Why would two men spend their holiday dashing thousands of kilometres across India’s sub-standard roads in an inappropriate vehicle on a mad adventure? Later this year Luca Fella and site legend Warrick Howard, both 27, will be taking on the challenge of The Adventurist’s Rickshaw Run and risking crazy truck drivers, dodgy guts and probably the disapproval of their families to raise money for charity. Gapyear.com caught up with Warrick to find out more…
Hi Warrick. What the hell are you doing?
It’s a combination of itchy feet and wanting to do something a little more ‘worthwhile’, although I do hate using that word to describe travelling, as everyone’s trip is, of course, ‘worthwhile’. We’ve both got ‘proper jobs’, mortgages, families, etc. these days, so we decided that we’d do something to raise money for some causes which mean a lot to us in our current ‘real world’ lives. We’ve done bits and pieces of fundraising for charities before, but we’ve been saying for a long time that we’d do something major, and it has now gotten to the point where it’s a now or never moment, and so we’ve just decided to go for it.
What’s the point of doing this?
My mother asked me the very same question. I guess it’s about combining things that we’re interested in, with something that is going to generate enough attention for us to raise a decent amount of money, which is ultimately what it’s all about.
Ok, so where are you going, exactly?
We’re going to be driving from the Rajasthan desert down to Kochi on the southern tip of India. It’s a distance of around 2500km, and we’re going to be driving it in a Tuk Tuk, which any traveller who has visited Asia will be able to tell you is not a vehicle which would be considered suitable for a journey of this type.
Any more reasons why you doing this?
I guess there’s an instant association with Tuk Tuks and backpacking/travel. Everyone has a story about a random Tuk Tuk incident which happened to them whilst they were on a short hop across a city, so it made sense that we’d have an endless stream of equally ridiculous tales if we drove one for 12 hours every day for two weeks. We need this to be interesting and to keep people coming back to our site to check on our progress and see what else has happened to us; that’s the way we’re going to raise a lot of our money.
How long will you be away for? This seems like a pretty intensive trip!
Three weeks, door to door. We’re flying out to Delhi on the 27th of December, to arrive on the 28th. From there, we’ll be getting an overnight train to Jaisalmer in the Rajasthan desert and we’ll pick up our Tuk Tuk. From here, it’s just a case of getting to Kochi within 14 days.
The whole point of this trip is that we can do it in a standard ‘work holiday’ time frame. Kind of to prove a point that it’s entirely possibly to still travel even when you’re holding down a full-time job and have a family, etc.
Tell us about the group dynamic of your team.
It’s just two of us. Myself and the same mate I did my round the world (RTW) trip with. We did toy with the idea of adding a third person, but we decided against it as we know for a fact that we can tolerate each other on these kinds of trips without one of us ending up having to dig a hole in the desert; we’d never be sure that things would be the same if we added someone else into the mix.
How did you choose which charities to support?
I’m supporting the Meningitis Trust, which was a fairly simple decision. I had Meningitis when I was 18, and now I’ve got an 18-month-old daughter. Obviously Meningitis is every parent’s worst nightmare, so this cause was a pretty easy decision for me. Luca is supporting the UCL Cancer Institute, as he and his family do a lot of fundraising for this cause. We’re also supporting Frank Water Projects, which is a charity which distributes clean drinking water in India. Obviously as we’re doing this in India, it’s only right to give something back. This charity is also the official charity for the trip.
What are you hoping to get out of the experience?
A smug sense of self-worth and superiority… Nah, we’re just hoping to have a laugh, meet some decent people and generally make this an adventure not only for us actually doing it, but for everyone who is following our progress back home. Not to mention we hope to raise a decent amount of cash for some very decent causes, which will, of course, just further fuel that smugness I mentioned…
How could someone go about following in your footsteps and doing a crazy charity adventure type trip?
Fairly easily. The thing you have to ask is if you’re actually cut out for this kind of thing. I know that sounds self-important and a bit condescending, but this is going to be a seriously difficult trip. We’re probably going to be sleeping rough for the majority of the nights. We’re going to be encountering huge trucks on unsealed roads with little more than a sheet of tin for protection. We’re going to be eating food that is, to our Western guts, unhygienic.
This is a far cry from having your hair dreadlocked whilst sitting on a beach on Koh Samui and singing songs about world peace. If that sounds like something that interests you, though, and you want to get away from the usual humdrum backpacker routes, then this could definitely be something worth looking into.
But how do you get into it?
The Adventurists are a charitable organisation who arrange these kind of events (they do the Mongol Rally, Africa Rally, etc). They will help you out with sorting out your insurances and your Tuk Tuk, etc. BUT you need to be aware that they offer no help whatsoever once you’re on the road. You really are on your own. Their disclaimer is scarily detailed… It may as well just say, ‘We don’t recommend actually doing this, there’s a good chance you might die… Your call.”
How dangerous are you actually planning to make the trip?
We’re not going out of our way to drive off cliffs or do anything foolhardy, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Luca once managed to nearly flip a camper van on a dead straight Outback road, so how he’ll cope with desert tracks and mountain passes is anyone’s guess.
We also always seem to end up in the most ridiculous situations, through no fault of our own. We’ve ended up in a New Zealand milkman’s cow barn, drinking home brew whilst he explains how the rusty meat hooks hanging above us are where he hung the last backpackers to pass through the place, we’ve shared a beer in a Cambodian man’s front room with another Cambodian man who looked scarily like Charles Manson, we’ve wrestled bears, we’ve gone hunting for anacondas in a Peruvian swamp wearing flip flops… Suffice it to say, we’ll be coming home (hopefully) with some interesting tales.
How much cash do you hope to raise? What will this be spent on?
As much as possible! We’re not putting figures on how much we want to raise, because it’ll be gutting if we fail to hit those targets, so we’ve just said that anything we make is a help for these charities. We’re fundraising on the basis that ‘every pound counts’. We know people are short of cash at the minute, but whilst one person might think that just donating a pound is a waste of time and won’t make any difference, it only takes ten people to think the same and we’ve lost a tenner; a hundred people and we’ve lost £100. Every single donation is much appreciated, and we’re doing all kinds of local events to try and raise money in our home towns as well.
What do you hope to do once you return?
Go back to work and sit for two days staring at the pile of paperwork I’ll have no doubt accrued. Still, at least I’ll have the knowledge that I’ve done something truly worthwhile with my time off work. Straight through the pearly gates for me…
Any last words?
I’d just like to take a moment to appeal directly to the good people of gapyear.com who have taken a moment out of their busy procrastinating schedule to read this. I know you’re all saving for your trips. I know you’re turning down nights out and taking sandwiches to work. I know the only thing on your mind right now is your departure date. Despite all this, I need you to think back over the years I’ve been contributing to this site and ask yourself if I’ve ever made you laugh. Or wince. Or even self-combust with incandescent rage at some comment I’ve posted. If so, then is that not worth a quid? Just a single pound, donated via our website? Imagine how much money we’d make if everyone who read this actually gave us a pound. We’d probably make a fiver [Hey, at least a tenner! – gapyear.com]
So please, take a minute out of your busy schedule of staring at photos of Koh Tao or Machu Picchu and donate a pound. I can assure you it means more to these charities than it will to the coffee machine at work.