The CEMS Blog

The official blog of Chennai Event Management Services

Day 11: Mararikulam To Kovalam, April – 12, 2010 April 17, 2010

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Team Rickshawwallas

Team Rickshawwallas

Yesterday Aravind made use of his local expertise and took The Rickshaw Wallas to a Toddy shop to pick up some of the local drink for the teams. Also known as Palm wine, Toddy is is an alcoholic drink made from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the Palmyra, and coconut palms. They brought home a load for the other participants, all at the princely sum of 25 rupees for each half-litre bottle. Everyone agreed that it was very unusual, very tangy, and very effective at cooling you down in the heat, which was already beginning to mount even early in the day. Aravind also warned everyone of the side effects, which was that a few hours later we all found ourselves sweating profusely, but that was welcome enough in this heat. Remember, stay hydrated!

It was an open flag off this morning, which meant that the teams could get themselves in gear as they saw fit. We all figured this would mean a late start in a leisurely way, but it turned out that the appeal of the awesome beaches and pools reported at the next destination had a highly motivating effect. By the time Aravind or any of the other organisers had made it downstairs to look around for some breakfast, it was full Action Stations with most of the teams running around making last minute preparations and hitting the road. Enthusiasm is at the heart of the Malabar Rampage spirit, but this has never been an event that rewarded speed. Sure enough, after a leisurely breakfast and relaxed start, Team 007 (Travel Scientists) found Team 001 only 15km up the road with a snapped clutch wire. The support vehicle was on the scene and had everyone running again quickly, but over-enthusiastic driving became a theme for the day! Despite having departed very much last, Team 007’s cool and laid back approach meant that they were actually the second team to arrive at the end of the day! That great giddy rush of excitement had gotten everyone else lost, overheated (either themselves or at least the poor tuk-tuks), down wrong turns, or out of fuel.  The old stories about the tortoise and the hare probably aren’t true most of the time, but on the Malabar Rampage it’s all about playing it cool and living the spirit of adventure and exploration.
The beleaguered Brett of Team 003 (Team Oz) and Sarah of Team 004 were both not feeling 100% today, so rather than grind on and ruin themselves for the rest of the rally they rode shotgun with the supply vehicle. Kudos to the Rickshaw Wallas who stepped up and heroically provided drivers for the depleted teams and vehicles!
With the huge international and local media coverage the Malabar Rampage has generated, our reputation is starting to precede us.  In addition to the usual cheering and waving as we roll through towns, the locals are beginning to wave newspaper articles about us as we pass. Stopping to ask directions or chat over coconut water, the residents already know where we are heading to!  Will the teams be able to stay cool and grounded in the face of such newfound fame?  I asked Romy of Team Oz, but she told me to have my people talk to her agent.
Tommorow it’s the tip of India, and an epic section to go with it!

Team Interviews : Romy ( Team 004 – Team SA [36] ) April 12, 2010

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Planning Rickshaw Route

Rickshaw Romy

Team 004 – Team SA [36], crewed by Romy from Durban and Sarah from Johannesburg have had the dubious honour of being the only team to yet get themselves in a traffic accident. Talking to us from the beach In Marari, Romy detailed the situation, saying that it can all get just a bit overloading at the busy Indian crossings. Trying to keep your eye on the blindspots, mirrors, and the intricate dance of traffic priorities meant that once motorcyclist managed to slip their attention when he tried to overtake them. A big scrape later and Romy saw much to her surprise the rider wobbling in her rear-view mirror and then fall over – fortunately at pretty low speeds. It was just bad luck the rider turned out to be about 80 years old and whilst completely unhurt was a bit shaken up by the surprise. A crowd of locals gathered around the scene pretty soon, which initially made Team 004 nervous -would they soon be dealing with an angry mob? Not at all – quite the opposite in fact – as the locals instead made sure the downed gentleman was ok, made sure he got onto an ambulance, and recorded all the details in case any insurance was needed later.  Minutes later everyone was on their way again, intact and all the more savvy to the mysteries of Indian traffic!

