the border was sunny 23 C and I was enjoying the sunshine. I drove for 5 hours and the temperature dropped to -12C. There was heavy snowfall and I was happy I had snow tires. For the first time I broke the golden rule of not taking any hitchhikers. I saw a family asking for lift whom I ignored and went ahead. For half a kilometre that i drove I could only see the face of the little girl, same age as my daughter, shivering in cold. I turned back and picked them up. They were happy to share one seat on the passenger side and the girl once in the warmth of the car offered me sweets which were too cold as well. I told her I would be more happy to see her eat them. She put the first one in the mouth and before she could finish was sleeping. I drove them for 60 kms and dropped them at their house. They would not allow me to leave without the tea and food but I told them I had a long distance to cover today. We took some pictures and I took my leave.

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In one place while I was heading for Bishkek, there was a massive landslide. Snow had blocked all the roads and this landslide put everything into a complete halt. The traffic jam was building up and I had to think fast. I was sure I would not get out of it for at least 2 days. So I turned back but no one would give way. At last I put on red beacon with flashing light on the hood of my car (used for VIP’s) and within minutes I was out of the jam (video available). I took small unknown road which was too dangerous but finally got to Naryn (detailed info in book as it is hard to write all the adventures). This was a very scenic road but came with its own adventures. In these 4 hours so much happened but i will only mention one of the incident below.

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In the middle of the night I passed through valley of death. I did not know anything about it, until I reached the spot. My car lost traction and I went into spin. The car went so close to falling from the mountain before swinging in other direction and stopping. Two trucks had fallen that night and another was jackknifed and had crashed into the mountain side. I saw two dead bodies and there was utter chaos everywhere. People had seen how close to death even I had gone and helped me get through waiving their arms (luckily everything was captured on the video). I was so shaken that after driving for 15 minutes I stopped my car and thanked God for saving me and then cried. It took me a while to come out of shock having seen death so close. I drove further 50 kms and stopped to see the map when there was a knock on the side window. I opened it and within second was jolted by a huge knock to my face. Before I could recover 2-3 more followed and blood was splashed all on the inside of the car. I was bleeding all over but I took gave two punches back. The guy fell to the ground and when I got out of my car he made a leg for it. I think my broken car window was generating wrong attention. Someone probably wanted to rob me of the car. I quickly left the place and stopped after 25 kms in the middle of mountains where it was too cold for anyone to be stopping or living. My clothes were covered with a lot of blood so I cleaned myself and changed into the last t-shirt that was given by friends (their company t-shirt) in Uzbekistan having lost all my clothes. I somehow shivered through the night (as sleep was not possible and the pain was unbearable). I did not have the energy to look for pain killer and somehow survived the night. In the morning I realised after the fight I had driven in the wrong direction. Anyways cleaned the inside of the car of all the blood and headed for the border. It was so cold the wind was eating into the skin. Kyrgyzstan border guards did a favour by clearing me on priority and I was on way to China.

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China

After driving 10 kms I came to a big Chinese gate which was locked. I kept honking but no one would come. After 45 minutes I sneaked through the gate and went looking for someone to let me though. All the cabins had been vacated as it was too cold but finally I found someone on the other side 500 meters down (in a tower). The moment the guard saw me he came running asking me if I was heading out of China. I said no I was trying to enter and my car is on the other side of the gate. His expressions change and he was shouting on top of his voice. All I could understand was ***&&&***&&**** YOU STOP ******&&****&&****** YOU GO JAIL. He called his officers and within minutes I was surrounded by guards. While the guards were coming from the tower I had a thought of running and crossing to the other side. I decided against it as I was sure they would not hesitate to shoot. I told the officer I came through only because I had been waiting too long and if I was not let in today, I would be stuck for three days as border remains closed on weekend. I would not survive at this height and temperature so had to come through. I had to lie to them that I was a doctor and showed them information of my journey. Finally one of them calmed others down and I was allowed in. In those a few moments my whole life had swung in front of my eyes and I was sure I would be put in jail for this violation. Chinese do not listen to anyone and imagine me a British Indian, car window broken and my face swollen sneaking in.

