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Old 17th August 2013, 18:09   #1
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Default GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!

Sometime in early 2010

My friend mentioned about a road trip covering almost 1/3rd of the globe when he came for vacation. He came across this one when he was searching on the internet on how to travel by road to India from Cyprus. All of us got really excited hearing this, as we hadn’t done any major road trips after our Bangalore – Leh – Bangalore one. But the scale of this one and the logistics involved in it was huge compared to the ones that we had done earlier. Nevertheless, we thought we should give it a try.

We are talking about a road trip from London to Ulaanbaatar, from the capital city of one of the world powers to the one whose rank in the world economy is worse than India’s in Football. Mongolia – a land locked country which has survived the transformation of human life in this planet is one of the few countries where people still lead a nomadic life. Even though the Mongol rally is primarily a road trip it also has a charity element in it. Each of the participating teams should collect a minimum sum of 1000 GBP which will go to a charity trust in Mongolia that supports the education of its children. The teams can also split it in a way so that they can support any other charity of their choice.

There are no set routes to do this journey. One may head straight across Russia and then finish the journey in 6000 Miles, or go touch the Arctic circle in the north or go south and do a hairpin turn at cape town. Its all upto the individual teams or drivers!
There will be no aid of any sort for the teams in the rally. Every team is on its own!
One can only take a car which has an engine capacity less than 1200CC. If you register with a car with a bigger engine capacity you will have to pay a huge sum per 100cc above 1200CC. And the car can only be at the max 9 years old.

That’s about Mongol Rally and its “rules “!

Mid 2010

The idea really got us going – well sort of; without thinking too much about the activities to complete, we registered for the rally. The registration fee for a team was 700 GBP
So on some day in mid 2010 , the team “Genghis Khan’s East India Company “ was born!
We thought the fear of losing such a huge sum and the pressure from the credit card executives can make us move ourselves from the cubicles to search and arrange the logistics to make the trip happen.
So did it work? Well sort of.
We planned the route of our rally. It covered majority of Europe and then Turkey , Iran , Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan, Tajikistan , Kyrgyzstan , Kazakhstan, Russia and finally Mongolia.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-map-before.jpg
Next logical step was to get the visas for all these countries. The obvious option was to approach a reputed travel agent in Bangalore. They promised that they will get us the visas for all these “not so traveled” countries and took INR 1 Lakh as the initial fee for the four of us.
Once they verified that they have received the money, well that was the end of their service!! They had promised that they will be able to get all the documents such as invitation letter, hotel reservations, other documents except those which we need to give them. (Passport, salary slips, bank statement etc). But now they demand us to get all these documents and they will just go to the embassy and submit the documents.

This was first of the set backs that we had to face even before starting the rally. Then it was the time for my friend to get involved in an accident. He was injured quite severely and doctors instructed him to take complete bed rest for another 3-4 months!
Another friend of mine was injured during his corporate football tournament and he was also asked not to drive for long durations!



Cutting the long story short , we came to a situation where we had to call off the rally for the year 2011!
End of Mongol Rally Attempt 1!!

Fast forward to 2012!
February 2012
Learning lesions from the failed attempt at the Mongol rally 2011 and with more enthusiasm, we signed up for the Mongol rally 2012. The only difference in our approach this time was that we will work out the visas ourselves as much as we can and well that’s it. Other stuffs we thought we will work it as we progressed.

Did the easiest thing first – Again! Paid the registration amount again to the organizers and retained the same name for our team. ( Genghis Khan’s East India Company – from now on will be mentioned as GKEIC ).

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-mr2012.jpg


Then we started to work out the visas for UK, Schengen, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia.
Getting the visas for UK and Schengen was relatively easy. But for all those countries that ended with a ‘ jan ‘ or a ‘tan’ or an ‘ia’ it was really difficult. I am not going into the details of it now. May be I will at a later point of time or I never will.

Next thing – A car! We wanted to get a Tata Nano to make our team a completely Indian. We tried for that in all the possible ways that we could. But then we are just average IT guys who have no big connection or network. And in our country, things don’t happen without the same. Next possible option was to buy a car from UK. We saw many Toyota Yaris s, Fiat Pandas, Jimnys, Altos, Swifts, Corsas, and Fiestas ( 03 -05 makes )
Most of them were out of our budget or had many previous owners or had more than 150000 miles clocked. We were running out of time and as the last week for registering the car with the organizers came, we settled ourselves with a 2003 model 3 door Nissan Micra that had done 75000 miles.


GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-car.jpg


Now that we got the UK visa and the car, we were sure that worst case, we can do a UK road trip!

We were still behind getting visas for other countries and finally just one week before the rally start date, we got ready with all the visas ; well almost. We got all the visas required to complete the rally as per the below route.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-223899_165133730286694_308566421_n.jpg

So finally after 2 years since we started our preparation, we were at the Good wood racing circuit in Chichester England waiting to be flagged off to a journey of our dreams.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-good-wood.jpg

The 4th one couldn't join us at the flag off , he joined us later from Frankfurt.
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Old 17th August 2013, 20:13   #2
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

Let me congratulate you on this feat. And Thank you for flagging off this great T'log for us to enjoy.

I must say, TBHP is now having some really exotic logs here. And Central Asia seems to be hot this year. Umm, am loving it, bring it on!!!

Last edited by wanderer4x4 : 17th August 2013 at 20:15.
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Old 17th August 2013, 20:21   #3
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

High aspirations and salute you all to think,plan and to execute this trip.
I would also request you to give a brief idea of the visa procedures at the end of your travelogue. In case others decide the same route it will immensely help.

Also make it the longest travelogue ever written with loads of pics .
I am glued to this thread.
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Old 17th August 2013, 20:32   #4
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

Gentlemen, all my best wishes on your epic journey, which surely will make many BHPians jealous. I am sure a lot of planning has gone into this trip.
You have a Nissan micra, a RHD vehicle used in England. Do you anticipate any problem in Europe, where it is LHD, especially while changing lanes and while overtaking ? The headlights may need adjustment, I am sure you would have looked into all these.
Looking forward to your travelogue and once again, all the best
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Old 17th August 2013, 23:28   #5
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

Before I move on with the rally, let me introduce
The Team
3rd May 2002, that is the day fate brought us four souls together for the first time ever (start of college… some say). And today we have survived each other for almost 11 years. It’s a success story in itself and I guess our love for traveling has played a large part in it.

From the time when we used to pack a couple of shirts and catch the first available bus on the drop of a hat to the nights we spent cuddled up in a car trying to beat the cold and gather some sleep in the deserts of Ladakh, the only thing that has kept our sanity intact is the affinity we have to keep moving in general.


Sibynho : El capitano (self appointed). The guy who gets stuff done. His job is pretty simple… take care of everything….from running around for the visas in the morning to checking on the car in the afternoon to touching up on the website late into the night. Oh and did I mention that he is taking a crash course in fixing cars at a local garage.

Occupation : Software Engineer , Bangalore

Kent : Compulsive traveler and survival expert who just cannot stay put. Having traveled almost the whole of Europe, we are relying on his survival expertise to keep us alive on the trip. In fact he is the reason why we enrolled for the Mongol rally in the first place (You know.. DiCaprio in Inception kind of stuff… albeit with a beer belly).

Occupation: Software Engineer Pune

Rejo : A petrolhead in the true sense of the word and our main pilot. Nothing turns him on like a chance to get behind the wheels. That he is in charge of selecting our ride is a testimony to that fact. (Which terriblly went wrong !!! ) Having kept us alive on the road for the last ten years, Rejoy hopes to enjoy his greatest orgasm yet, ‘Driving halfway round the world.

Occupation : Software Engineer Bangalore

TV : Photographer in chief and the team’s mental therapist. Owns a masters degree in sleeping in the back seat. Jack of a few a trades and master obviously of none. Was originally in charge until siby took over due to lack of traction. The creative head of the team on a perpetual writer’s block.

Occupation: Software Engineer , Bangalore.

We are so sure that we are dangerously ill equipped and out of aces for a road trip of this scale. However what we are hopeful is our friendship and team work that will take us till the finish line.


Mongol rally fact:-
We are the first Indian team to be a part of Mongol rally.

Moving on..
Before we headed to the starting line, we took the delivery of our car. As I mentioned earlier it was a 2003 model 3 dr Micra with 75000 miles (110,000 kms) on board. We were not really happy that it was a 3 door as we were 4 fully grown adults and with luggage to survive for 40 days – it was never going to be comfortable. We also had to find space for spare tires, Tent, Sleeping bags , stove and cooking gas. We also got to know that our car did not have A/C!


In short not at all a car that someone going for such a trip wishes for.
The only modification that we did to the car was to fit roof rails. The plan was to buy a roof box may be at a later point of time in Turkey or so. Things are not very cheap in these western countries and we dint want to exhaust our credit cards before even starting the trip.