According to Team SA [36], every single day on the Malabar Rampage is completely different, wonderful in ways that you couldn’t possibly foresee. The days are never less that completely thrilling, with the challenge of both the mental and physical exertion requiring your complete commitment, and rewarding it every mile of the way.
As the only all-girl team on the rally, they were initially a little concerned about how the cultural difference might affect how they were received in the towns and villages. Sure enough, they got a lot of stares and looks, but soon realised this was in no way unfriendly – the passing people were just flat out amazed to see a pair of foreign women driving a flamboyant tuk-tuk.  The stares were soon added to by cheering and applause and Team SA [36] has never felt anything but welcome. When they had some minor mechanical problems early on, which turned out to be an overheat, they had to insist that the mechanic who tuned up took any money at all for his troubles.
Romy has some good tips for all those adventurers who want to follow in the route that this rally has blazed. Bring a cushion: the roads are bumpy, the suspension minimal, and the seats on the firm side. Install a water bottle holder: hydration is all important in this heat, even when it seems to be pouring down with rain. Get a cooler: even just a Styrofoam box to keep a bottle a few degrees cooler will feel like a gift from heaven when you’re cooking up in a heat wave.

Thanks GCRT102 April 9, 2010

Filed under: 1 — aravindbkumar @ 11:37 pm


Thanks Guy’s. Really!


Malabar Rampage – 2010 ( Day 1- Day 7 )

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Day 1: Chennai , April – 02, 2010

Children and the Rickshaw

Rickshaws swarmed by Children

It’s the first day of the event, and after having done all the basic meet-and-greet stuff yesterday it’s time to get down to business as the participants are introduced properly to the art of rickshaw operation. Everyone gathers to be issued their badges, complete their registration, and get started on the training grounds. The Rickshaw Challenge series in previous years has simply had one massive block training  session, lasting from nine in the morning till five in the evening, which was fairly comprehensive. This year we’re splitting it into two sessions to make even more sure everyone is confident and safe in the saddle. Even though we’re meant to have reached the day’s destination by nightfall there is now a night driving training session too, just in case.

Our training ground is usually a playground for children, and pretty soon we are getting an even more accurate simulation of rally conditions as crowds gather to see the brightly painted rickshaws and cheer us on! Participants better get used to attracting a whole lot of attention over the next couple of weeks.

That evening its back to the Star Rock bar at The Spring Hotel, where there’s already a live band playing for us, and the teams start swapping rickshaw handling tips and party until the small hours.


Day 2: Chennai, April – 03, 2010

Rickshaw mobbed by kids

Kids mob the Rickshaw

The 2nd morning and it’s time for breakfast and briefings. Participants are out of bed and on their feet, out of the cool and into the heat! This isn’t actually Boot Camp though so even the training sessions are fun, with skills being sharpened and confidence boosted by games such as Rickshaw Tag. It’s all fun and games, and despite this being the wildest adventure around we all want to come through it safely so the training is comprehensive and the organisers are taking good care of everyone.

Later that day we take to the streets in the dark! By now all the teams are pretty much rickshaw ninjas, and even after driving around the infamous Chennai streets in the evening rush hour not a single traffic incident or even bump occurs. We are all now fearless three-wheeled road warriors – just bring us a continent to conquer! But first, beauty sleep.


Day 3: Chennai to Tiruvannamalai, April – 04, 2010

Rickshaw Teams All set to go

Teams All set

It’s the fourth morning and despite whatever times the teams eventually got themselves to bed, there’s not a single one of us who isn’t just itching to kick off this adventure properly. First things first – we are all taken to the Tuscana restaurant (one of the Rampages valued sponsors) and given a truly epic breakfast. The spread is in our honour, and we all eat as ravenously as the watching eye of the local press will allow.

