MADURAI: Businessmen Selvakumar Shanmugam and Balan Ekambaram have arrived in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, after an arduous journey by road from Penang.
According to a report in The Hindu newspaper, their odyssey began on Oct 22 and they had to cross six countries.
The trip covered a distance of 12,000km.
Another friend, Michael Saw, who started the trip with them, fell ill and returned home. Shanmugam and Ekambaram then continued the journey in a Toyota Land Cruiser.
Ekambaram said their journey paid homage to their heritage.
“Our ancestors are from Ilaiyangudi and we have always been taking a flight in the past to come here. So this time we drove,” he said.
Ekambaram also said they started their trip at the Sri Meenakshi Hindu Temple in Penang, and ended it at the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai.
They had to pass Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Assam and Nepal to reach India.
Shanmugam reminisced about his experiences while driving.
“We had to pass through the rainforests of Thailand and Myanmar and then entered the high ranges of Bhutan and Nepal.
“We came across breathtaking landscapes on the Mahaputra, Kaziranga and Annapurna mountain ranges of the mighty Himalayas.”
Shanmugam added that for safety reasons, they kept night driving to a minimum, but nevertheless found the roads in Assam, as well as the roads from Kathmandu to Pokhara and Thimphu, to be among the most dangerous.
These were narrow and the drivers had little space to manoeuvre their four-wheel-drive vehicle.
However, there was a greater purpose to their trip.
“The idea of this trip was to promote recycling.
“At our factories, we recycle over 8,000 tonnes of hazardous metal and chemical waste per month,” Ekambaram said.
The six-week drive cost 800,000 rupees (RM50,700), but in spite of the high cost, the duo intend to embark on similar drives in future.
Over the past five years they have been on road trips to China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.