The Return Journey

Istanbul –> Edirne –> Plovdiv


After arriving in Istanbul, doing our TRT World News interview (see below), and getting into a scrape with an Istanbul driver, we eventually managed to have a fun few days celebrating the end of our journey with all our amazing friends and family who had come to meet us.

Turkish Delight but not as we know it.

We took in the Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Süleymaniye Mosque, The Museum of Innocence, the underground cisterns and even saw some Whirling Dervishes! Bharat and Amy were a bit worse for wear after celebrating the night before and both spent one of the days horizontal in dark rooms. Bharat is still claiming his ‘fever’ was from exhaustion rather than the 2 bottles of wine, 2 tequilas, and copious numbers of beers he consumed…He has claimed to have given up alcohol until back in the UK.

Inside Hagia Sofia


After waving Amy and James off to the airport and back to normal life, we were down to the reconfigured Tuk Tuk team of Bharat, Rachel and up-for-anything friend Helen.  They set off very early from Istanbul to Edirne but, as you can imagine, the traffic was still as horrendous as when we had arrived and one wrong turn had them heading into the queue for a ferry to Greece rather than on the highway towards the Bulgarian border! Everyone is now well adept at doing U-turns in the most unlikely of places and this was no exception, a quick U-turn later across the busy 4 lane road and they were back on the route!


The early start meant they arrived in Edirne in the daytime which the team had missed on their previous visit due to drone-gate. They fell upon a roadside market stall selling fresh fish and, after choosing their actual fishes, they were grilled to perfection and served with a salad and potatoes, making them the perfect lunch!. Delicious.

Fresh fish stall which cooked our lunch


As breakfast was included at their hotel, and the next morning they eagerly met downstairs ready to carb-load before the drive to Plovdiv.  They ordered coffee. That was not included. They asked if their bread could be toasted. Not included. They asked for milk in their coffee. Not included. They asked for butter. Not available. So after some cold bread and extraordinarily hard boiled eggs they set off for Karaagaç to see the Old Railway Station which was en route to the border. The town was eerily empty but the occasional people they did see were extremely interested in our tuk tuk, photographing it inside and out as if they were part of a forensic investigation.

Part of our breakfast offering – menemen and chips


The Turkish-Bulgarian border was a nightmare and not because they were on the Turkish most wanted list after our Friday night bash with a Turkish driver. When we had our drone confiscated on the way into Turkey we had had been given a receipt and told to collect it on our way back into Bulgaria. “Just come to D3” they said. “It will be fine” they said. “You’ve got all the paperwork and paid all the fees” they said. Instead, what they should have said, in a nutshell, is “You will have absolutely no fun at all, wasting over 3 hours of your life, going from D3 to A1 to F6 to G9 and back to D3 before paying 2 fake ‘fines’ and then being sent round all those checkpoints again, whist all the time trying to be polite to extremely rude border guards who are playing Candy Crush on their phones when they should be doing their job, AND as if that isn’t enough, after 2 hours or waiting and running around, you’ll be told it’s “lunch” and you have to wait for over an hour for them to return to their Candy Crush games and be as unhelpful as they were before”. If we’d have known this in advance then we would have left the drone in Bulgaria with someone in the first place.


The longer story is that, as Rachel, Bharat and Helen crossed the border from Turkey into no-man’s land it became obvious that D3 was inaccessible and on the other side of a very tall wire fence. No-one spoke English, and R&B+H definitely don’t speak Turkish except for “çekip gitmek” which didn’t seem appropriate at the time…No-one knew what to do so they parked the tuk tuk and the Fiat in no-man’s and R&B went to find a way to ‘the other side’ leaving Helen to keep watch over the vehicles. R&B were escorted from room to room,across a vast courtyard, through a turnstile, and directed to a gate which slammed shut ominously behind them.


R&B walk over to D3 where 5 officials with guns sat playing Candy Crush on their phones, laughing and joking and showing absolutely no interest in helping. After handing over our documents, receipts for the storage, the drone serial number etc., and more laughing, R&B waited. And waited and waited.


After 45 minutes R&B, through gritted teeth, politely enquired what the hold-up was, which was answered with a lot of shrugging and the words ‘wait for chef’, which Rachel assumed was the boss. The boss never arrived and after more gentle probing R&B were   sent to “A1” to pay something. A1 didn’t seem to exist so after a long time looking for it R&B eventually found it tucked away completely out of order with another 3 officials doing nothing in a room heated to the temperature of a sauna. R&B tried to explain what was going on, but man at the desk spoke no English so R&B were at his mercy as he willingly to rifled through Bharat’s wallet and took what he deemed to be a sufficient amount of UK pounds and Turkish Lira.


Back R&B go to D3,  receipt in hand, feeling quite buoyant that they had not been outfoxed, and that, whilst they had definitely been robbed in pure daylight, they were about to end this nightmare and be given the beloved drone. R&B arrived at the desk to be met by the sour-faced woman who barked “lunchtime” at them and stalked off. The fact that this barking was followed by  a lot of giggling and smirking from the border guards not only enraged R&B to the point where Rach was struggling to contain herself, but made the timing of paying the ‘fine’ at A1 not feel like a coincidence. There was nowhere to sit, no loo, no food or drink, which was unfortunate for everyone as they don’t know what R&B are like when they’re hangry!


Let’s recap at this point and turn our minds to Helen who was still sat in no-man’s land with both vehicles not knowing what has happened to R&B who had no signal on their phones. For all Helen knew at that point, they’d could have abducted by the Turkish authorities and whisked off to the Turkish prison they’d passed earlier that day.. It later turned out that Helen, had been quite unperturbed and had found a completely deserted duty-free shop which served coffee and baclava and meant she could read her book!


When the lunch hour was up R&B enquired again and an official picks up a phone and then shrugs at us. After politely protesting R&B were then led across another massive courtyard towards a hanger, F6. Their spirits, momentarily lifted, were crushed again as the roller door was shut, and the official shrugged his shoulders and lead them back to D3. This story goes on for some time, but, to quickly get to the end, Rach cried which managed to get someone’s attention who eventually lead R&B to G9 which had our drone, sitting on a shelf amongst booze, tyres and other confiscated items. Bharat had to sign something, pay another ‘fine’, and as quickly as they could the team bundled up the drone and headed to the Bulgarian border before the Turks could change their mind!

A lonely Sumo sits for 3 hours in no-man’s land between Turkey and Bulgaria


The team were welcomed by the smiles of the Bulgarian officials who photographed themselves with Sumo. But their tribulations were not quite over as they were then made to drive through an area marked “decontamination zone”. As they drove through the vehicles were sprayed with some sort of disinfectant (they assume!) but as the tuk tuk has no sides Bharat got a full earful! You’d have thought someone might have warned them! Bharat’s catastrophising continued as he demanded Rachel tell him what the ‘disinfectant’ could be and then made everyone wait whilst he de-decontaminated himself with some Waitrose kitchen wipes he found in the tuk tuk.


The return drive to Plovdiv was just as before: long straight roads through flat boring countryside and in no time Rachel was bombing down them a breakneck speed. Bharat had been doing his usual catastrophising about how the team would never make it to Plovdiv in the day light and the drive would be horrendous in the dark with the car STILL only having “one eye”. But all went well and Rachel’s speeding meant that reaching Plovdiv before sunset seemed within their grasp until disaster struck. When Rachel had taken over the tuk tuk driving, she had felt the vehicle was pulling a little to the right and she made a mental note to ask Bharat if he’d noticed. But as the drive continued, the right pull became worse and worse before suddenly, with a large lorry looming up behind, the tuk tuk veered violently to the right totally out of control. Even with the handlebars turned hard left, and Rachel using all her might to keep it on the road, the tuk tuk was out of control. Emily must have been watching over the team that day because, just as it seemed Sumo was going to fly off the road into a hedge upside down, a parking area came into view and Rachel managed to  navigate Sumo off the road and stop. A rather shaken Rachel & Helen got out onto solid ground and inspected the tuk tuk only to see that the front tyre was as flat as a pancake.

Bulgarian Roads: 1 Sumo: 0


For the first time in the whole trip out came one of the THREE spare wheels that the support car has been carrying around and Bharat went into mechanic mode…This was perhaps his finest display of mechanical nous on the trip and the tuk tuk  was on the jack and the wheel changed faster than you can say Formula One Pit Stop.

Bharat does a cracking good job!


With a great deal of predictability, Bharat, decided to give up giving up alcohol as he needed wine after the traumas of the day.


After a stroll around Plovdiv it was time to say goodbye to Sumo. The team rolled her into what looked more like a scrap yard than haulage company (!) where supposedly the lorry to take her home is collecting her tomorrow. Lets all pray that she makes it onto the right lorry and doesn’t get mistaken for scrap metal. It will be a week or so before she arrives in the UK and we’ll keep you all posted on the progress.

Sumo will sleep here tonight before being chauffeured all the way to London tomorrow





Tuk Tuk UK Ltd has been our journey sponsor and has provided us with Sumo herself, 3 spare wheels, numerous spare parts (none needed) and masses of advice and help over the last year. We simply cannot thank them enough. Robert Leggett of Tuk Tuk UK is the nicest man you can meet and he has supported our journey from its inception. He loves tuk tuks, knows everything about them and we cannot recommend him more highly.

We have absolutely loved driving Sumo. She has gone where no tuk tuk has gone before, exceeded our expectations and never let us down. She has chugged up the steepest mountain and whizzed down the other side, she has been on motorways (by mistake) , cobbled streets, dirt tracks, maize fields, vineyards, river beds, hairpin bends, scary bridges and much more. She is now part of our family 

Based near Manchester the company can provide you with a brand new tuk tuk, a second hand tuk tuk and even have some new eco-friendly electric models coming very soon. Everyone should have one!

To contact Robert ring: 07767 831999‬ or visit the website:



Tuk Tuk Trivia

  • We noticed that lots of youngish men in Istanbul appeared to have head injuries. But these injuries were all very similar and bandaged in the same way. It turns out that Turkey is famous for hair transplants! So the perfect place for Bharat to sort out that brown patch on his head!


  • We are currently on at £146,000 and we’re going to try to push and reach that £150,000 mark! Anything else you can spare for SUDEP Action would be hugely appreciated. Please use the following link to donate:


  • Yesterday was SUDEP Action Day 2018 which was a day to remember those we’ve lost and create awareness of SUDEP. SUDEP is the largest cause of death for those with epilepsy and that is why we’re so determined to do something about it.


  • £150,000 would be almost half of what SUDEP Action usually receives in donations in a year and therefore will make a tangible, noticeable difference for all those involved.


  • We are set to be on ITV News again in a few weeks so keep an eye out for us and for more info nearer the time on our social media channels.


  • One of the key questions overhanging the trip was “make or break” for James and Amy. But we can happily confirm that they have just moved in together and so, for now, “make” appears to be the appropriate answer!

Last hug for Sumo before she is transported back to the UK

Turkish man who was obsessed with our tuk tuk and helped Bharat believe that he has not put on any weight

Sunlight streams into the the courtyard of the Süleymaniye Mosque

You shall have a fishy on a little dishy

Old wooden houses in Erdine, Turkey

We know we are back in Bulgaria

Whirling Dervish ceremony, Istanbul

Fishing off the Galata Bridge, Istanbul

Grand Central Station in New York City? No – Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

Underground cisterns, Istanbul

Mosque, Erdine, Turkey

Galata Tower, Istanbul

Hagia Sofia, Istanbul

Sumo tackles cobbles and an adverse camber in Turkey

Long straight road to Plovdiv

Outside Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul

Old Railway Station at Karaagaç


We’ve Arrived!

We’ve Arrived – A Letter to Emily.


Dear Emily


How much we wish you were here with us now.


We have, after 41 days on the road, over 6,500km driven, 21 countries visited, and 10 million wrong turns, finally arrived in Istanbul! Can you believe it – it hasn’t quite sunk in for us yet. Of course, Dad has welcomed himself into the city in style and is already cracking into a bottle of red wine and having his “last cigarette” of the trip! Dada and Dadima, Auntie Nina, Uncle Jay, and Sushila surprised us all in Istanbul and have flown all the way from Nairobi to mark the end of this challenge and raise a toast to you. So have James’ family, Heather, Vayla and Dom, Hugh and Margaret, and Helen! You officially have a fan club!!


The drive into Istanbul was madness. Another 4 lane not-motorway-motorway which had thousands of heavy lorries transporting everything and anything. When we arrived in the city we had to remind ourselves multiple times that we are on a trip for charity and so giving people two fingers as they honked and swerved in front of us probably wasn’t a wise idea! Instead, we went for a more passive approach and James was excellent on the tuk tuk horn, something we feel you’d have appreciated. Although, if you’d have been at the wheel, you would have marched up to the offenders and knocked on their windows to tell them off for their terrible driving! You were the only one in the family with a crash under their belt, but Amy got into another scrape today, which brings her ahead of you and back into Dad’s bad books. We were at Galata Tower trying to take our arrival photograph when a car tried to pass us. We stayed still, the lady driving took a terrible line, and crashed straight into the side of us raising us off the ground temporarily! Luckily the tuk tuk is fine, but her car took a minor battering. We had to move the tuk tuk out the way after that and the woman ran after us, not realising that Mum was waiting to speak to her at the top of the road where the whole incident had happened. Given she ran straight into us and ignored Mum, we felt we were justified to carry on with our evening, but let’s see what happens to Mum and Dad at the border!

The previous drive from Plovdiv to Edirne was uneventful except for the 5 mile long queue of lorries trying to cross the border into Turkey. When we thought we were going to have to wait in the queue, Dad went as white as his hair (well, what’s left of it!), but luckily we could squeeze past them. If we’d had to wait in that queue James and Amy were considering frequenting one of the hundreds of Bulgarian casinos just before the border – probably for the best that we didn’t have to.

The border guards were not very impressed by the tuk tuk and were very suspicious of us and all the wires we had for charging our multiple devices. The main guy called for support and there was a point where we were surrounded by guards, only speaking Turkish, armed with all sorts of weaponry, rifling through every pocket and box in your car. The drone only fuelled their suspicions that we were spies and we had it confiscated, stashed in an empty warehouse to be collected (supposedly!) when Mum and Dad go back to Bulgaria! If only we’d shown them the video of Dad in his tropical leggings – then they might have thought twice about him being a foreign agent! Sadly that means we can’t get an aerial shot of the Blue Mosque for you, a challenge for another time perhaps.


We’ve talked a lot about pathetic fallacy on this trip, which took us all back to GSCE/O-Level English. We didn’t know what we were expecting when we wrote “Are You Watching Us Emily?” on the top of the tuk tuk, but we have the overwhelming sense that you have been with us every step of the way – how else could we have been blessed with the most amazing weather for the whole six weeks and how else could we have missed the snow in Switzerland that arrived 3 days after we were there! Having said that, today was not good weather and, as we drove to Istanbul, it rained the whole way to the capital. We couldn’t help but turn our minds to whether that is because you, and all of us, are sad that this adventure is ending. It could have been the horizontal wind and rain in the back of the tuk tuk that caused Amy to cry all the way from Edirne to Istanbul, but we all know it’s because she has struggled without you. Sisterhood for her is not the same without a sister. She doesn’t have anyone to share Dad’s theatrics with, or to tell her secrets to. Nobody to open her stocking with at Christmas, nobody to share a room with on family holidays to save her from Mum and Dad’s snoring, nobody to joke with about Dada calling James’ face a moon – and it’s hard for her to think that James, who has been long-suffering on this trip and who has put in the most extraordinary amount of effort for you, will never have met you in person. She even cried during her Turkish Television interview, so you can expect to see her ugly crying face broadcast to millions of people on Saturday – make sure you crack open a bottle and have a good cackle.


Whilst it was actually Dad’s terrible directions and Mum’s appalling city driving that made them both cry today, rest assured that every time they think about you their hearts skip a beat and their eyes prick. Both have cried in the back of the tuk tuk over the past 6 weeks thinking about you and how we all wish you were with us. It has felt strange at times, being on a trip that you would have loved, but that we probably would never have done if you hadn’t died. It’s a stark reminder to us to live while we can and not to save the special stuff for another day.


We are all looking forward to going home and wearing our silkies up to our armpits and not having to travel every day. We’ve all put on a lot of tuk tuk weight this trip, so much so that Mum is going to make Dad cook when they get home. Given he can’t even boil an egg that should mean those extra pounds drop off pretty quickly! Do you remember when you and Amy were 3 and 5 and Dad looked after you both while Mum was away in India and you only ate baked beans on burnt toast for 2 weeks? And the time he told you and Amy that whoever got out the bath the quickest would get the big towel, and, after Amy lost, he gave her a teeny flannel as a joke…


When we started this whole campaign we never imagined what it would become. Our initial target for SUDEP Action was £21,000, to mark the 21 people who die from epilepsy-related deaths each week in the UK. We never realised how hard we would work to try and make this a success, we’ve been entirely driven by our love and memory of you. Mum has worked on this full time since February, Amy has spent every waking moment she has on this, James has gone far above the call of duty and Dad has even made social media accounts for you! But as we pull into Istanbul, we have now reached over £117,000 in donations with the auction proceeds yet to come! Over 800 people have contributed to the cause – your friends, our friends, family, colleagues, and even complete strangers have been more generous than we ever thought was possible. Your untimely death has struck a chord with so many and, even in death, you have something that makes people want to rally behind you. That is a sign of how truly special you are.


We were never given then chance to tell you everything we wish we could have before you left us – how much we love you, how funny and beautiful you are, how our lives will never ever be the same without you. Home is a lot quieter without you there and there is never a day we go without thinking about you. We cannot change what happened, a sense of helplessness that has been so frustrating, but we can change what happens to other families like ours. This trip was our opportunity to SHOW you how much we all – your friends and family too – love you still, and how your death will not be for nothing. You will never have the luxury of growing old, falling in love, travelling the world, having a family of your own, but your legacy will make sure that someone else has that opportunity. We hope that, wherever you are now, however hard it must be to watch everyone doing what you cannot, that you, and we, can take some comfort in that.


We are very proud of everything that has been achieved, but there is an anxiety we all hold now this trip is done: that people will forget – a sense that this is the last hurrah before we close the door on our grief and “move on”. Please be assured that that will never happen – we will always have an irreplaceable part of us that is missing. We haven’t been able to listen to your favourite James Arthur song since we played it at your funeral. But the words go, as you well know: “Tell them all I know now, shout it from the roof tops, write it on the sky line…tell them I was happy, and [now] my heart is broken, all my scars are open…” These words resonate so much with us. We’re often told that the price of love is pain, and we are all in so much pain without you. But we will carry on, we know you wouldn’t have wanted anything else, but, remember, you are and will forever be in our hearts and minds and the memories we have of you we will treasure forever.


Dada wants to do a Sanskrit prayer for you today – when he does we will all look to the sky and we hope that you will be watching back.


Wishing you were here with us and devastated that you are not.


Amy, Mummy, Daddy, and James.




