The Rickshaw Run across Southeast Asia
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The Rickshaw Run across Southeast Asia

If you’ve travelled much in Asia you’ll no doubt have come across the ubiquitous rickshaw – although it does take on a different shapes and forms, from the motorised to cycle and hand pulled versions.

But whatever the kind you’ve seen or been in, you’ll no doubt have realized how impractical and hair raising it would be to try to man one through any jungles, islands, mangroves or forests, let alone hurtle it across Indonesia to Bangkok in the fastest time possible. Think mud, swamp, water, mountain roads and plenty of “un-route” options – ie. roads that aren’t really roads.

Still that’s the challenge being set down by the Adventurists in the name of adventure.


Cycle rickshaw in Malaysia. Pic: Joanne Lane,

Here are some details:

The basic premise is the same: take the smallest, least practical vehicle available in Asia, shoe-horn a motley crew of Adventurists into it and hurl yourselves across several thousand miles of Indonesian archipelago and South East Asian terrain.

From dense Sumatran jungle and ridiculous mountain tracks to the chaos of Bangkok, this will be 1000s of miles of adventuring in its finest form.

There’s no guarantee of making it to the finish line and no back-up. It’s just you, half a horse power of engineering genius and every obstacle South East Asia can put in your way.


Kolkata's hand pulled rickshaws negotiate traffic. Pic: Joanne Lane,

So that basically translates to no back up, no set route and no assistance whatsoever. You simply try to get to Bangkok from Indonesia.

When is it on:

The Pioneer’s ASEAN Rickshaw Run will set off from Jakarta with much fanfare on October 16, 2011…ending about two weeks later in Bangkok. For more information on exact dates please download the handbook below. I’m afraid this one is totally sold out now with a waiting-list as long as a very long thing.

The Un-Route:

We’re not in the business of wiping your posterior region so we’ve un-invented the un-route. Which means how you get from Jakarta to Bangkok is entirely up to you. You can search for Orang Utangs in the jungles of Sumatra, stop off for a Singapore Sling in Raffles, pop in to a full moon party on a Thai island, or go via Borneo in a dug-out canoe….it really is 100% up to you. Whatever happens, this promises to be adventure on a massive gado gado flavoured stick.

The Pioneer’s ASEAN Rickshaw Run in October will be going from Jakarta to Bangkok. The next edition of the Run will be in the Spring of 2012 and will start in Bangkok and finish in an as yet undecided location. After this each Run will wend it’s merry way across different parts of South East Asia, taking in every nook and cranny of the region, from the tribal villages of northern Thailand to the bays of Vietnam.

For more details, how to enter, the risk involved and more see the Adventurists‘ website.


The Myanmar cycle rickshaw. Pic: Joanne Lane,

There’s also a serious side to the race, despite the flippant and fun nature of the promotional website.

The Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN (who have officially recognised the adventure), Mr. Bagas Hapsoro, said:

With 30 international teams driving rickshaws across 3,000km of the ASEAN landscape passing through 3 countries, this will be a pioneering tourism event that will bring ASEAN to the attention of the rest of the world as well as promote ASEAN’s goal of building a community and highlight the connectivity of the region.

Teams must also raise at least £1,000 for the official charity, Birdlife International.