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I was thinking in last one day all hell seems to have broken lose in what was until now a perfect journey. Car window was broken, clothes stolen, car had slipped with me almost losing my life, I was hit and left bleeding and was about to be sent to jail in China. I was hoping the bad luck would be done with and all will go smoothly from now on. After 5 kms drive I came to the border post where an army guard took my passport and said one minute… I was told that this is only guarding point and the actual border post is 3 hours drive from here. Since it is too cold normally only army stays at this height. His moment lasted some 3 hours and i had no choice but to wait. I did not want another violation and confirming my stay in jail. I was told some part of my car’s paper work was pending, I would have to leave my car here and go further on my own. With language problems I did exactly what I was told. My car was put in the immigration holding centre(Cheetah was the only one in the place). I was asked to take essentials with me. With no clothes I just took my cameras and hard drives which were thoroughly checked. They even scanned my camera flash to the maximum to make sure it was what it shows from outside. I had to hitch a ride on the truck which went at 1/5 the speed I was used to. After 3 hours of back breaking journey where we almost had an accident, the charming non-english speaking driver was stopped on the road. There were two policemen on the motorbike and one car with 4 people. The driver was shocked but I told him to calm down as they were not for him but for me for sure. I was proved right and for the first time I met Waheed my guide. I was taken in the car for the rest of the journey to the border post where everything was closed. The officers were called in specially (otherwise I would have to stay outside the country for next two days) and my immigration was cleared. After another hours drive I was dropped at a hotel in Kashgar. I have been stuck here for last 4 days and my car papers are still being worked on. The custom systems I am told are down and until they can be repaired I will have to learn to make the most of the chinese hospitality. On Sunday I went out for a hair cut and asked the guy to blend me in. He cut my hair so short that I look like Salman Khan (Radhe) and now do not know how i will blend out. My entry into Wagha border is delayed as well as Chinese have put everything for a toss. This was my 26th country in as many days from leaving UK and was the hardest. Lots of adventures in China but will cover in my next write up. For now healing physically and fighting out the Chinese red tape before heading for border to Pakistan. Now I will be entering Wagha border on Sunday 28th at 2 p.m.

Oct 2012 18:24

Bad Luck continues as after Chinese creeps get their act together.The mutual Pakistan and China border closes for 5 day holiday for the first time in 10 years.I am left with no choice but to contribute to the Chinese economy ( a well laid conspiracy which will be explained in detail later). If you think Indian red tape hurts, Chinese red tape can kill. I am so happy I live in Scotland. If not required I would never leave the place again.Having spent 24 days covering 27 countries,China taking 10 days is like a Marsh land!

Oct 24, 2012 18:26

I would be entering Wagah border on the 4th of November @ 2 p.m. due to chinese eating into my time!!!!!

Nov 1, 2012 09:00

Just a quick update. Yesterday left China to enter Pakistan via the highest mountain pass in the world. The temp was -15 C with icy roads and cold winds. I was accompanied by army who made sure i do not stop on the way and take pictures. Got to the Pakistan side and cried for the second time on the trip. Can blame it on the altitude and the stress but could not control my emotions. Dan who was driving behind me on motorbike slipped on the road but thank God was not injured. At the first check point, i was taken in by Pakistan rangers who upon finding out i am an India refuse to shake hands. They kept hugging me and i was offered the first best tea in 2 weeks. I crossed the lake last night which was a huge adventure. We saw one of the tractors lose balance and fall in the lake…..(will write in more detail). If i said i have met the best people on my trip and Uzbekistan and Iran were too good in terms hospitality. Pakistan would every country in this race by miles as there is no end to kindness and love that has been showered on me. Heading off for Chillas now from Karimabad and hope to be in Islamabad on the 2nd evening. Good to be on Facebook after 3 weeks.