If you’d like to help us reach our target then you can donate by clicking here:


If you would like to read our earlier blogs then they are available on our website here:


Sponsor of Turkey: Webnetism

We are very grateful to Webnetism who are our sponsor for Turkey. Webnetism are a digital web design company who combine design, technology and strategy to give you a meaningful digital experience. They have skilled graphic designers and developers in their Cheltenham office able to cater for your business requirements – no matter how unique they may be. They create great looking web based solutions to fulfil your needs and can host all of it in their own on-site data centre. If you’re looking for an exciting digital design agency backed by a team of fantastic front end and back end website developers then give them a call on 01452 855558 or look at their own website:

Early morning sponsor photo at Selimiye Mosque, Edirne,Turkey for Webnetism


Our beautiful Emily – who inspired this trip and kept us going when it got tough.


Emily and the cat in the hat (Milly)


James poses in one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world, Plovdiv, Bulgaria


Svilengrad, Bulgaria


Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) Edirne, Turkey


Old Plovdiv city walls, Bulgaria

The bleak landscape of the early part of our drive from Erdirne to Istanbul


A scene from our dismal drive from Edirne to Istanbul


Galata Tower, Istanbul


These are traffic lights in Turkey. We think even Rachel couldn’t miss these! Shame they weren’t in every city she drove in.


Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey

Selimiye Mosque, Edirne at night

Rachel being interviewed by TRT (Turkish television) on arrival in Istanbul

Amy’s phone was tracked every 15 minutes to produce this picture of the route we actually took. Thanks to Joe Robinson

Tracked every 15 minutes means that when zoomed in to our map you can see we got very lost as we arrived in Istanbul!! 

DAY 36 and DAY 37 and DAY 38

Skopje –> Sofia –> Plovdiv

13th -15th October

Skopje done, we headed out of the city but not before visting the only Roman aqueduct in Macedonia. If we hadn’t Googled “top 10 things to do in Skopje” we would never have known it existed – even when we were 20m away there were no sign posts to this national treasure. We went past some tiny, very run down looking houses and at the end of a gravel track we spotted the lonesome, ancient structure. As we approached there were 4 men standing next to a 4×4 Toyota. Bharat instantly became suspicious and started murmuring KGB, SAS and other three lettered acronyms – FML, OMG, SOS. James later discovered they were just Polish tourists, but not before Bharat panicked that he had seen men behind the bushes to our left and that we needed to get out of there before we were all assassinated. James has spent too long with Bharat to keep a straight face in scenarios like this and absolutely lost it, and it’s probably the closest Bharat had come to losing it with James.

Roman aqueduct outside Skopje, Macedonia

Off we set to the Bulgarian border along “Friendship Highway” and, aside from Macedonia becoming drier, there was nothing to report. Through the border we went and over the Bulgarian hills in the direction of Sofia. Rachel decided she was too hungry to wait to reach the capital and pulled into what looked like a café, but actually transpired to be nothing more than a Post Office that sold bread. Rachel had been drawn in by the large 15 strong party of men drinking vodka and eating fresh breads, cheeses and hams, but alas it must have been a BYOA (Bring Your Own Anything) affair because none of those were on offer to us. Instead we settled for a lunch date with some wasps over microwaved bread and some blue cheese crisps, which were gut wrenchingly smelly.

The landscape gets drier and drier

All disappointed with our lunch, we continued our drive to Sofia. ‘Gritty’ and ‘urban’ is how we would describe the drive from the border to Sofia – lots of Soviet-era tower blocks and abandoned warehouses and power stations with the occasional pocket of modernity. At times the towns were very bleak, but in Sofia things started to become a lot smarter, including the apartment we stayed in which, despite being in a brutalist block with a dead pigeon on the doorstep, was impeccably decorated and spacious. We unpacked our bags from the support car, had a quick wash and then went off to meet Eileen and Geoff Riddell who had come all the way from Hong Kong (via Moscow!) to see us!

Geoff found a very traditional restaurant with the most hysterical menu translations. Being a big group trying to tackle a vast Bulgarian menu, the decision was taken that we would ask the waiter to decide what we should have to share. In hindsight, what we should have asked the waiter to do, is read the menu to us like a night-time story, because after 30 painstaking minutes of dismissing every single one of his suggestions due to allergies, personal preferences and overcomplicated questions about ingredients and cooking methods, we essentially ended up choosing the only things on the menu he didn’t recommend!

Tuk Tuk and cathedral by night

Stuffed full of Bulgarian meat we walked with Eileen and Geoff back to the Alexandra Nevsky Cathedral for a photo with the tuk tuk by night. We agreed to meet for coffee at 9.30am the next morning. At 9.20am we walked out of our apartment to find the Sofia Marathon in full flow around us. In isolation, a brilliant event with 4,000 people pushing their limits for good causes, but a complete nightmare for us and our tuk tuk who were required for a TV interview in the city centre at 10.30am. With barriers at both ends of the road we were parked on we were stuck until the marathon ended at 4pm. After seeing many altercations between the local residents (who were as surprised as us to be barricaded in)  and the police we realised no amount of asking would get us out onto the road and out of our predicament. However, Bharat struck gold with his international sign language by managing to bamboozle the policeman enough that he let us push Sumo along the pavement until we reached an open road.

Negotiating the city with half the roads closed resulted in 3 angry back-seat drivers and Sumo screeched into the square of the Cathedral just in the nick of time for our interview with Nova TV. Bharat failed us again under the pressure of the bright lights by talking about everything he shouldn’t, but much to our relief 90% of what he said was cut in the final edit. You can watch our interview here (we’ve all been dubbed in Bulgarian!):

After finishing the interview Eileen and Geoff took us for a tour of Sofia. Both were excellent tour guides and we learnt a lot about Bulgarian history and also that of the capital. Our favourite story was that during the Ottoman rule over Bulgaria it was mandatory that churches were built lower than mosques, so the Christians decided to build the doors to the churches even lower so that the Turks would have to bow to the altar if they ever entered the building.

Geoff & Eileen fly out to meet us on route and show support

Rotunda of the church of St. George and Roman ruins

Inside the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Dinner was at another good find from Geoff, although Geoff couldn’t actually find the restaurant until he and Eileen had done 4 laps of the neighbourhood. The same dinner routine ensued and after a large sigh from the waiter, Eileen rightly pulled the plug on our particularities and we ate what we got (which was, luckily, delicious!). Rachel taxied the Riddells to their hotel in the tuk tuk before collecting the remaining tuk tuk team. Anyone would have thought this blog’s routine berating of Rachel’s driving might have encouraged her to take more caution, but alas, on the drive home we still found ourselves careering towards the tramlines with a tram heading straight for us. Screaming and swearing eventually gave Rachel cause to slam on the brakes, but that still didn’t stop her from skipping a red light and catching the curb all in the space of a 5-minute drive. Perhaps she’s smarter than we all think and this is her ploy to avoid being designated driver in the future.

Too vain to miss our 5 minute feature on the National Bulgarian Breakfast News programme we left Sofia quite late, which, as you can all imagine by now, caused Bharat a great deal of anxiety. No breakfast was allowed and our first stop was another roadside wonder chosen by Rachel where coffee was served in plastic water glasses (and featuring more microwaved bread). The drive to Plovdiv was very different to the day before. We were driving through the Bulgarian savannah – no soviet style blocks of flats, lots more pretty houses, plenty of horses and carts moving people and crops from arid field to arid field. Off the main roads and onto the less well beaten tracks and it was clearly not a wealthy part of the country – it felt like how we had all imagined Albania to be like.

We had a LOT of people waving and honking at us following our TV interview and even had some people that waved us into a layby just so they could have a photo of Sumo. We had so many fans that when a man honking loudly at Bharat (in the Fiat) started doing the “unscrewing the lightbulb” dance move (something only white people (and Amy) do when Punjabi MC comes on), Bharat started to “dance” back. It was only when the ‘lightbulb’ turned into the middle finger did Bharat realise this was not a fan, but someone very annoyed from having to drive so slowly behind us!

Flagged down by people who had see us on the National news in Bulgaria

Plovdiv is awesome – very old, very well maintained and has recently won the accolade of the European Capital of Culture for 2019. It’s got history, its romantic, there’s delicious food – come here for a weekend and make sure you stay at the Guest House Old Plovdiv – it is SO cute , not just because they write you a welcome message on arrival!

Our hostel bedroom in Plovdiv

Highlight/Funniest Moment of the Day:

  • Day 36 – Bharat had been trying his best Bulgarian with the cashier of our Post Office lunchtime shop and had said “yes” to everything the cashier had said. A strategy that worked until Bharat unwittingly agreed to having the bread microwaved, which led to a tug of war over the loaf in his hand…In short, nobody had any clue what was going on.
  • Day 37 – The waitress in our lunch restaurant who told Geoff not to order the main he’d chosen because it was “not nice”. Absolutely love the honesty!
  • Day 38 –Knowing that someone in Bulgaria with epilepsy will have seen what we’re doing and why and that we will therefore have helped people not only at home in the UK but elsewhere too. So much of this is about raising awareness of epilepsy and Sudden Unexpected Death in EPilespy (SUDEP) so to help raise the profile of both at a national and international level is fantastic!                    Also, our lovely landlord in Sofia is donating half of the money we paid to stay in his lovely apartment to SUDEP Action after seeing us on TV!

Dunce of the Day

  • Day 36 – Bharat– who, having told everyone we were not allowed on main roads, took us uniquely on motorways from Skopje to Sofia.
  • Day 37 – Bharat – who, on multiple occasions, forgets to undo the tuk tuk steering wheel lock before setting off in a tight circle and nearly wiping out innocent pedestrians! This coupled with the fact that he also left his phone in the tuk tuk twice meant that he took the award away from Rachel’s (predictably) terrible night driving.
  • Day 38 – Rachel –who managed to film eight 17 minute GoPro videos of the glove compartment! This also explains why the GoPro wasn’t charging properly. We only wish we had the patience to go through them and listen to what was being said in the car!

Overheard in the Tuk Tuk:

  • Bharat– “I’ve never been to Nepal, but this place reminds me of it”
  • Bharat – shouting at Amy not to sit on the top of the tuk tuk because Sumo is “a delicate animal”.
  • Bharat – asking Amy if she had played tricks with a photograph because her legs looked thin.
  • Bharat – “Enough – all sunsets are the same”

Sunset over Plovdiv

Unsung hero: Michele Burlington-Green who worked hard behind the scenes to get us onto Macedonian and Bulgarian TV. We’re so grateful to Michelle and we hope that her hard work will have helped us spread awareness across the Balkans!

Sponsor of Bulgaria: Portobello Tents

Portobello Tents is a luxury British clamping company that provides stylish bespoke canvas accomodation at festivals, weddings and events across the UK and beyond. Portobello Tents was founded from a love of the English countryside, a good party, and the desire to sleep in luxury once those dancing shoes come off! If you have a wedding to plan or an event coming up then take a look at their website and you will not be disappointed. Their tents are just beautiful!

Amy rocking the Portobello Tents merchandise

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia, Bulgaria

Tuk Tuk to Turkey Team with the crew from Nova TV

Rotunda of the church of St George, the oldest functioning building in Sofia 

Sentry guard

The TTTT team with super fans Eileen and Geoff and the Nova TV crew

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

Old Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Team Tuk Tuk on the streets of Plovdiv

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Sofia, Bulgaria

Blog writing and video editing in our Plovdiv hostel. Terrible quality photo but too cute to exclude!

DAY 34 and DAY 35

Shkodër –> Jance –> Skopje

11th -12th October

The morning began with Bharat instructing everyone to carb-load – nobody was sure what to expect from rural Albania and when our next meal would be. Before heading into the Albanian Alps we decided to take a trip to see the 4km of “pristine” Albanian coastline. We’d seen some pictures of beautiful looking coves in Albania with crystal clear blue waters – this was not one of those. With dark brown sand and covered in rubbish we couldn’t bring ourselves to stay longer than 2 minutes. We will not be taking our next beach holiday there.

This picture is actually considerably more attractive than the reality


We had one of our funniest moments of the trip quite early in the day. We were winding through a valley with a bright blue stream at the bottom and, naturally, wanted to take some photographs. James and Amy were in the Fiat behind the tuk tuk and saw Bharat pull into a layby to let Rachel out to take a quick snap. Or so they thought. As Rachel exited the backseat of the tuk tuk Bharat promptly sped off through a tunnel and off into the Albanian hills. Amy and James were convinced it was a bad joke, but minutes later, when Bharat still hadn’t come back for Rachel, everyone started to realise that he must have thought she was still on the backseat! After 5-10 minutes of waiting Amy and James set off to find him and some time later came across a rattled, wide-eyed, nostril-flared Bharat who kept asking where Rachel was. As he frantically asked he kept turning round to check the backseat, as if Rachel might have magically reappeared. On the route we had seen a memorial plaque every 200-300m where people had died by going over the edge of the precipice which meant Bharat’s imagination had spiralled out of control. This was fuelled further by Amy and James who cruelly pretended they had no idea what Bharat was talking about and so off he sped to find his beloved Rachel. He genuinely thought that she had “slipped out” of the tuktuk and down into the ravine below. Once everyone had been reunited it transpired that the reason Bharat had taken so long to start driving back for Rachel was because, in his panic, he had jumped out of the tuk tuk and had started to run along the ravine screaming her name. He then realised he’d left his phone and keys in the tuk tuk, so had run back to get them (Bharat’s priorities are becoming clear!)…before setting off down the ravine for a second time. What Albanian motorists thought of a huffing and puffing Bharat screaming for Rachel whilst wearing her pathetically small designer rucksack is anyone’s guess, but nobody stopped to help… Eventually Bharat came to his senses and realised he was quicker by tuk tuk than by foot, which is when Amy and James caught him on camera:


Bharat, who has had his last cigarette a dozen times this trip, was later seen buying a fresh packet of slims from a roadside kiosk in rural Albania to calm him down. Who else thinks he should just admit he’s taken up smoking again?

And Rachel was not out of the woods yet. After Bharat saying he was going “strap her in” and that she wasn’t allowed to move from the tuk tuk without his permission, Rachel ran to take another photograph and, as she did, got tangled up in brambles. Blood started appearing from the scratches and Bharat took a deep breath and lit another cigarette.

War wounds – all in the line of duty

The Albanian Alps defied all our expectations – miles and miles of gorgeous hills, just starting to turn amber for the late autumn, and bright blue limestone rivers in the valleys below. There were even less barriers to stop us falling off the mountain passes than on the Kotor Serpentine and this combined with the many ‘Albaniacs’ overtaking on corners while texting meant Rachel felt sick for most of the journey.

Autumn colours on the drive through Mavrovo National Park, Macedonia taken from the air


Mavrovo National Park, Macedonia


Our route through Albania

Amy and James had read a BBC article about how Albania is now the largest producer of outdoor-grown cannabis in Europe. The case study in the article referenced a village north of Tirana (where our route was travelling through) and so the two of them spent the ENTIRE journey looking for gangsters, guns and ganja. James claimed to see a stray plant on the side of the road, and there were an awful lot of blacked out Mercedes driving through rural Albania, and even more men just standing around at weird points along the route, but all in all they were fruitless in finding the Albanian cartels they’d been hoping for.

You can tell Albania is the poorest country in Europe – driving through the towns in the rural North were genuinely like being back in Kenya. You can tell unemployment is high – everyone seems to be sitting in a café or on the side of the road watching people go by. But we love Albania for all of this – it’s so different to everywhere we’ve been and it’s made all the better by everyone whooping and cheering at Sumo!

We had our pants pulled down at the Macedonian border. Figuratively, not literally. We needed to buy insurance for our 2 days in Macedonia and it ended up being 3 times more expensive than in Bosnia & Herzegovina, plus we had to pay for the taxi fare of the man who had come to arrange it. However, the border guards took a real shine to Sumo which meant the 50 minute wait flew by.

A very happy Macedonian border guard


We don’t often say this, but Bharat was right. We arrived at our accommodation in Macedonia (Hotel Tutto – thank you Nina and Jayesh!) at 5.30pm and hadn’t eaten since 7am that morning. Ravenous we wolfed down some delicious food prepared by the hotel, and it wasn’t just delicious because we were hungry. It turns out we’d accidentally stumbled across a gem and the ecologically-minded owner of the hotel, Tefik Tutto, is well regarded as a pioneer of Macedonian “slow food”. If possible everything is grown or foraged from near the hotel and then it is cooked using traditional Macedonian techniques to make some exquisite dishes – and all for less than 6 EUR each!


It was early to bed, early to rise. After a yummy, seasonal breakfast and a photograph of Sumo with the owner we set off to Skopje. The first two hours were lovely (although extremely cold!) – working our way through the hills with the trees a thousand different shades of autumn. The next 6 hours were not. Everything changed when we stopped to take a drone picture of the tuk tuk crossing a dam. Rachel and Bharat were driving across it for the 3rdtime when Amy and James (from 400m away) could hear shouting. Amy rolled her eyes and muttered something about the parents being at it again, before quickly realising it was the two men marching very quickly towards to the tuktuk and jabbing in the direction of the drone. The protestors marched over to James and Amy holding the drone remote, desperately trying to land it, and started yelling at them in Macedonian. We’re not sure what they said but “police” and “big problem” were routine phrases and the angriest one of the two took our car number plate and stormed off – to do what we don’t know! Eventually we decided to simply get out of there, with the remaining man telling us that our fate rested with the decision of Mr Potbelly who had strutted back across the bridge. Amy and Bharat spent the next hour convinced we were being tailed by the Macedonian secret police (i.e. a rugged man in a battered 2 door Peugeot). We are waiting to get to the Macedonia-Bulgaria border to see if we are on Macedonia’s “most wanted” list. We have a video of the debacle unfolding – can anyone translate our opponents’ whispers we can send it to you! We desperately want to know what they were saying!

The drone picture that got us into trouble


Mr PotBelly and his sidekick are not pleased!


The remaining drive was along the Mother Teresa motorway (grey hairs for Amy, nil points for Bharat!), which was a misleading name given how incredibly uncharitable it is to have 5 toll stations along one 50km stretch of road! However, in no time we arrived at our accommodation in Skopje (with thanks to PwC Macedonia) and for our interview with Macedonian TV Kanal 5!

Mother Theresa Motorway (the tuk tuk is not allowed on motorways but there didn’t appear to be another road)

In our previous experiences with the press we have made sure to schedule rehearsals for Bharat to minimise his TV bloopers. We thought this level of preparation and training would pull us through this interview unscathed, but when asked about who was going on the trip Bharat simply said “four” and swiftly moved on to talk, at length, about the tuk tuk and the Fiat rather than introducing who we all were like any normal person would have done… When asked about the ups and downs of the trip he talked about the phantom puncture we’ve had…rather than relaying any of the true stories such as ditch-gate (perhaps he’s erased that from his memory to avoid a PTSD diagnosis). Although he wasn’t alone – James absolutely stuffed detailing our website address – very amateur from him. However, the TV team seemed pleased, particularly with their ride in the tuk tuk and we can’t wait to see what it looks like on Macedonian TV on Monday (tune in to Kanal 5 – Backstage Show for the piece!). 
The interview meant we toured Skopje by night. If there was one word to describe the city it is “statues”. So many humungous statues of men, horses, lions – you name it, there’s a statue of it. The buildings, a lot of which have been recently restored, or rebuilt, were nicely lit and made the old centre look magnificent at night. Although Amy was particularly impressed as she thought Skopje was a Macedonian version of Cheltenham, rather than the capital. Another nod to her worthwhile Geography degree. 