By 9am we are already back at The Spring Hotel, where there is even more of the media lurking around to cover the big send off. The folks from Red Bull are also in attendance, which means free Samples for everyone! A little over and hour later and The Spring Hotel’s owner does us the honour of dropping the flag on the start of the 2010 Malabar Rampage! What roaring couldn’t actually be done by the modest tuk-tuk engines was more than made up for by the crowd and by the participants. We are a go!
Since its Sunday it’s a fairly gentle start to the rally, without too much in the way of crazy challenges (yet) or interfering traffic.  Everyone is at home behind the handlebars, and even the rickshaws are purring like the fine street-machines they are. The only vehicle to suffer any mechanical hiccups is that of Team 007 ‘The Travel Scientists’ manned by Aravind.
A gorgeous cruise and a fair few miles later and we all arrive into the Sparsa Resort Hotel, which is a beautiful sight even if we weren’t covered in dust by then. The pool was so big and so blue that everyone just fell right in as soon as we got there, and pretty much stayed right there until late that night. We have yet to do any of the high mileage stages, but we can already tell that having picked the right hotels is really going to pay off.
Day 4: Tiruvannamalai to Yercaud, April – 05, 2010
Teams in Harur

Teams regrouped at Harur

The fourth morning and its glorious – no one could have asked for better. Already the teams are hungry for ever greater things, and all are relishing the chance for a serious up-hill section into Yercaud. Bring us that mountain! It’s a real test of the rickshaws and the finer points of control, as the smallest mistake in taking a corner or choosing our line will really punish our speed. The Rampage is certainly not a race or a speed-based event, but when you’ve only got 7 horsepower to play with it will take a good long time to get back up to pace if we stop! The heat down at sea level was getting serious, so we’re all really glad of the cooling breezes we start to pick up as we climb higher – as are the overworked tuk-tuk engines! None the less, every vehicle performs like a trooper. All except Team 007 again!
Gang of rickshaws

A perfect pack

Technical problems or not, the teams are by now really relaxing into the pace of the rally – sometimes just pulling over for no reason than a good view, an inviting tea stall, or even just to catch a sunbeam and listen to the radio. Team 007 shows everyone how it’s done and kick back with the radio tuned up until the trusty support vehicle rolls around and everyone’s on their way again.

The Malabar Rampage has no need of the tourist trail or the beaten track! We are right of the map here and have taken a route that the organizers scouted out that not even many of the locals knew about. We are deep in the forest, right amongst the wildlife. The teams navigate around bison, get right up close with a whole ark of animals, especially with the great circuses of monkeys that follow and investigate us.
That evening we roll up to the Glenrock Estates where we’re going to be making our camp for the next couple of days – its 6000 feet above sea level by now and the view is just magnificent. The accommodation is a sort of a deluxe permanent tent, which give us all the fun of sleeping under the stars without having to forgo any of the creature comforts. It’s beautiful here.  Team 007 got there late thanks to technical trouble again. Aravind has started to mutter darkly about sabotage and conspiracies.

Day 5: Yercaud, April – 06, 2010

Free day activities

Flying Rickshaw squirrel

The next day we kick back here at Glenrock, gather our energy for the upcoming stages and challenges. It’s an amazing place – lush greenery, shady trees, and the host is a great guy too. Not that we’re being lazy though – oh no. The teams are way up in the trees navigating the Flying Squirrel course of ropes strung between the mighty trees, and learning how to abseil down them afterwards. Later on as the sun sets we gathered around a huge bonfire and light the barbeque. In the warm night we ate delicious fresh chicken, watched the evening sky and listened to the forest. As one of our participants said – life is strange, and good.


