Friday 1st May, 2013: So the first of Spring comes around and the temperature is perfect just now here in UAE – sunny days with a good breeze and chilly nights –hard to imagine the heat that’s likely to kick in in just a couple of months. We’re actually really enjoying our time here; still living in our little hut in the servant’s quarters of Qmasa’s Jumeriah beach house we remain really grateful for her help.
6 Months ago when I last wrote here we were still reeling from the double whammy of the loss of the car, followed by our appalling treatment at the hands of MB Petroleum (too long and painful a saga for here) but now we are quite settled in. I’m back at work and really enjoying it –I mean obviously I’d rather be globetrotting than back in the 9-5.30 rut –but am liking my colleagues and the work so all is well. Andrew is still trying to find a permanent job having completed a contract. He’s keeping busy –organizing a travel show amongst other things –but it’s a tough market out there so if anyone has any contacts in the fit out/building game (yachts, boats, houses etc) out here then please do send them our way.
Andrew did get his moment of fame though having a slot on a talk show (alongside our friend Sheikh Awad an Emirati traveler whose project the show was) and also receiving a certificate from the Crown Prince no less in recognition of his help with the festival (the CP was the festival’s patron.)
Now back at work I’m really too busy to do anything with the website of late –it was a bit of a full time job on its own -but I have pulled my finger out this weekend and am now in the process of uploading some photos from our time in the deserts of Liwa and our short holiday in Lebanon.
We’re also tentatively planning weekends to Jordan/Qatar and Turkey as well as trips to Cyprus and the UK later on in the year so whilst our globetrotting days may be (temporarily) curtailed they’re not yet over yet!
Whilst in Dubai we are contactable on +971 556523006 or +971 557846182.
Friday 12 October, 2012:
So finally the website is up to date and the final page of or journey chronicled up to the point when we had "the disaster" and slightly beyond. Our story now comes if not to an end to a long pit stop as it looks like we'll be staying put in sunny Dubai for a little while yet. I'm enjoying my job though OMG it's a shock to the system being back in the real world once more, and Andrew's now got a contract role getting a Sheikh's Superyacht in tip top shape before the F1 kicks off in 3 weeks' time. He's currently based in Abu Dhabi working a 6 day week -so we only see each other for one rushed day a week - which is also a bit weird after 5 years "on the road" when we lived in each other's pockets! As I wrote up this finally update I noted the date and then realised it was exactly 5 years to the day since we left Australia which had a certain cyclical feel to it. Not a bad innings really!
UPDATE Saturday 22nd September, 2012:
Now living in sunny Dubai -please see latest update on our Oman page for news as to what we're up to. After a 5 year gap I (Ann) start work tomorrow ....gulp!.... Not 100% convinced that joining the "real world" is a good move - but needs must and all that!
Update 6 September, 2012: My god what a few weeks! Since the accident we've been sat in a hotel room in Nizwa watching TV and patiently waiting for Andrews's work visa to come through. So -we sweated it out through 4 weeks of Ramadan (during which we couldn't even sip water in pubic during daylight hours a tough call in these temperatures!) and through the Eid holiday.
Once out the other side of these we thought we were home and hosed - but then the fun started! Due to riots by the local population a year or so back Omanisation (the process by which Omani people are preferred for employment over ex-pats) is a real hot potato here. The company offering Andrew a job apparently have no remaining employment "slots" for ex-pats available. The only option now is for them to find a 3rd party company to employ Andrew and then provide him as a contractor back to them his "real" employer. As these slots are now a precious commodity this is proving easier said than done. BUGGER!!!! So we've sat in a hotel room paying $25 Aus. a night - huge by our standards but as cheap as it gets in Oman - for 2 months maybe for nothing. Still - what can you do. Nizwa is a lovely clean friendly city but we rather feel we have tasted its delights - the old fort, the market, the sunsets, Lulus supermarket - to the core!!!
Meanwhile as our Omani tourist visas have once more run out we're now back in Dubai -which is real "bright lights big city" time after 8 weeks of Nizwa! - catching up with our good friends Corinne & Stephan.
Whilst in Nizwa we stripped the poor old car down to its twisted core. As our pictures show there wasn't a hell of a lot left standing by the end, and what there is is destined for the scrapyard crusher. RIP poor old car. The removed "car parts" have been taken off for storage for when we re-build the new vehicle -which obviously does rather depend on us being able to stay and work in the region. Wish us luck!
