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    Road Trip From India to UK

    A travel tale of three mothers who drove from New Delhi to London, covering 23,700 Kms, crossing 17 countries in just 95 days. Join them as they take us through the most EPIC road trip journey EVER! 

    A road trip is like a travel none other. And to do that across 17 countries, 23,700 kilometers in over 95 days is life changing to say the least.

    Epic Road Trip

    Road trips are unpredictable and unstructured and add to that, the thrill that there are countless amazing destinations waiting to be stumbled upon. To us, the world has always been a large ball of twine, just waiting to be unraveled and what better way to do it than with the wind in your hair and the road ahead of you.


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    How It All Started!

    Nidhi relaxing on top of the car like a boss

    It all began with Women Beyond Boundaries. Women Beyond Boundaries is conceptualized by Nidhi Tiwari and Smita Mazumdar. WBB is a platform to empower women drivers with skills to reach out to other women in far-flung areas, in difficult terrain in order to deliver goods and services.

    Nidhi solo riding from India to UK

    When Nidhi proposed this crazy expedition from Delhi to London in an Indian car, across 17 countries, we promptly hitched our excitement to hers, packed our bags and jumped into the car. Incidentally, Nidhi was the solo driver for the expedition.

    The Journey Across 17 Countries

    Somya and Rashmi while on the way to London

    The three of us flagged off from Dhyanchand Stadium on the 23rd of July 2015 and reached London on the 28th of October 2015, after having traversed across Myanmar, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, France and UK.

    Rashmi and Soumya on their way to London

    The Indian leg was surprisingly the most exciting and adventurous. All went as planned till Manipur. Driving from Kohima to Imphal, we were stuck in the middle of the road due to a strike called at Imphal. The roads were blocked and we could not move further or go back to where we started. So, we were sitting in the car with nowhere to go, watching the protesters pass us by, some with sticks and stones in the hand!

    The most epic road trip ever

    They looked on us curiously wondering what these women were doing on the road. One guy, drunk to his gills, walked up to us and started talking to us. We kept a straight face and humored him by making some polite conversation. He told us all about how we reminded him of his sisters back home, for about 15 minutes and then moved on.

    Phew! So we thought to ourselves, this is what we will have to endure for the next 7 hours. Then came another bunch of guys who first passed us by and then came back curiously peering into our car.

    Soumya and Rashmi in Manipur

    One of them told us that it was not safe for us to be sitting in the car during these protest hours and urged us to come to his house where he could organize lunch for us. We were in a dilemma now, to trust or not to trust? Just trusted our instincts and drove behind him to his house.


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    To Trust Or Not To Trust

    The three wonder women stuck in a strike

    When we parked the car outside his house, it was a by lane with a small wooden entrance and just as we parked, about 4 guys walked out to check us out. We were now getting slightly panicky! Was it a wrong decision to trust our instincts and follow him? He kept asking us to come inside his house. We asked him where his family was and he urged us to come inside his house yet again.

    Finally some shelter

    We stepped into his house with a lot of trepidation only to be greeted by the most welcoming smiling faces of his mother and two sisters. What a relief! From then on, till 7 in the evening, we probably had a wonderful time.  His mother cooked the most awesome pork and some authentic Manipuri food for us, after which we went for an off-road drive to a picnic spot by the Sekmai river, he played the guitar for us, sang songs and made us feel so at home and like a part of his family.

    The family who helped them in their journey

    These were the first of the many people we met en route who went out of their way to help us.

    Most Memorable Part

    Rashmi and Soumya driving through Stans

    On completing the trip, people always ask us, what was the most memorable part of the trip? Well, the ‘Stans! Driving through the erstwhile silk route was an onslaught to the senses from the quirky to the exotic, Las Vegas meets Purani Dilli.

    The beautiful hills of Stans

    Deserts, Mountains, High altitude lakes, Lush valleys, this region has it all! Dictators and nomads, yurts and palaces, the soviet detritus and the excitement of a new nation, over a 1000 years of history to explore and we were straining at the leash!

    You are only a stranger till you say Hello!

