10 Confessions of a Road Tripper!

It has been just over a week since we got back from our 24,568 kms | 21 countries | Singapore to London | Equator to Arctic | ICC World Cup | 3 Generations | Road Trip
Looking back, these certainly were the best 60 days of my life! We were very fortunate that things worked out as we had wished and we could get to UK, exactly on schedule.
Typically, such trips require a minimum of 6 months of rigorous planning. In our case though, we had limited time at hand as I was a tad too late to think of this idea. We eventually had less than 2.5 months to plan the route, secure visas, permits, get the car ready, organize the logistics and most importantly to make the trip 3 Generations friendly!
Prior to embarking on the journey and during the 60-day road trip, it was critical that we kept ourselves in a positive and self-motivating mental zone, while still overcoming specific challenges on a daily basis. To get to this mental frame, we made a conscious decision to keep our communication very positive - both, within the boundaries of the car as well as in our social media updates. Simply put, we decided to place the “past in the past” and move on quickly, as far as any challenges were concerned.
Looking back, these challenges were however the biggest learning ground for me personally. Here are the 10 biggest challenges we had to overcome to live our dream!
1) Visas, permits and paper work: Very onerous, it was clearly the biggest challenge to overcome - to secure 10 different visas for 6 of us, get the right permits for the car across these many countries, all in about 2.5 months. Prior to February 2019, despite a rather self-revealing name, I didn’t know where Central Asia was on the world map! Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan had not been on my radar ever!
2) Safety and day-by-day route planning: Travelling with 3 Generations, we had to be very sure that the route was absolutely safe. Once we got that comfort, we went through possibly more than 50 different iterations of our itinerary and the day-by-day route plan on excel - we kept discovering more interesting places en-route, roadblocks on the way, border crossing issues, weird road closure timings, etc.
3) Stuck in a snow-storm: We were thunderstruck! Right after crossing China, Kyrgyzstan greeted us with beautiful scenery but also with a heavy snowstorm that lasted all night, while driving at >10,000 ft altitude. Our car is used to its equatorial habitat. We just didn’t have snow tyres, snow chains or any experience of driving in skiddy snow conditions. Driving challenge aside, we were at the brink of spending the entire night in the car!
4) Altitude sickness at 12,000 ft: My dad had severe altitude sickness during the night, while we were stranded in the snow-storm at 12,000 ft in Kyrgyzstan. A few days later, my mom slipped and injured her palm. In both these instances, what was most fascinating was the courage they showed - the very next day, they were up and ready for the marathon ahead. Tremendous mental toughness shown by both of them, all through the trip - it was truly inspiring for the rest of us.
5) Damaged Passport: While crossing the road border from Russia into Finland, one of our passports was inadvertently damaged by the immigration officer. With a damaged passport, the rest of our trip was in jeopardy. We quickly got on to SOS calls with our family and friends. It took a couple of days to have it all sorted - The officials at the Indian High Commission in Stockholm were very kind and they stepped in to help us and sort out the issue.
6) Getting the food right for 3 generations: Thousands of kilometers of barren land, combined with our dietary restrictions and sprinkled with whims and fancies of the taste buds of our little ones, had one simple implication - getting the food right was critical. We started with 8 bags of packed food, 250 small tetra packets of milk for the little ones and our Kitchen-on-wheels - all planned, designed and executed during the trip, courtesy my mom
7) Kids in their car seat for 10-15 hours a day, day after day: Yes, both Aviv and Avya were fantastic all through the trip. Not only did they sit through long journeys daily, day after day, they also made sure that rest of us were always in a jovial state of mind. Aditi got the trip absolutely right for kids. Never for once did they complain! All they ever asked for in return was probably 10 additional minutes at McDonald's play area en-route!
8) Delays at Borders: For most customs officials at the border crossings, it was their first time processing documents for a Singapore registered car. It typically took a couple of hours at each border, sometimes up to 8 hours! Cumulatively, we spent >40 hours waiting at the borders!
9) World Cup Tickets: It was incredibly difficult to get the tickets for the World Cup. We looked for tickets remotely, almost every day of the trip. For the India Sri Lanka match at Leeds, Richa Dayal and Akshat Prasad sacrificed their tickets to help us fulfill our dream. Thereafter, we got extremely lucky as ICC granted us hospitality tickets for semis and finals. Super grateful!
10) Driving and power naps: Often clocking >600-700 kms a day, these 60 days were a privilege of a life time. Yes, I would sometimes get tired, particularly by late afternoon. A stop at a fuel station to take a 30 minute reclined power nap most often did the trick though... and got us back on the road ahead... !

Our Welcome Back to Singapore!

