Sometimes the best ideas come to you while you’re sitting drunk in the back of a taxi cab.
At least that’s how it happened with three adventure-seeking buddies from England who are riding a taxi across the globe in an effort to break the world record for longest taxi ride ever.
And this week, the team is stopping in New York City — it’s final destination in the U.S. after traveling more than 30,000 miles from London through Europe to Asia to Australia to California, and then across the country to the East Coast.
“We were in the back of a taxi and we’d had a couple of beers,” said Paul Archer, 25, one of the travelers. “We felt like our taxi ride was one of the longest ever.” Watching the meter go up, they wondered if there was a record of the longest taxi ride ever.
There was — around 21,000 miles.
“We decided we were going to try and break it,” said Archer, who worked in sales before he decided to take on something a bit different from a desk job.
He and his friends, Leigh Purnell, 24, and Johno Ellison, 28, then bought a nearly 20-year-old London Black Taxi on eBay for $2,000 and plotted their journey.
Since last February, the trio has traveled from London through Europe and parts of the Middle East, onward to India, China, and Thailand, down to Sydney, across the ocean to San Francisco and then stopping at cities along the way before they reached the Big Apple — where they arrived early Monday morning this week. Next stop is Israel, and eventually they’ll make their way back home to London around May this year. By then, they will have likely doubled the Guinness record — which they’ve already passed — and driven through 39 countries.
(And you thought your ride from the Lower East Side to Brooklyn was long!)
“We’ve had some great experiences and we’ve had some dodgy experiences,” Archer told the Voice yesterday through a bad cell connection as he rode the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. Along the way, the trio has encountered everything from hot deserts to the Arab Spring in the Middle East to run-ins with the Iranian secret police to armed escorts in seemingly life-threatening attempts to cross borders, Archer said.
It’s not just a ridiculously awesome and exhausting vacation, though. The team is also raising money for the British Red Cross along the way with a target of £20,000. So far, they’ve raised more than £14,000. They’ve been supported through a corporate sponsorship with GetTaxi — a smartphone app that offers one-click taxi ordering.
The Voice asked Archer, who is in New York City for the first time, what his impressions were of the Big Apple. The thing he’s noticed the most is that New Yorkers did not live up to his expectations of being the rudest people ever.
“I kind of thought that when I arrived in New York City, I would be completely intimidated by the civilians,” he said. “People from New York are always doing their own thing, are laser-focused…but it’s been completely different. Everyone I spoke to has been really nice and really friendly.” (Yeah! We’re not so bad, rest of the world).
The whole journey has also changed the way he views the world, Archer said, noting that despite passing through so many different cultures, he felt he saw some commonalities across borders. “It doesn’t matter where you are — people have the same wants, needs, and desires. It doesn’t matter where they are from.”
So what’s next? They’re looking to write a book about their experiences, for one thing. But Archer said he’s not sure what he wants to do in the longrun.
“Everyone back home [says], ‘When are you going to grow up?” he said. “[But] I don’t think I can go back to a nine-to-five.”