We headed south towards our camping ground the day before the start of the rally. We reached the place at around 10pm in the night and did our registration formalities.
Anybody who has been to England knows how the English summers are. It has been raining since the day that we reached London and our camping site was a field which was supposed to be dry in the summer. But then the English weather made it almost like a marsh land.


None of us had ever camped or even put up a tent. So you can guess what happened, we tried to read the user manual of the tent and tried to put it up in the rain. After a lot of failed attempts, we understood that its impossible for a first timer to put a tent in the rain reading user manuals.
The difference in ideas about putting the tent didn’t help either. So finally we decided to sleep in the car.

14th July 2012.
We woke up really early – rather we were waiting for the sun to be up to go out and find some services off the motorway to become comfortable.
After having our breakfast we headed back to Good-wood circuit where the rally would be flagged off after the initial event.

We were given our slots among the teams and we were again proved that ours was one of the least equipped teams. The other teams made us feel that we were over dressed for this launch party. I am sure our car too felt the same. There was this team from Scotland wearing their traditional dress, some were dressed in the army uniform and there was even a ‘naked’ team. There were ambulances, fire engines, ice cream vans among the cars. One guy shipped his Smart car from US and was planning to finish the rally alone. There were 2 all girls teams from Czech republic in their Skoda Fabia.
One team was sponsored entirely by Chevorlet , driving the all new Aveo.

The under dressed car among the group. Team GKEIC

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-car-slot.jpg


Socializing
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One man team from the US of A
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Other cars
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-other-car-5.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-other-car-2.jpg
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Yellow team
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Look at the all terrain tires and other equipments on the roof
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-other-car-3.jpg


All women team
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-all-women-team.jpg


Rolls Royce-Not for the rally

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-not-rally.jpg


Aston Martin-not for the rally again

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Leyland Truck

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One retired fella

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-one-retired-fella.jpg


Team Chevy
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-team-chevy.jpg


Start line
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-start-line.jpg


Starting grid

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-line-up-rally.jpg


Bikers
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Random

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-good-wood-1.jpg

Naked team.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-traveling-naked.jpg


The rally organizers had some events going on around and some artists paid to keep the crowd entertained.

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Old 18th August 2013, 01:33   #6
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by premc44 View Post
Gentlemen, all my best wishes on your epic journey....
You have a Nissan micra, a RHD vehicle used in England. Do you anticipate any problem in Europe, where it is LHD, especially while changing lanes and while overtaking ? The headlights may need adjustment, I am sure you would have looked into all these.
Looking forward to your travelogue and once again, all the best
Thank you Premc. With respect to driving in LHD countries,obviously its not easy with a RHD car. We had problems when it came to driving on the correct lane to begin with ; and yes over taking , lane changing etc.
But to be honest, I found it easier to drive a RHD car on the right side of the road than a LHD car. I mean if its RHD you dont need to worry about the car's controls.
Headlight adjustments, frankly we dint do any adjustments. Legally it should become an issue when you are importing. As we were only passing by we were still within the rules.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amit_purohit20 View Post
High aspirations and salute you all to think,plan and to execute this trip.
I would also request you to give a brief idea of the visa procedures at the end of your travelogue. In case others decide the same route it will immensely help.

Also make it the longest travelogue ever written with loads of pics .
I am glued to this thread.
Thank you Amit. Yes visa procedures - I can almost start a consultancy firm providing visa services. It was really really hectic and a learning curve.
May be once I complete the travelogue I can help with specific questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderer4x4 View Post
Let me congratulate you on this feat. And Thank you for flagging off this great T'log for us to enjoy.

I must say, TBHP is now having some really exotic logs here. And Central Asia seems to be hot this year. Umm, am loving it, bring it on!!!
Thank you , I hope I can add my bit to the same
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Old 18th August 2013, 12:58   #7
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

Looks like a mega-travelogue with lots of interesting stuff.
Thanks for bringing this in.. Stayin tuned to this.
All the best.
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Old 18th August 2013, 13:48   #8
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

Hooked to this thread. Thanks for making us proud.
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Old 18th August 2013, 14:16   #9
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

Very intrigued!! Subscribed and look forward to reading more of your travelogue
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Old 18th August 2013, 14:58   #10
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

Just by the couple of posts on your adventure, I could already sense that this is going to be one of the best travelogues I've ever read.

Please take your time and give us a good story.

4 Guys - 16 Countries - 16k km and all this in a 2 door hatchback and that without AC. SHEER GUTS is all I can say!!

And I can understand the kind of friendship you guys share between you four(11 years), trust me it is very rare to have such kind of friends.