Main square of Skopje and one of the hundreds of massive statues


Sponsor of Macedonia: Stroud Furniture Makers 

We are proud to recommend  Stroud Furniture Makers who are based in the Cotswolds but serve clients all over the UK. The Sumaria kitchen was made by SFM and looks as good today as it did when it was installed over 11 years ago and is much admired. Stroud Furniture Makers are a family company dedicated to handcrafting the finest kitchens and bespoke furniture. Members of the Guild of Master Craftsmen, they take pride in the high quality of their materials and attention to detail, developed over a quarter of a century. You are welcome to view the fully equipped, modern workshop where they employ ten highly skilled master cabinetmakers who use traditional construction methods. These craftsmen will also deliver and install your kitchen so you can feel completely confident of a flawless finish. Take a look at their website here:

Roman aquaduct for our Macedonia sponsor Stroud Furniture Makers



Dunce of the Day:

    • Day 34 – Rachel for being accident prone and leaving the tuk tuk on multiple occasions without Bharat’s permission. But also Bharat, for getting swindled at a petrol station, and paying €5 for only a thimbleful of petrol. It was also hilarious watching the petrol attendant shouting at Bharat that the tuktuk needed “Benzina” without Bharat knowing that it was another name for petrol.

  • Day 35– Amy claimed that the tuk tuk was losing power in 4thgear when she was driving along flat roads. Bharat conducted the same procedure we used before to get the tuk tuk working (see previous blogs) and let out some of the petrol onto the road, only to realise Amy had been driving for over an hour with the handbrake on!


Highlight of the Day

  • Day 34 – Seeing a woman sitting in the middle of a field shepherding her rafter of turkeys!
  • Day 35 – Bharat’s budding romance with the slow cooking movement in Macedonia grew and grew as he spent the morning speaking to the owner of Hotel Tutto. The owner was very engaging and clearly enjoyed Bharat’s high praise, as when Bharat checked out the room the owner gave him 2 bottles of wine and a goodybag of pickles and jams from the hotel’s garden! The owner was less impressed when Bharat tried to offer him some of the stale biscuits we had in the back of the tuk tuk. You live and you learn.


Funniest moments:

  • Day 34: Bharat talking about how he thought Rachel had “slipped out of the tuk tuk” and James saying “what like a slippery fish? She just slipped out and slithered down the mountain side silently?”
  • Day 35: Amy and Rachel coming across the first “long drop” of the trip and not being sure which way round to face!


Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of stray dogs in Albania: thousands
  • Number of half built empty buildings in Albania: more than finished occupied ones! See photos below.
  • Number of scooters adapted to wheelchairs by adding a chair at the back: 13
  • Favourite Albanian pastime: pressure washing all those Mercedes!
  • Number of horse and carts seen: 23

A small selection of the unfinished, abandoned houses in Albania

Not quite sure what this is but it was spewing fuel out of the top as it bounced along 

Albanians loving the tuk tuk


Albanian maize stacks are EVERYWHERE!


A rickety bridge we decided against!


Sumo finds a friend half way up a mountain in Macedonia


The view from Hotel Tutto, Janče, Macedonia



Wild pears shown off by the kind owner of Hotel Tutto and the founder of the slow food movement in Macedonia


The glamorous office of the tuk tuk team – working on the blog in a petrol station in Macedonia!


Macedonian breakfast drink of wild cherries steeped in something!

DAY 31 AND DAY 32 and DAY 33

Dubrovnik –> Kotor –> Shkodër

October 8th -10th

We tried to walk the walls of Dubrovnik on Sunday afternoon, but cruise ship tour after cruise ship tour was going up before us and so we voted to try again first thing the next morning. Decisions have consequences and this decision resulted in us taking a cruise of our own – visiting Croatian wine bars aplenty. After one too many bottles and a heated discussion about the ethics of surrogacy over dinner (so heated that the couple next to us on a romantic getaway moved outside) we called it a night and surprisingly, nobody had a sore head when when the alarm went off at the crack of dawn the next day. Early doors, we headed off with Sumo into Dubrovnik to walk the ramparts of the old city. Dubrovnik is very beautiful and even Bharat, an experienced traveller and an even more experienced critic, was impressed. That said, 10 minutes into the two hour stroll around the old city walls he commented on how he’d “had enough of roofs”.

Old Town Harbour, Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik roofs

Dubrovnik Old Town from the City walls

Our coastal drive to Montenegro was much less built up and much prettier with cypress trees dotting  the hillsides. About half way in we passed two men in a car, hazards on and doors open, in the middle of the road swigging from a bottle whilst their dog ran around them. As we went past they waved for us to stop and honked like mad, but Amy, thinking it was Rachel and Bharat just ignored the honking and charged on. Later, they caught up with us and invited us for some wine (at 10.30am) in their houses ahead. They called themselves “natives”, but they seemed German to us, and as they drove off with their heavily pregnant dog trotting behind them our cynical sides took over. As we passed the makeshift trailer park that they had pulled into we put our foot on the gas and whizzed straight past. Let’s hope our conscious biases were well founded.

Cypress trees on the Montenegrin coast

After hours of driving along a completely deserted road, and approaching the Montenegrin border we arrived at a large ‘road closed’ sign and heavy machinery blocking our way. The border post was just at the top of the hill, 500m away, so close, but yet so far. An hour later and having driven half the way back to Dubrovnik to get onto a different road, we passed into Montenegro, our 17th country.

The Bay of Kotor is fantastic – another dramatic landscape with steep mountains dwarfing the baroque towns below. For those of you looking for a romantic getaway, Perast is gorgeous and, although geared towards tourists, is very pretty and there is not a cruise ship in sight. Kotor, however, had two giant boats docked when we arrived – they were so big that they were genuinely larger than the waterfront of Kotor old town. Slightly depressing to think of Kotor as 70% beautiful town, 30% cruise ship. In case you hadn’t noticed we’re on a cruise-ade against cruise ships – they ruin every picture of the beautiful places we’ve been going to and largely do nothing but flood these historic cities with tourists that bring very few associated benefits – as a generalisation, cruise shippers don’t eat in the restaurants (all their food is on board), don’t use local guides (the cruise ships bring their own) and walk around in packs of 20 people minimum meaning everyone not in their group routinely finds themselves pinned against stone walls trying to get out of the stampede’s way! We’re sorry if you’re a cruise ship holiday fan – maybe you can persuade us (and the locals) otherwise – but the only way we can describe how much the ships ruin our pictures is by showing you!

Spot the tuk tuk!

Rant over. Kotor is a very lovely, very old town with lots of interesting stories. Behind the town there is a 1500 step climb up to a fort, built during the Venetian period, that overlooks the city and provides amazing views of the Bay. Rachel spent the whole climb muttering to the tune of the Grand Old Duke of York: “James marched them up to the top of the hill and marched them down again”. In the Bay of Kotor, there is a church in the middle of the water called “Our Lady of the Rocks”. The story goes that in the mid 1400s two fisherman saw a vision of Madonna on a rock in the Bay and decided to build a church on that spot. From then on, every time a ship returned home safely another rock would be added by the fishermen until eventually in the early 1600s an island had been made big enough to support the tiny chapel that stands there today.

Kotor Fort – yes we climbed the whole way!

Our Lady of the Rocks, Montenegro

From Kotor we took our most treacherous road yet – the Kotor Serpentine, which has 16 hairpin bends over a 8.3km stretch at 800m above sea-level. It is widely known as one of the most dangerous roads in the world with its heart stopping drops and snaking twists and turns. Ever since ditch-gate Amy has suffered from vertigo induced stress when driving along mountain passes, and this was not helped by intermittent barriers on the edge of the road. The road was not in very good condition and required nerves of steel from the Tuk Tuk To Turkey team, particularly after meeting tour bus after tour bus on the bends, which, at times, forced us to reverse down the mountain, much to everyone’s displeasure! Tour busses are another rant for another time.

The Kotor Serpentine – one of the most famous hair pinned roads in the world – spot the tuk tuk

Adrenaline levels high, we continued our drive along the Montenegrin coastline, having a quick stop to swim in the Adriatic and snoop at the Aman resort, Sveti Stefan, only to find it was closed until May! FYI – if any of you were considering it, we don’t think it’s worth the £800 ish a night to stay there and that’s not just because you’d spend your whole stay being snooped on by people like us wanting to know how the rich and famous spend their holidays!

Before we left on this adventure, Rachel had done some research on the driving rules for each country. The advice for Albania was not to drive at night because of unlit roads with cars routinely driving on the wrong side without any headlights. The advice also mentioned that there were lots of potholes and not to get into any altercations with other motorists as they might be carrying a gun – fortunately we can’t corroborate this. So there we were, forewarned, but still crossing the border in the dark and, hypocritically cruising along still with only one headlight working, still blinding oncoming drivers from the Fiat’s ill fitted beam deflectors! Amy and James took a bet on what Bharat’s first words would be when we arrived at our accommodation in Shkodër for the night, and James won with: *big sigh*, “that was the most stressful drive we’ve done”. But, to be fair to Bharat, the drive was actually quite anxiety inducing, as, in addition to potholes and no street lights, there were absolutely no road markings, lots of livestock traffic, and hundreds of cyclists cycling 5 abreast in dark clothing with no reflectors or lights on their bikes. In addition, and unrelated, we saw so many men and only a handful of women – so noticeable we felt it was worth mentioning. Where are all the women in Albania?!

PwC Albania kindly hosted us in Shkodër and the hotel recommended a few places nearby to visit – the Mesi Bridge, where we met some lovely Albanian students who wanted some photos with the tuk tuk, and Lake Skadar which is shared by Albania and Montenegro. We loved driving around the Shkoder region as all the Albanian’s we passed loved the tuk tuk – although we really wish they’d not almost drive us off the road trying to film us! We have one observation. There are so many Mercedes in Albania. So many Mercedes that we felt it necessary to google why there are so many. Turns out c. 80% of cars in Albania are a Mercedes – we’ve read mixed reasons for why there are so many ranging from the vast majority being stolen from somewhere in Europe to workers buying them cheaply in Germany and then driving them back to Albania. The highlight of the day was watching the sun set across the mountains surrounding Lake Skadar from Fort Rozafa. The views were stunning but we struggled to take photographs worthy of the view. A must if you visit Albania.

Rachel & James on the Mesi Bridge, Albania. No tuk tuk allowed sadly but we got as close as we could for our sponsor. See below.

The view from Rozafa Castle

Rozafa Fort


  • Montenegro: Much Better Adventures

  • Our tuk tuk had a Much Better Adventure by conquering the Kotor Serpentine especially for our sponsor. See photo above taken by our drone. You may not be able to see their logo on the tuk tuk or even the tuk tuk itself but it was there! You can have your own adventures in lots of exciting places so please take a look at who uncover amazing outdoor experiences the world over, and work with fantastic local guides and hosts to turn them into hassle-free and easy-to-book mini-adventures. 
  • Albania: Jermyn Street Designs

Thank you to JSD who are our Albanian sponsor. Jermyn Street Design is the UK’s premier         independently-owned supplier of bespoke corporate clothing, uniforms and workwear. Susanne Malim founded Jermyn Street Design in June 1981 and since then the company has grown organically and today it is an industry leader – recognised for the quality of the staff uniforms and corporate workwear that staff want to wear in designs that live up to your brand. Please look at their website:

The tuk tuk visits the Mesi Bridge for Jermyn Street Designs, our sponsor for Albania

Unsung Heroes:

Nina and Jayesh Shanghavi have very kindly donated their frequent traveller points and arranged for us to stay in some comfy beds for several nights, thus keeping us off the streets! We are very very grateful!

Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 31:Bharat for playing every single routine in his repertoire, twice. These include (and some you will have read about before): how stressful the drive has been, how bad Rachel’s directions are, how much of a maniac Rachel is on the roads, how he can’t possibly eat a full main so he will pick at everyone else’s, how he can’t possibly drink a carafe of wine to himself but orders one anyway (and drinks it!), how he doesn’t eat meat just before ordering a steak…you get the picture.
  • Day 32: James who has lost his very nice watch. Ever since the passport dash things have started to unravel!
  • Day 33: Amy, who posted about Macedonia on Instagram when we were actually in Montenegro. She claims it’s because “Ma-” comes before “Mo-” and so her brain is just thinking about our route being in alphabetical order…so much for that Geography degree!


Overheard on Tuk Tuk to Turkey

  • Day 31: Rachel declaring that walking the city walls of Dubrovnik was “like going round Ikea”- one way only and you had to walk to the end to get out!
  • Day 32: Rachel to waitress: ‘Do you have decaffeinated coffee?’ Waitress in loud voice: “Don’t have coffee here – it is really disgusting”!!
  • Day 32: Bharat overheard muttering “Walls, I’ve had enough of walls. All walls are the same”


Funniest moments:

    • Day 31: Bharat and Amy doing their David Attenborough routine in Dubrovnik causing Rachel to almost wee herself on the cobbled street from laughing so much.

  • Day 33: At the Albanian border the guards and cars of people waiting in the queue were laughing at the tuk tuk a lot. And then we realised that the object of their amusement might not have been the tuk tuk, but actually Amy’s bikini bra and bottoms which were tied to Sumo to dry in the wind!

Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of skinny stray cats spotted in Kotor: 102
  • Number of dead skinny stray cats in the road: nearly as many
  • Glasses of unsafe tap water drunk by the TTTT Team: 10 (Dubrovnik’s tap water is currently unsafe to drink after heavy rains last month).
  • Number of items we need to charge every night: 15

How we’re feeling – Rachel: The back of the tuk tuk has become a place to cry for me. It is difficult to do much in the back, like write emails or sort photos or update social media, as it is so loud, so cold and so windy. Unlike Amy, most of us cannot fall asleep there! It is somewhere where I am alone with my thoughts and it’s when nothing is occupying me that I remember that Emily is actually dead. It might sound odd, but that still comes as a real shock to me. We look at old photographs of her and she’s so alive, so happy that even now we often feel she’s just on a gap year, an extended adventure, and that she’ll be home soon. Some people might call that denial, but for us it’s not, its just the way we have to think for us to be able to carry on day to day.

Behind the scenes: We’re caught in a catch 22. Post photos that are more representative of our days (i.e. lots and lots of roads) and document things like potholes, that would never capture people’s imagination and draw attention to our cause. Or, post nicer pictures that captivate an audience and help us raise more awareness and funds, but make the trip look like sunshine and smiles.

We have opted for the latter, but we wanted to lift the veil briefly and say that the challenge aspect of this trip is very real. Whilst we are having an incredible experience and we are all still talking and laughing, we have been together 24 hours a day for almost 5 weeks. We’ve been driving, navigating, photo taking, blog writing, video editing, uploading, downloading, eating, decision making, detouring, breaking down, crashing and so on. And then we sleep, often for no more than 5/6 hours, sometimes in the same room, before doing it all over again. And again, and again. When we stop to take photos we’re there for 5 minutes or for a quick caffeine hit before we hit the hours of driving again. We promise there is no relaxing and certainly no sunbathing. It took us a while to get into a rhythm and all the above was never going to be easy, particularly with three feisty, opinionated Sumarias. Of course this much time together has resulted in bickering, some arguments and sulking, and the occasional tear. James has been known to employ a red and yellow card system to keep persistent offenders in line! So we promise, this isn’t a holiday, it’s a very real, sleep-deprived challenge that is raising money for a very special cause.

The Route. We have reached Albania!

Rachel and James wait on the ramparts of Old Dubrovnik

Framed view from the city walls of Dubrovnik

Tuk Tuk to Turkey Team survey “more roofs” over Dubrovnik


A bay in Montenegro on the drive to Kotor

Dubrovnik Old Town viewed from the city walls

Dubrovnik Old Town

Sunset from Fort Rozofa

Someone else capturing the sunset in Shkodër

We had special permission to drive the tuktuk right up to the castle gates

On brand in Dubrovnik

Beauty and the Beast

Old Town Harbour, Dubrovnik

Nearly at the top of the fort in Kotor, Montenegro

James in tour guide mode again


Our Albanian friends showing us how to do the Albanian sign of the eagle

Wine at the top of Fort Rozafa

We were not expecting this in Albania – view over Lake Skadar

Rach and Castle Rozafa

Tour guide mode again

What goes up must come down!

DAY 28 and DAY 29 and DAY 30

Trogir –>Mostar –>Dubrovnik

5th -7th October

Trogir, Croatia

Trogir Harbour


The day started with Amy and Bharat bringing the vehicles round to our Trogir accommodation. To get to the door, the two had to go through a parking barrier and take a ticket. Once Bharat had his ticket, he sailed on off into the distance leaving Amy and the tuktuk behind the barrier. Amy pressed the ticket machine button and up flashed “No ticket without vehicle”. Amy pressed it another 10 times only for it to elicit the same response. By this point 15 vehicles were backed up behind the tuk tuk honking impatiently and so Amy took the unrealistic decision to try and squeeze the tuk tuk through the gap between the barrier and the pavement. With a crowd now watching, a plan destined to fail, and Bharat, Rachel and James with their popcorn out, the pressure got to her and she bashed the wing mirror of the tuktuk against the barrier (which is now very loose) and before you could say “tuk tuk” the barrier was poking through the tuktuk “door”.  Sheepishly, Amy reversed back to safety and got out to sound the alarm, furious as she saw Bharat revelling in her failure. With a queue now backed up along the whole seafront, the ticket man had no option but to let Amy through ticketless.


Trogir fiasco over, we took the main dual carriage way past Split where there is not one inch of undeveloped land and a lot of half-built apartments named after infamous Russian officials. Later, once the road had quietened and it became less built up, we stopped for a DIY sandwich in a town that had been completely abandoned for winter, except for a nasty wasp that stung Bharat.


At the Croatia-Bosnia & Herzegovina border we were met by the border guards, who laughed hysterically at the tuk tuk. The border was a breeze with none of the queues we had been warned about and we were pleasantly surprised not to be ripped off buying our tuk tuk insurance – nobody would insure us for non-EU countries so we have to buy it on the border for each country to come. What it’s actually worth if we crash is anyone’s guess! Into the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina (from now on “BiH”) we went. The scenery was different to what we’ve seen before, huge, often barren mountains that bordered wide, completely flat valleys below. From holiday homes lining every road in Croatia we now had hundreds of roadside businesses – people selling tyres, chopped wood, shovels, cleaning materials, machinery, fruit and veg – sometimes from a shop front, but often out the back of their car on the side of the road. It really reminded us of Kenya. The drive down into Mostar was dramatic, not just because you drive down a very steep slope into the city but because we had many kamikaze drivers overtaking us on treacherous corners.

