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About Drive Nacho Drive

At the end of 2011 we quit our jobs and set off in our 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon, "Nacho". Our plan? To circumnavigate the globe, slowly, while discovering culture, food, recreation, and emergency roadside Volkswagen maintenance. We are Brad and Sheena. Just wingin' it.

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Author Archive | Drive Nacho Drive

Trouble on the Pakistani Border

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After the Indian wedding we skipped town and headed for the deserts of Rajasthan. We made a pit stop at the Taj Mahal near Agra, a building said to be the most impressive ever built. It was impressive, I will say, and the attention to detail and scale were remarkable, but to say it is the most impressive building in…

The Big Fat Indian Wedding

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The Big Fat Indian Wedding

As seems to happen to us from time to time, we have fallen grossly behind on our blog. As the days and weeks pass, the interesting things keep piling up and eventually we become as we are now, struggling to catch up to the present. So much happened in Nepal that we couldn’t get ourselves…

Welcome to the Jungle

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We stood at the water’s edge in our shorts and flip flops along with a horde of other Western and Asian tourists. Six massive elephants rested on their sides in the cool river water of the Rapti. Every day the elephant’s masters, or mahouts, brought them out to the water to be washed, and we were invited to help.
Claire stood before…

Langtang Phooey

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A while ago in the Andes mountains of Argentina we passed through a place called Uspallata, and thereafter began our ill-fated international food smuggling debacle, which saw us retreating to Uspallata. Uspallata, as it turned out, was the home base for the filming of the movie Seven Years in Tibet, turning the surrounding Andes into the surrogate Himalayas. As we drove from…

The Maoist Revolt

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You may recall a reference that I made a short time ago regarding Nepal’s turbulent recent history involving the fall of the monarchy, the rise of the Republic, and the persistent problem with those rebellious and violent communists, the Maoists. You may also recall my mentioning that the country is still plagued by periodic Maoist assaults. It should come as no surprise…

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Tiger

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It was harvest season in Pokhara Valley. During our trek of the Annapurna circuit the rice fields surrounding our camp had changed from neon green to gold. Harvest season was the most time critical event of the year and everyone was cutting down the rice paddies with their sickles, beating the rice off the ends, and stacking the dried grass in heaping…

Around Annapurna, Part 3: Little Tibet

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<< Read Part 2
We stood atop the roof on the edge of Muktinath and hung our laundry from the lines, glad to have put the grueling Thorong La behind us. A chilly wind cascaded down the canyon from the direction of the pass, stirred our hanging socks, and then swept into the canyon below. Behind us the Himalayas towered…

Around Annapurna, Part 2: Snowbound

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<< Read Part 1
For the second consecutive day in Braga the rain continued to fall. Plan A had been to make a three day diversion to Tilicho Lake, the highest lake in the world at over 16,000 feet. The mountain shelf on which Tilicho sits was visible from the dining room of our lodge, and it wasn’t looking good.…

Around Annapurna, Part 1: Into the Wild

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Before we left on our trip I met exactly one person who had hiked in the Himalayas.  That happened to be Baroon, our dear friend whose family we had just spent a week with in Kathmandu. I was green with envy when he told me about his adventure; just imagine! The person sitting in front of me had trekked around…

The Kingdom in the Clouds

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Crossing India had consisted of two thousand kilometers of pancake flat driving on the worst roads in the world. Now the roads were well maintained, and within a few miles of crossing the border we began winding through foothills, and then climbing into the mountains. The terrain rapidly transitioned from low, hot plains to grassy valleys, to alpine meadows with crystal…

Pit Stop Varanasi

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We reached Varanasi terribly late on the fourth day of our drive to Nepal. Varanasi was to be our much needed intermission point; a place to stretch our legs, build back our endurance, and wash off the caked dirt plastered on our skin. At some point in the evening the plan was to reconnect with Regina and David at a…

Fork Me: A Drive Across India – Part 2

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<< Click to read Part 1
Every morning on our trans-India drive started out the same way; we awoke from fitful sleep by our talking phone alarm clock to the suffocating weight of reality pressing down on our chests. It was a terrible feeling, as if we had accidentally burned down the house with the entire family inside. We were…

Fork Me: A Drive Across India – Part 1

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The distance from Hampi, India, to the Nepalese border is 2,200 kilometers, approximately the distance from Phoenix to Seattle. The plan was to drive to Nepal for the short trekking season, and then return to India later to explore the North.
“It’s only 2,200 kilometers,” I reassuringly reported to Sheena. “We’ll be yodeling in the Himalayas in three days, tops.”…

Hampi Campers

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Hampi Campers

A few weeks back when we went to our friend Santhanam’s house for coffee I brought along my India map, and he offered his advice on the must-see destinations in South India. While we sipped on coffee in his bedroom we worked through the map. He highlighted several places on the map that I had never heard of.
“The…

