Road to London – Week 9

We seem to attract the police a bit. This time, rightly so 😛 it was for speeding and a minor traffic offense. Then we had a bit of an event where our windshield got hit by a small pebble while driving causing a small hole. 

Worry not, we super-glued it with the help of a very friendly mechanic who went around Samara town with us till we found the right glue.

We were also hosted by the Indian embassy at Samara.

Samara is a pretty town with lots of natural and man-made beauty. This is a beach on the Volga river. Yep, a riverside beach. Amazing, isn’t it?

The local authorities of Samara have training facilities for various sports on the riverside beach. Here’s a gymnast practising her skill.

What is a roadtrip without some adjustments? We stayed at a hotel with shared bath. At other points there were toilets that were basically pits in the flooring.

If you had heard impressive things about Russian architecture and the beauty of Moscow, you were right.

You would think that we would have grand stories about the difficult terrain we drove through. Well, we have loads of those and some more. And we will share those once we are back. But, here’s a weird surprise. One of the most difficult ones was getting out of a parking lot in Moscow.


Video of parking lot

Every time we think we have accomplished something, life presents new inspirations. Meet Mr. Ulla who is cycling from from Germany to Philippines!

And on that note, we bid adieu to Asia and are off to Europe. Latvia marks the end of the penultimate week of our trip.

Just yesterday, the windshield had another episode. A stork flew into it when we were driving at 120 kmph.

All’s well. No one is hurt but it was a bit of a scare for sure.

We had a beautiful night in Lithuania.

Yep, we are almost done, crossing one European country after another. It is as exhilarating as it is saddening. It is soon going to be done with. Till then!

Road To London – Week 7

When you have a list of 250 items to pack, you might forget your moustache trimmer. The good thing is, India or Bhutan, Bhutan or China – every man needs a moustache trimmer. So, in Hami, China,  we were trying to cross a huge intersection to get to a store on the other side of the road. There was heavy traffic and crossing the road was confusing. Fortunately, we saw a couple of policemen at the corner who we reached out for help. Unfortunately, we didn’t speak each other’s language and we were swiftly taken to the police station. A couple of hours and intervention by our ever-helpful guide later, we were out of the police station. We are yet to understand the exact reason but what we know is any uncommon behaviour is treated with suspicion and the police play it safe. It is a rather sensitive area and they are extra careful there. Who knew a moustache trimmer would take me to the insides of a Chinese police station.

Anyway, on the road we were next morning.

Packed lunch because there is no restaurant for a 400 kilometer stretch! And off we went again at a speed of 120-170 km/hour.

The Police in China are friendly but they are very wary of strangers and foreigners. There is a lot of checking on the road and each major stop took about 30-45 minutes extending the day by that much longer. On Sunday, one of the cars in our group, found itself stuck on the road and we waited for it to be cleared. By then it was 10 PM, and we had a good couple hours to drive to our destination. The car was cleared but since it was night the police got stricter with its checking.

The roads became plainer and straighter and we took to speeds of 140 to 180 km/hour. As is possible with speed a bunch of us ran into the risk of meeting with a bad accident, after which we decided to restrict speed to a steady 120 km/hour.

And we stop for gas under surveillance.

This day, 10th May started at 8.30AM. We drove 12-13 hours and had a 8-hour stopover for exit from China and entry into Kyrgyzstan.  We reached our destination at 2AM local time (4AM China time!). But what a beautiful welcome it was. Not by hotels, but by mother nature!

And now we are enjoying a rest day!

Looking back at how far we have come! 47 of 72 days, 7 of 10+ weeks, 13,500 of 21,000 kilometers…

Road To London – Week 6

You would think the best thing after 9 days of driving 10-12 hours without break would be the “rest day”. No, sir! The best thing that can happen to a parent who is on a long, long drive is a surprise visit from the son!! We just stood there at the room door in the middle of the night, unable to believe it was him. Were we missing him so much that he is in our dreams? No! It was him!

Oh and look what Anand brought along. The much looked-forward to batch of theplas! We can’t remember the last time we ate a chapati. Who knew the Chinese for “thepla” is, “a bright ray of sunshine.”

The rest day took Pushpa and Nishi to panda park while Anand and I took Sohum out for servicing.

Meanwhile, along with Sohum, I went for an over-alling too.

Rest day done, we visited a park which exhibited the oldest irrigation system known.

This sight-seeing meant an additional 3 hours to our usual 12-hour drives. So, we reached 1 AM of the next calendar day, after having left at 8 AM. A lot of fun, challenge and thrill was added to the dark-night drive with winding roads … and … wait for it … snowfall!