We are back in Singapore, and we have received the most awesome Welcome ever! Very very grateful to family & friends for making this super super special.
I can't even imagine the effort, time and above all, the love that has gone into making the welcome so so special for us!
Here are some pictures that made the welcome so special:
1. Super great welcome at Changi airport with a huge banner!
2. Surprise celebration party - Super thankful to family and friends for making it special, for the enthu, love and time on a weekday evening!
3. A high quality printed book on AMX Paint it Red - from Praveen Mausaji, Reena Mausi, Yogesh Chacha, Vandana Chachi. It has everything about our road trip! - day by day summary of our trip, special moments, pictures and snapshots of the media coverage!
4. AMX Paint it Red Memento - beautifully crafted memento from Moni Mummy with a summary of the trip route and key statistics!
5. Songs and parodies on our 24,586 kms Road Trip!
6. Home made world map cake for Aviv - by Aditi to celebrate his birthday and his achievement of crossing 50 countries mark
7. Artistic, creative and sequential story of our road trip, depicted with 21 different placards with maps and photos from each country we visited! - By Vandana Dayal Chachi.
8. Special gifts for us celebrate and then to frame the memories of our road trip
Super grateful! All of the above was crafted by Pushpa Badi Ammaji, Choti Ammaji, Moni Mummy, Yogesh Dayal Chacha, Vandana Dayal Chachi, Praveen Dayal Mausaji, Reena Dayal Mausi and Aditi Mathur!!
Big big thank you! We can't believe our luck.
My super high lazy coefficient has quickly figured out that it is far easier to do a 24,586 km road trip, than to arrange welcome parties! 🙂

Overall Trip: Virtual Cockpit

Day 60: Flag Down with Car Shipped Back to Singapore

We plan to find an agent for shipment of the car and leave the car at the warehouse at the earliest, so that we can return to Singapore.

Anupam started contacting different agents for shipment of car right after 9 am when their offices open. He got quotations from some of them and finalised with one agent. It was also decided that the car can be given before 4 pm today. We had already segregated the items in bags which were to be kept in the car and which were to be accompanied with us.

We had booked the hotel for last 3 days. Now we will have to extend our stay. We shifted the hotel as the present hotel was fully booked for today. Anupam went to warehouse to deliver the car for shipment. It was very tiring day and by the time Anupam could return to hotel after delivering the car it was about 8 pm.

Richa came to meet us in the evening. It was very nice of Richa to have come all the way to Heathrow from her house to meet us. Akshat could not come as he had meetings in the evening.

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom It is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and English Channel to the south. It shares land borders with Wales to the west, Scotland to the north.

The Country covers five-eighths of the Island of Great Britain, which includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the North-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. The difference between United Kingdom and Great Britain includes United Kingdom and Northern Island.

England is part of a constitutional monarchy, but no direct government. The monarch is Elizabeth II. England does not have its own legislative assembly. The legislature is UK Parliament which comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.. However, the Legislative Grand Committee composed of only the 533 MPs representing English constituencies can scrutinize and vote on bills going through parliament which only affect England. 

After reaching London we had the opportunity to interact with media. One of the important interviews was the one with BBC Sports online on 5th July, The reach of BBC Sports is very wide and it was even read by ICC officials. They extended us the tickets for semi-finals and Final matches. Other important series of interviews were with Star Sports in India. We were featured in their “Follow the Blues” programme in India on two days.

The most important was live interview with BBC 1 in their most popular programme BBC Breakfast on the morning of 12th July. It has an extensive reach.

In addition, many popular newspapers in India like “Dainik Bhaskar” and Indian Express also interviewed us and published articles in press and digital media. These interviews were also picked up by many newspapers and agencies online in India. We got very wide publicity.

We got publicity and recognition which was not expected when we started our trip on 17th May. God is great. He has been very kind to us.

We will be home after 61 days of travel. It included journey with all the thrill, ups and downs and excitement of a long trip. We saw so many places on the way. We travelled two continents extensively.

With this blog, I am coming to an end of the blog writing as we are leaving tomorrow for our return journey to Singapore.

Day 59: World Cup Final: England vs. New Zealand

Today is the final match of World Cup 2019. This may be the first match we are going to watch where India is not playing.

A World Cup final is the most important match of the tournament. Moreover, watching the match at Lords is a great sight and we were given very good seats as the passes for the match were extended by ICC – International Cricket Club, the organiser of the tournament.
The match started 15 minutes late. New Zealand batted first. They made 241/8 runs in 50 overs. Nicolls scored 55 runs and Latham gave final thrust with 47 runs. It looked that the score is below par, short by about 20-30 runs.

England did not start well and were 86/4 after 23.1 overs. It looked that the prospects for England were bleak since the asking rate was increasing. However, Stokes and Buttler contributed handsomely. Buttler made 59 runs in 60 balls. Stokes was still there at the crease, but he did not get support from tail enders. He scored 84 runs from 98 balls and remained not out. They scored 241 all out in 50 overs. On the last balls, they were to score 2 runs, they got one run and then while taking second run Wood was run out. So, this was a tie. Tie in the final match is not common.