The Onam Food Babies

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Over the course of a few days we crossed the subcontinent from the Indian Ocean west to the Arabian Sea. We left Pondicherry, first stopping in Madurai to celebrate the birthday of the elephant god Ganesh, and then to the hill station of Munnar to escape South India’s heat. The ground rose from the desert plains like a strange…

Nacho’s Ark

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By the time we reached Pondicherry, we figured we had our system down. We’d drive into town and ask at the police station where it would be safe to camp. With all of the recent high profile rape cases here in India, this was no place to mess around. I’m squeamish, after all, and my worst nightmares revolve around me…

Santanam

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It is no secret that India has given us stage fright. We’ve learned quickly that any sort of personal space or blending in with the masses is far from realistic. Over the last two years we’ve grown accustomed to being foreigners, but now for the first time we feel like E.T.
Chennai was a serious eye opener. It was a…

Cars Honked, Cows Ate Trash, and People Stared

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Nacho arrived in Chennai Port aboard a mighty container ship after having floated from Bangkok to Singapore, and then across the Indian Ocean to India’s Central-East coast. The logical procession of events would have had Nacho unloaded from the ship so that we could be on our way, but in India logic has no place.
Our shipping agents were right…

India Overload

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Our plane landed in Chennai in the dark and we exited the airport into a calamitous mess of bodies. Touts hurried from passenger to passenger trying to round up business for the taxis. We were swept up in the chaos and found ourselves cramming into the back of an old Ambassador with a velvet headliner and ornamental drapes hanging…

The Lost Thanksgiving

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It’s Thanksgiving morning and I’m sure the first thing on everyone’s mind when they wake up is, “I wonder what Nacho is doing today?” The truth is, this is the first time in our lives that we decided not to celebrate Thanksgiving. But don’t despair! We spent the day, and the last few for that matter, in the home of…

India or Bust

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It’s a bright morning in Bangkok, and a beam of light reflects in just such a way from the rooftop of the drug factory across the way as to awaken me from my bear-like hibernation. We’ve been living in this apartment just down the street from the Bang Chak Skytrain station for a month, and we’ve finally accomplished everything that…

The Rally Crashers

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One thing we’ve come to appreciate about our Southeast Asian friends is their ability to coerce us into doing unusual activities that we would never otherwise do. This subtle trickery is achieved through nonchalance and a sprinkling of urgency, such as the time that TengTsen Khoo made us appear on The Apprentice, unclean, unshaven, and in my case, in desperate need…

Nacho’s New Heart

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The forklift driver carefully maneuvered the arm in front of Nacho’s sliding door. The engine hung idly from a chain as the driver used the controls to square up the arm with the opening in the side of the van. Just then the skies opened up and Bangkok was engulfed in a thunderous downpour. Water immediately gushed from the middle…

Last Stop Angkor Wat

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“It is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all of the refinements which the human genius can conceive of.”
-Antonio de Madalena, 1586 – one of the first Westerners to visit Angkor Wat.
Today…

One Dolla Chia

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In Cambodia’s west-central jungles lie the ruins of an ancient Khmer kingdom, at the center of which sits the impressive site of Angkor Wat. There are innumerable ruins of palaces, temples, and royal buildings immediately surrounding Angkor Wat, but it was an outpost an hour off to the northeast that initially caught our attention. We had heard stories of ruins…

The Killing Fields

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WARNING: This blog post contains graphic content. We highly encourage you to read it for your own education, but be aware that you will probably find it disturbing.
There is a high school in downtown Phnom Penh, Cambodia, known as S21. The facility is no longer used as a school on account of the blackness that fell upon it in…

Gear Review: Roasting Coffee on the Road

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When we first started our blog nearly two years ago, we intended to do regular gear reviews. So far we’ve done a grand total of zero gear reviews, and have leaned more toward stories from the road. A few months ago, GSI Outdoors came to us and asked if they could help us out by outfitting us with a brand new car…

The Cambodiwood Encounter

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One day, in a Dairy Queen near Sheena’s parents’ house, a strange thing happened and we found ourselves sitting in the booth adjacent to the booth occupied by Alice Cooper. Several years later, in a place very much unlike a Dairy Queen, we once again found ourselves in the company of creative greatness. This time it was in Cambodia, in…

Cambodian Dolphin Hunt

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Brad had finally reached defeat. His stomach gurgled and groaned and kept him horizontal for 24 hours straight. He lay in bed exhausted by nausea and uninterested in exploring the world around him. He wasn’t the only one.
Four of the seven people in our group (myself included) came down with a nighttime bout of stomach related issues, yet…

A Chance Encounter

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It all started with a note clipped under Nacho’s windshield wiper.
Hello friends- I am a fellow Volkswagen T3 owner and have some questions for you about your set up. Please call and we will meet up. – Soenke
We found the note shortly after we had wandered out of our hotel and into Nacho’s living quarters. As we…