This is what most days this week were like. Through a variety of landscapes …

through snow, snow, and more snow …

and did I mention winding roads? Not enough.

Some times a picture just isn’t enough.

10+ days in China and no “Great Wall of China”, you must wonder where did the wall disappear. It is there, alright!


Along the way we crossed the halfway distance mark, 10,500 kms up!

Equally mesmerizing is landscape of this area…

That’s most of what we have been upto this week. Let us leave you with this merriment on the road side. Our group was singing and soon enough we gathered some bystanders. And India or China, everyone needs just a little push to join in the fun. And join he did!

Oh, just in case you are wondering if all is going well. We had a little bit of an upset – I lost my phone. Just in case, anyone is trying to get in touch, that’s why I haven’t responded. Oh well…only a small hiccup!

~ ~ ~

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Road to London – Week 5

Looks like it is right out of a Rohit Shetty film, doesn’t it? But, that’s us. This is the “Road to London”ers on the 20 lane road mentioned last week. You can’s see all 20, but we could and boy, what a sight it was!

Little did we know that, this would be just one of the many incredible sights we would see this week. First off, each of the first four nights, we spent in four different countries.

4 days 4 countries…in a car! From left-hand-side driving to right and back. Can’t say this enough – this is what we thought a real road trip is all about!

And isn’t this what a milestone should really look like?

And we had a birthday in the gang! Our own Ninni turned all of 10 this week! Words like these (her latest blog post) don’t really sound like they are from a 10 year old, right? Or they maybe do 🙂

Now that we are in China we are going to be here for a bit – 6,000 kms. We are quite literally driving through the ins and ins of China. Chiangkong, Kunming, Jing Hong, Jinghonj, Kunming, Xichen and you thought China was only Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou!

Those earth formations look like man-made cathedrals, don’t they!?

We have picked quite some pace now. We are driving at 100-120 kmph on winding mountain roads. The Chinese ghat roads have good surface and are divided. Such a new experience!


It is getting colder too. In a way, this is the other side of the Himalayas.

Oh by the way, just in case you are wondering, our staple diet these days is rice and mango pickle or groundnut chutney. Thankfully breakfast buffets have abundant fruits, cheese and breads for us! But when the company is so much fun, who cares about food. Presenting to you, “The United Colours of #RoadToLondon”

We leave you with some abstract fun for you. Not always, does everything need to make sense. Like, does it make sense that we are already done with half the trip! By the end of today, we would have finished half the number of days and weeks and yet we would have covered 41% of the distance. A lot of fast driving on our way! By God’s grace all is well and as per schedule so far…

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Road to London – Week 4

We started this week being just one stop away from the Indian border crossing and now we are over 1000 kms away! Whoa! Let that sink in….wo-wo-whoa!

After some lovely orchid park siteseeing near Kaziranga, we left for Kohima, Nagaland.

The road to Kohima and onwards to Dimapur was quite awful with some holes about 6 to 8 inches deep. One of the worst we came across. At times we were driving at 5-10 kmph. Some of the worst we’ve seen so far. Thank goodness for Anand’s selection of a 4WD. God bless! And all is always well when the sun rises so…

In Nagaland we also passed through a village which has minimal new construction – a green village of sorts.

Now, we were on our way to the final destination before crossing over to another country. Meanwhile, another landmark crossed, we are at 5,000 kilometers! Along the way now we started meeting other members of our #RoadToLondon trip. 13 cars and 27 participants would soon be on our way to London…by road! Whipppppeeeee! It was lovely to meet new people. A jovial bunch, we are! It is positively a fun time ahead.

And it is finally happening! We are crossing the boundary. None of us can believe that we are crossing the Indian border in a car. Today is the beginning of our journey eastwards to go to Europe.

We go eastwards because going directly west means crossing through Pakistan and Afghanistan. That can get pretty dangerous, and is not an ideal experience for someone who still has their entire life ahead of them at the young age of 72.

So! Onward to Myanmar, and from there to England! To the heart of the British empire, to the land where the sun never sets. There’s no turning back now.

It’s not like we could have turned back before, but for some reason, this feels different. It feels as if this is the point where I must look back at the ground I’ve covered and smile victoriously. The point where I look forward, and see the beauty of the rest of the world.

Today, I leave my motherland with hopes to have the best experience of my life. Of course, my companions cannot be spared! Beware, Pushpa and Ninni, and the gang of 24…for here come my jokes!

After a wait of a few hours the entire crew crossed immigration and we were now in Myanmar. Earlier it was states, now its countries – here is a mouthful for you, Myanmar (Kale, Bagan, Kyaikhto, Namsang, Kent Tung), Thailand (Chiang Khong) and Laos (Boten and Mohanzhen).