Day 6: Yercaud to Coimbatore, April – 07, 2010

Rickshaws in Yercaud

Rickshaw Lineup in Yercaud

The sixth day lies before us – and it’s a long way down from what feels like the top of the world! Waving goodbye to the Glenrock Estates it’s all downhill from here to Coimbatore, literally. The participants soon found out that they will have to be a team in more than just name, as navigating down a hill with hairpin bends in a three wheeled vehicle is a co-operative endeavour. The passengers now don’t just navigate, support, and manage the supplies – they have to make sure they shift their weight from side to side in the tuk-tuk to keep as much traction on the road as possible.  If you’ve ever watched the crew on a yacht leaning from side to side as the boat makes its turns, it’s a lot like that – just with far more hooting and yelling and laughing!
Rickshaw Roadies

Team 004 on the Go

The amazing ability for India to have completely different microclimates from one area to the next made itself clear to the teams when they got down into Coimbatore – going from the mountain cool into what can only be described as a furnace. Like sharks we all found that if we ever stopped moving we could hardly breathe, so we ate up the last few miles with whatever wind we could find in our hair. We pulled up to the Sabari Nest Hotel – it was almost strange to have solid walls and traditional plumbing again after sleeping under the stars. Not that anyone was complaining. The value of a place having and air conditioned bar made itself obvious to everyone!


Day 7: Coimbatore to Trissur, April – 08, 2010

Team Sporting a Beer Gut

Team Sporting a Beer Gut

The stage is only 118km today, so everyone’s taking it easy and really getting into the spirit of adventure.  From Coimbatore we crossed the range of hills and hit the full monsoon season waiting for us on the other side in Trissur. The locals might complain about the rain, but to us it was amazing and incredibly welcome, as even first thing in the morning Coimbatore felt like an oven. We attracted even more attention and cheers than normal, as every team was hanging out the sides of their crazy tuk-tuks soaking up the cooling rain. Over the last 300km we’ve gone through three completely different climates and three distinct cultures. No breakdowns today, except as ever Team 007 – The Travel Scientists. Their zebra painted rickshaw ‘Lucy’ was actually flying like a dream,  but the windscreen wipers left something to be desired, so they and just about everyone else took lots of stops for sweet coconut water and tea and chatting with the locals.
A proper finish

A day well done

By now the participants are all weaving through traffic and around potholes like they were born for it, partly due to the training and now a few hundred kilometres of experience.  We all got in to the Luciya Palace Hotel more or less on time, but all via quite different routes thanks to directions from very friendly, very enthusiastic, and very wrong locals. Everyone got it right eventually. If ever there was a perfect example of just how fast India moves, Team 001 ‘Sporting A Beer Gut’ provided it. Having missed their turning altogether they drove for kilometres down an unmade road and had to call the Support Vehicle to navigate their way back. When they were given directions and turned around to come back, the road had been completely paved!

One of the highlights of the rally so far has been Team 003 ‘Team Oz’, made up of Brett and Gina. Brett is your standard strapping, muscled, handsome Australian airline pilot , naturally enough for Qantas. If ever a team had a readymade catchphrase for the side of their tuk-tuk it’s surely ‘Qantas Never Crash’? It’s been great for for anyone on the rally to watch a man used to piloting a 400,000 lb. aircraft driving a tuk-tuk that weighs less than the on-board drinks trolley. He glides around with some quite startling grace and precision. You have to love the Malabar Rampage. Brett also got lost and overshot the target by 40km – which just goes to show that jet speed won’t help you here; it’s all about the adventure and the exploration.

Day 8: Thrissur to Cochin, April – 08, 2010

Tomorrow only 85km, which everyon feels Heading for the Hotel Hi- Fi and a party held for us by the Round Table India. We have gone from one coast to the other, and hope to stop to jump in the ocean.
All Pictures courtesy Krisztian ( Team Satellite Zero)

Five Years On, The Rickshaw Challenge Celebrates Milestones in Adventure and Humanitarian Aid April 1, 2010

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Malabar Rampage Route Map

The 14 stage Malabar Rampage

This April 4th will see The Malabar Rampage – 2010 roar into life as an entirely new route in the infamous Rickshaw Challenge series.  The Malabar Rampage stretches an epic 2000 kilometres (roughly 1200 miles) through the majesty and the mystery of southern India’s Dravidian states. It will signal not only a milestone in adventure tourism, but also the 5th year of the Rickshaw Challenge Series.

