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Tuk-tuk-tukking along

January 22, 2011
Team Ugly Americans

Seeing India by tuk-tuk (Team Ugly Americans photos)

Portland scooterist David Fogarty (known to his friends as Doughnut) took a rather interesting trip recently. He talks about it after the jump.

Team Ugly Americans autorickshaw

My friend Mark and I just finished an amazing adventure. We drove a Bajaj 3-wheel autorickshaw (aka tuk-tuk) over 2,000 miles from Jailsamer in the northwest of India to Cochin in the south, over the course of 15 days. This madness is one of four types of adventures offered by a British organization called The Adventurists.

All 59 teams were first required to raise a minimum of 1,000 British pounds for an organization called Frank Water Project. They’re a wonderful charity that brings water purification plants to parts of India where people don’t have safe drinking water. In addition to that, you are still responsible for your plane tickets, hotels, meals and of course, the cost of the rental of the rickshaw itself.

Sacred cows have the right of way

This was truly an adventure. There were no support vehicles, no assistance when you break down, no route, no lawyers when you get arrested, just a rickshaw and a finish line. You are required to push, pull or drag this rickshaw to its final destination (or you don’t get that substantial deposit back). If you break down, fix it yourself. If you crash, fix it yourself. If you get arrested, fix it yourself.

Unlike some of the other teams we didn’t crash or get arrested, but let me tell you, we did break down—a lot. Nearly every day we had at least one, and often several breakdowns. I don’t know how many times I pulled that carburetor apart. We had problems with almost every wire, screw and bolt on that thing and loved every minute of it. I’m not much of a mechanic but these are pretty simple to work on. If we got stuck, the local rickshaw drivers would help us. If it was too much for them, the local mechanic usually charged less than $2.


We saw a lot of India in a short period of time. The people, food, culture and everything was wonderful. I don’t regret a minute of it. I blogged all 15 days on our team page at If you’re thinking about doing this, feel free to contact me: doughnut (at) doughnut (dot) net. Favicon

There are a bunch more photos in Team Ugly Americans’ photo album.

One Comment
  1. Jack Riepe permalink
    January 23, 2011 8:21 pm

    Dear Orin:

    I’d use a 3-wheeled scooter like that rickshaw to get around town here, if I had one.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

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