1,800 Kms to be covered in the next 7 days!

It is amusing how we tend to not think much of practical issues like, how long will it take for 13 cars to fuel up at a one-pump gas station or how long will a washroom break be. We had 2 back-to-back days of being on the road for 12+ hours, give or take. Now, this is the real meaning of a road trip!

On the road we saw a row of Buddhist monks and nuns on a peaceful march. That reminded me that Kohima, Nagaland is a 98% Christian town. The thought of this combination of religions brought a smile.

And finally we reached break day at Bagan, Myanmar!

After a lovely rest, we were on for another 12+ hour day covering 600+ kms yesterday. People ask me, “am I tired?” and I say, “Do you know me?” The zeal is never-dying. I have travelled the world but I saw a 20 lane road in Myanmar! How can I be tired?

Sure, it has been 4+ days since we’ve had a chapati, but this is only the beginning. And what’s to worry when we can customize a bit here and there by taking over the kitchen. The chef at our hotel thought papad can only be fried, the record had to be set right. Pushpa demostrated the roasting of a papad.

We are on our way to Tak, Thailand as you read this post. It is beginning to feel real now. Thank you all for your company so far! Until next time…

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Road to London – Week 3

Week 3 started with a 2 day stint in Bhutan. After overcoming a few “permit-related” challenges, we were well on our way to Thimpu, Bhutan. After having been through some internal parts of the country, days in the city seem … well … lame. While Thimpu was a shade better Darjeeling was quite disappointing. There are only so many ways modern buildings can be made interesting.

Thimpu, Bhutan

Thimpu, Bhutan

 Bhutan and India – this week we saw a handful of animals. An unusual crocodile park in Phuentsoling, Bhutan crocodiles are breeded for distribution to zoos. Elephants along the road in a forest and rarities like One-horned Rhinos at the Kaziranga National Park.

Crocodile Park, Phuentsoling

Crocodile Park, Phuentsoling

Kaziranga National Park

Rhinocerous, Kaziranga National Park







Kaziranga National Park

Deer, Kaziranga National Park


Kaziranga National Park

Elephant, Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park

Ninni, Kaziranga National Park

Speaking of animals, you should read a bit about Ninni’s tryst with the insect folk of Buxa forest on her blog. “As many insects as there are leaves in a dense forest”, was the description. Top it off with no power, closed windows because there weren’t netted. It was a restless night in the forest.

Buxa Forest

Buxa Forest

We next made our way to Mawlynong. Here’s a “Did you know?” for you. Did you know that Mawlynong, Meghalaya is known as the cleanest village in Asia.

Cleanest village - Mawlynong, Meghalaya

Cleanest village - Mawlynong, Meghalaya

 Imagine this! A foot bridge made with roots! Can carry elephants too!

Foot Root Bridge, Mawlynong

Foot Root Bridge, Mawlynong

The rest of the week was full of caves and waterfalls.

Buxa Waterfall

Buxa Waterfall

Mewsmai Caves, Meghalaya

Mewsmai Caves, Meghalaya

Arwah Caves, Meghalaya

Arwah Caves, Meghalaya









Nogkalikai Falls, Meghalaya

Nogkalikai Falls, Meghalaya










On the roads of Assam, we also saw a disciplined protest by NGO representatives and women workers who were raising a voice against an unauthorised protection fee of Rs. 10 per week being charged.


Bongaigaon, Assam

Bongaigaon, Assam

This is something we have seen through and through. No matter what their problems. Genuinie smiles to welcome you, everywhere.

Local from Mawlynong

Local from Mawlynong

Local from Buxa

Local from Buxa










We made it to Cherapunjee! You know what that is, right? Pushpa’s dream come true! Yes, it was raining when we got there. But we saw a clear sky too.


We are now going to spend a few days in Nagaland and Manipur before we join Adventure Overland to head out of the country. There is limited connectivity in these areas, so updates are sparse.

Know we are safe and you keep safe too!

Until next week, then…if you would like to receive more frequent (almost daily) updates here are the social media links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. If you would like weekly updates, please send an e-mail to

Road to London – Week 2

Day turns into night, night turns into day. Road leads to hotel, hotel leads to another road. The roads have begun to get winding now as we go up the Himalayas. And yet it is to sink in – this is actually happening.

In the day-to-day drives, media engagements, family visits, we don’t realise how far we have come.

If last week’s highlights were temples, this week’s highlight is universities and rope-ways.

