Attention: There might be a little bit of madness ahead! Hint: We were planning on buying a tuk tuk, while writing this!
Disclaimer: This is going to be structured quite different from the Blog posts we usually upload, because we wanted to showcase how the idea slowly developed. Hope you’ll like it nonetheless!
Anuradhapura, 23rd of January
It all started with a joke made by Rico. On our way to Sigiriya – of course while sitting in a tuk tuk – he came up with this crazy idea which was not meant to be realised. He actually had been inspired by a tuk tuk rallye throughout India called “The Rickshaw Run”. Even though crazy it was a nice idea still. After at first laughing about it, doubts started to rise. There were too many unknown factors, e.g. where do you buy a fucking tuk tuk?!
Sigiriya, 24th of January
I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea. It might be stupid (actually – it surely is), but I could not let go of it. It just didn’t want to get off my head. Even though we were in one of the most scenic countries ever, I thought about how it would be to drive around in a tuk tuk myself in India, as soon as I saw one.
Polonnaruwa, 25th January
Talking to Jagga, our driver, gave us some hope. After explaining to him what we had in mind he just asked “why???” Well, why not? He was the first tuk tuk driver we talked to about this topic and it was quite interesting to get some more information about our “plan”. The lack of information on the Internet was actually quite severe. So we appreciated any hint we could get. While waiting for Rico, who wanted to take some pictures, Jagga showed me how to handle a tuk tuk. Quite interesting indeed. And I thought: “Hmm the idea might be worth a try. Give it a chance.”
Trincomalee, 26th January
In the evening I did a little research for our new idea. The information on it is virtually nothing. I had no idea what I should search for, but whatever I tried there were just a few websites of any use at most. In one of the three available forum threads I was quite lucky and found something. A member said that one could get a used Honda Hero for roughly 500 Euro and assumed a tuk tuk should be even cheaper. Considering that we were planning to sell it again afterwards, this price should be definitely fine with us. Wow. I was flashed. Happiness rushed through my veins like adrenaline. There was hope at last!
But still, there were some real problems yet to solve: the credit card limit of 500 Euro each per month, an international driving license (I only have a German one, because I thought nobody around South East Asia would care, but that seems o be wrong), the running costs of driving around in a tuk tuk, the fragility of the tuk tuk and based on that the repair costs (keep in mind those are built for really short city travels, not for a 2500 km trip throughout India) and getting rid of it again in north India close to the border to Nepal. But hey that seemed somewhat manageable. So I thought: “Let`s see, if we are really going to realise this.”
Kalkudah, 27th January
Every time I saw a tuk tuk our “TTD” came to my mind. You see what was the problem? Tuk tuks were everywhere around Sri Lanka. You can find them like you find sand on the beach as a German might say (no I am not German *cough*). A street in Sri Lanka without them would look rather puzzling. A beach without sand, too. So did you guess what was the problem? I just could not stop thinking about our Tuk tuk in India…
Kalkudah, 28th January
On our way to the beach we met an Australian guy driving a tuk tuk. For real now! First time we had seen somebody do something like we plan to do ourselves! He rented one in Colombo for just a week. So a little less crazy than what we were planning on doing but hey, advice is advice. Of course we had lots of questions.
Price? 10.000 Rs a week, around 50 Euro. That`s literally close to nothing and in India it should be even cheaper. So we took into consideration the possibility to rent a tuk tuk instead of buying one and then hire someone who can get it back from somewhere in North India to the place we rented it… (this would be for sure the most expensive and tricky part of renting one). Fuel/Diesel price? Rather cheap around here, too. Breakdowns? Common but manageable! So hey, this Australian proved… at least driving around in a foreign country (with sometimes rather crazy traffic) is possible! The fire of excitement kept burning, ever increasing.
Kalkudah, 29th January
It was raining all day, so we stayed at home and did nothing except for withdrawing as much money as possible, using the credit card limits to their fullest. It probably was the last day to do it before the debit entry at the months end. So yeah we decided to take the idea for real. We were in the game… We had nearly 300 Euro on us now, not knowing how much will be left after the last nine days in Sri Lanka… Furthermore I continued my research: There are mainly two tuk tuk brands in use: Bajaj and Piaggio. Piaggio produces in all Asian country, except for India. Well, so only Bajaj left, I guess?
