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Four pharmacists, one car, 17 countries

Day Lewis CEO Kirit Patel is fulfilling a life-long dream - he's heading to India, overland, by car, with three pharmacist friends. Planning the route, however, is a challenge in itself

This trip has been on my wishlist since my graduation: from UK to India, overland, by car. Finally, this week, I will be taking on the challenge with my fellow pharmacist friends Peter Cattee, Manvir Patel and Hiten Patel.

We will be driving through at least 17 countries including Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia and China (see map, below). Some factors are out of our control. Recent events in Ukraine mean that our route is being constantly reviewed to find the safest way into Russia. The safer option is to go via Turkey; the alternative route is to go north of Ukraine via Belarus. If we take the latter route, it will increase our journey by two weeks. However, the route cannot be decided until nearer the time and we may be forced to travel through Ukraine!

If we take the safer route, there are still factors that will impact our journey. If we cross the Caspian Sea into Azerbaijan, we must wait for a freight ferry, which has no specific time of departure. We could be waiting for up to six days. Delays like this will have a knock-on effect that we have to anticipate. We must plan 50km in advance to avoid drawbacks later on.

We will face humbling experiences that – along with the highs – we will share in this blog

For example, when travelling into China, we must meet with a former Chinese official on a set date and time. He will ensure that we stay on the designated route, including staying with us in hotels. If we miss this deadline then there is a chance he may not wait at the border for us and we will be unable to enter.

Applying for visas to many of these countries has been a long process due to the information required. In total, seven have been obtained and a few more may be needed along the way, depending on the route taken. The Chinese and Russian visas were the most challenging to complete. Specific questions were asked about family history and the universities and schools we attended. Given that most of us attended university back in the 1970s, the questions were challenging! We also had to give details on every single country visited in the past 10 years, including those by our spouses. In my case, this amounted to two A4 pages!

We will be taking single man tents during our long journeys in anticipation of overnight stays when hotels will not be available  – see an example of our new home, right. We have limited space for clothes, which makes catering for the drastic temperature changes more difficult, particularly in the Himalayas. Certainly, we will face humbling experiences that – along with the highs – we will share in this blog.

Bon voyage!

Pharmacists on tour: part two

Pharmacists on tour: part three

Pharmacists on tour: part four

Pharmacists on tour: part five

Pharmacists on tour: part six

Pharmacists on tour: part seven

Pharmacists on tour: part eight

Pharmacists on tour: part nine

Pharmacists on tour: part 10

Pharmacists on tour: part 11

Pharmacists on tour: part 12

Pharmacists on tour: part 13

Pharmacists on tour: part 14

Pharmacists on tour: part 15

Kirit Patel is chief executive of Day Lewis. Kirit, Peter, Manvir and Hiten would like to thank all who have kindly sponsored their trip: Biodose (Brian Fisher), Alliance (John Pignone), Rx (Ian Taylor), IPS (Ashok Patel), Bappt (Adam Hitchcott), AAH (Chris Frost), and BSI Bank (Prashant Ajitsaria).

They will be raising money for charity Pharmacist Support. To make donations and for more information, please click here

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