Nalanda University Excavations

An impressive school in Darjeeling


An impressive school in Darjeeling                               Nalanda University Excavations

So, Ninni is scared of heights and was unwilling to sit on the open-bucket type, single rope-way seats at one of the spots. After a lot of convincing, she very nervously agreed.


Before                ————->                During           ————->      After

And here is “after ka after” for you – Ninni after her next ride. Our seasoned rope-way traveller has now lost all fear of height.

This week we also saw the real adventure begin. So here we are, driving along down the road from one destination to another, just another day in this road trip. And we find ourselves at the head of a very narrow bridge. Broad enough for just one car. And the bridge was long, really long. Suddenly we stopped and leaned forward. Ninni yelped. “What happened?”

“Uh oh.” I said. “Ayyo.” muttered Pushpa. “What?” asked Ninni.

“Bus.” I said, which made Ninni say, “Oh.” I’m pretty sure she still didn’t understand the situation.

A bus had shown up in the middle of the bridge – facing us. It was unpredicted and caught us all off guard. I looked behind me. From the back window I could see the vast expanse of the bridge behind with a line of vehicles on it. As if it were a competition, vehicles lined up behind the bus too. I sighed, and allowed myself to slump a little. We were going to spend a lot more than just a long time on this bridge.

Ultimately we crossed and escaped dropping down in the river by an inch or so.

Worry not, that is behind us and all ended well. But it was amusing to see a single line traffic jam.

No, no photos. Our hands were occupied biting our nails.

And now here we are 14 out of 72 days spent with nature, buildings, temples, media, family and so much more. 3,000+ out of 21,000+ kms driven through the ins and outs of North and North-Eash India. And yet, it feels like just the beginning because only 1 out of 18 countries have been visited.

We are experiencing Bhutan as we speak right now. The Himalayas are the same. The trees lush green. The rivers gurgle like they do in India too. But it still feels like a different place. Maybe because we passed this grand gate that’s called the border. Maybe because we were asked for official documents identifying the country we come from. Maybe because the soldiers wear different uniforms. Nothing takes away from how serene this place is.

Until next week, then…if you would like to receive more frequent (almost daily) updates here are the social media links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. If you would like weekly updates, please send an e-mail to

Road to London – Week 1

It was so heartening to see so many well-wishers at the flag off event on 24th. While a lot of details about the conceptualisation and planning of the trip were discussed. This cute little speech stole hearts. It wouldn’t be surprising if you watched one particular line a few times on loop.

Despite leftover butterflies from this cute little speech, Nishi started off with a smile. Of course, day 1 out ofAirplane wing on truck on way to Bhopal the way now, the nervousness had settled. And we were off enjoying camels on roads and airplane wings on trucks.



On the way to Indore is a school that does something really cute. Just look at this picture on the left:

Who doesn’t like happy children? Only this glee is the ice cream gleeeeeee! They are out on a monthly school trip to a garden where they play-eat ice cream. Play-eat ice cream. Repeat.

Now those smiles on these Indori kids from La Sagesse school make more sense, don’t they?

Day 3 saw team RoadToLondon reach 1000 kilometers!





Unfortunately they witnessed something terribly, heartbreaking. Hills are being cut down to make way for “civilisation”. Soon caves that are centuries old will be destroyed.

Any journey is also a lot about the pauses…and the road-side dhabas!
Dhaba between Jhansi and Ayodhya

We were wondering when the first cute, little problems, that any adventure brings, would begin to crop up. Imagine looking for a usable, Western-style, public toilet. Now, imagine looking for one on the narrow, single lane roads of villages in Uttar Pradesh. The rest is left to your imagination.

And then our man Friday, Shiva lost his shoes – of all the places, in the VVIP section of a temple in Varanasi!

When you are truly blessed, all things fall in place. Two days ago we got a call from the leader of Muslim Foundation of India. They had gotten leaders from all religions – Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai (Christianity) – together. They wanted to show their support to the “Peace is Possible” mission. It was one exhilarating experience to be with them!

It has been one week since we left home. Seems like yesterday but is 2100+ kilometers away. Through wonderful highways across Madhya Pradesh, through tiny villages and single lane roads, you do indeed see the two Indias. Sure, the development has brought pollution and destruction. But, the national flag unfurls, the temples continue to add to history, the colors are bright, the people are warm. Here are some memories we collected along the way.




















That wraps up week 1. As you might have guessed, the excitement is only building up. After a good rest day at Benares yesterday, we are off again! We will keep you posted week-by-week.

Meanwhile, if you would like to receive more frequent (almost daily) updates here are the social media links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. If you would like weekly updates, please send an e-mail to

As always, thank you for your best wishes!