Teams of adventurers from around the world have come from as far  afield as the UK, Egypt, Austria, South Africa, Hungary, Singapore, America and India itself. Each team, using only the noble and ubiquitous autorickshaw or ‘tuk’tuk’, will engage in some of the most exciting, memorable, and plain outrageous exploits the rallying world has ever seen, all against the backdrop of the most stunning scenery on earth. The Malabar Rampage is not an event for the speed freak or petrol-head, but instead attracts participants with the desire to explore, experience, and become immersed in the culture and landscape of southern India like never before.  This adventure is going right off the standard tourist trail, and nearly off the map altogether, as it brings to light the hidden jewels of culture and countryside secreted throughout the Dravidian states.

In a stage passing through Yercaud participants will visit and stay in a coffee plantation, fed by spring water, where they will spend the night under the stars. Later in Mararikulam the teams will explore idyllic coastal villages, ride the iconic Marvel Cruises’ houseboats, and dive in the sea. In Tuticorin there will be the chance to see local fishing industry at work, as well as experiencing botanical farms, and even to see the countryside from horseback rather than rickshaw.

The nineteen day , 14 stage long rally is set to be absolutely action-packed, giving not only the teams but the attending world media a chance to see entirely unknown parts of India, and showing already familiar areas in a completely new light. Every possible activity to showcase this beautiful and underexposed part of India has been crammed into this monster of a rally somewhere along the line.

Malabar Rampage Rickshaw Race

Malabar Rampage Logo

Both the participating teams and the organisers of the Malabar Rampage appreciate that it’s not enough just to experience and show-off this fantastic and unspoilt corner of the world, but that it is also important to give back to the local communities. The Malabar Rampage will represent not only the 5th year of the Rickshaw Challenge series, but also the collection and distribution of more than €50,000 of charitable aid for underprivileged local schools in association with Round table India.

The Malabar Rampage is all set to make history in the alternative and extreme tourism world, redefining what is possible for the amateur adventurer to achieve and experience. Followed by the international media in print, broadcast and online formats the event promises to provide worldwide exposure not only for the participants escapades but the invaluable sponsors who have helped make the rally a reality.

About CEMS:
Chennai Event Management Services (CEMS) is an award-winning international event planning and production company. We specialize in staging high-profile functions around the world, including events in Euope, Asia, and Africa such as the Malabar Rampage, Tech Raid and others. With offices in several countries in key locations across the globe, we are in a strategic position to create spectacular events with full multi-media support and first-class promotion.


One Hundred (100!) Litres Of Free Gas ! March 10, 2010

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Get hundred (100!) litres of free gas!The Malabar Rampage is just about to get underway, and there are still a couple of precious team slots open for the rally that will go down in adventuring history. These final few positions have come around due to teams unfortunately not being able to make it, and the organisers are sending out a last minute worldwide alert for those rare, hardy souls who want to drop whatever they’re doing and take off on the experience of a lifetime with One hundred (100!) litres of free gas!

One hundred (100!) litres of free gas

Rickshaw Challenge Route Elephant sighting

Malabar Elephant

The Malabar Rampage organisers had considered just picking up the adventuring world by the ankles and shaking it until a few crazy individuals shook loose and could be swept up into the world of the Rickshaw Challenge series. However, they know the old phrase, you catch more flies with honey. Of course, they don’t want flies; they want crazy adventurers – so naturally, rather than honey, they’re using lots and lots of gasoline.  Any last minute explorers who join up between right now and that green flag unleashing the rally will get One hundred (100!) litres of free gas for the rally from the organisers. Considering the fuel efficiency of the noble tricicular tuk-tuk, that is an awful lot of miles of unparalleled adventure right through the majesty and the mystery of the Dravidian states. About 2,140 miles, to be exact.