Drone footage of the Old bridge at Mostar, Bosnia & Herzogovina

Mostar in the early morning by drone

We loved our time in Mostar – it is a city of juxtapositions: there’s a very prominent, large white cross on the top of the hill that overlooks the many beautiful mosques and minarets of Mostar below, the very beautiful old town is just meters away from buildings bullet ridden from the war; cheesy tourist traps are next to poignant murals and memorials reminding the people of Mostar not to forget ’93-’95; very old, traditional locals are sat amongst a modern, ultra-fashionable youth. It is a fascinating place and we wanted to stay longer so we could start to scratch the surface of what happened there and, more generally, get to grip with the complicated history of the Balkan states.

Rach on the Old Bridge, Mostar, Bosnia & Herzogovina


After a night and a morning wandering the streets of Mostar, Bharat with his gimbal/dongle/dingle and Amy and James on the drone, we left for Dubrovnik and the prospect of free 3G once again. We had a quick wander around Počitelj – an old medieval fortress town – which had thousands of pomegranate trees as well as impressive ruins. The tuk tuk and support car are not built for off road driving and as we tried to work our way back to our route we found ourselves on a rocky dirt track, trying not to tear the tyres as we climbed up and over a completely deserted hillside – James elevating cortisol levels further by talking about dormant land mines in the BiH hills.

Tuk Tuk in the Bosnian mountains where we saw barely a soul

The scenery on our route to Croatia was genuinely stunning – unlike other countries where you have main roads traversing the countryside, BiH has tarmac tracks leading through the mountains making it feel much more remote and much more like an adventure. It didn’t ruin it at all, but we couldn’t help but notice how much litter there was everywhere. If anyone’s looking for a business venture – rubbish collection in Bosnia & Herzegovina could be the next big thing – you can thank us later.     


Back to Croatia, over the border and on to somewhere “near” Dubrovnik. We were there for 2 nights so we could do some washing and do some much needed life-admin, but we quickly realised we would spend 80% of our time in the local Croatian laundrette and café as the place we stayed in was both WiFi and washing machine-less, much to Rachel’s disgruntlement.


Dubrovnik old town is magical – that is, after all the cruise ships of Americans have left in the afternoon. We were tempted to do a Game of Thrones tour (i.e. Kings Landing for those of you who have watched), but decided that we couldn’t be “those people”, so instead we relied on our resident tour guide, James. James likes to read about each place before we arrive and then tries to nonchalantly pass off Wikipedia knowledge as his own. We haven’t tested the veracity of what he tells us, but there’s a high chance we’ll need to revisit everywhere again to glean the real story.

James in tour guide mode


Highlight of all the days: The people of Bosnia & Herzegovina LOVED the tuktuk. We couldn’t drive more than 5 meters without people smiling, waving and taking pictures. It’s been the best reception the tuk tuk has had on this trip and it made us all feel very welcomed! If anything, drivers spent too much time looking at Sumo when they should have been focused on the mountain roads and hairpin bends!




Bosnia & Herzegovina: Sushila’s Pickles

If you one of our Kenyan followers then you really need to try Sushila’s homemade cookies and pickles. We have been saved by her biscuits when starving and miles from anywhere in the Bosnian mountains and Bharat has enjoyed the pickles on toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Take a look at their website:

Sushila’s cookies stave off starvation in the Bosnian Mountains


Croatia: Le Creuset

Le Creuset’s original and most well known range of products is its cast iron range. Cast iron has been used as “the” material for cooking pots since Roman times. Even with today’s wide choice of cooking materials, cast iron, still forged and crafted by hand, reigns supreme with its versatility, good looks and ability to retain and spread heat evenly. The tuk tuk team all cook with Le Creuset and can attest to it’s superiority. But the company does much more than cast iron so take a look at their website and see their vast range:

Tul Tuk to Turkey team cook on Le Creuset whilst camping

Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 28:Bharat for driving for 20 minutes with his door open.
  • Day 29: James prides himself on his military-like organisation skills – every item has a place and it has meant that he has been the most organised and efficient team member on the trip. We use the past tense here, because about half way to Dubrovnik it transpired that James had left his travel pouch, containing his and Amy’s passports and the spare tuk tuk keys in Mostar – only a short 2 hour drive away. James was silently furious that his reputation had been tarnished and that we had some ammunition against him in the blog, and drove the majority of the way back without uttering a word.
  • Day 30: No-one!


Funniest moments:

  • Day 28: Bharat has struggled for the past few years to accept that his hair is thinning and soon he will have a Friar Tuck halo. So when he saw a photograph of himself from behind he genuinely asked why his hair was brown in the picture…Through the tears of laughter we had to break it to him that his “brown hair” was actually his scalp…


  • Day 29:James was given a free shot of Croatian grappa (again!) at dinner. Not wanting to be rude, but also not wanting to upset his stomach having just recovered from his food poisoning, he poured it into his water glass. Moments later he was given a small top up of water by the waiter, lifted the glass to his lips, and downed the whole thing completely forgetting what he had poured in there seconds before. Forget the game “gin-face”, it should be “grappa face” from now on.
  • Day 30: Bharat often gets very upset that we don’t use his photographs in the blog as he sees himself as very skilled photographer. Which might have been true back in the day, (and being fair to him, he has the worst camera of us all) but we thought we’d show you a small sample of what we’re asked to work with and get your view on which of Bharat’s shots you would choose…:


Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of additional miles driven because of forgotten passports: 100
  • Price of our coffee in Bosnia & Herzegovina:50p
  • Number of minutes footage we have on Bharat’s video tour of Mostar: 2 hours and 13 minutes worth.


Memories of Emily: Just before the war started in Syria we went on a family holiday there before going to Jordan. It was such a special trip, not only because Syria is a beautiful country dripping in history, but because, with hindsight, we have realised that we managed to visit a place that many of our friends and family will now never see, or certainly never see it in the way we did. Emily was a BIG fan of shisha and wandering the souk-esque streets of Mostar, with the minarets sounding, and people sat outside with their ornate shisha pipes reminded us of her creating plumes of smoke from her pipe whilst we had a coffee in Damascus. Talking about this made us also remember the time we were riding camels through the Wadi Rum desert and Emily was taken off into the sunset by a Bedouin man while Amy, Rachel and Bharat, whose camels were all roped together, just went round and round in circles!

Emily in Damascus, Syria  2011

Emily is abducted on a camel in Wadi Rum desert, Jordan


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Bullet holes are a stark reminder of the 1993-1995 war

Beautiful cobbles of Mostar’s old streets




Derelict, war damaged buildings

The road into Mostar

Mostar Old Town

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzogovina

View from Počitelj – an old medieval fortress town

All on brand in Počitelj

Sunset on the drive down into Dubrovnik


DAY 25 and DAY 26 and DAY 27

Trieste –> Krk –> Zadar –> Trogir

2nd – 4th October

We waved goodbye to our hilarious and kind hosts, Giulia and Diego (and their very randy dog, Jack!) and took some photos in Trieste before leaving the city and trying to escape the Bora (i.e. the very high winds). Within minutes of driving belongings started flying out of the tuk tuk –  a hat, several flags, an industrial sized kitchen roll, a garland and Rach’s reading glasses. Let us pause at this point, Rachel cannot map read, take photos, post blogs, decipher a menu, see the gears of the tuk tuk and much, much more without her reading glasses, so she has been rendered entirely useless for all major Tuk Tuk To Turkey tasks until further notice.

Our host, Giulia Massi in Trieste, Italy,

Our route from Trieste to Krk took us back into our beloved Slovenia and then on to the Croatian border. For the first time this trip, we had to show our passports and even our bright pink tuk tuk could not elicit a glimmer of a smile from the stoney-faced, gun toting Croatian officials.

The Croatian countryside was quite different to Slovenia, but no less beautiful, with low rolling hills covered with vegetation in autumnal reds, oranges, yellows and green. As we drove further into Croatia the trees and shrubbery became more sparse and the exposed rock more prevalent – as you can tell the drive was pretty uneventful.

UNTIL James (recap, he doesn’t do well with hills), was driving the tuk tuk down a precipitous road, which sloped steeply away to the right at the bottom. The tuk tuk can feel like it leans round corners at the best of times, but with James taking the turn at ‘breakneck’ speed, and Bharat sitting on the right in the back, the tuk tuk started to not just lean, but tip. Amy and Rachel watched in horror as the left-hand wheel lifted off the ground and the tuk tuk teetered on two wheels before deciding to land back down allowing James a quick getaway from the judging audience (not that Amy has a wheel to stand on!)!


During the drive leading up to the 1.3km bridge over to the island of Krk, the wind had picked up even more and we were worried that the tuk tuk would get blown off (which has happened before to lorries!). To avert further disaster, Bharat appointed himself to take over the handlebars for the “dangerous crossing” and it was communally decided to add Rachel to the back of the tuk tuk for ballast. After all our careful planning, which even involved Amy being told where to find the important documents should Rachel and Bharat be blown off the bridge into the abyss, the crossing was a complete non-event with not even a noticeable puff of wind!

Tuk Tuk on Krk, Croatia


We arrived on Krk to stay with our hosts Jelena and Rajeev who plied us with the local grappa the whole evening and took us out to try the local speciality of Dalmation Peka – veal, onions and potatoes which are slow cooked in a huge charcoal oven under a lid piled high with glowing embers. The result was delicious and once again we were ‘forced’ to stuff our faces.

Our feast of Dalmatian Peka


After a wonderful evening, the night suddenly deteriorated when James started to vomit violently and continued to do for the rest of the night. There is not a sound that Amy did not hear. Bharat managed a fair few carafes to himself that night and deserved to be the one feeling rotten in the morning, but whilst Bharat woke up just fine, James’ usual smiley face and rosy cheeks were pale and he didn’t utter a word. After a dash to the pharmacy to get rehydration salts, Imodium and bottled water we set off for Zadar with James tucked up in the Fiat. It only took 10 minutes of driving before we had to pull over again for James – not his finest moment in front of the “in-laws”!


Krk to Zadar was a coastal road that passed lots of coves full of crystal blue waters and solitary fishing boats. James was fast asleep for most of it so Amy started listening, and is now totally addicted, to the podcast “The Tip Off” – you must listen! We arrived in Zadar to another apartment, which, if you read the small print, was not actually in Zadar but 4 km outside. A classic Bharat manoeuvre. We left James to sleep off his food poisoning and headed off for some dinner, after negotiating with the landlady that we had meant to book the 4 person apartment for 4 people, and not just Bharat!  We walked to find the Sea Organ of Zadar which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps. Unfortunately our recording does not do it justice: 

It was then an early night for the team – everyone is coldy and ill.


Next morning Bharat was getting anxious that we might be 3.245 seconds late checking out and so made everyone wolf down some disgusting Croatian pastries in order to get on the road to Trogir pronto. Half way there and Amy and Rachel, ahead in the support car, had lost Bharat and James in the tuktuk. Turning back to see whether they were OK the two were spotted out of the tuk tuk pushing it to the safer part of the A road we were on. Bharat, as chief mechanic, started to freak out as he lay on his back looking at the undercarriage of the tuk tuk. There was a lot of “oh my god it’s sheared off” and “we’re not going to make it to Trogir” and “this is it, the trip’s over”. A visit to a Croatian car mechanic proved fruitless – they had no idea what to do with the vehicle or the mildly hysterical Indian man that came with it. But the TukTuk UK team thousands of miles away came up trumps: Whatever Bharat had thought he’d seen was fine, we just needed to drain the fuel pipe and within minutes off we went to Krka Waterfalls for a swim.

Amy at Krka Waterfalls



The evening was spent in Trogir which we had driven down to during a beautiful sunset. Our videos and photos could not do it justice. Poor Rachel was bedridden for the evening with a temperature, which unfortunately meant Bharat was forced to drink a carafe of wine to himself.


Funniest moment/highlight of the day:

      • Day 25: In contrast to the surly, mute border guards at the Croatian border, there was a very excitable German motorcyclist who pulled up behind the tuk tuk and could not believe that he had bumped into us, as he had seen us in Slovenia days before. He was so incredulous that we had driven little Sumo all the way from London, which really made us pause to think about just how far we have come.
      • Day 26: Being told we were the talk of Zadar by our landlady! Very satisfying indeed. Also Rachel and Amy driving with a wasp in the car – see video below:

  • Day 27:When Bharat was getting stressed that we would be late to leave the apartment he hurriedly took everyone’s bags and packed them into the Fiat meaning that when Amy got out of the shower she found she was alone in the apartment with no clothes to put on and no phone to contact anyone on. Oh the irony of Bharat having to come up to find where she was after too much waiting!


Memory of Emily: Zadar brought back memories of Emily going to Soundwave Festival here with her school friends. Apparently Emily and her friends chose the edgiest festival they could find, then, of course, hadn’t heard of a single act on stage. Emily spent the entire weekend pretending to be a hipster from Brixton but was quickly rumbled by a real group of “Brixtonians”. We photographed the sun setting over a jetty and then discovered it was the same one that Emily sunbathed on every day:

Zadar sunset


Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 25: James– for the (almost) tuk tuk toppling moment.
  • Day 26: Bharat– who (a) keeps pronouncing the ‘blog’ the ‘bluuuug’, and (b) rolled in at 2am, when Rachel was trying to upload photos to the ‘bluuug’ and accused everyone of stealing his phone charger and was convinced there had been a conspiracy to hide his adaptor. He also tried to stand on one leg to prove he was sober, and, 45 minutes after taking himself to bed, stormed out of the bedroom, past everyone working on the blog and turned all the lights off leaving the remaining members of the team in the dark and promptly walked straight into the door he’d just come out of. Karma can be a b*tch.
  • Day 27: Bharat: For his mechanical “prowess”.


Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of times Rach sneezed on Day 26: 147 (21 of her usual 7 sneezes in a row)
  • Number of meals James ate on Day 26: 0
  • Number of times Amy complained about being tired on Day 26: An exhausting number of times…


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The route so far. We have reached Trogir, Croatia


Old Town, Zadar, Croatia at night

Old Town, Zadar, Croatia

The crystal clear turquoise waters on route to Zadar

James on brand and Amy not (again) on boat to waterfalls

Emily at Soundwave Festival, Zadar in 2011

Drone footage of Krka Waterfalls

Porkers on the road – we failed to spot any!

Zadar at night

Sunset over Zadar, Croatia

The view down river from Krka Waterfalls

DAY 22 and DAY 23 and DAY 24

Ljubljana –> Lake Bled –> Trieste

29th September – 1st October


We departed from The White House in Ljubljana (barely) and went into the centre to grab a coffee at an edgy café that Amy had been recommended. After 10 minutes of awkwardly loitering, not really sure whether we could sit down or not, we took the plunge only to have a waitress shout at us not to push tables closer together – guess who wasn’t impressed?

Amy and James went ahead to Bled to put up their tent. Bharat and Rachel had jumped at the opportunity to stay anywhere but the tent, and so when their friends Abigail and Peter McNeile offered them a bunk bed they graciously (and ‘generously’) and gave up their ‘palatial tent’ for Amy and James.

Man’s not hot!

On arriving in Bled the McNeils had put on quite the spread for us and we were busy gorging ourselves on an immense Slovene picnic when it was decided we would be cycling round Lake Bled that afternoon. A few stitches and heartburns later we were busy peddling ill-fitted bikes to the nearest pontoon that rented rowing boats to the church in the middle of Lake Bled.


As we parked up our bike at the jetty, a leathered Slovene woman barked the rules and regulations of the boat hire  at us and informed us that even one minute over would result in a extraordinary fine. With one hour on the clock we set off for the Island. James in one row boat with Rachel and Abigail and the other with Peter on the oars and Bharat and Amy relaxing at either end of the boat. Within minutes James’ boat had collided with a fellow holiday maker and the yelps and screams coming from the ladies being rowed echoed across the Julian Alps. As we approached the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumptions of Maria we could hear a Slovene wedding and, after mooring, managed to capture a glimpse of the celebration before they headed off in their boats, trumpets blazing, into the distance. On the island with the church Rachel was stopped by a lovely gentleman who noticed her Tuk Tuk To Turkey sweatshirt – it turned out that his wife (who we later met) had arranged the translation of our press release into Slovenian – what a small world and it shows the power of being ‘on brand’ – something Amy needs to significantly improve on.

Slovenian bride has a quick swig of beer before entering the church


Boat done, we continued our cycle along the pedestrian pathways of Lake Bled until we reached the foot of Bled Castle. Having reached the castle after 20 minutes of climbing, Bharat was not impressed with the expensive entrance fee and was debating sending us down from whence we came, but Rachel signalled that she was about to keel over after the climb and that the only watering hole nearby was the café inside the castle. Inside we went. After waiting for the sunset that never came, we mooched round the castle before finally cycling* home (*obviously we walked the whole way up the hills) – Bharat making a few minor 2km detours up and down hills which put a few strains on his and Rachel’s relationship.

The sunset over Lake Bled from the castle that never materialised


After a good meal in Bled everyone headed to bed for a good night’s sleep. James and Amy went off to their campsite and all was well…except for the sub 2 degree temperatures and the incessantly loud owls that chatted away all night. Rachel and Bharat fresh, James and Amy puffy eyed, we set off with Abigail and Peter  the next day to the Vintgar Gorge. It was lovely but very busy with tour buses disgorging every nationality trying to get there before the “rush”. Put it this way – we don’t think you can ever go without there being a crowd! That said, it was very beautiful and we’ve got inspiration for a “50 shades of Blue” photo series.

Amy goes off-piste on the Vintgar Gorge boardwalk


Bharat had been faffing the whole morning and Amy and James had enough when he said he needed to go back to Bled for his swim trunks (which, FYI, he never wore). The two of them set off on their own and managed to take some sneaky drone footage of Lake Bled before moving on to Lake Bohinj and doing the same there. Slovenia is genuinely so picturesque that we found ourselves having to be ruthless on what we stopped to take a picture of and what we didn’t.


We had a picnic by Lake Bohnij before renting kayaks that we took to the far side of the lake and Amy, James, Rachel and Abigail all jumped into the water trying desperately not to squeal at how cold it was (all managed, except Amy who jumped in first!).

It’s icy!

After Rachel and Abigail found themselves, yet again, going round and round in circles in their canoe and James and Amy hearing them from over a kilometre away, we all arrived safely onshore and drove to the bottom of the 20 minutes (vertical) hike up to the Slap Savika (waterfalls).

Does she realise she is the only one putting in effort?


Takeaway pizzas were on the menu after Bharat couldn’t bear to take his frozen limbs anywhere else in Bled and Rachel managed to break the TV in Abigail and Peter’s rental by hanging the Tuk Tuk To Turkey team’s underwear to dry on it.

