This is the personal blog of London photographer, backpacker, traveller Mark Coughlan. The intention of the blog is communicate updates from my personal website and on my photography projects and travels both in the UK and worldwide. When backpacking the obscure places on earth, this blog will be continually updated with images and thoughts from the road. [Read more about me]

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Team Shatabdi Express: The facts...

I've added up the number of litres, listed everything that went wrong, the amout of money raised and the question that we got asked the most by non-Indians - what the hell is the "Shatabdi Express"!

(1) Our chosen team name "Team Shatabdi Express" is named after "Superfast" passenger train, connecting major cities in India. The "Shatabdi Express" is regarded as India's fastest and most prestigious train.

(2) We departed Cochin, southern India on 1st January 2008, one of 64 teams that took park in the race.

(3) 16 days and 5 hours later, covering a total of 4,494kms and quite a few scrapes and bumps we made it Kathmandu, Nepal, team number 44.

(4) Not exactly the most eco-frendly of aventures, the entire journey took a total of 158.4 litres of petrol and 68 parts of oil to complete.

(5) Thanks to the kind generosity of our sponsors, we raised over £1,500 for two charities - Mercy Corps & the Railway Children.

(6) Our route went a little something like this:
Cochin > Munnar > Sathaymangalam > Mysore > Sravanabelgola > Hiriyur > Hampi > Raichur > Nizamabad > Mansar > Khatni > Varanasi > Bodhgaya > Barauni > Siliguri > Darjeeling > Janakpur (Nepal) > Hetauda (Nepal) > Kathmandu

(7) Some of our mechanically "issues" included:
1. Cracked windscreen (not my fault).
2. Smashed left indicator (my fault), dent to front bonnet (my fault).
3. Stolen windscreen wiper.
4. Industrial melody horn stopped making a melody, then stopped making any noise, then fell off.
5. CD/MP3 player stopped working twice.
6. Parts of the fabric roof had to be sewn together the rest held down with gaffer tape.
7. Judging by the noise the exhaust was making at the end. I'd say there was a problem....
8. Snapped clutch cable.
9. Ran out of petrol on four occasions, thinking it was "over-heating" the first few times.
10. ....and the small matter of the brakes stopped working (see point 2).

Monday, 18 February 2008

New photos: Team Shatabdi Express in the Rickshaw Run 2008

All images - Copyright Mark Coughlan

Finally you may say, but at long last photos from the actual Rickshaw Run 2008 are now online.

This is Team Shatabdi Express in all their glory. I limited the gallery to only 28 photos, as I'm sure there are only so many photos that you would want to see of us two either next to or in the Rickshaw.

Bear in mind that, despite manually setting the camera up, I was at the mercy of Anita's or a wandering-by local Indian's photography skills to take a lot of these shots.

Thanks for looking!

New photos: Somewhere in Between

Hi all,
Online now is a brand new photo gallery for your viewing pleasure on my main site:

This time, they are photos from the Rickshaw Run itself, with photos of of us both doing Shepherds Bush proud, coming in a few for now -

Somewhere in Between
Those of you who have signed up to my blog will have had an update and a sneak preview of what I considered to be the best five photos from this gallery taken when travelling through India, as they have been up on my portfolio for the last week or so (see 'Travel').
Online now is the full gallery of 30 photos on

I haven't done a description for each photo as I normally do, mainly due to the time it takes to do so, but should you have a particular interest in one by all means drop me an email. Most of these places I couldn't find on the map, but simple referred to as "Somewhere in between..."

Hope you enjoy them, and feel free to coment/feedback on what you think.

All images - Copyright Mark Coughlan

Friday, 15 February 2008

A sneak preview....

A bonus for only those of you signed on this blog is a "head's up" preview of some of the photos taken while actually doing the Rickshaw Run.
Photos taken as I stopped at villages, towns, tea shops and cafes in the middle of nowhere. Most of these places I couldn't find on the map, but simple referred to as "taken somewhere in between..."

A brand new gallery will go "live" this weekend on, aptly called "Somewhere in Between" . These are non-Rickshaw photos.

From this forthcoming gallery, I have chosen what I consider the best five photos to put on my portfolio, which you can see now.

So, go on have a peep, under "Travel" you have five brand new photos to whet your appetite for now...

This weekend approximately 35 photos will make up this gallery. Furthermore, you will finally see photos from the Rickshaw Run race itself as I represented West London's finest slums.

For now, enjoy a sneak preview -

All images - Copyright Mark Coughlan

Saturday, 2 February 2008

New photos: Home for the Elderly

All images - Copyright Mark Coughlan
It is impossible to put into words, just how bad the conditions that these elderly people have to live in, while they sit, lay and wait to die.
Living quarters are dark, damp and cold. The lucky ones, still able to move rest in the sun to keep warm, while the unfortunate ones simply lie in bed each and every day.
Their beds are a thin matress on a wooden base suported by four small piles of bricks.

The lack of dignity in their final years is heart breaking yet these deeply religious people are warm and friendly, pressing their palms together in greeting/religous gesture at every opportunity to say "Namaste".

I ended up spending two full days at the home, sitting, listening, trying to communicate with the residents.
Prior to my arrival in Nepal, I was in communication with with Deepak Adhikari a friend and journalist in Kathmandu who accompanied me on my first day to the "Old Home".
This was an opportunity to meet with the Officials, workers and volunteers with Deepak taking on the invaluable translator role for the many questions I had.

Looking forward to the future, myself and Deepak are looking to set up a foundation of some sort, a charity
if you like to help improve the conditions at Pashupati Briddhshram.
With so many (and rightly so) childrens charitities throughout Asia, it's the elderly who seem to get forgotten.
The plan is to start slowly. The advantage of setting up this foundation is that every penny we raise will be spent locally, on specific needs for the "Home" - be it a gas stove, some proper nursing beds for the sick and bed ridden or a generator to maintain electricity at all times.
I'm sure there are many people reading this that may have visited the home when visiting the temples and cremation ghats at Pashupati.
If you would like to get involved with setting up a foundation/charity project or you know someone that would like to, please get in touch and let's see if we can get this idea off the ground.

I hope the photo gallery that is now online, offers you an insight to Pashupati Briddhshram and puts into pictures what I have tried to write here. If you would like any more information, feel free to get in touch.


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