Welcome to the official blog for Raleigh India 12I | July - August 2012

Welcome to the Official Blog for Raleigh India 12J September - December 2012.

Friday 7 December 2012

Lost Tribe Discovered - Tango Six Resurfaces!

Tango Six have been elusive from the blog this phase until now.  Not really surprising, as their trek is about a day and a half's drive from Fieldbase and the Loop has only recently gone out to visit them. However, I'm happy to rectify the situation now. Fabian, a Venturer on Tango Six, has kindly taken the time to write up his impressions and dictate them over the phone.

Fabian during trek training - learning useful skills for Tango Six

Here's the first half of his guest blog. It covers Tango Six's journey from Fieldbase to their trek start point and an unexpected day trip en route. Their intended journey had been delayed due to one of the water-related disputes that happen periodically and disrupt traffic between states.

Over to Fabian:

The final frontier of our Raleigh expedition began as routinely as the other phases. An absurdly early wake-up call, combined with whip-cracking desire to get on the road, crashed my intention of grabbing a few minutes’ extra sleep on the bare wooden board at the front of the boys’ dorm.

Having boarded the bus we were met by the usual send-off party, with everyone craning their necks out of the bus window, in the hope of Dave snapping a photograph of them, and waving blindly to Fieldbase and the people we wouldn’t see for three weeks.

The heaviness of the night before was soon felt as I collapsed on one of the few double seats available at the back of the bus and quickly appreciated the mystical music of Adele and Chris round the bonfire and the amusing antics of Joris the night before. 

The road trip slowly passed in a wave of snapshots as I crashed my head into the metal bars at random intervals and happened to open my eyes. We interchanged constantly between the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and experienced many of the familiar sights that India has to offer and I have become accustomed to over the last six weeks. The spires atop buildings that vaguely resembled Christian churches and white tombstones in graveyards were a novelty. I’d already come to expect bizarrely coloured houses lining the streets – for me a continuous rainbow as Kallam burned up the roads minus the wing mirror I had broken getting on the bus. 

We stopped early to indulge in the famed parotta that I thought could only be anticlimactic due to the extravagant explanations imposed on me by Gilles. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised that they lived up to their name. Perfectly thick, lightly crisp on the outside, simple and coupled with anything spicy, the power of the parotta lived on in all who had been fortunate enough to devour them.

We travelled on, pausing only to wait for a border check, where we were quickly entertained by a young girl with a tambourine and her gymnastic performance. Despite her unwavering smile my eyes were drawn to her ragged clothes and I couldn’t help being reminded of Slumdog Millionaire.

Our hotel provided somewhere to collapse and catch the first bit of Premiership football in seven weeks – something I sorely miss. The next morning we had to rise at 4.45. Chris, Angus and I came downstairs only to find out that the curse of the road strike had struck once more and we wouldn’t be able to make the journey that day.

Instead we had a new town to look forward to and a trip to the Murugan Temple. On we went to the town of Palani, too dazed and confused to consider what was going on. Palani in fact was one of the most bizarre places I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. 

While waiting for a train to take us up to the mountain, far more appealing than the dodgy-looking winch, we sat on stone benches between prison-like bars while Indian women pushed their hand through and mischievous, venomous-looking monkeys came down from above, their chubby mothers looking on suspiciously, as their children danced around us, scouring the floor for scraps of food and shooting us the odd searching look or snarl. Despite these terrors Carrot still found a way to fall asleep, mouth open, prey for opportunistic photographers.

The temple itself was wonderfully preserved - a magnificent example of Hindu symbolism and historic Indian architecture, placed at the centre of a sensational panoramic view stretching for miles over the plains. Half-robed pilgrims flitted about the place, and yet more monkeys swung from its lofty heights.

The rest of the town brimmed like a circus, with old street performers reciting their acts, a particularly well-trained elephant who took a tourist’s money and placed it dutifully into the palm of its owner, and traditional Indian shops selling anything from a range of rustic saucepans to the latest trends in watches. The air filled with the noise of tuk tuks and drivers’ over-indulgent use of their horns and, bizarrely, an overwhelming sense of orange – presumably a religious dedication. But before we could stop to take this all in, we were filled once more with parotta.

The night passed and we were on the road again, strike-free. Having weathered the turbulent journey and witnessed some truly unimaginable landscapes embracing tea plantations and giant rolling mountains, we stepped off the bus ready for action…

I'll publish the second half of Fabian's blog, covering Tango Six's time on trek until very recently, tomorrow.

Also, more news shortly from at least one of the other teams...


  1. Seth Somers Charlie 2, 12J

    Hi you must be nearing the end of your final expedition. Looking forward to hearing more news of you and Charlie Two on the blog. Hope you are enjoying the last week of hard work and play in your host village.

    Mum xx

  2. Seth Somers, Charlie Two 12 j

    Well can you believe it, nearly 10 weeks since we waved you off at the airport.
    I hope you have a lovely last day in the village and enjoy the time you have left with everyone at field base. What an adventure it has been,

    We are all so looking forward to seeing you and hearing all about your adventures. Have missed you so much, but it has been worth it to know it has all gone so well. Really enjoy your down time in Goa, v jealous.

    I am still working hard with all my Uni stuff and have to write a 5000 word piece for 16th Jan. Hope you will help me with some of the research. Love you . Mum xx

  3. Fabian , Tango 6.

    Hello Fabian I just wanted to thank you for our blog. You really are a very good writer.

    Seth's mum.