Top of the stunning Vršič Pass 

The next day, at the recommendation of Abigail, it was a scenic detour through the Julian Alps and down the Soča Valley. There are no words we can find to properly explain the beauty of that area of Slovenia. All we have to say is that you must go for yourselves. A particular highlight was the slightly less well known Tolmin Gorge which had a bridge  that provided excellent photographic opportunities but also gave every single one of us vertigo!


Vertigo over Tolmin Gorge


We arrived in Trieste at night, something Bharat would later grumble about given the Fiat still had one broken headlight (our solution now is to try and only drive in the day as nobody knows how to change the bulb!). We hadn’t appreciated how hilly and windy Trieste was until we went up and down, up and down, round and round trying to find our host’s (Giuila and Diego) apartment. Eventually we arrived due to James’ exceptional detective skills (i.e. walking up and down every street in Trieste) – it is a city that is planned only for locals; good luck to you if you visit.


Funniest moment:

  • Day 22: After seeing the church in the middle of Lake Bled, Rachel and Abigail tried to row James back to the shore and helplessly started to go round and round and round in circles. Bharat was getting very stressed about having to pay the fine for the 30 extra seconds that they were on the water and meanwhile the leathered Slovene woman was having heart palpitations and shouting after seeing the reason for the circling was due to Rachel and Abigail sitting side by side, trying to row with one oar each…
  • Day 23: Bharat and Peter had opted out of canoeing on Lake Bohinj and decided to walk ¾ of the way around the lake instead. Tired, they then opted out of the climb up to some spectacular waterfalls. Bored, sitting waiting for Amy, Rachel, Abigail and James to hike up and then back again, they decided to go home in the tuk tuk, only to realise they’d left the house keys in Abigail’s car. Bharat and Peter had to wait a painful 25 minutes in the freezing cold before the waterfall party arrived home to find Bharat, in shorts and t-shirt, bent double shivering with the bright orange blanket spread over his and Peter’s heads as they waited to be let in.
  • Day 24: Forgetting that we were in Italy, and being British, we shovelled down the snacks we were given by Giulia and Deago (our hosts in Trieste) thinking that it might be the only food we got that evening. However, much to our horrified amusement there was a never ending stream of culinary delights to come. After meats and cheeses, lasagne, asparagus pasta, a salad AND then a meat course, and then pudding it was game over, even for James. We all retired to our beds, jean buttons undone and clutching our bellies.


Memory of Emily: Across the Slovene gorges they have multiple rickety footbridges which reminded us of when we went to Tanzania on a family holiday and Emily, aged 5, had to cross a bridge, high above crocodile infested waters, that could only carry one person at a time. As she crossed the creaking wooden slats, Bharat instructed her to only step when she had moved her hand along the metal wire ‘railing’, as the bridge had totally open sides. 3 steps in and she was walking along, hands by her side, unable to hear Bharat & Rachel’s screams due to the force of the river below!


Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 22: Amy who chose an overly edgy café for breakfast where we waited an hour to be served, had to sit on separate tables, and were made to eat cold, “minimalist” eggs.
  • Day 23: Bharat who, without fail, comments on how he can’t possible eat a whole main course for dinner, and then, without fail, manages to very easily eat his entire meal and have some of everyone else’s plus an icecream.
  • Day 24: James for taking control over the route through the Tolmin Gorges only to tell the team at the bottom of the Gorge they had to climb 80% of the way up again because he’d missed the crucial turn on the map.


Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of fat Slovenians: 0
  • Number of floors climbed in one day: 107
  • Number of times Rachel hit Abigail on the head with her oar in the kayak: 10
  • Number of times we flew the drone in 2 days: 11
  • Number of times Amy almost crashed the drone: 2

 Countries Visited:  14 out of 21

Sponsor of Slovenia: Assured Bathing Solutions:

 Thank you to David Eatwell of Cotswold-based Assured Bathing Solutions Ltd for his support. They are bathroom contractors who are experts in bathrooms for people with mobility issues. If you would like a quote for any bathroom (with or without mobility needs) then tel: 01452 613009 or email:

Rest ASSURED no BATHING took place in this bath tub!


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Vintgar Gorge



Reflections at dusk over Lake Bohinj


It’s a long long long way down!


The view of the tuk tuk gnome from the back seat


5 layers, 2 hats, 1 scarf and still cold!


A vision in blue!


The wobbly bridge that reminded us of a scary few minutes with Emily in Tanzania


Soča Gorge, Slovenia


Tuk Tuk trundles over the Tolmin Gorge


Our picnic spot on Lake Bohinj with Peter and Abigail


DAY 20 and DAY 21

Keszthely –> Maribor –> Ljubljana

27th – 28th September


The hills are alive with the sound of Bhara-a-a-tt shou-tinggggg.

We did eventually see some people in Keszthely, but unfortunately they weren’t too pleased to see us. We were packing the car after taking some photographs of Festetics Palace when we heard a gaggle of loud Hungarian women walking towards where we were parked. At first Bharat thought they were excited about our colourful, three-wheeled vehicle, but their hostility soon became apparent as they started shoo-ing us away in Hungarian and jabbing their fingers at the “Privat” sign. Given our host owned the entire “Privat parking lot”, we felt like the joke was on them, but their persistent obstruction meant we had to ring our landlord to diffuse the situation. By this point Bharat was loudly telling the ringleader to be quiet and Rachel was busy rummaging for the Hungarian press release to see if that would help. It didn’t. Who knows what was said in Hungarian, but eventually the troublemakers departed but only after our host had rung his lawyer! What a palaver.

Mid-way through this saga Amy and James had snuck off to see if Lake Balaton was worth a visit. It was like walking back in time, the shoreline had quaint old lake houses and piers with wooden changing booths. It was hard to tell whether it was a place you’d want to spend more time, but as we were needing to get on the road it didn’t really matter – so we took a few photos and moved on.


10km over the border into Slovenia and everything had changed. We had roads with bends, roads without potholes, people who waved and honked at us, much prettier villages and no trucks; in short, everything was better. We took some little back roads due to a blocked road ahead which took us up steep tracks across the Slovenian hills which was stunningly beautiful and eventually we arrived in Maribor.

Maribor is the second biggest city in Slovenia, although none of us had heard of it, and we were very pleasantly surprised. As a treat, Bharat had booked an apartment right in the centre and we were very much looking forward to this as normally we’re well over an hour’s walk away from anything worth seeing. Sadly, this was too good to be true as this particular flat had an overpowering stench of sewage emanating from the kitchen plumbing… We managed to squeeze in a trip to see the oldest vine in the world (Maribor Pohorje) that still produces fruit at over 450 years old!

The next day the sun was shining, everyone was in high spirits, and after a beautiful back country drive the day before everyone was keen to try and wiggle our way to Ljubljana through the Pohorje Hills. As soon as we started the climb into the forests we moved from tarmac to dirt tracks and passed ski resorts, viewpoints, rivers and waterfalls all without seeing another vehicle. With potholes and rocks on the road the tuk tuk and Fiat were weaving across it to try and avoid damaging the tyres/undercarriage of the vehicles. The sun was very bright and it was often impossible to see. Near to the summit of the mountain Amy remarked to Rachel how she had driven the support car “impeccably” in such conditions. No word of a lie, 2 seconds later Amy had managed to drive the Fiat into the ditch. The bottom of the Fiat crunched and scraped its way into the gully and eventually it ground to a halt at a 45 degree angle, with one wheel in the air and two wheels a meter below the road in the ditch. Trust us when we say that the photos honestly do not show the ‘depth’ of the problem. Instantly, Rachel and Amy started honking at James and Bharat (in the tuk tuk) to stop but off they drove into the distance until they realised minutes later that something was wrong and turned back to help the damsels in distress. James was trying to stay calm, raising an eyebrow at Rachel who was suggesting we could “just lift” the 1 tonne car out of the mess it had found itself in. Bharat, however, immediately started shouting for a “flat stone….NO! A FLATTER FLAT STONE!”, ordering people to ring the RAC, and scrabbling for the jack in the bottom of the car. After 15 minutes of footage of Bharat ranting and raving (only available for viewing if there is a generous donation!) and two cars cruising straight on past us, Bharat was catastrophising that the “car was gone” and that there was nothing we, the RAC, or anyone in the whole world could do to get us out the ditch! Meanwhile, Amy was busy saying sorry this and sorry that, and then quickly changed her story from “impeccable driving” to “impeccable crashing” technique, as only 100m ahead we spotted a 4×4 BMW coming towards us. Luckily for us the owners of the BMW, a very surly Slovenian man and his friendlier wife, came to our rescue. Bharat was belligerently insisting that the minuscule jack we’d brought with us would get the car out of the ditch, which the surly Slovenian man did not look upon with a great deal of respect or patience. Later Bharat would laugh with us as we joked about how adamant he was that his jack and his flat rocks would be more effective than the BMW TwinPower Turbo eight-cylinder diesel engine with over 550 horsepower.

Bharat looking for his flat stone!

All the luggage out to reduce the weight as we tried to no avail to lift the car out the ditch but our saviours had just arrived…

James, after some vigorous pointing from our Slovenian saviours, tied the tow rope to anything he could find under the front of the Fiat. Bharat was told to get into the car as the monster BMW pulled us to safety. Everyone set, the BMW started to pull the Fiat but instead of getting it out of the ditch the Fiat just screeched along the rocks of the ditch further, causing Bharat to let out pained yells until the Slovenian man stopped. Extremely unimpressed, the Slovenian driver got out of his car and, as far as we can tell, just told Bharat to shut up and get on with it. And 10 seconds later the car was out of the ditch! By some miracle there didn’t seem to be any lasting damage, but James decided to cause Bharat more stress by picking up a random piece of rusty, metal from the road (from nowhere near where the car had been) and asked if it had come off the car. Bharat doesn’t often get sarcasm and this joke was totally lost on him. James has learnt his lesson.


Given ditch-gate, Bharat banned Amy from driving for the next two days, but apart from that the two of them made up at our picnic spot on the side of the road overlooking the treacherous Slovenian hills we’d just driven up. After our scenic picnic, we continued to our next apartment for the night – another city centre treat from Bharat. As we left the centre of Ljubljana well behind us, we arrived through a McDonalds Drive-Thru to the salubrious “White House” – a mere 1 hour walk into the city centre! Finally in Ljubljana, we had some food, drank some wine and managed to have a good laugh about the day, which all in all was a significantly good result.

Amy and Bharat make up

Memories of Emily:

In Maribor we played Rummikub, a favourite of Emily’s, who always used to win. Rachel wagged her finger at everyone just like Emily used to when she needed more time to think up her wicked moves.

Ditch of the Day:
Day 20: Bharat – he tried so hard to pick a nice apartment in the centre of Maribor but alas it still smelt of sewage
• Day 21: Amy – for getting us into the stickiest situation of the trip so far.

Interesting fact:
• Nearly every house in Slovenia with a garden has a single vine in it, which the home owners use to produce their own wine!

Highlight of the day:
Day 20: Speeding down the Slovenian hills trying to get some good Go Pro footage of the tuk tuk doing some slick racing lines!

• Day 21: Stumbling across Ljubljana’s Taste Festival and being able to sit in a gorgeous square in the capital and try lots of different types of local foods and wines. Although Rachel wasn’t that impressed by Bharat’s choice of Slovenian ravioli!

Ljubljana Taste Festival where we had our supper

Tuk Tuk To Trivia:
• Number of times Rachel has called Slovenians “the Slovenlys”: 5
• Number of times Bharat angrily said “Oh my God” in the Slovenian mountains: 999

Sponsor for Hungary: Savills

Founded in the UK in 1855, Savills is one of the world’s leading property agents. Whether you are buying or selling or need one of the other many services that Savills offer there is an expert to help you all around the world. Savills deal with mansions, country cottages, farms, shoots, equestrian properties, woodlands, commercial property and everything in between. Find out more at: 

A big thank you to Savills for kindly sponsoring Hungary, home of Festetics Palace in Keszthely:Could this be the gate to your new pad?

Festetics Palace, Keszthely, Hungary

James gets down and dirty

Picnic spot after Ditch-Gate

Sumo passes under some impressive motorway bridges in Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

View to castle at Ljubljana


Picnic spot en route to Ljubljana

The shores of Lake Balaton at Keszthely, Hungary


Evening sun in Maribor, Slovenia


The oldest vine in the world, Maribor, Slovenia


Tuk Tuk on the Train Tracks, Hungary

Stunning Slovenia


25th and 26th September 2018

Vienna –> Podivín –> Bratislava–> 

Amy and James got up at the crack of dawn to go sightseeing with Sumo in Vienna. It was a crisp, sunny morning and they wanted to beat the tourists and, more importantly, whizz down the one way streets away from the eyes of the law abiding Austrians. They both felt very smug pulling up outside the Hofburg Palace, until they saw flashing blue lights, heard the howl of a siren and a saw a police car hurtling towards them. Hearts racing, the car tore past them and off onto things much more scandalous than two tourists in a bright pink tuk tuk trying to get a good Instagram picture.

Hofburg Palace, Vienna in the early morning

Mission accomplished, we all headed out of Vienna and made a beeline for the Czech Republic border. Strong winds meant that the “crisp” sunny morning very quickly became freezing cold, and James was desperately wrestling with the tuk tuk’s handlebars to keep it on the road. Numb and tired a few hours later we parked up to seek refuge in a cafe. The place was like a roadside trucker’s café from the 90s with everyone smoking inside and yoghurt with fruit served as if it was ice cream sundae. Caffeinated and fed we trundled back to the tuk tuk and it was immediately evident that Bharat’s worst fear had come true – two parking tickets. Our quick, cheap coffee had turned into the trip’s most expensive mistake yet! *Call for help* – experienced German translator needed for Bharat to appeal the parking fine!


Amy, who could not stand the freezing cold any longer, raided the camping gear for a sleeping bag in a bid to keep warm in the tuk tuk. Heaving herself into the tuk tuk in the sleeping bag made for hilarious viewing for Rachel and complete bewilderment for the local Austrian shop owners. You can have a chuckle for yourself:



We should have realised sooner why this corner of Austria was so abundant in wind turbines and even the sleeping bag wasn’t helping relieve Amy from the arctic winds. In a bid to relieve her misery, as we crossed over the Czech border, Amy was horizontal trying to do what she does best…sleep. Crossing into the Czech Republic was uneventful – the only noticeable difference was the plummeting population of brand new BMWs, Mercedes and other smart cars on the road.

John’s Castle, Podivín near Lednice, Czech Republic

Rachel took the team off to a castle near Lednice for a photograph to promote our Czech sponsor, White Swan Aesthetics, and an explore – and an explore it was, as we traversed the Czech countryside on the cycle paths. Rachel ordered the tuk tuk to turn left and 10m further on Amy found herself on a boggy footpath and having to reverse up a 12 degree gradient. Rachel had, yet again, failed to demonstrate her self-promoted navigation skills.

After a quick “grill lunch”, where Bharat selflessly opted for garlic soup, we headed down towards Bratislava for the evening and battled with the double threat of pot holed Slovakian roads and kamikaze drivers who have a real penchant for overtaking on tight corners with oncoming traffic driving in a similar fashion. We quickly unpacked our bags and went for an explore in the charming old city before sunset. Amy had described Bratislava as a “dump” from her Inter-railing days, but everyone was presently surprised by how charming it was. The chilly evening was a perfect time to get out our lovely scarves courtesy of our Slovakian sponsor, Bags of Plenty.


Fresh after an evening of facemasks and more banagrams, we set off for the Hungarian border and Bharat’s route planning which, until this point, had been largely flawless started to unravel. If anyone has an upcoming driving or cycling holiday on the Slovakian-Hungarian border, you are strongly advised to avoid the E65 road which seems to handle 90% of Europe’s heavy goods traffic. This made for a hair raising morning as Bharat and Rachel bounced down the road, the tiny tuk tuk almost disappearing amongst the 40 ton HGVs.


The apocalypse alarm went off and Bharat barked orders for an alternative route to be taken. Led by the often geographically challenged Amy, we set off into the Hungarian countryside passing through tiny villages and bumping along rough, unmade roads. Locals stared at us bemused from their ancient tractors and we were often forced onto the verge by bus drivers who seemed to have no respect for the rules of the road. It had been a long time since we passed a petrol station or anywhere to get food and it was welcome relief to come across a provincial town serving honey mustard chicken salads. Perhaps we should have guessed being sat across from a very out of place, Chinese Supermarket that honey mustard was just code for glutinous sweet and sour. 


Before reaching Keszthely for the night, we took a short detour via Europe’s largest natural thermal lake – Lake Heviz. Amy and James sped on ahead in the Fiat to secure entry for the team before it closed at 6pm, but Bharat (in the tuktuk), who couldn’t hear James’ instructions over the phone, took it upon himself to direct Rachel to some random lake in completely the opposite direction. Rachel and Bharat didn’t get to swim, but Amy and James took the plunge in the sulphery, eggy smelling, water for a whole 7 minutes before it closed.


Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 18: Bharat – We stopped to fill up with petrol at a HUGE Tesco in the Czech Republic: the first Tesco of the trip. Bharat was adamant that they would accept his clubcard. They didn’t.
  • Day 19: Amy and James – Who got trapped in the car park for Lake Heviz as they had no Hungarian cash and had to sweet talk some Australian travellers to bail them out. James had to turn up the charm further when the first 100 Forint coin was swallowed by the machine and they needed a second.


Sponsor of the countries:

  • Czech Republic: White Swan Aesthetics 

Facial aesthetics is an art. Stunning enhancements and beautiful refreshing anti-ageing treatments rely on the perfect blend of knowledge, skill, a delicate approach and an artistic eye. The doctors at White Swan are trained to understand the subtleties in face shape and how to hand-craft results which work in harmony with each client’s individual features. Their doctors take the time to carry out the carefully constructed 6-step White Swan consultation protocol so that the perfect, bespoke treatment package can be put together and the best possible treatment outcomes delivered. Clinics all over London. Do take a look at their website:

Thank you to White Swan Aesthetics, our Sponsor for the Czech Republic 

Slovakia: Bags of Plenty 

Bags of Plenty was set up in November 2014 by sisters Vanessa Ramm and Caroline Mackness. Their ethos is to share and bring beautiful things from hidden markets to British shores. They’ve brought beautiful knitted scarves from Dublin and handmade leather bags from Ibiza, everything wonderfully crafted and individually made. The lovely triangular woollen scarves worn by the Tuk Tuk to Turkey Team below were just what we needed in the very chilly air of Bratislava. Take a peek at their website and see the lovely and unusual bags, scarves and belts on offer:

Tuk Tuk to Turkey Team in their snuggly woollen scarves from Bags of Plenty


Funniest moment of the Day:

  • Day 18: Rachel banged on all day about a weird smell in the Czech Republic. After spending most of dinner googling olfactory hallucinations, she discovered that it was actually coming from her hands! Quite what she’d washed them with we’ll never know.
  • Day 19: Lonely Planet described Keszthely as “lively with a relaxed ambiance”. We walked round the entire town and saw not a single soul, only a white cat. See photo below. Keszthely livened up for us slightly as we sat alone eating Goulash in the only restaurant open (which incidentally was run by a Hungarian who spoke with a broad Lincolnshire accent) and Shakira starting blasting through the speakers.