We are a bunch of 8 guys(the backbenchers or the last row warmers ) who have done every non-sense together for more than a decade since our college days. This travelogue tells me that there can be nothing better than doing something like this with your bestest friends.

But the problem we have is, almost all of us are totally spoilt brats, and discipline is the last word in our dictionary :(

Last edited by CliffHanger : 18th August 2013 at 15:13.
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Old 18th August 2013, 21:01   #11
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Default Re: GKEIC's road trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a puny ca

Looking forward to the mother of all TL's. It doesn't get any better than this. Bring it on guys.

Last edited by rajneeesh : 18th August 2013 at 21:02.
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Old 19th August 2013, 22:17   #12
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Mongolian Rally! WOW.

Eyes are going to be glued to this one for long. Something that everyone would like to do, but only becomes a dream.

Bring it on
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Old 19th August 2013, 22:29   #13
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Oh boy! Eagerly looking forward to your cross country story man! Take us through a virtual journey and we would like to feel, enjoy, and experience with you guys. Once in a life time experience and we would at least like to have an opportunity to listen to it if not be part of it. Thanks mate and eagerly awaiting to see the rally.
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Old 19th August 2013, 22:56   #14
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Friends , 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Thank you everyone for your nice words

Day 1

Mongol rally flag off was not as eventful or dramatic as a F1 / WRC or for that matter any local racing championship. At the driving seat I wished I could push the puny Micra around the corners of Good Wood circuit before we get into the open roads. But then 300+ teams, there was this unavoidable traffic jam in the circuit.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-queue.jpg

Once out of the circuit each team had their own ideas of reaching Dover where we do our first border crossing to France. We had a slot booked for our car in the Euro tunnel train at 20 50 so that we needn’t really rush from Chichester to Dover. We took the scenic coastal route as opposed to the Motorways which were longer but quicker. The route though scenic through the south coast of England, we were not really enjoying it as it was raining heavily.

Before we reach Folkestone, a couple of more pics from England.

Hotel in Croydon ( The city which was affected by riots a couple of years ago )
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-croydon-hotel.jpg

London Olympics

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-london-olympics.jpg

London Bridge
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-london-bridge.jpg

Car posing without us
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-good-wood2.jpg

Our car accessory supermarket.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-halfords.jpg

A castle on our way.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-english-castle.jpg

Our way forward.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-france.jpg



After a really long drive we reached Folkestone and then drove our car inside the Euro tunnel train. It was a different kind of experience for us – in a train that goes under water. We were not allowed to get out of the car, or that was what the lady in the PA system kept saying in both French and English.

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After 40-50 minutes I drove out of the car and queued in front of the French border for our first time zone change and border crossing.
The first border crossing on road was brief. The officer checked our passports; he was satisfied with the visa and the dates and just let us go.


We had a reservation made in one of the hotels in Lille. The hotel name was Formula 1 and it costs only 15 Eur per person per night.

I was in the driving seat and well the moment of truth was in front of me. I had to drive a RHD car on the right side of the road. The round abouts, the traffic signals, the lanes everything was on the wrong side of the road. I was really trying to concentrate on the road and the signals so hard that I make no mistakes. (Once when I was driving in Sweden, I had taken a wrong turn and was almost heading to a motorway against the direction of traffic.) So the track record was also not so good with me driving on the wrong side of the road. The strategy that I thought I can use was to follow a vehicle in front of me especially in round abouts. However in France at that time there was not much traffic so finding a car to follow wasn’t easy.
Sooner or later I was getting confident about my driving on the wrong side. Actually driving with such a set up does not make much of a difference when you are on the highway. However the moment that you enter a dual carriage way it becomes difficult.
The good thing is that, the road users abroad are more polite or empathetic to the other road users. So even if you drive a bit slower than the speed limit there will hardly be anyone honking or bullying you. You might be forming a big queue behind you though.

By 23.00 hrs we reached Lille and checked in to the hotel. Though very basic one, it was clean and tidy. They even had free wifi – made all of us really happy. Luckily there was a night club / pub next to the hotel and we went inside to chill out.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-hotel-f1.jpg

Last edited by rejoycjohn : 19th August 2013 at 22:59.
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Old 19th August 2013, 23:08   #15
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Wow, guys rejoy and co. HATS OFF!!! Awesome start to an epic travelogue, envy (and infinitely appreciate) your passion, team work and drive to achieve results, rating very well deserved 5 stars
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