Ella, 01st February
Could still not stop thinking of it even when hiking through the breathtaking mountains. India got closer and closer with each day. “Are we really going to make something this crazy? Will we really find someone who sells us a fucking tuk tuk in the end?”
Kandy, 02nd February
After a good interesting conversation with a Sri Lankan guy, who gave us an entrance ticket to the “Temple of Tooth” for free (usually 10 USD) I felt even more enthusiastic. He wanted to give us some contact numbers of his Indian friends. Maybe one of them would know someone who sells tuk tuks. That would be so fucking awesome!
Kandy, 03rd February
As always when driving tuk tuk, we started talking, questioning the driver about our “TTD” hoping for some useful information. We got told that renting should be better than buying. At least for this short time. There are various reasons for that. First of all it should be nearly the same price, second some form of insurance is included and third you don’t have to worry about selling it in the end at all. But let`s see. Up to now it had all just been speculation. I was still excited… India started to feel closer with every day, but at the same time I was also sad. Sri Lanka had been such a nice country with its various landscapes, the friendly people and their seemingly endless hospitality … and of course the food (lemon puff ^^)!
Hatton, 05th February
1.30 AM. We were on our way to the Adams Peak, which we were going to climb to see the sun rise. Of course we got there by tuk tuk… I mean come on. But it was the first time I did not think about the “TTD”, because I was so tired… (Ricos comment: Flo slept 90% of the drive, but pretty sure he dreamt about it…)
Colombo, 06th February
Last day in Sri Lanka. Actually I wanted to do some more research during the last days, but somehow I didn’t. Well… anyways. On the train ride I used the rest of our Internet to make up for this lazyness and found some very interesting blogs on this exact topic. The only thing we just had to do all the time was to look for the “Rickshaw Rallye”. There’s plenty of stuff about that because it is rather famous actually and is organized three times a year. So a “lot” of people already experienced such a big adventure… even some crazy Germans. So we were never as alone with this tuk tuk idea as we thought.
India, 07th February
After one hour of sleep (flight went at 2.30 AM), we arrived at our hotel at 10.00 AM. It turned out that getting a SIM card in India is harder than trying to buy a weapon in the US. Well, actually buying an AK47 here in India is easier than getting a fucking SIM card probably, because an AK47 is not considered a weapon, but a SIM card IS (this is a joke of Princley, a guy, we met the next day). Desperate after our first attempts to find our way around in India, I doubted we can manage to find a tuk tuk at all.
The language barrier was way higher than we expected and when speaking of a “tuk tuk” the Indians did not even know what we were talking about! Most of them had never heard the term “tuk tuk” before (they call them “auto-rickshaw” over here) or just did not speak English well enough to be of any help to us. Unbelievable! The only track we had left to check out on our search for a tuk tuk was a garage somewhere around Chennai, where they repair and refurbish old rickshaws to sell them then. But first we had to find them… They seemed like a perfect fit for us. Fingers crossed!
India, 08th February
We called the garage and agreed on a meeting. Surprisingly they spoke very good English on the phone. After we took off a notch too late, we arrived there just barely in time… The shop was about to close. Princley (the owner of the garage and the guy, who is selling tuk tuks as his job) gave us some details and seemed to know the topic very very well. We were excited. I even had a small testdrive – for the first time ever! It was really amazing. Even though I stalled the engine a few times, I accustomed to the vehicle after a little while and a few minutes later I felt able to drive it “easily”.
Rico also tried to drive, but failed his first two attempts and did not want to risk anything because he had never been driving a car or similar before. But he will learn later on the road. I am sure of that. We were told it would be ready on the 16th. So we had one week left, in which we went to Auroville to meet Lee, which also fitted our now even lower budget (we had been told to get free food in Auroville ^^)
India, 09th February
I still couldn’t believe it… even though the adrenaline rushing through my veins giving me this incredible feeling of “I can manage anything” had stopped. The day before I just couldn’t stop smiling and laughing and I would have failed miserably at the attempt of showing a serious face. But this day I was simply happy and confident, that things will work out. We were just starting to imagine all the adventures we were going to encounter on our way! “Fuck yeah let’s do this!!!”, we thought.