The lively town of Keszthely, Hungary



Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of Hungarian women with dyed Burgundy hair: 37 spotted and counting
  • Accomodation we’ve stayed in next to a local torture museum: 1
  • Number of HGVs that overtook the tuk tuk: 53
  • Number of countries in the EU not using the Euro:9 (we’re going through 5/9)
  • Countries completed:11/21 – over halfway!


Highlight of the Day: A Czech waitress asking if we wanted water with sparkles! Who wouldn’t!




Bratislava Old Town, Slovakia


John’s Castle, Podivín, Czech Republic


Statue of Peeping Man, Bratislava Old Town


The first Tesco we’ve seen so far on our travels


She will emerge from her chrysalis when the temperature rises and the wind drops in a few days time…



Great set of gnashers


Castle Lednice, Czech Republic


Google leads us down an overgrown footpath yet again


Our journey so far. On track and 11/21 countries visited so far


One of hundreds of nodding donkeys littering the Austrian countryside as we drive towards Czech Republic


Rather than relaxing James and Rach found the face mask thing quite disturbing

Keszthesly, Hungary

Tuk Tuk on the Train Tracks

Blue Church, Bratislava, Slovakia

Free blow dry

Vienna, Austria at dawn


23rd and 24th September 2018

Kitzbühel –> Lake Königssee –> Salzburg –> Vienna

It was another very early start from Kitzbühel – it was cold, dark, wet and miserable with the valleys full of low cloud. With the sides down, the tuk tuk steamed up immediately which meant Rachel was clambering over Bharat’s shoulder to wipe down the windscreen with kitchen roll every few minutes.


As we climbed the mountains near the Berchtesgaden National Park (we’d briefly crossed back into Germany), the wind picked up significantly and each gust was buffeting the tuk tuk across the road. As we got higher and higher it became scarier and scarier with an increasing number of yelps from the back as we were almost blown off the road.

We found shelter at Lake Königssee (‘Kings Lake’ in German), something we had seen pictures of previously which had not done it justice. We took a 30-minute boat ride down the lake to the remote St Bartholomew’s church and, as we sailed towards it, the captain stood out the front of the boat and played a trumpet towards the sky which echoed against the mountains either side of the lake – it was completely enchanting (except for the additional sound of Japanese tourists who hadn’t muted their cameras!).

Lake Königssee in Germany

After Königssee it was off to Salzburg (into Austria again!) where hours were wasted driving round and round in circles trying to get a good photograph of Sumo in front of an iconic building. We did our best, this is all we’ve got to show for it:

Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg, Austria

Bharat has a tendency, when we have long drives ahead, to behave like the apocalypse is coming. The drive from Kitzbuhel to Linz was 250km (ish) and our longest one yet so with thunder and lightening predicted Bharat spent the entire day reminding us that the “storm was coming”. He was egged on further by a woman he met in a petrol station who advised him to tie the tuk tuk down for the night. So as we continued our tour of Austria we passed more and more beautiful vistas, all photo worthy, but were under strict instruction to urgently press on. Needless to say that, from midday onwards, we were driving in glorious sunshine with hardly a cloud in the sky…


We had not stopped much along the way (remember, the apocalypse was coming) and Rachel was taking some impressive racing lines along our Austrian country roads. Bharat commented on how Rachel’s Formula 1 driving would get us to Vienna let alone Linz, and before we knew it we were on the way to Vienna, only another 170km away…

It was a decision driven by multiple factors: (1) “the storm was coming”; (2) we were meant to be camping in the storm, (3) Bharat didn’t have the necessary equipment to tie the tuk tuk down; (4) the campsite was in some random village outside Linz and there was nothing to do/see; and (5) the sunset that evening was incredibly beautiful and our route was taking us along the River Danube.

Sunset drive along the Danube

Cruiseship on the Danube

It was the first time we had driven with the tuk tuk for any real length of time in the dark. It quickly became clear that Bharat had not put the beam deflectors on the Fiat correctly, which meant car after car, truck after truck, motorbike after motorbike would flash the support car and inadvertently blind Amy driving Sumo behind. Something to be adjusted before the next night-time expedition!

We pulled into our “Panoramic View Apartment” at 10pm having driven for over 15 hours. On the top floor, a good 5-6km away from the part of Vienna you actually want to visit, meant our panoramic vista was only of Soviet style blocks of flats. We’d been “flat-fished” (for those of you not in the know, see “catfishing” in the Urban Dictionary).

Monday was sightseeing in Vienna and trying (again) to get a good photograph of Sumo with our sponsor’s (see below) logo, but every beautiful building is either covered in scaffolding advertising flights to Malaga or has diggers, fairgrounds or ugly no parking signs in the way. So most of the day was spent scouting locations for Amy and James to go out early this morning and take some snaps sans cars, people etc – our blogging is almost live today!

View from the top of St Stephan’s Cathedral, Vienna

Every other tourist comes to Vienna for museums and Imperial palaces, but not the Tuk Tuk To Turkey team – the only touristy things we managed were going up to the top of the cathedral only to be almost blown away by the arctic cold winds and stuffing our faces with apple strüdel in a classic Viennese café.

Odd Wien Out : coffee and apple strüdel (or wine and sacher torte if you are Bharat)


Dinner was the classic Tafelspitz – boiled beef in broth with a side of bone marrow. James managed to eat half a boiled cow and Bharat spent most of the meal going on about how it would last him for the rest of the trip. As soon as we got home he asked about breakfast…

Low point of the day: Spent EUR20 on an overpriced parking space in central Vienna. Clearly we were charged a premium for having the luxury of being played Mozart over the crackling car park speakers.

Funniest moment: Rachel couldn’t see whilst driving the tuk tuk due the tears of laughter streaming down her face when she tried to say the name of a local town: “Windpassing”. She wanted to visit the town to get a picture of her with the sign, but couldn’t get beyond the word ‘wind’ without doubling up laughing and so then missed the turning much to her disappointment. Round 2 was at dinner in Vienna and luckily Amy managed to capture it on camera.

Sound of the days: The tinkling of cow bells everywhere you go! There’s something very reassuring about the sounds (particularly when driving on Austrian country roads at night).

Sponsor for Austria – Bannenberg and Rowell: Yacht designers. The company is the direct descendant of the convention-breaking studio established by Jon Bannenberg – the universally acknowledged father of modern yacht design – in the early 1960s. Dickie Bannenberg and Simon Rowell continue the vision of the founder, and lead the design team in new directions: working with all the major shipyards; designing residences for private clients and real estate developers; collaborating with furniture designers and developing other creative partnerships.

Thank you to our sponsor for Austria, Bannenberg and Rowell. We tried hard to get a nautical themed photo with the tuk tuk but were thwarted at every attempt to get the tuk tuk to a lake shore! 

Highlight of the day:

  • Day 16: Going to bed knowing that we didn’t have to wake up early and drive all the way to Vienna.
  • Day 17: Bharat claiming that he will never go to the Amazon rainforest again because it was just “trees and more trees”.


Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of times Bharat has mused (out loud) that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the hero of Austria: 1
  • Number of times Bharat has been corrected that Mozart is the real hero of Austria and Arnie is American: 1
  •  Number of people in traditional Viennese dress offering various tourist traps: 57 and counting.
  • Number of podcasts Amy and James listened to on the 15 hour drive: 6 – Freakanomics (one about how to be happy, one about why you shouldn’t open a restaurant, two ways to save the planet, one about who decided how much a life is worth, one about whether Lance Armstrong has finally become clean), and Serial Season 3, Episode 1 which is about the US Criminal Justice System.

Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 16: Bharat – we never experienced the apocalyptic storm he went on about.
  • Day 17: Amy – she was a ‘hangry’ (see earlier blog for explanation) monster today, even after a hot chocolate and an apple strudel!

Interesting fact: The Austrians really do wear lederhosen! Worn by young and old in a lot of different styles. One man we saw had some calf warmers which look similar to the “leggings” that Bharat bought ahead of the trip – to be revealed with the next cold spell.

Motzart’s Birthplace, Salzburg

Salzburg Historic Town

In the rain at Lake Wolfgangsee, Austria

St Stephan’s Cathedral, Vienna

Rathaus (Town Hall) Vienna with our sponsors logo Bannenberg and Rowell

Vienna, Austria


The Palm House, Vienna

Lake Königsee, Germany


DAY 14 and DAY 15

September 21st and 22nd


“I can’t take this anymore” uttered James at 4am in the morning as Rachel and Bharat’s snores echoed up and down the valley of St Anton. We had very kindly been put up in a shared room by friends of friends, but 4 beds in very close proximity with only one set of earplugs was traumatic for Amy and James. Want to hear a snippet for yourselves? Look no further:


Rachel finally saw the funny side of this when she caught James and Amy wetting themselves laughing later the next day as they listened to this clip on full volume on the Fiat’s speakers.


We left St Anton behind us very early on Friday morning and headed down the valley towards Innsbruck which was yet another very beautiful drive, particularly in the early morning sun.

An early morning start (again) from St. Anton

On our way to Innsbruck we came across the professional BMC Men’s Road Racing Cycling Team who were training for the Innsbruck Tirol 2018 team time trial. So far this trip Rachel has not been shy to drive at breakneck speed down the wrong side of the road, but overtaking the 7-strong team on the bendy, mountainous route seemed to make her much more cautious. In a tuk tuk you’re not looking at a quick getaway with 0-40mph taking over a minute, and with cyclists pacing along at Sumo’s top speed it’s not an ideal scenario. However, Rachel eventually saw an opening, plucked up the courage and roared on past the team, who seemed to love the tuktuk and team member Stefan Küng, decided to use Sumo as part of this training programme as he chased after us to ride in Sumo’s slip stream.


She isn’t overtaking on a bend honestly!


Innsbruck was lovely and we stumbled across a covered market selling fresh produce including pasta for our dinner that evening. We had a coffee in the square and it was so hot by that point that Amy was noticeably dripping with sweat, much to James’ amusement. We hadn’t realised that Schnapps was the local drink until we saw this wall of different flavours – Bharat taking the woman up on her multiple offers of  “something fruity?” or  “something creamy?” !


Something fruity? Something creamy? Schnapps

Pretty pastel houses in Innsbruck

After Innsbruck the drive was more like the boring Belgium drives (made slightly better by the mountains either side) – busy, big roads lined with unattractive houses and factories. We decided to liven up our scenery by taking a detour via Lake Achensee which took us back up to 1800m. Rachel dipped her cute little toes into the freezing blue waters, whilst Bharat quacked at the ducks near by. Apart from the quacking, it was very peaceful and extremely beautiful.

Lake Achensee

It was then a long way to Kitzbühel and whilst we had one French bus tour conductor who loved us (and even sent us messages afterwards), we had a lot of angry drivers in smart cars irritated by how long it had taken us to kindly move over when we had clearly seen the 60 strong queue behind us (still, they’re more patient than the Swiss!):

 We arrived in Kitzbühel and were very kindly given the keys to stay in a chalet by Clive, a family friend of James’, for two nights. We were exhausted when we arrived and were grateful for our first two night stay in one place. Although we are seeing some amazing places and have been blessed with beautiful weather, we are constantly driving/social media-ing/blogging and often only sleeping for 5/6 hours before moving on the next day. We almost cried with happiness at the prospect of being able to do some washing – Bharat had already started turning his boxers inside out! We really noticed how tired we were the next morning when, despite over 9 hours of sleep, we still felt groggy and bleary eyed. It felt so good to sit in pyjamas and play bananagrams with a cup of coffee.


Funniest moments:We’ve mentioned before how Bharat often needs a translator, so we’ve started videoing some of this blunders to make an “Idiot Abroad” series. It’s a shame we are never videoing at the exact moment but these retakes are filmed immediately after the faux pas occurs. Let us know what you think and whether we should continue!


Memories of Emily:

  • Being in Kitzbühel brought back memories of ski holidays and of a particular trip where, despite having all the gear and being flown all the way to America, Emily (aged 3) did half a day of skiing and then refused point blank to go anywhere near a ski slope for the remainder of the trip. After many a painful conversation about how this bit of her was cold and that bit was cold, and how this was uncomfy and that was uncomfy, Bharat and Rachel gave up and decided she might enjoy the less strenuous “snow play”. But even there, there was no chance of her going anywhere near the white stuff and she spent the rest of the trip eating pizza and colouring in. When the next family ski trip came around Rachel and Bharat decided to leave her behind and she was much happier staying with friends Stephanie and Chip whose daughter, Holly, taught her to ride a bike without stabilisers within a week!
  • Rachel took a photo of Amy which looked so much like Emily that it made her cry. She now can’t find the photo which has made her cry even more.


How we’re feeling: Rachel – “I’ve been feeling rather tearful and sad over the last few days in the mountains. This has happened before and I don’t know if it is the beauty and majesty of the mountains and the big skies or maybe feeling closer to ‘Emily on her cloud’ which is a phrase we use a lot with all her friends. Bharat and I drove the tuk tuk as high as we could up the steep mountain tracks in Kitzbühel to try and reach the clouds but the track ran out before we were enveloped in any cloud. We did manage to take the picture below though:


Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 14: Rachel for insisting she was a good navigator and leading the charge in getting the Tuk Tuk team to Lake Achensee, but within 2 minutes getting lost and sending Amy and James down a 1,633m tunnel in the tuktuk and then back again! Believe us, tunnels are not your friend in a tuktuk with open sides.
  • Day 15: A dunce free day! Hooray.


Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of times Bharat has won Bananagrams: 10/12 times.
  • Number of weeks/days left until Istanbul: 3 weeks and 4 days!
  • Number of countries that serve fresh milk with coffee: 3/9

The Austrian’s know how to stack logs!

Beautiful glass bottles in Innsbruck

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Sumo!

Sumaria toes in Lake Achensee

At least we will smell ok for the next few days!

DAY 12 and DAY 13

September 19th and 20th

Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria

Being on ITV News in the UK took us international and gave us the good fortune of meeting the lovely Paul and Rebekka who hosted us in Bassersdorf for the night. We had a full roast dinner ready for us on the table and even industrial grade earplugs for Amy and James to drown out Bharat and Rachel’s snoring – clearly we need to send every host our blog in advance!

Have you ever seen a Boeing 777 up close? No, neither had we until yesterday where we had the most amazing experience visiting a hanger at Zurich airport with Sumo. Doing a trip for charity can get you quite far, but this really took the biscuit, as Bharat was waved through airport security, Swiss Army knife in pocket – perhaps they wouldn’t have been so kind if it hadn’t been Swiss…

As the tuk tuk drove into the hanger and under the belly of the Boeing 777, little Sumo became minuscule compared to this mechanical giant. When the plane mechanics tested the engine right next to Sumo we thought she was going to be swallowed up and churned out the other side, but she’s still here! Phew. 

Lunch was in the centre of Zurich with James’ colleague Andreas from BlackRock. Andreas was incredibly hospitable and even provided us with somewhere to park, which in the centre of Zurich is a scarcity. Bharat has always been sceptical of Google maps and we can see why – when he tried to loop round to the parking space he went missing for over 25 minutes. It is not uncommon for Bharat to shift the blame, so when he returned ranting about how his disappearing act was down to Google being “useless”, we took a look at his phone and he’d managed to set his map to “walking” rather than “driving” directions…

The founder of our Swiss sponsor (Aston Saunders Ltd) came all the way to Zurich to join us for lunch, which was really special. After saying farewell to our friends we left for Glarus along Lake Zurich via the Lindt factory, which is throroughly underwhelming (i.e. not the rivers of chocolate we were imagining) except for the smell (and a free chocolate).


The drive past Lake Zurich was beautiful and peaceful until all hell broke loose. Amy, driving the tuktuk, was whizzing along the road approaching a train crossing and as she whooshed past the lights for the crossing realised they were red and slammed on the brakes to avoid being hit by the oncoming train. Bharat, in the support car behind, was too close to the tuktuk and also wasn’t paying attention so as he ground to a halt the barrier crashed down onto the top of the car and an alarm started sounding loudly. James had to jump out and force the barrier up whilst Bharat, who could be heard swearing in Zurich 5 miles away, reversed to safety leaving Amy and Rachel stranded in the tuktuk in the middle of the crossing. Amy, was revving like mad to get onto the pavement to safety, but Sumo couldn’t get up the ledge so they had to creep forwards in an attempt to get to a lower part of the pavement and then reverse out of harms way. Tensions were high as Bharat‘s shouting was getting louder and louder, the alarm was still blaring and everyone behind us had got out of their cars to watch the drama unfold. Seconds later the train hurtled past Sumo who shook in the wake of the train and finally the alarm stopped, the barriers lifted and we very tentatively went on with our journey, praying for no more blog-worthy events.


Dinner in Glarus was with an old friend of Bharat’s, Max. He and his family very generously put us up in a hotel and took us for a very indulgent meal which was a welcome distraction from the day’s events – James, sat next to Max and Bharat had not realised Bharat’s hidden passion for plastic moulds! We also managed to squeeze in a visit to see Max’s impressive factory before we left Glarus the next day.

The drive from Glarus to St Anton was breathtaking and we had so much fun with the go pro and drone, but even these cannot do the views justice. We had a quick drive through Liechtenstein to see Vaduz Castle and before we knew it we were into Austria flanked again by monumental mountains!

We found a perfect part of alpine road which snaked up the hill in a series of hairpin bends, just before St Christopher. In our efforts to get the perfect shot we went up and down it 3 times. On our second time down we saw a police car and as we u-turned and started our third ascent we saw them trying to speed gun us. Obviously the tuktuk didn’t even register, they’ve clearly never driven one up a hill, but regardless they pulled us over and asked us to turn off the engine and handover our driving licences and registration documents. They were obviously bored, and, after immediately losing interest in checking our paperwork, they wanted to know more about the convoy and why we had the tuktuk. The police really had no appreciation for how much trouble James has at hill starts…and so it was unfortunate that they had stopped us on such a steep part of the road. 

Solitary tuk tuk winds her way up the mountain


A slow climb later we turned the corner into St Anton, found a place to sit in the last sun of the day and write this blog. By far, the best day yet.

Sponsor of Switzerland : Aston Saunders Ltd

A boutique risk management company. Email:

Sponsor of Liechtenstein: Harrison Clark Rickerbys

A top 100 UK law firm HCR provide a full range of services to organisations, business leaders and individuals. Their sector experts provide specialist advice nationally and are leaders in their field, recognised with industry award nominations and for their contributions to national conferences.They have offices in Cheltenham, Birmingham, Cambridge, London, Hereford, Thames Valley, Wye Valley and Worcester.


Highlight of the day: We drove along next to Lake Walensee and Bharat told Amy and James they catergorically were not allowed a swim because we would be late to St Anton. Amy and James fell hook line and sinker for Bharat’s prank and, both very grumpy, had to swallow their disappointment as the team pulled into a carpark at the end of the lake and they were able to display their awful diving technique from the pontoon – video below:


Dunces of the Days:

  • Day 12: Amy – Train incident, see above.
  • Day 13: Rachel – who tried to drive Bharat into a hedge after an altercation during the drive into Liechtenstein. Rachel thinks Bharat is deserving of this accolade, but James and Amy only witnessed the hedge incident, so the prize goes to Rachel. 

