Taxi for two from Bangkok to Brighton? Ants Bolingbroke-Kent and Jo Huxter aim to cross 12 countries by tuk-tuk, and raise £50,000 for Mind.
At last, having tukked half way around the globe, the girls brace themselves for their journey to come to an end.
Ants writes ...
We have spent the last week flying through the wind and cold of Western Europe, driving on 'proper' roads and meeting some great people. Fourteen weeks and over 20,000 kilometres later we have made it ... as far as England at least. At 3.30 pm this afternoon the three of us waved goodbye to foreign fields and tukked onto the Eurostar. An hour later we were hogging the inside lane of the M20 and heading for Brighton.
Driving those last 30 kilometres to Brighton was dreamlike. Neither Jo nor I could really believe that we had done it, and we were both really worried about having a crash in the very final stages. I felt very emotional driving the last stretch from Lewes to Brighton, aware that the greatest adventure of my life so far was about to come to an abrupt halt.
For the last few kilometres we were escorted into town by two of the new Brighton tuk tuk taxis. The three of us tukked into the city and along the seafront, beep beep beeping with lots of people waving and shouting things like 'Are you the ones from Asia?' Our official finish line was in Bartholomew Square and as we rounded the corner all our families and friends ran out, jumping up and down, waving, squealing, shouting and generally looking quite happy that we had actually made it.
The next hour was most surreal; driving through a pink ribbon, saying hello to everyone, being greeted by the Mayor, Jo's ferrets appearing - cue tears - interviews with the BBC, the Argus, the EDP, lots of photos being taken. Then it was time for the pub, where much champagne was drunk and lots of hugs and kisses dispensed. The pub was followed by supper at, appropriately, a Thai restaurant, which was followed by a club. By the latter stages the numbers had dwindled to the faithful few; my sister, my cousins, my boyfriend, my wonderful friend Charlie (who had flown all the way from Scotland), and a few mates from Norfolk. At 5 a.m Charlie, my sister and my boyfriend were dancing on podiums at The Zap Club and a helluva lot of champagne had been consumed.
"The next hour was most surreal; driving through a pink ribbon, saying hello to everyone, being greeted by the Mayor, Jo's ferrets appearing ..."
All I can say is that the last few months have been both the most exhilarating and challenging times of my life. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do such a journey, to meet so many people, and to have travelled with two such wonderful companions. I know there will be more tears tomorrow.
It seems like only yesterday that I was driving through Russia, wondering what life was going to be like once Jo and I had completed our mission of driving a tuk tuk all the way from Bangkok to Brighton. Doing any sort of expedition is so exhilarating, so different and so totally consuming that coming back to reality is never going to be easy.
Yet the hardest thing I have found is not really knowing what to do next. I would recommend anyone considering a trip like this to have a solid plan in place for their return: know where you are going to be living and have a firm idea of what you are going to do to fill the post-expedition void. Many people speak of falling into depression when they return from such epic adventures, and I can understand why. Having a positive idea of what you want to do when you return is a good way of avoiding this. Also, try and take some time out to reflect on what you have done, where you have been and all the incredible experiences you have had. Jo and I saw and learnt so much on our tukathon that I think I will be digesting it for years to come. However hard it has been coming back I keep reminding myself of how lucky I have been to have seen the world from three-wheels, when so many of the people we met along the way have hardly enough money to feed and clothe themselves.
Reality has been hard to swallow but in the bigger picture these are minor details. Tukking across 12 countries in 14 weeks was the best thing I have ever done. Although the post-tukking twilight zone is a little gloomy, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.