Krabi, Thailand, 31 October 2011
Pioneering new tourism initiative in Southeast Asia comes to a glorious finish in Krabi, Thailand. After two weeks, 2,500 km, three countries, mountains and rainforests, the 28 teams on the first ever ASEAN Rickshaw Run have made it to the official finish line here.
Since a glittering launch at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on 16 October, the brave pioneers have encountered bucketfuls of adventure. Driving intentionally underpowered 175cc Indonesian-built auto-rickshaws, teams from 12 different countries have tackled 2,000 km of Sumatra, crossed the Malacca Straits, then chugged north through Malaysia and the southern part of Thailand. In true Adventurists’ style, the event was packed full of adventuresome mishaps. One team, The People’s Republic of Sheffield, were chased by a wild orang utan in Sumatra, every single team experienced multiple breakdowns, and at least four had to push their untrusty steeds over the Malaysia-Thai border, much to the surprise and amusement of the border guards.
The breakdowns often led to some of the highlights of the journey. Jenny Hunter, of The Adventurists team, said that in two weeks on the road they “only stayed in three hotels, the rest of the time we were put up by mechanics, police and hospitable families.”
The 28 teams – three of them minus rickshaws, which had not made it further than southern Sumatra – arrived at the finish line just outside Ao Nang, Krabi on Friday and Saturday. The final rickshaw to arrive was Sambal Sandwich, from Singapore, who made it the final 250 km from the border at Satun in the back of a horse-truck. Despite their unconventional finish, the chaps were in fine spirits.
Dr Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, said of the ASEAN backed event “The ASEAN Rickshaw Run will help to promote the beauty and connectivity of ASEAN to the eyes of the world, and foster close relationships among the participants and the people of ASEAN they will meet along the journey.”
Last night’s finish celebrations included Muay Thai, a spectacular fireworks show, traditional Thai dance and a feast of Thai food, all in a hotel overlooking the fabulous Andaman sea and the famous Krabi rock formations.
Tom Morgan, founder of The Adventurists, who took part in this inaugural event, says “There’s nothing I like more than getting stuck, so I was delighted to discover these rickshaws are spectacularly rubbish. They broke down in the least convenient places, which was perfect. Southeast Asia has delivered us a massive slab of adventuring brilliance.”
In addition to joining the crusade to make the world less boring, this new event will also be saving a slice of the world. Each team will have to raise a minimum of £1,000 for the official charity, BirdLife International’s Harapan Rainforest project in Sumatra. To date, Adventurists’ teams have raised £3.5 million for charitable projects around the world.
The next event is due to take place in March next year, with the aim being to run it at least twice annually throughout the ASEAN region.