Funniest moment: Coming out to the tuktuk to see love notes to Bharat stuck on the Tuk Tuk from a Turkish man he’d met the night before. 





Tuk Tuk Trivia:

    • We reached the highest elevation of our trip – 1800m above sea level at St Christophe am Alberg.
    • Number of tunnels driven through: lost count
    • Number of times the tuktuk’s speedometer has broken: 4 (always fixed by going over a big bump!)
    • Number of times Rachel drove on the wrong side of the road: 3


How we’re feeling: Whilst beautiful, there’s something so emotional about driving through mountains. Perhaps because the peaks reach into the sky they have you wondering where the ones you’ve loved and lost are now, perhaps because they’re so majestic and still that it suddenly forces you to slow down and properly remember. Glarus to St Anton was our best drive not just because of the scenery but because we were able to remember Emily and everything that has happened to bring us to where we are now on this challenge. We know Emily is with us every step of the way – why else would the sun be shining the way it has been in the middle of September, when last year they had snow!

Country Count: 9/21

Swimwear tied to tuk tuk to dry in the wind

Lake Walansee

Sumo’s new upgraded dashboard

Our full roast dinner with our 5-a-day one one plate


Day 10 and DAY 11

September 17th and 18th

France, Germany and Switzerland


We always knew we needed James on this adventure – we had a 7am wakeup call and 15 minutes later there was a croissant and coffee for everyone. Little did we know he was buttering us up for an 11am wine tasting at a vineyard not on our route, but luckily for him Bharat is always keen and the views over a quintessentially Alsace valley alone were worth it. At the tasting it became apparent that wine might be the undoing of James and Amy’s relationship, as she sat head in hands trying to ignore the indelible picture of James’ wine tasting technique – video below:

Conman or Connoisseur? from Tuk Tuk to Turkey on Vimeo.

James came up trumps again and suggested we drive through the Vosges mountains rather than following our original route. We wound our way up the hills to breath-taking views at the top and even passed a few ski lifts on our way.

Before we reached our hosts just outside Belfort, we went to visit Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp. Despite pleading, the tuktuk was not allowed up to the church so we set off on foot to inspect the architectural marvel and, despite not being the most culturally astute bunch, we all enjoyed our visit.

The night was spent with Laura and Sylvain and their two children – Laura lost her sister to SUDEP when she was 17 and we know her through SUDEP Action. Rachel took Sylvain and their 2 year old daughter for a ride and promptly shot off on the wrong side of the road, which had Laura head in hands praying for Rachel to be careful with her baby! Rachel and her passengers arrived back 5 minutes later, totally oblivious to Rachel’s driving blunders, but without a doubt she is now cementing her reputation as being the most dangerous of us all.

Tuesday morning and a normally organised James can’t find his wallet…anywhere. The whole car emptied, every bag searched and it was still nowhere to be seen. Laura’s 5 year old son had remained silent whilst the frantic search was underway and it was only after all other options had been exhausted that the search party realised he had a cheeky grin on his face. Clearly he was after some more pocket money, as it turned out he had stashed James’ wallet in his hiding place for a rainy day!

Eventually we set off and drove to Basel where we had a Swiss bargain of 4 coffees and 3 croissants for £42!!!!! Bharat turned whiter than Rachel’s cappuccino and instantaneously decided he wasn’t a fan of Switzerland…

…and neither is James after our stressful detour through some Swiss hills (one of Amy’s famous shortcuts). Nearing the top of a very long and steep incline, the support car, in first gear, ground to a halt and started to roll backwards. An unusually rattled James tried multiple times to do a hill start to no avail. As we started to smell the aroma of burning rubber and the squeals of the engine, the trusty tuk tuk chugged on past Amy and James, who, at this point, were both leaning forwards in the Fiat, as if that would help. Bharat came to the rescue and managed to crawl up the hill, but whether that was because Amy had got out by that point and, as Rachel put it, had “significantly lightened the load” or because James is just diabolical at hill starts we’re yet to verify. We have the Alps to come, so stay tuned.


Drama over, detours over…we returned back to our original, flatter route all the way to Bassersdorf to meet our amazing hosts, Paul and Rebekka who saw us on ITV News and offered us a bed for the night (and an entire roast dinner!).

Dunce of the Day:
Day 10: Amy – fell asleep AGAIN and her phone flew out of the tuktuk AGAIN – we know cats have 9 lives, but iPhones? Bharat now has her under strict instruction to tape it to her hand next time her eyes start to droop.
Day 11: Bharat – for a lot of honking, gesticulating and expletives driving through Zurich at rush hour.

Funniest moment: James spat a sample of wine into his glass creating a disgusting foam and the owner of the vineyard looked horrified thinking her prized, handpicked grapes had caused the mess. James couldn’t explain why he hadn’t used the spit bucket and it was very enjoyable watching him get redder and redder in the face.

Highlight of the Day (for Amy and James) v Low Point of the Day (for Rachel and Bharat): Amy and James in need of their caffeine hit, convinced Rachel and Bharat, who were adamant that we needed to push on, into thinking the lunch place took 20 minutes to make “fresh baguettes”, and had a coffee in the sun whilst R&B sat in the baking car park waiting.

Interesting fact: Basel is a city which spreads over three countries – Germany, France and Switzerland.

Our route so far! Mostly to plan except for bypassing Heidelberg as it was too expensive and several hundred miles further

Amy and Bharat in Bergheim

Riquewihr, France

Riquewihr, France

Wine tasting at Weinbach, Kientzhein, France

Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France. Designed by Le Corbusier

Basel, Switzerland

Our hosts in Belfort, Laura and Sylvan with children Arthur & Céleste and neighbours

Bharat loves his macaroons in Riquewihr

We meet lots of wonderful people who ask about what on earth we are doing and why. They take away our card, sometimes donate, but always go away knowing more about epilepsy and SUDEP than they did before.

Beautiful old footbridge in Bad Säckingen, Germany (we walked over the bridge from Switzerland)

DAY 7, DAY 8 and DAY 9

September 14th-16th Germany, Luxembourg and France

Prüm to Luxembourg to Trier to Bergheim

James and Amy have had better sleeps; their one and a quarter-man tent meant that James spent most of the night with two limbs hanging out the side and both suffered the Richter scale 7 tremors of Rachel and Bharat’s interminable snoring. Tents down, coffee drunk and we were on the road again through the German forests before dipping back into Belgium briefly and then down into Luxembourg.

We drove through La Petite Suisse in Luxembourg which prides itself on being as picturesque as Switzerland. It was a lovely drive, but not as dramatic as we are hoping our Swiss leg will be. We had some sandwiches overlooking the waterfalls of Schiessentümpel before crossing back into Germany and arriving in Trier, the birthplace of Karl Marx and the oldest town in Germany. Amy, of course, missed most of it fast asleep in the back of the tuktuk, which is no mean feat given how noisy and windy it is – camping must have really taken its toll.

Sleeping Beauty in the Tuk Tuk from Tuk Tuk to Turkey on Vimeo.

Waterfalls at Schiessentümpel, Luxembourg

Jon Moore, brother of a family friend, hosted us for the night in Trier and took us to try the traditional dish of wurst and sauerkraut. After the trials of camping we were very grateful for a proper bed to sleep in and it was an early night for us all so that we could sneak into the center of Trier early morning before the tourists arrived for some good photographs.

Early morning in Trier, Germany

Mid way from Trier to Strasbourg we were worried we’d have nothing to write for the blog – it had been quite an uneventful drive and there’s only so many times we can talk about the scenery. But then drone-gate happened. We pulled over on a road lined with a lovely avenue of trees and decided to film the tuk tuk driving up the road with the drone. A number of things went wrong: first, James managed to snap a wing off the drone by failing to put it on correctly; second, the drone didn’t track the tuk tuk so Amy tried to manually take control which resulted in the drone nose diving to 1 ft above the ground before spinning upwards and sideways into (luckily) no oncoming traffic; third, the drone battery started to fail mid-flight and so a flapped, very stressed Amy had to emergency land it in the middle of the A road (we had not appreciated how busy it would be until it was too late); fourth, after all that Amy hadn’t even been filming. We’re sure you can imagine the heated “discussions” afterwards, but that was not the end of our technical glitches – Bharat tried to test the gimbal on a quieter road in France and had to eat his own words when, for every single one of the 10 attempts he made, he had not pressed the record button. Luckily however, James was in control of the drone at this point and filmed the hysterical clip below of Bharat and his “gimbal-ing” antics.

Bharat chasing Tuk Tuk with the Gimbal from Tuk Tuk to Turkey on Vimeo.

We’d love to tell you this was the end, but Amy fell asleep, yet again, in the back of the tuktuk and mid snooze her phone fell from her hand and promptly flew out of the tuktuk bouncing onto the road and narrowly missed being run-over by the car behind.

Rachel reached new levels of frustration with Bharat after he decided to deviate from our planned route and directed her straight into the one-way pedestrian zone of Strasbourg. Safe to say that they will not be allowed to drive through city centres together again without supervision! However, we arrived in Strasbourg just in time for sunset over the cathedral and a quick stroll around the old town.

The drive from Strasbourg to Bergheim in the Alsace region of France was absolutely amazing – you can see why there is a specific route dedicated to the “Route de Vin”. Believe it or not, we were undeterred by the previous day’s drone-gate and managed to snap this of Sumo. We will be back another time, that’s for sure.

Sumo in the Alsace vineyards


Memory of Emily: When Emily died we had to collect her belongings from Leeds and, amongst other things, we found a packet of cigarettes with 3 left in it. Rachel and Bharat had given up smoking 20 years before and Amy had never had a puff in her life, but we felt there was meaning attached to there just being three left. So, we agreed that we would all have one of Emily’s cigarettes and a toast to her when we felt the time was right. When that time eventually came, we went to retrieve the packet, only to find an empty box which Bharat had clearly raided (but still denies)…We won’t go into what was said at the time, but as we spoke about Emily and recanted this story to James in a pretty little French town we decided we should take the time to do what we hadn’t done before and we each smoked* a slim French ciggy with a coffee toasting our beautiful Em.
*Amy coughing and spluttering.

A tobacco toast to Emily!

Sponsor for Germany: Beatrice von Tresckow 

Beatrice von Trescow designs and sells the most beautiful, colourful, textured clothes hand-finished with embroidery and beading and has shops in London, Cheltenham and in Berlin, Germany. Beatrice has drawn from her exotic upbringing in Afghanistan, Africa and India then fused flair, talent and years of design experience to create a look that is truly unique. Her daughter, Freddie now has her own fabulous new range too called FREDI von Trescow.

BvT and FvT in Trier, Germany

Sponsor for France: iSIGHT Clinics

iSIGHT  was established in 1993 as a Specialist Day Case Eye Hospital based in a beautiful, Grade-II listed building in Southport, Merseyside. They are a consultant-led practice focusing exclusively on the treatment of eye conditions.  Their highly-qualified medical team includes some of the most talented & highly regarded Ophthalmic Surgeons working in the UK today, all of whom are on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council (GMC). iSight Clinics

iSight with my little eye something beginning with ‘t’

Low Point: Rachel almost killing Bharat by forgetting what country she was in and failing to look left before pulling out at a roundabout. Luckily the Porsche had better brakes than the tuktuk and managed to avoid us.

Funniest moment: Bharat saying “Let me use my Dingle” over and over again, which, when we lacked the context of whatever was going on in his head, just sounded dodgy. Our Bharat-translation tool eventually worked out he was referring to photography and the “GIMBAL”.

Highlight of the day:

  • Day 7: Meeting the mad, effervescent, Trier Professor who swerved up to us on his cross-trainer bike and gave us some Afri-Cola bonbons for the journey. We had our suspicions about the boiled sweets after he’d said they would keep us awake on the journey and said “coke” twice, but we’ve had a Google and can confirm that they’re just high in caffeine and related to Germany’s coca-cola.

  • Day 9: Driving in the Alsace wine regions and being able to try a glass or two (or three in Bharat’s case) of the local wines. It would have been rude not to…

Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 7: James – (1) he farted so loudly in the tiny tent (with Amy in it) that Rachel shouted “I heard that” from the depths of her palatial tent. Also, very negative vibes given how small Amy and James’ tent was. (2) turns out James actually bought the tiny tent himself (!) but let his parents take dunce of the day for Day 6 by fooling everyone into thinking it was a present from them.
  • Day 8: Amy – see Tuk Tuk dramas above and for not keeping her cool.
  • Day 9: Bharat – going missing for 30 minutes at the start of the day and going through more red lights than the whole of Amsterdam has to offer.

Interesting fact: The tax in Luxembourg is much lower on cigarettes and petrol so just before you cross the border into Germany there is a road lined with petrol stations with people coming to fill up on the cheap before heading into Germany. Such a strange concept, for us Islanders, to cross a border to fill up your tank!


Early morning in Trier, Germany

Early morning in Strasbourg, France

The Market Square in Trier, Germany

German-Luxembourg border

Bye Bye European Union! Strasbourg EU Parliament Building

The tuk tuk team go to great lengths for the perfect shot!

Sumo meets her little brother in Trier, Germany

DAY 5 and DAY 6

12-13 September 2018 – Netherlands and Germany

Brussels to Maastricht to Prum

Getting out of Brussels was another hideous and slow drive followed by boring straight roads interspersed with small dull towns. We tried taking country roads, but were thwarted as every one we took petered out into a dead end or a cycle path. Like clockwork, Bharat announced the tuk tuk counted as a bicycle and soldiered on but even he had to turn back eventually.

The drive was significantly livened up when Rachel spotted lots of rotating manequins in the shop windows, but Amy quickly corrected her – they were actually real-life semi-naked gyrating women advertising “Finding Love” amongst other things…

Twenty minutes later and many a window later, we stopped in Lieges for a quick lunch before eventually arriving in Maastricht to stay with (yet another) Vanhoonacker! The charming Sophie and Bernard kindly gave us some comfy beds and Bernard treated us to a gourmet homemade meal. Amy saw some stroopwafels in the drawer when helping wash up and very unsubtly said how much she loved them – we now have the box in the car!


Town Hall in Leuven

The drive to Prum started after Bharat arrived back from Brussels…see Hero of the Hour.The day was very rainy and cold which meant that, after a good stint in the back, we put the sides of the tuktuk down to thaw frozen limbs and attempt to keep spirits high. We hopped from Aachen to Monschau which was a beautiful drive through rolling hills – the countryside in the Netherlands and Germany undoubtedly beats that of Belgium…

We drove through a misty forest with strikingly tall, thin trunked trees which made Sumo look tiny! On arriving at the campsite Amy and James set up the tents with Bharat and Rachel having their two pennies at the end. The tent Rachel and Bharat brought is palatial, particularly when compared the one and a quarter man tent given to James and Amy by James’ parents for the trip – we are yet to pull straws on who’s in the tent and who’s in the tuktuk…


Sumo arrives in Monschau, Germany


On the way to Maastricht

Rach finally works out how to switch her camping headlamp on!

Sponsor for Netherlands: Unique Home Stays

The UK’s most luxury and unique self catering cottages and large homes. We definitely wish we were staying in one of their beautiful houses rather than our campsite!



No Unique Home Stays luxury today for us!

Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of people James has spoken to in German: 1 (accuracy yet to be verified…)
  • Number of times Bharat took a wrong turn: 4
  • Number of times James burped at the table with our hosts?: 1 (and one too many)

Smells of the Day:

  • Day 5: More cow dung and a very fishy smell at the Belgian/Netherlands border…
  • Day 6: Cinnamon – a particular village in Germany, which clearly is gearing up for Christmas already and making a lot of Zimtsterne!

National Drink: Jenever, a cherry flavoured liqueur which Rach declared was like cough mixture – 2/10

Dunce of the Days:

  • Day 5: Rachel: Kept trying to put coins in the notes slot of parking machine (Amy and James were wetting themselves laughing at Bharat’s pained “Oh for goodness sakes” across the car park) AND left all her jewellery in Brussels…(however, she was closely followed by James who not only burped at our hosts table (see above), but swilled the wine in his glass to look sophisticated and promptly doused the table with some of the Alsace’s nicest Riesling!).
  • Day 6: Paul and Jacqueline Hewitt (James’ parents) for donating a one man tent for James and Amy to sleep in.

Hero of the Hour: Bharat who got up at 6am and drove all the way back to Brussels to retrieve Rach’s jewellery, which he did without complaining once, which is very unusual!

Sulker of the Day: Amy, who discovered Bharat & Rachel had brought REAL PILLOWS after telling her and James that there was no room.

Interesting fact about Belgium: There is very high stamp duty, there is no capital gains tax on property and no inheritance tax – something for us to bring back home!






DAY 3 and DAY 4

10-11 September 2018 – Belgium
Dunkirk to Bruges to Brussels

HANGRY: When one is hungry and angry. This is how Day 3 started. We arrived in Bruges at 3pm with only one black coffee in our bellies since the entirety of Dunkirk appeared closed, despite it being a work day.

The drive to Bruges was uneventful, flat, and the only landmark showing we’d crossed into Belgium was a Leonidas chocolate shop. We’ll move on…

Bruges is like a biscuit box of beautiful gingerbread houses, unspoiled by all the tourism and only one-way cobbled streets, which means navigating our way through it was challenging to say the least. Our hosts were Annalie and Michel Vanhoonacker who had read our story in the Cheltenham Ladies’ College alumni newsletter and offered us accommodation despite never having met us. Such kindness meant we had a safe place to park the tuk tuk (only after waiting for the Turkish workmen to slowly move the diggers and pose for a photo with the tuk tuk that was going to their homeland) and a comfortable bed for the night.

The day in Bruges was as one might imagine: beer tasting, waffle tasting, chip tasting, chocolate tasting. We were impressed by the blue whale made out of discarded plastic leaping out of the canal.

The evening in Bruges saw us adorn Sumo with fairy lights and set off on a night safari. It seems we can do quite a lot unchallenged in a tuk tuk, as we managed to whizz past the Belfry in the main Markt Square, only open to horse and carriage, without anyone batting an eyelid. After realising we were not good night-time photographers we called it quits and headed home.


The cross-country journey from Bruges to Ghent was very windy and very smelly – none of us appreciated just how many cows there are in Belgium! Rachel managed to lose herself in a maize field (don’t ask us how!), but what she lacked in direction she made up for in eating after discovering the local Ghent specialty, Cuberdon or Gentse Neus (little nose in Dutch), which were raspberry flavoured, oversized jelly babies. Ghent is very different to Bruges with gothic architecture, open squares and cathedrals aplenty – let’s put it this way…we were not expecting to eat lunch in an Alice in Wonderland themed café.

