258km (160 miles)
06.08.2008 - 06.08.2008 22 °C
Hassan - Facts
- Town centre looks like Beirut on a bad day.
The teams flag-off together each morning, but breaks apart very quickly as people stop for fuel, food, breakdowns and unplanned detours.
We are regularly passed by fellow rally participants on the road when we stop for a break or to nurse our engine troubles. Today we breakdown due to a wiring fault but this time we are joined by Knight Riderz, Mile High Maniacs, the Mean Machine, Madrid 2016 and others. A local Tuk Tuk driver pulls in with his stereo blaring encouraging an impromptu dance party on the side of the road. While everyone takes a turn trying to fix our engine trouble, a local lady emerges from a nearby house and offers us chai and cake. Finally the rickshaw mechanics skid to a screeching halt inches from our legs, rewire our damaged cables and we’re off again.
Not too many miles further on we get another flat tyre but fortunately the mechanics are hot on our tail. This time we get more fixed than we bargained for including the windscreen wiper, headlamp and the horn. We also get ‘rain curtains’ for the back which is not a moment too soon. It seems we have seen the last of the sunshine - driving over the Western Ghats brings with it the monsoon rains.
The roads are bad today with oncoming trucks and buses regularly crossing into our lane, leaving us inches to spare or forcing us off the road to avoid a head-on collision. We are either straining the accelerator up hill in 1st gear or stamping on the temperamental brakes on sharp downhill turns. Potholes are hidden by standing water and the red earth washed onto the roads by the incessant monsoons. The roads are steep and unfinished, making the driving slow with long periods of concentration. The petrol stations are so few that we are carrying 3 litres of spare ready mixed fuel in emptied water bottles in the back.
We still manage to run out of petrol overlooking a muddy rain gorged river in the lush green hills of the Ghats. Unfortunately, we are so busy enjoying the scenery we forget to put the petrol cap back on. The search for a replacement in the next village is successful despite everything being written in Urdu and the only spoken language being Kannada.
We offer to call for help at the next village when we pass the Spaniards who have broken down with no phone signal. We pass the Norwegians attempting the usual jump start having snapped their starting handle several days ago. We pass Compact Pussycat playing Jenga on the side of the road – their front wheel careered off when they hit an unexpected pothole at 30km/h.
Arriving in Mangalore in good time we still manage a whistle stop sight seeing tour of the city in search of our hotel. If we aren’t lost then we look lost and if we don’t look lost then we suspect we were lost. We drive the wrong way up one way streets (several times, occasionally on purpose), and receive a confused shoulder shrug from a traffic policeman who seems unconcerned when we jump the red traffic lights.
After a tense final hour trying to follow a city map while dicing with death in the Mangalore traffic we spend the evening being entertained by the Rotary Club and fast flowing bottles of Kingfisher. Not a very sensible 3am finish when every day starts with an unwelcome 5.30am wake up call!
Dead Dogs: 3