Tuk me home
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 mental health charity Mind.
Here, the three-wheeling travellers embark on their big journey
Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
I can't believe it, the Tukathon has actually begun. At 11.49 a.m on Sunday morning Jo, myself and Ting Tong turned left out of the British Embassy in Bangkok and set sail for England. After so many months of planning, it's extraordinary to think we have actually embarked on our 12,000 mile journey and that for the next three months we will be slowly heading home, each day inching a little closer across the globe.
On Saturday night we took Ting Tong (TT) to the Khao San Road and got a taste of what the next 12 weeks might be like. Even in Bangkok, where tuk tuks are ubiquitous, people stopped, stared, laughed, took pictures and shook their heads in amazement when we told them we were driving our pink bomber all the way to England. Jo drove her into the Khao San and we parked her up for a few hours while we did a few interviews. Jo also clambered on the roof rack and risked her (and Ting Tong's) life for some photos. They'd better be good. Ting Tong went down a storm and although we might be a little bit biased, she really must be the most supersonic tuk tuk this planet has ever seen.
Sunday morning was an early start as we had to load all our kit onto TT and be at the British Embassy by 10am. After a rigorous security check at the gates, we cruised up to the front door of the Ambassadorial Residence to find a pack of photographers and TV crews waiting for us. When Nuttanee, the Embassy's press officer, had said she would be able to get some press along to the launch, we never expected such a good turn out. Maybe it was the lure of a morning at the Ambassador's residence, where they do make exceedingly good cakes...
The next two hours were a blur of interviews, hanging off the side of TT for more photos, giving the Ambassador and his wife a lift in TT, as well as hurried goodbyes to cousin Bert and our friends. Then in we got in and off we went!
"Ting Tong went down a storm ... she really must be the most supersonic tuk tuk this planet has ever seen."
Since then we've been speeding north in Ting Tong. Jo was at the wheel for the first two days, cursing everyones slow driving and bombing past astonished drivers at 65mph in the fast lane. Despite the floods in the north of Thailand, the terrible Indonesian earthquake and the strife in East Timor, we made it into seven Thai newspapers on Monday and were featured on two TV stations.
We've also heard from those back home in Blighty that we've also been gracing the airwaves on Radio 2 and Five Live and have been on the BBC website. Even weirder, Ting Tong also appears in papers as diverse as the Indian Financial Times, The Herald and The Pakistani Globe. Why on earth would someone in Karachi want to read about a bright pink tuk tuk?
We're in Khao Yai National Park now, where The Beach was filmed. Our hut is surrounded by jungle and I'm hoping we wont get eaten by a hungry tiger in the middle of the night. 200 miles down only about another 11,800 to go..."
Wednesday 31st May: Phimai, Thailand
We drove from Kai Yao National Park to Phimai today, just over 200 kms. People were pulling up level with us on the freeway, winding down their windows to wave and take photos. And when we stopped for lunch at a tiny roadside cafe, the owner rushed out brandishing yesterday's newspaper with Ting Tong on the front page!. More photos were taken, lunch was free and a crate of water were loaded onboard before we waved and tukked off up the road.
So we are now in Phimai and I really need a good wash. I am grubby all over, particularly my feet which gather dust as we zip down the highway at 60mph (yes, Ting Tong is very fast).
Just arrived from Khao Yai National Park, which was pretty chilled with the worst food I have ever tasted. Last night we ate crisps, raisins and drank beer - that was supper. I fed a deer some raisins and gave it a good head rub - my hands were very dirty afterwards.