The drive from Ghent to Brussels was miserable and tiring – straight, ugly, lots of traffic and absolute mayhem when we arrived in the capital at rush hour. Wrong turn after wrong turn was about to put strain on the, so far, quite good family relations, until we managed to (wrongly) turn onto the road with the Palais de Bruxelles and take this picture: 




Day 4 and we are in the comfort of another Vanhoonaker’s home, whether Annanlie and Michelle strong-armed their family or not, we will never know, but the lovely Isabelle and Gilles welcomed us into their home despite us arriving on their doorstep a day earlier than they expected (who is to blame is TBD!).

Sponsor for Belgium: Nyama Mama KE – award winning restaurant group in Nairobi, Kenya serving modern African fusion cuisine. Here we all are sporting their t-shirts. 

Tuk Tuk Trivia:

 Number of people James has spoken to in French: 1 (surprising given how keen he was to show off previously!)
 Number of times Rachel left the tuk tuk indicator on: 73
 Number of times Rachel drove on the wrong side of the road: 2
 Number of fritjes eaten: Too many

National Drink: Beer – 10/10 for the Bruges Blonde beer, but the cherry and coconut beers left a lot to be desired (0/10)

Low Point of the Day: Bharat decided to give Amy 2,000 more grey hairs by leading her onto the (forbidden) motorway and then take 10 years off everyone’s lives by taking the tuk tuk through the disgustingly polluted, endless, tunnels that run under Brussels. Amy’s still complaining about her wheezing…

Dunce of the Days:
Day 3: Bharat – left the tuk tuk keys dangling in the petrol cap, left the passports and money in the car overnight and thought Belgians spoke “Flanders”.
Day 4: Bharat (we sense a pattern…) – see “Low Point of the Day”, outfoxed by his own route planning (started going back the way we came), and took almost every opportunity to show off to our hosts about his friend’s “wulture” research (turns out his pronunciation of “vulture” left everyone confused).


DAY 1 AND 2 – London  Kent  Dover  Dunkirk

AND WE ARE OFF! We had an incredible send off from Pearl & Groove bakery on Portobello Road (our UK sponsor). Having worried initially that only 10 people would turn up, we were overwhelmed by the throngs of people that came to wave goodbye and made it such an awesome atmosphere! We had beautiful cakes, Prosecco (with thanks to Armit Wines ), a singer, Turkish Radio and Television filming us, and even a short Indian ceremony to wish us luck on our journey – video below of the breaking of the coconut, the throwing of rice, some Sanskrit chanting(!) and a lime and chilli good luck garland.

En route to our first overnight destination, Cranbrook in Kent, we had a quick pit spot at Rachel’s sister’s house for some tuna sandwiches and a family picture before meeting James’ school friend, Hussam, with his wife and beautiful 3 month old daughter in the timeless glamour of a Harvestor carpark! Later, after a tuktuk chase through Kent, Michelle Samuels, who lost her sister to SUDEP, eventually tracked us down for a quick photo opportunity just before we pulled into James’ parents house. It was about 6pm when we finally arrived at the Hewitt’s home and we were met by a lovely cup of tea…or so we thought, until Paul, James’ father, sheepishly admitted he had accidentally blended mint and Early Grey tea (yuk!) – we swiftly moved onto something a little stronger.

After a good night’s sleep, a bacon butty and black coffee we set off for Dover through the Garden of England, Rach doing her live Radio 2 interview from the backseat of the tuktuk (trying not to swear as Bharat swerved round some hairpin bends).  Listen here: 

As we arrived at the Port of Dover, James, with lightening speed, took the opportunity to unnecessarily show off that he could speak French to the English passport control officer…more of this to come no doubt. Bharat booked the tuktuk onto the ferry as a motorbike, which surprisingly nobody batted an eyelid at, and it was strapped into place in the belly of the ferry as we crossed the channel to Dunkirk.

Funniest moment: Rach being caught by the Radio 2 producer whilst on the loo! Safe to say they rang back 5 minutes later.

National Drink – UK: Chapel Down, English Sparkling Wine – delicious and the perfect way to toast our first day!

How do we feel (Amy): “I felt really emotional after our leaving do – it really hit home how much everyone has rallied behind this campaign for Emily. However, it was actually boarding the ferry in Dover that made it feel really real for me. I’d done a test drive in the tuktuk to James’ parents a few weeks ago so driving there for the evening almost felt like we were going down for the weekend! But mid-channel, as we said goodbye to the white cliffs of Dover, it really hit home that this was it and we’re finally on our way!”

Memories of Emily: We were waved off from Kent by David Sibree who lost his son Tom to SUDEP just over three years ago. Hearing David speak about Tom made it an emotional departure as we remembered both him and Emily and how much we have all lost.

TukTuk Trivia:

  • Number of wrong turns: 3 (culprits: Amy twice + Bharat once)
  • Best bladder control: Bharat
  • Number of awareness postcards handed out: 5
  • Number of new Instagram followers: Hundreds!

Dunce of the Day:


  • 1 dangerous wrong turn
  •  1 mobile phone left in tuk tuk 
  •  1 motel key locked in room
  • 1 panic over lost tuk tuk key (found later on his person)


1 DAY TO GO!!!

We have 1 DAY TO GO!!!! We can’t quite believe that the time is almost here – what a year it has been so far. Thank you all for your incredible support over the last few months – it means so much to us, please keep it up!


There’s been so much going on that we wanted to recap and send across a mini “Tuk Tuk To Turkey Fan Club Checklist” before we head off. Here goes:


  1. Follow us on social media: @tuktuktoturkey


  1. Donate generously:


  1. Come and wave us off  TOMORROW (Sat 8thSept): 10am to noon at Pearl & Groove at 341 Portobello Road, London – we will be having a send off party with live music, cake, Prosecco, AND a very short Indian ceremony to bless the tuk tuk involving a coconut, some rice, a candle and a bit of chanting! Please come and join us – we would love to see as many people there as possible! Please do take photographs and videos and tag us at @tuktuktoturkey and use our hashtags: #tuktuktoturkey and #sudepaction


  1. Buy a Tuk Tuk To Turkey t-shirt and/or sweater:– back by popular demand. We have already sold almost 100 items with ALL profits going to SUDEP Action. We now have new colours too – pink, and red, and green and blue, purple and….you know the rest…


  1. Share one of the below –for us, awareness is just as important as raising money for SUDEP Action. 1 in 26 people will have epilepsy at some point in their lives and the risk of SUDEP is a risk for anyone with epilepsy. Awareness and knowledge are key to make sure we reduce the number of epilepsy related deaths each week in the UK (21 a week, 50% of which are attributed to SUDEP):


YOU are all absolutely amazing and thank you so much for supporting us every step of the way!


Love the TTTT team x


Match Donors

As many of you know we had a match donation promise for donations made to our Just Giving site during August.


By the end of the August month we had managed to raise over £10,000 in donations to SUDEP Action, which meant that Nina and Jayesh Shanghavi had a hefty match funding bill!

Nina and Jayesh are the founders of the incredible Nyama Mama restaurants in Nairobi, Kenya. These restaurants are cool, unpretentious, fun, modern day African roadside diners. Locally inspired and full of flavour, the restaurants are taking Nairobi by storm. Their ugali fries ( a modern twist on the Kenyan staple food of maize meal porridge called ugali in Swahili) has been a big hit with diners.  And if you don’t believe us (because yes, we are biased) they’ve won lots of awards too, including:


They have a number of sites across Nairobi and they also have a Pan Asian restaurant called Mr Yao and plenty of new projects in the pipeline – check out their website here:


Nina and Jayesh are also Emily’s auntie and uncle and so she holds a very special place in their hearts. We are so grateful to them for their continued support and we are also very grateful to all of you who donated in August and made the most of their generosity (!).


The TTTT team x


We hope you enjoy Emily’s Song: It is sung (sort of !) to the tune of The Modern Major General from the Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan.

Our version is the brainchild of our friends, Cindy and Imogen Bexfield, a lawyer and a dentist who took their idea and ran with it! They employed a fabulous company called FleaBee Films from Cheltenham, begged favours from people, gathered together memories of Emily from her friends and family and then used the anecdotes to write the words to the tongue twister.

The song starts with a tongue-in-cheek verse about the fact that Emily was half Indian, born in Kenya and went to Cheltenham Ladies College. The song refers to many of Emily’s traits and naughtiness and to her piercings, her hangovers, her terrible fashion sense, her 15 minutes of fame as a Talking Head on the X Factor Talk Talk adverts and her habit of constantly pulling her knickers out of her bottom!

There are some serious bits about SUDEP and the charity and the importance of taking epilepsy medication as prescribed and then a mention of our imminent tuk tuk journey. Just over two weeks to go before we leave!


Cindy took to the role of producer/director like a duck to water and on filming day she was efficient, calm and good natured in spite of the shambolic, out of tune, out of time, faltering and inept performances she was faced with over and over again! 

The end result is a fun film about Emily which we will treasure for ever!


Producer/director : Cindy Bexfield
Words : Imogen and Cindy Bexfield (parts written in the bathroom in the middle of the night!)
Piano : Roger Humphries
Filming : Fleabee Films

Starring in order of appearance:
Brenda Alexander, Joe Snape, Amy Sumaria, Bharat Sumaria, Cecilia, Karl & Nel Ruijsenaars, Abigail & Peter McNeile, Jenny Riddell, Nick Hewitt, Cindy Bexfield, Clio Eckersley, Alice Murray, Livvy Wells, Karl Bass, Rachel Sumaria, Vayla Moffitt, Emily Younger, James Weinberg, Helena Day, Lara Jackson, Gordon Ritchie, Katie Hunter, James Hewitt

Final chorus : Everyone at the Tuk Tuk to Turkey Summer Fête


Roll Up!  Roll Up!


We are taking our alliteration to new heights now with our Tuk Tuk To Turkey Tees! TTTTT!


Available for a limited period only so please do browse our Tuk Tuk to Turkey Shop ASAP! 


Click here to be taken straight to our shop: TTTT Shop


Our tuk tuk logo is now printed in the colourful paisley design of our very own real-life tuk tuk! 


We held an online poll as we couldn’t choose between two great designs but the results came out 50:50 so we decided to please everyone and are offering both the logo across the front with the tuk tuk icon in the middle and also the ’emblem’ version with the tuk tuk crest on the left.


There is a ladies t-shirt, a unisex t-shirt and a sweatshirt available in both designs. We’d just love it people would come and wave us off in them on Sat 8th September from Pearl & Groove, 341 Portobello Rd, London between 10am and noon!!


All profits go to SUDEP Action so go on… buy one, buy two, buy more!!

ITV London News Tonight!

We can hardly believe our luck but the Tuk Tuk to Turkey Team are on the ITV London News tonight at 6pm!

ITV came to film us last week and we should also be featured in other regions this week too! 

But TONIGHT at 6pm please watch ITV news and hear more about us. Tell your friends to watch too!



It has been 9 months in the planning but our departure date is now just 4 weeks away. Eeek!

We will be leaving in the tuk tuk on SATURDAY 8th SEPTEMBER from Pearl & Groove cafe/bakery at 341 Portobello Road,  London, W10 5SA.

We will be gathering there at around 10am to say goodbye to friends and family and actually departing at noon. Pearl & Groove will be making special Tuk Tuk to Turkey cakes to celebrate! There will be fizz and nibbles too. Emily would love it.

Pearl and Groove are one of our 21 sponsors. One for each country we are going through.  They are sponsoring the UK and hosting our leaving party. Hooray! Check out our Our Sponsors page for more details about them and their beauteous gluten free cakes.

We would love to see any of you who can make it! Please wave us off and we would love for you all to film/photograph us and post it on your own social media using our hashtags.

We just need to get packing now and get some publicity! 

See you there!

Amy, James, Rachel, Bharat 



Meet our Sponsors!

We are very lucky to have secured sponsorship for each of the 21 countries we are travelling through on our tuk tuk journey in addition to our main tuk tuk sponsor. We will be promoting each sponsor as we travel through ‘their’ country and will be carrying their logo with us as we journey through that country.

Our sponsors’ businesses range from web design, property and yacht design to food, furniture making and fashion. There is something to interest everyone!

Please do take a look at our new Our Sponsors page and learn all about who they are and what they do.

Why Tuk Tuk to Turkey? Short Film

Please take a few moments to watch our short 2 minute film which we hope shows what we are doing and why it is important. Thank you!

There is some lovely archive footage of Emily, music composed especially for us and the Tuk Tuk to Turkey team talking about Emily, epilepsy, SUDEP and our mad idea to drive a tuk tuk from London to Istanbul!

We are indebted to the following people who kindly donated their valuable time and expertise.


Director/Producer: Sam Metcalfe
Online Editor: Robert Leventhall
Music Composer: Oscar Osicki
Offline Editor: Suzy Ghaleb
Audio Mixer and Recordist: Sonny Lota
Audio Assistant: Jody O’Brien
Assistant Director: Christian Humphreys
Post Producer: Louise Channing / Guy Townsend
Directors of Photography: Jay Ellard / Loewy Simmons


OUR FABULOUS ON-LINE AUCTION IS *LIVE* NOW – for a limited period only

We have over 50 different lots to choose from and there is something for everyone so please please please click, take a look and get bidding! Buy for yourself, buy as a present, buy together with friends!

All money raised will go to SUDEP Action


It has been a very busy couple of weeks at Tuk Tuk to Turkey HQ!

We have been learning to drive the tuk tuk around the lanes in the Cotswolds which has been quite nerve wracking with the narrow lanes, high cow parsley and sharp bends. Rachel had a near miss with a large coach barrelling around the corner and Bharat managed to mount the pavement in Naunton village at 30km hour before dismounting it equally fast and shooting off towards a junction – stopping just in time! James and Amy had their first try at driving the tuk tuk over the weekend which was far more successful! James even managed a perfect reverse into a field gateway. Gold star!

The tuk tuk needs ‘running in’ like an old-fashioned car for the first 1000km which means not going over 30mph even in 4th gear on the main roads. Actually 30mph with no sides to the vehicle feels quite fast though and also very breezy and cold even on a lovely warm day!

Rachel has recorded a 1 hour radio interview with Charles Dewhurst interspersed with music on Radio Winchcombe in which she talks about Emily, epilepsy, SUDEP and Tuk Tuk to Turkey. The show will be aired on 107.1FM on Saturday 26thMay at 2pm and will be available online thereafter at http://radio


This weekend we have been shooting a short film about what we are doing with the tuk tuk and why we are doing it. We hope that it will promote our cause and raise awareness. A young film maker called Sam Metcalfe very kindly offered to make the film for free and he brought along a great crew who worked incredibly hard for 2 days. The weather was amazing and we should have some amazing shots of the tuk tuk trundling up and down the Cotswold hills as well as the serious stuff about epilepsy and SUDEP and the Prevent 21 campaign.


We have also been finalising our on-line auction which goes LIVE at 9am on Sat 2ndJune. We have some incredible auction lots from a week in a ski chalet in Verbier to a portrait commission to dinner for 8 cooked by a Cordon Bleu chef in your home to Chelsea and Arsenal tickets! There are over 50 different items so there is something for everyone!

Head to and have a browse at what we have on offer. Make your plan and put the date in your diary to make sure you don’t miss out!

Bharat is putting the final changes to our route in place and we will be updating Our Route page very soon. He has even booked our ferry tickets across the English Channel.

We also have some very kind friends arranging various fundraising events on our behalf from a quiz night in Cold Aston, Gloucestershire on Sunday 10th June at 6pm to a summer lunch party. On 12thMay, Emily’s friend from Leeds, Pete McEwan held a Race Night in Shoreditch which served cocktails called SUMO (after Emily’s nickname) and held an amazing raffle. The night was hilarious fun and raised well over £2000 for SUDEP Action.

The coming weeks look equally packed with new avenues and offers to explore so it’s all very exciting!


It’s been a momentous week at TukTuk to Turkey HQ.

We have taken delivery our long awaited tuk tuk AND reached 60% of our fundraising target! 


We are getting so so so excited!

Our tuk tuk has landed in the UK from India and is being road tested this week before it is allowed to get a registration plate.

Apparently, it will only have a registration plate on the back as there is nowhere to put one on the front. So this means that we don’t need to worry about any speed cameras! Yippee. Oh wait………its maximum speed is only 40mph unladen, going downhill and with a following wind. Oh well.

The tuk tuk will be ‘shrink-wrapped’ with a colourful design we have chosen next week. Even more excited now! We want it to make an impact as we tootle about.


Great news! This weekend we have had a boost to our fundraising from Emily’s cousins, Romi, Shonil and Keyu.  They are the co-founders of  OBLIQUE LIFE – a private members’ club and lifestyle management service for young professionals in London and around the world. They have come up with the fantastic idea of DONATING 25% of all memberships bought from now until we leave in September if people use the TukTukToTurkey referral code. They will also donate £1 of every ticket sold for Oblique Life events in March.


27th February 2018

Wake up mid-dream. In the dream our tuk tuk is swinging in a huge net at a great height as it is lowered onto a ship at Istanbul harbour. Perhaps it’s because I met someone that evening who described his car being shipped back to England from somewhere exotic 40 years ago, but whether it is or not, it seems rather back-to-front to be working out how to get the tuk-tuk back home when it hasn’t even arrived in the UK yet.

So many possibilities have been swirling around our heads and we’ve had so many suggestions:

  • Get 2 volunteers to drive it back – it will be much quicker if they don’t need to go through 21 countries!!
  • Tow it back on a trailer?
  • Hire a transit van and drive it back? Although can we even do that? Drop off a vehicle thousands of miles from where you hired it?
  • Sell it in Turkey?
  • Donate it to a charity in Turkey?
  • Someone told us a story which involved finding someone in the RAF who could pop it in the back of a Hercules!

We’ve been told that we will love our tuk tuk by the end of our adventure and that it will feel like part of our family.  People we meet on our way will sign it, stick things on it and one of us will no doubt crash it, leaving it with some “rustic charm”. And we’ve named it ‘Sumo’ after Emily so of course we won’t want to part with it! Bart also fancies driving it to the pub on Gloucestershire summer evenings and we’re pretty sure he is offering his chauffeuring services in it as part of our auction……. so watch this space!

So today, amongst all the other moving parts, we’ve been writing to car shipping companies to see if they can swing our tuk tuk into one of their containers to make sure we get it home in one piece. Although if any of you have any other ideas – we’re all ears!!


Love Rachel, Bharat, Amy, and James x



Tuk Tuk ordered

We have ordered the tuk tuk which should arrive in April. This is what it will look like when it arrives but we have great plans for it! It will be ‘wrapped’ in a design that we are currently working on. Or, if we can find a sponsor(s) then they can have their branding on it. If you know of anyone who might be interested in branding the tuk tuk then do get in touch. They will get great exposure all through Europe.

Art for charity

This painting of an African woman in a striking porcupine quill ear cuff painted by Rachel Sumaria has been bought by some lovely friends of the family and the proceeds have boosted our fundraising. Later in the year we will be hosting an online auction with many interesting lots including other paintings by Rachel and her arty friends. Watch this space…