Super over was played. England batted first and scored 15 runs in one over. New Zealand got 6 runs in the last but one ball. The throw from the fielder bounced from the batsman’s bat and raced to the boundary. There were two runs plus a boundary from overthrow. So, New Zealand got 6 runs from that ball. They ran for second run on the last ball of the Super over, but then there was a run out. Ultimately, they also got 15 runs in their super over. So, it was another tie. Tie at the end of 50 overs and then a tie at the end of Super Over. This is unprecedented.

The rule says that if there is a tie at the end of Super over, then the side hitting more boundaries will be the winner. England were declared winners.

We have watched a match which is going to go down in the history of World Cup and also in the history of the game as a special and unique match.

There were celebrations all around as the home team has won the World Cup. New Zealand did not lose the match, but still were declared loser due to some stupid rule. It would have been better if they were declared as Joint winners. 

We returned to the hotel with a very good feeling. We have watched an important match at the Mecca of the Cricket.

Day 58: Rest Day at London

Today it is virtually a rest day. We will have to enquire about the shipment of the car to Singapore. The agent for shipment who was supposed to handle our shipment of car was not replying to the mails./messages and even the contact through the agent in Singapore did not yield any response. So, it became clear that the only way out is to find a new agent for shipment.

We got up late and Anupam tried to contact agents, but could not contact any one since it was weekend.

In the evening Jaya, daughter of Mr. James of Rajkot, came to meet us. She and her husband could find time to come to meet us, though they had gone to meet someone >100 kms. away from London. On the way back, they came to meet us.

It was one of the most memorable meeting we had on this trip. She had even brought one old photo taken around 1988-89 of Anupam, Jaya, her brother Jenson and Akanksha. Jaya was only 2 years old at that time. It did not look like she was meeting us after such long period. Her husband is equally jolly and took part in our conversations. We talked about our Singapore to London trip and other common interest talks. They had dinner with us and went late in the evening.

Tomorrow is the Final match of the World Cup. Anupam has received message from ICC that our passes will be available at the window and we have to go to window at Lords ground and pick them. We plan to leave by 8 am. We can not take our car as the parking will be difficult near the stadium.  

Day 57: Ireland to London

Today is a long day. We plan to return to England by ferry. Then we plan to meet Raghunath mamaji in Nottingham and then meet Reema in Newbury near London and then reach hotel.

We took the ferry from Dublin at 8:05am. This ferry was much bigger. It had 9 decks and the No. of vehicles that could be transported in this ferry was also much more. This ferry had 3 Restaurants on the deck where we were sitting. The facilities in this ferry were much better than yesterday’s ferry. We reached Holyhead port in Wales at 11:45 am.

We then proceeded to Nottingham. On the way Anupam felt very sleepy as he was having insufficient sleep for last few days. He took a power nap at a fuel station in between.  We reached Nottingham at about 6 pm. We spent one hour with Raghunath Mamaji. He was very happy that we had met him.

We left Nottingham for Newbury where Reema stays. Reema had prepared dinner for us. She is daughter of my friend Satish. As we know each other well, we had a great time at her place. Her daughter Anika and Aviv played as if they knew each other earlier. We had tea and Samosa first followed by full fledged dinner. The best part was Samosa first and Gulab jamun as sweet dish. After leaving Singapore we were getting these two delicacies for the first time. We left Reema’s house well after 12 midnight. We reached the hotel in London at about 1 am.

Day 56: Manchester to Ireland and Northern Island

We plan to travel to Ireland today. The travel from Manchester to Ireland involves travelling through Wales, then catching a Ferry and then reaching Ireland. From Ireland we also plan to go to Northern Ireland. So, we plan to add three more countries today.

Wales is a beautiful country. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are countries in United Kingdom, but are independent countries. They all come under United Kingdom along with England. We got a ferry from Holyhead in Wales to Dublin in Ireland.

We left at about 5:30am from hotel at Knutsford for Holyhead. The ferry was scheduled to start at 8:15am and we were to report at 7:30am. We reached on time and got the ferry. The scenery all along was superb. At Penmaenmawr, Lianfairfechan we saw beautiful town in Wales. The ferry ride was good. There was a restaurant and we could get breakfast there. We enjoyed the journey to Dublin.

Puneet stays in Dublin. He was waiting for us near the port and we all started straightaway for Northern Ireland.

Puneet had come to Leeds to meet us. When we returned from the Match at Leeds on 6th July, he was waiting for us at the hotel. He went back next day morning. Today he came with us to Northern Ireland and also to a sightseeing spot in Ireland. We stayed at his house overnight. The trip to Ireland was very enjoyable more so because of the presence of Puneet. He had made all arrangements at his house to make our stay very comfortable. His wife and children have gone these days to India, still he had all the arrangements in place single-handedly.

Aviv got interested in the play area in the Lawn in his house. He played basketball for long time with all of us. He really enjoyed staying in a house after about 50 days. We have been staying in different hotels from the day we left Singapore on 17th May, 2019.

We slept late as we were all talking till late in the night.