Hiten Patel, Superintendent Pharmacist of Mattock Lane Pharmacy (Ealing), completed an epic journey from London (UK) to Ahmedabad (India) by road, along with fellow pharmacists Manvir Patel, Kirit Patel and Peter Cattee.
Driving a ‘Toyota Land Cruiser’, the ambitious journey started on 12th April 2014 from London and saw them drive through 17 countries over 62 days, covering over 12,000 miles to accomplish this incredible feat.
The idea of this journey had been in all four of their minds for years and a casual conversation between Hiten and Kirit lead to the idea become reality. The group made extensive preparations for the journey for over eight months, delegating specific tasks for organising the trip among them – such as planning the route, applying for visas, purchase of the vehicle and modifying the vehicle to suite the purpose of the journey. Their main objective of this journey was to raise money for the charity ‘Pharmacist Support’ which is dedicated on helping pharmacists in need of monetary help. For donating to this charity please visit www.justgiving.com/pharmacistsupport
For the four pharmacists, driving across Europe and Asia by road was like a journey into the unknown. They came face to face with the potential of dangerous riots in Kiev, had to spend a night camping at a riverside with no alternative accommodation on sight and then were suddenly surrounded by grazing cattle and sheep. Border crossing was not always easy, they had to spend numerous hours in the wait and even spent time in no man’s land cooking their meal under the stars at Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan border crossing. Travelling through Russia and China, they entered India via the Nepal – India border and travelled across India to reach their final destination Ahmedabad.
A journey of this magnitude is only accomplished by a very few select number of people in their lives, which truly is a life changing experience.
Hiten Patel, Superintendent Pharmacist of Mattock Lane Pharmacy said:
“Since childhood, I had always imagined doing a road trip of this nature which became a reality this year. At the start of our journey we laid down some basic ground rules between ourselves, one of which was to remain respectful to each other. Four highly charged community pharmacists, all individuals in their own right, spending almost 14 to 15 hours a day with each other could be an early recipe for disaster! Thankfully we are all mature adults who knew what our end goal was and we behaved accordingly – not to say we didn’t have our interesting moments.
“We had also decided from the onset that our hotel accommodation should be modest. By the end of the trip we successfully managed on no more than £26 per day. However, I still have nightmares about some of the sanitation we encountered!
“Our travel over the last two months across Europe and Asia has exposed us to so many cultures and customs, which have included historical sites, paintings, mosques, temples and monasteries. We enjoyed different cuisines in these countries, meeting people and making friends along the way. We also visited pharmacies in these countries where on one or two occasions we purchased medicine, and even attempted to purchase the pharmacy itself (just joking!).
“I got caught on numerous occasions by border control taking photos and then having to delete them in the presence of oversized border guards. They just seemed to know I had mischief in my eyes. Clearly I wouldn’t get a job as a spy!
“We shared a toast with some great tasting chilled Russian vodka and a group of Russian policemen, and we even shared a dance or two with the local people in Korla, China. We also met with some over 60 year old travellers from New Zealand who had been travelling the world for years on bikes and 4x4s – although I am unsure whether I still have another trip in me!
“We had our share of fun on the journey with paragliding, white water rafting and our visit to the Everest Base Camp. We enjoyed a chartered flight in Katmandu to see eight magnificent mountain peaks of the Himalayas including Mount Everest and not to forget witnessing some of the most breathtaking natural scenes in the world. We drove on the highest drivable roads in the world and sometimes lack of oxygen due to the altitude we were travelling at, made our journey difficult.
“In our journey the people of all the countries we visited were kind and courteous. We did not encounter prejudice, rudeness or any form of hostility. I think that sometimes we go to different parts of the world with preconceived ideas about a country or it’s people because of a particular position their government takes or we have been misled by media bias. People are generally good!
“We however encountered a lot of poverty in our travels – especially child poverty. There is no quick fix regarding this but the striking thing was that they just got on with their lives. One always hopes that things will get better for them.
“Our journey from UK to India by road has truly been an eventful and a wonderful experience for all of us. I have enjoyed every bit of this trip which is on the top of my list as one of the biggest challenges in my life to date and I am glad to have successfully completed it.
“Although I may not fully appreciate it at present, I know that this journey will add a positive dimension to my life. It will take many months or even years to completely come to terms with the magnitude of what I have learnt and experienced and look forward to reliving these fond memories. I am truly thankful to everyone I have met and everything that has happened to me.”
Read the related article ‘The Amazing Road Trip’ in our travel section.
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