“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And just like that, our journey of 16000 km across 18 countries started off from Imphal on the glorious morning of 17th April 2017. 27 Adventure Seekers from all around the country and beyond came together in a convoy of 13 vehicles with one ambition… to drive all the way from India to London. The atmosphere on the day of the Flag Off was electrifying. There is no doubt that for every single participant, this journey is going to be the biggest and the most memorable journey of their lives. The hunger to explore the world, the craving to experience the diversity of nature, the curiosity to connect with people along the way in different regions and ultimately the goal to traverse continents by self-driving has brought all of us together on the Mother of All Road Trips.
Road to London 2017 was Flagged Off by The Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur and The President of Western Indian Automobile Association. As we pulled out of the hotel amidst loud cheers, we knew that now there is no turning back. Slowly, we negotiated our way through the morning traffic of Imphal and once we hit the highway, the magnitude of what we are doing, started to sink in. Someone has rightly said, “It is always the unplanned moments that you remember in the journey and not the planned things.” Only 1 hour into the journey on our way to India-Myanmar border, we got an invitation from The Commanding Officer of Assam Rifles who invited us for tea at his bungalow near the border. It was a proud moment for all of us to be welcomed by the brave Army Officers of our country and there couldn’t have been any better way to start the journey. Not only was it an absolutely proud feeling to shake hands with the brave soldiers who protect our nation, it was a signal from the divine to have given such a brilliant start to the journey. When you get the blessings of the bravest men on earth on Day 1 of your epic journey, what else do you need?
After driving through the hilly terrains and gravel roads, we reached Moreh, the last town on India side before we crossed over to Myanmar. We had to spend 2 hours clearing customs and immigration on the Indian side but it was a unique experience to cross a land border. Passports and Carnets stamped, the convoy slowly moved towards the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, the first international crossing on our epic journey. Half the bridge belongs to India and the other half to Myanmar. One by one, every single vehicle made its first international border crossing and we reached Myanmar, the 2nd country on our journey. After entering Myanmar, we parked our vehicles on the “Right” side of the road, cleared Immigration and Customs, adjusted our watches to one hour ahead, exchanged high fives on successfully entering Myanmar and started driving towards our lunch spot. Even a small local road side restaurant in Myanmar knows how to spread the table and prepare a feast! They are not content with serving you just one meat or one vegetable, no! Soup, Prawns, Chicken, Fish, Quail Eggs, Local Vegetables and lots of rice…our first meal in Myanmar in a small highway restaurant. Well fed, we hit the Burmese Roads and continued driving on Asian Highway 1 (AH1) as we crossed 46 World War II Iron Bridges within the next 100 km. Driving through small villages, waving at the local people, checking out the interesting yellow paste (known as Thanaka) on the faces of the women and looking at the longyis worn by the men, the first day of driving in Myanmar concluded like a breeze. We reached our hotel in Kale and after parking all 13 cars methodically, it was time to celebrate. We had 2 reasons to party on our first day, The beginning of the journey and the birthday of Anurag (Car number 10), a charming and friendly person who has a permanent smile on his face.
The entire group is fully charged up, still getting to know each other and looking ahead at the next 7 weeks on the road together. We may all have come from different walks of life, we may all belong to different generations, we may all have our own point of views about everything in the world, but there is one and only thing that connects us, that bonds us and that has brought us together to spend 7 weeks of our lives with each other… our hunger and our passion to experience the beautiful world around us.