    You are only a stranger till you hello
    For us, travel has always been about connecting with people. You are only a stranger till you say Hello! Central Asians are the friendliest lot that we have met on our travels. They practically adopt you, especially if you are an Indian.

    The journey never ends

    We were completely blown over and amazed by the impact that the Indian culture has over this region, particularly Bollywood. It is almost reverential. We got the first taste of this when we crossed over from China to Kyrgyzstan.

    Disco Dancing in the ‘Stans

    The tale of an epic journey

    It was quite chilly and we were waiting for the customs to clear our papers. This big and burly officer walks up to us and says, “ Hindustan?” we nod yes and he gives us a big grin and breaks into a gig, singing” Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy”! He then went on to ask us about Mithun Chakraborty!

    Chilling in Stans

    We never thought we would be having a sign language conversation with a Kyrgyz official about Mithun’s health and acting prowess! And it has been like this throughout central Asia. The moment the locals would figure out we were Indians, they would either start singing or dancing to Mithun’s songs.

    Soumya and Rashmi at the arctic circle

    At a few places, they would even whip out the mobile phones, play the songs and request us to dance along with them. Dancing to “I am a disco dancer” on Tashkent streets is probably our most bizarre but favorite memory.

    The most wonderful family they met on their journey

    We have always believed that no one parties like the Punjabis, but believe us, they are not a patch on the Uzbekis. They are tireless. This one time, we were at a restaurant and on the way to the restroom, we passed a table of Uzbeks who were celebrating the birth of a child of one of their mates.

    Next thing we know, we were practically kidnapped, boxed in between these people, no way out, gyrating to what? I am a disco dancer! Again!

    The most bizarre experience would probably be when the ladies would plonk their kids in our arms and demand to click pictures with them. The experience was unsettling and surreal to say the least.

    What’s was like traveling as women through Central Asia?

    Chilling like a boss

    These countries are Muslim, but of a more moderate, open and secular variety than you might find in parts of the Middle East. This combined with Soviet and Russian influence, can make Central Asia feel like the land of paradox. It never felt unsafe and we were treated like royalty. We for one felt like exotic spices on this silk route!

    Nidhi on the way to London

    Another most frequently asked question is how easy or difficult it was to get the permit. The process is laborious but doable. Myanmar and china require permits if you plan to drive. Myanmar regulations require that an escort vehicle follows you from entry to exit. The fee included our accommodation and meals.

    In the middle of nowhere

    Also, China requires an English speaking guide in the car for self-drive vehicles. We also had to take care of the food and accommodation of the guide. The best way to go about it is to contact travel agencies in these countries and they would process it for a fee (and it doesn’t come cheap!)

    Some touristy pleasures

    On a journey of this magnitude, the challenges are as much within as outside. But pushing those boundaries was what this expedition was all about.

    A few tips:

    • Make sure the paperwork and visas are in order before you leave.
    • If you are planning a road trip, the procurement of visas needs to be a well-choreographed dance, given that some of the countries issue transit visas for a few days only.
    • The entry, traversing the country and the exit need to be well planned.
    • Ensure that all the papers are in order. Make sure you have enough number of copies. If stopped by police, preferably show the copies instead of the originals. Especially, Central Asia and Russia.
    • Diesel was a problem in Uzbekistan in the sense that they didn’t have any! Had to buy in black and adulterated one at that.
    • Ensure that the basic maintenance of the vehicle is carried out every 5000 kilometers.
    • Split your money between travel cards and cash.
    • If traveling in the winter, make sure that you are geared up with enough warm clothing. The cold is brutal. We have the deepest appreciation and respect for Bangalore weather post this expedition.
    • Lastly, ensure that you pack an open mind and a whole lot of curiosity. Travel is liberating and the learning is immense.

    So, next time you plan a trip abroad, we recommend Central Asia. Just get off the plane/car and yell “Mithun Chakraborty” and let the magic unfold!

    The beautiful feeling of accomplishment

    A Delhi car in London- Yes, a feeling of accomplishment!


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    Category: Adventure, Road Trips, Travel Story, Travelogues

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