Guwahati:The first-ever India-ASEAN Car Rally which will cover 8,000 kilometres in 20 days has been kicked off. Assam Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Ajai Singh and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi flagged off the rally at the Judges Field in Guwahati. Close links Around 24 people are taking part in the rally which will traverse Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and finally finish in Indonesia on December 11. Ten of the 11 ASEAN nations are taking part in this non-competitive rally geared towards fostering peace and networking of people and economies. The rally crosses over into Myanmar from the Manipuri border town of Moreh, and cultural and business events have been planned along the rally route for the foreign participants. For most the cultural experience has already begun. "We look forward to exploring the scenery, people and culture of north east Indian states," said a participant. New ground The first leg of the 8,000-kilometre route will end in Vientiane in Laos next week, coinciding with the ASEAN summit, which will be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He will also officially flag off the third and last phase of the car rally there. India's interaction with ASEAN is critical in fulfilling the promise of the 21st century being an Asian Century. The ASEAN car rally flagging off from India is definitely the first step in this direction.