Nov 2, 2012 15:40

Last night (1st Nov) was the worst night of the journey with a very thin line between life and death. I was told I would be provided police escort when I reach at Gilgit. Now my car had been covered in so much dust from driving through river and lake beds that I am sure police could not make out it was a foreign car. I too did not know where the cover would start and continued. At 5 p.m it was pitch dark and I was delayed because of a land slide which took time to clear. By the time I reached Rakaposhi (the killer mountain) my journey had reduced to 5 kms/hr to 15 kms/hr. I was in the middle of nowhere so had no chice but to continue. When I was 17 kms from Chilas, I was attacked in what was a well planned and co-ordinated attack. Since I was the only one on the road, there was no chance of anyone to find out/help me or call police. I escaped from their clutches by some good luck and sheer chance and I am glad they did not open fire while I made a run (if they did I was too tensed to notice). I was later told it has been a regular affair and like other foreigners I would have been reported either missing or died from falling from huge height. If kidnaped my chances of survival were still small as I had seen death in the eyes of the people. Exact details I will put in huge detail in the book.

Anyways I some how escaped and all night was tensed if they will come back to the hotel and attack. There is no rule of the law, as tribals have banned TV/internet etc and there is no TV in the whole area. The police does not have power to intervene there at all. Finally got up at 5:30 am (though did not sleep) and left the hotel as early as I could.

Once the news of attack on me spread in police circles (I made some calls to important people in Islamabad), the whole KKH was put on high alert. Flash messages were sent to all police posts from Chilas to Islamabad and text alerts were sent to every policeman on road. I was surprised when I was shown messages time and again by all police guards I met. I was provided the highest level of security that was possible with guards in the car with automatic machine guns (AMG’s which I touched for the first time in my life) and police escort vehicles.

Check these for figures :

• What was going through my mind : If I am stopped again with intention to kidnap, I will not hesitate to ride my car over and kill as many as I can. I will fight till my last breath and not go down pleading. Also please God take care of my family and my mother.

• Total distance from Chillas to Islamabad : 460 kms with average speed of 35 kms/hr.

• No if times armed guards changes in my car : 6 of which I interviewed 3 of them. Video will be available once I have finished the journey and written the book.

• No of escort vehicles used for the distance : Around 40. In and around Abbottabad was provided with two escort vehicles, one in the front and the other at the back. I was played in 40 X 12 kms relay and passed perfectly like a baton from one car to another. In some areas, Pakistan’s COBRA police played the runners. All along I had flashing light beacon on top of my car (all police changes captured on my video)

• Total number of policemen involved in the whole security operation : Over 250 which would be a conservative estimate.

• What happened at the end : I was offered a permanent escort vehicle until I left the country with a personal gunman. I refused as it was not necessary. Once you cross Mansehra it feels very safe. Even Abbottabad where Osama Bin Laden was caught feels safe.

Downside :
• Normal people had to bear the brunt as in evening rush hour, they had to give way for us to move on the road. They were paying the price for my security.

• I could not stop for food and had to live on my breakfast, a can of coke and an apple for 14 hours.

Result : Would I ever do it again….NO (even if I knew I only had one day to live). The chances of survival on this route is a roll of a dice (1 in 6). Make 6 trips and one of them would be the last one of your life. You have to be crazy driving on this stretch and shoule just fly from Gilgit to Islamabad – 40 mts of peace.

Dec 2, 2012 23:17

A few facts about my journey…..
1) Total countries covered 32
2) Distance..around 22,000
3) Highest border crossing…..16,000 ft
4) No of times i could have been dead on the road….3 times