Rickshaw Challenge Charity, teams Visit Schools

Rickshaw Challenge Team

The requirements for joining the Malabar Rampage, even now at the last minute, are few – at least in terms of preparation or cost. However, teams will have to mentally prepare themselves on short notice for some of the most mind blowing antics that have ever been seen on a highway anywhere in the world. In a convoy of outrageously tricked-out autorickshaws, the participants will experience cities, jungles, temples, coastlines and cultures in a way inconceivable to the average (sane) tourist. This is a world premiere – the first time the notorious Rickshaw Challenge series has explored Southern India’s Dravidian states, and the madcap challenges, the cultural exploration, and the humanitarian mission at the heart of the rally are all bound to pass into international adventurer lore. This is the last chance for prospective teams to seize their chance, to banish any last minute butterflies, and become part of something amazing in a rally like no other that will also help the underprivileged schools of rural India. To date, the Rickshaw Challenge series has raised just shy of $50,000 for this extremely worthwhile cause, and anyone in this year’s Malabar Rampage will be part of breaking and exceeding this milestone figure.

Log on to the Rickshaw Challenge website to get the full details and the last minute procedures and requirements to join up with the Malabar Rampage. To help you get registered and get ready (and pick up all your free gas) for the Rampage the staff there will be happy to inform and help you in any way they can. Do not walk but instead run to the sign-up section of the Malabar Rampage – it’s last call


The Malabar Rampage Gearing Up For The Start – And Puts The Race Into Racy March 5, 2010

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Malabar Rampage Rickshaw Race

Malabar Rampage Logo

Chennai, India. 6th, March 2010 – The inaugural Malabar Rampage is a little over a month away from starting, and looks set to exceed even the notorious Rickshaw Challenge series in terms of sheer vehicular craziness.  The Osmond’s 1972 hit Crazy Horses could well have been about the seven horsepower that the noble three wheeled auto-rickshaws produce: modest enough, but the power behind the most exciting, memorable, and plain outrageous exploits the rallying world has ever seen across thousands of miles of  stunning Indian countryside.

The Malabar Rampage is the latest route in the Rickshaw Challenge series, stretching a gruelling 2000 kilometres (roughly 1200 miles) through the majesty and the mystery of southern India’s Dravidian states. Now in its 5th year, the Rickshaw Challenge series has become synonymous with the spirit of adventure and its completely novel take on how to ‘win’ and become ‘The King of the Rickshawallas’.

The Malabar Rampage is not an event for unthinking petrolheads or speed freaks – the fun loving, madcap ethos behind the Rampage has attracted teams of adventurers from around the world. Discouraging speed or point-to-point racing, the Malabar Rampage will have a point system based on completing weird and wonderful challenges, feats of daring and imagination, and helping underprivileged schools and villages along the way.

‘Is the world ready for amphibious rickshaw?’ is a good question. ‘Does the world have any use for amphibious rickshaw?’ might be ever better

Malabar Rampage Route Map

Malabar Rampage Route Map

To make sure the inaugural Malabar Rampage kicks off in true style, and likely goes down in history, the competitors this summer will face a challenge never before attempted : to build the world’s first amphibious rickshaw and pilot it across a river. ‘Is the world ready for amphibious rickshaw?’ is a good question. ‘Does the world have any use for amphibious rickshaw?’ might be ever better – but what is for sure is that the imagination and the guile of the Rampage teams will produce vehicles the likes of which have never been seen.

Rickshaw With Elephant

A day in The Rickshaw Challenge

Some of the tests facing the teams will be old favourites from prior Rickshaw Challenges – such as testing the skills of the drivers at reversing vehicles that are barely made to go forward in the first place, drag racing against sacred cows, and decorating their rickshaws in the most outrageously pimp fashion possible. Ever seen a giant mouse with a two-stroke engine weave between potholes through the most stunning countryside known to man? The participants of the Rickshaw Challenge have, and when the Malabar rampage kicks off on April 2nd we will doubtless see a whole new level of crazy. Places are open for teams to register to participate, and as the Rickshaw Challenge series has already contributed more that €50,000 directly to deprived local schools there are still chances to become part of this astounding adventure with a humanitarian conscience.