The CEMS Blog

The official blog of Chennai Event Management Services

Team Interviews : Tim ( Team 001 – Sporting a Beer Gut ) April 12, 2010

Team Sporting a Beer Gut

Team Sporting a Beer Gut

Team 001 ‘Sporting a Beer Gut’ team member Tim agrees with Romy’s opinion of the friendliness and the helpfulness of the  local population, who don’t think they’re really seen many that weren’t waving and cheering at the time.  On at least one memorable occasion on a highway a car has pulled up alongside us into the oncoming lane, so the occupants could wave at us and shout encouragement. This is great fun, but a little bit scary how the drivers never seem all that fussed about the oncoming heavy vehicles!

Their tuk-tuk has been performing brilliantly, with only one exception on Thursday when the rear-left wheel bearing shook loose. The team played it cool and pulled over to the side of the road and enjoyed a rest and the lush view. Within minutes the Rickshaw Challenge Support Vehicle had caught them up, fixed the problem, and saw them back on their way again. Seeing India in this magnificent style is the experience of a lifetime, but it’s a enormous weight of the teams minds to know that there will always be support in the event of any breakdowns or problems.
Team 001’s top traveling tips – install yourself a CD player or music player in your Tuk-tuk. There’s nothing better to keep you focused, lighten the mood, or just chill out to at a scenic rest stop. Oh, and everyone back in the Western World – appreciate your traffic laws!
 

Team Interviews : Romy ( Team 004 – Team SA [36] )

Filed under: 1,Malabar Rampage - 2010 — aravindbkumar @ 7:18 pm
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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.
 

Day 9: Cochin to Mararikulam, April – 10, 2010

Last night was a fantastic (and late) night in the company of our good friends at RTI and Marvel Tours. Aside from an endless supply of great stories about the area, RTI was also buying the drinks so pretty much everyone was up until about 3am. Everyone was more than grateful for the later start time of 9.30 am this morning, but there was a mixed response of early and late-comers, naming no names!

The early folk could not be restrained, and took off to scout out the area and the route ahead. The attraction of the idyllic of Marari Fishermen Village Beach Resort was strong, and even the most bleary eyed teams didn’t take much persuasion to get going.

The roads today were just about perfect with precious few of the dreaded pot-holes to be seen, but unfortunately the traffic was just wicked in the built-up areas, with complete gridlock lasting up to two hours at a time. The heat in stationary traffic is bad enough for the human participants, but for the little air-cooled rickshaws it was just too much, requiring the teams to shut the engine down at the end of every short movement. Stop-start traffic is a nuisance at the best of time, but keep in mind that the teams have to yank-start the tuk-tuk engine every single time!

It turns out that Marari Fishermen Village Beach Resort was absolutely worth the few difficulties in getting here. Pristine, abandoned stretches of golden sand and coastline overlooking a picturesque fishing village, and no other guests at all in the restaurant or bar which means the service is amazing too. The Malabar Rampage looks like it’s got its own private resort for the next couple of days!

Tomorrow, adventures on a houseboat!

 

Day 8: Thrissur to Cochin, April – 09, 2010

Elephant Rickshaw

Elephant Rickshaw

Today is only 85km, which by now all the participants feel is the equivalent to a day off – anything less than a hundred kilometres in their rickshaws is nothing to them!  There was a last minute change of plan with accommodation last night when the originally scheduled hotel in Thrissur tuned out to lack Twin beds. The whole rally had more or less made it in by 4.30pm and was having a drink in the suspiciously overpriced bar in the Alternate hotel ‘ Luciya Palace’ when one of the organizers made a discovery – there was a second bar in the hotel all along, 35% cheaper, which had been deliberately hidden from our thirsty teams! Combined with some suspect bathroom fittings and bedroom doors that didn’t really lock.
There was some excitement yesterday as rumours and half-formed communications flew around that team #036 had actually knocked someone over! After a short period of fairly frantic communication and checking, it became clear that the whole situation was not serious, and after drawing curious crowd of locals the issue was resolved quickly and with no fuss.
This morning was indeed an easy cruise for everyone, with Cherai Beach along the route tipped by our travel sponsor Marvel Tours as being precisely the kind of hidden gem the Malabar Rampage is all about. With such a comparatively short route laid out ahead of them the teams went about the route entirely their own way, taking detours, seeing the sights. The Hungarian contingent really threw themselves into the regional activities and took the local ferries all over town.
Satellite Zero Ferry

Auto Rickshaw In the ferry

The tuk-tuks are all, if anything, running far too smoothly – even team #007 ‘Travel Scientists’ beleaguered but beloved Lucy. The Malabar Rampage has with it a resident mechanic, who unfortunately signed-up to be paid by the job rather than the day, and is by now very bored indeed!

The Hi-Fi Apartments were exactly what the participants needed. Aside from the creature comforts, the individual apartments provided some needed privacy and rest for a few hours before the party thrown in our honour by Round Table India and Marvel Tours.
 

Thanks GCRT102 April 9, 2010

Filed under: 1 — aravindbkumar @ 11:37 pm

image

Thanks Guy’s. Really!

 

Malabar Rampage – 2010 ( Day 1- Day 7 )

Filed under: 1 — aravindbkumar @ 10:59 pm
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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!

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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.
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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.
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All Pictures courtesy Krisztian ( Team Satellite Zero)
 

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

Filed under: 1 — aravindbkumar @ 9:15 pm
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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.
Website: http://rickshawchallenge.com/