5) Survived a deadly attack by Al Queda in Pakistan with Afghanistan border next door
6) Lest with a broken nose for life and a cut on upper lip which will need an operation
7) A big sandstorm where i had to stop and sleep for 8 hours to let it pass
8) Attended 2 weddings on the way
9) Survived 2 land slides and drove through a river as bridge was broken
10) Saw a death procession where i stopped and paid respect which proved to be a life saviour. I was told someone who did not stop a few days ago for a similar procession, was bunted alive with a driver and a friend.
11) No of times i stayed at other people’s house…..6 times
12) No of friends i made on the way……..over 100 friends besides 20 very good friends
13) No of times i was stopped speeding or for checking by police……over 60 times
14) No of speeding tickets…..one
15) No of times my car tire punctured….one and just before reaching Goa in India
16) Minimum temperature…… – 20 ish degrees
17) Maximum temperature…… 35 degrees
18) Maximum hospitality…… Pakistan followed by Iran and Uzbekistan
19) Most dangerous place……. Pakistan (Gilgit onwards)
20) Worst roads………Turkmenistan
21) Worst human rights in order mentioned……Iran, China, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan
22) Hidden gem……Georgia
23) Natural beauty…..Austria followed by Switzerland, Germany alps and Italian alps
24) Country with maximum historical value unknown before i started the journey…..Uzbekistan (Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent cities in order)
25) Toughest immigration in order……China, Russia and Iran
26) Rude shock…..I had India, Pakistan and British flag from Lahore all the way to the border. On Indian side i was asked to remove all flags accept Indian, if i wanted to enter the country. That was such a huge shock as my Pakistani friends helped me put them and i drove all the way through Lahore without any problem
27) Worst traffic of all….. Punjab, Haryana and Rajistan
28) Best Indian roads…..Gujarat
29) Became Ambassador of Manipal hospital group in return for treatment of my nominated cancer patients
30) Weight loss …… over 15 pounds
31) No of litres of diesel …… over 250 litres
32) Drove from Gilgit to Islamabad like a dead man. Was sure i will not survive even though i had over 250 people involved in the security
33) Who did i miss the most on my journey……my kids, wife and Mom in no particular order
34) Will i do it again….yes if my wife does not kill me as she and my Mom suffered the most when i went missing 3 times for over 4 days
35) No of hours i slept after getting back to UK….48 hours almost non-stop                                                                                                                                                       Listen to ME LIVE in the New Years on BBC Asian Network (Fri, 4th January) from 11-12pm. For all my friends who are not in UK, you can listen to me live using the following link http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_asian_network
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7 Comments
  1. denise bennett permalink

    good to meet you at the rest house albeit rather briefly just outside of Ajmer – you must be in a state of relief having finallly arrived – reading your accounts of your journey compared with our 10 dys of driving through India are quite humbling – well done – Tom and Denise Bennett

  2. Mohammed Jawaid Ali permalink

    Shukr-Alhamdolillah (Thans to ALLAH) that today I have heard from my cousin Yousuf that you have safely crossed the border at Wagah into our other homeland – India!. Have been following your trip every day, and it is nice to get personal updates on the phone, and I do immensely enjoy reading the updates on the website so keep that up. Give our heartiest regards and best wishes to our brothers in sisters on the other side of the line that divides our two great nations. May the rest of your journey be as exciting, but without incident, as you make your way to Goa!

  3. Mohammed Jawaid Ali permalink

    Wah ji Wah – what an adventure! Having read all your through your logs – I wish I had accepted and travelled with you. If for nothing else, just to beat the **** oout of that guy who attacked you. Anyway – Yousuf should be travelling up from Karachi (two days drive) to meet you Insha-ALLAH in Islamabad. Will keep trying to reach you on the phone(s).

  4. drxzone permalink

    Gr8 going Inder! Stay safe ,We all are looking fwd to welcome you @ Wagha border.God Bless.Being a doctor i could have been a gr8 help in your journey.What did you say.?(any way u played as a doctor well) Will join you in your next voyage.

  5. Great cause ,wish you all the best,have a safe journey

  6. Great cause ,wish you all the best

  7. Fahim Chaudhry permalink

    Sounds like your having a great time! Enjoyed looking through your photos and I’m following this page carefully! Thanks for getting back to me. I will be sure to contact you once your trip is over in regards to more information on your trip and visa’s etc! Drive safe! Fahim.

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