NB: Volunteers needed for animal charity in Ahmedabad May 2012: We were contacted recently by Lalu whom we met briefly whilst in Ahmedabad. Lala works for the Asha Animals' Foundation a charity which does much to help street animals in India. To see more of the excellent work they do please see www.ashafoundationindia.org.
They are urgently seeking volunteers, so if you are an animal lover currently in, or planning to visit Ahmedabad please contact them via their site or via Lalu's mobile +91 9824037521.
UPDATE 28th July 2012:
As mentioned we thank everyone for their kindness, but special thanks must go to our new Omani friend Ahmed who took us in hand and helped us when we were still reeling from the shock of losing the car, booking hotels, bringing us food and dealing with the police for us whilst we sat there like zombies. We continue to be overwhelmed by the kindness shown us here in Oman -but even within this very high standard we feel that Ahmed deserves a special mention.
So, we see the start of a whole new era. We're now looking for an apartment in downtown Muscat, as we plan to stay here for the next couple of years or so. Andrew gets a 4WD with his job (whoopee!) so one of our first investments will be a tent so that we can continue our camping trips at the weekends. We'll continue to document our trips around the gulf region for anyone who's interested.
Of course behind all this lurks another long term plan. We have been working hard taking the car apart bolt by bolt (5am to 10am only -it's already hitting 40 degrees by then) stripping out all the tanks, water pumps etc. We'll also soon be saving hard to get a new vehicle (a land cruiser of course!) to recreate our truck from scratch incorporating a few little improvements, then we're off again. Andrew already has notebooks full of measurements and building plans for the new camper, and the pile of spare parts pulled off the old one is slowly growing, so like a phoenix out of the ashes our one-off vehicle will rise again!
In the meantime we're quite excited about spending some time in Oman, a country we've really come to love. We'll get an apartment sorted out first so we're not living out of boxes spread across the country, and then I plan a trip home to the UK - after all it is now almost 13 years since I left! After seeing family & friends it's back to Muscat where I hope to also find work. Anyway that's where we're at -all a lot more upbeat than when I last wrote here. I will at some stage finish off the web pages of our journey up to the point when it got brutally terminated and will then continue to record the trips we do in the gulf region and elsewhere -and of course the story of the rebirth of our camper as it happens. We're not done yet!
Tuesday 3 July 2012: Disaster to report.
Yesterday our trip ended unceremoniously when our car plunged off a cliff. We were on Jebel Sham a mountain in Oman and had just got the good news that we were being sponsored for the ferry trip up to Musandum from Muscat so we were really excited. We picked a good picnic spot, parked and went around the back to get our picnic out as shown in the earlier "before" shot taken the previous day.
We use a ladder to access the fridge and Andrew had just gone up it putting all his weight behind the car which effectively gave it a shove. The car started moving forward very quickly. Andrew fell in a heap at the bottom of the ladder whilst I ran and tried to jump in but it was moving too fast. The car went rolling over and over down over 200 metres landing in a heap at the bottom of the cliff.
After Andrew has owned this car and carefully maintained it for 22 years, painstaking building what I think was one of the best camper set ups I've seen in all our time on the road - it was all over in 20 seconds.
Thankfully no one was hurt though we're both a bit bruised and shaken up. So we've lost our home of the last 5 years and most of our possessions are cactus, though we are trying to salvage some of our stuff today. As ever the kind Omani people have come to our aid for which we're really grateful but there's a tough road ahead. Our visas end next week but we'll have to do a trip in and out of the UAE to get another visa as all this will take longer to sort out. I guess you've got to be pleased it wasn't worse and that no one was hurt but to say we're currently heartbroken is an understatement. What really stings is that after all the tough roads we've driven in extreme conditions in all those countries -over 120,000km - without one single accident -what a ridiculous way for it all to end!
We aren't quite sure what'll happen now, first priority is to get the car towed to a yard to suss out if it is as we think a total write off. Guess it's worth a look -please keep everything crossed for us that it can be salvaged. Though GOK what the cost of that would be…
Anyway we might not write here for a while -not even sure where we'll head next -somewhere to work and regroup I guess. Once we're settled we'll update here. We do plan whatever happens to hit the road again - just not sure when as our finances which weren't looking great before are now pretty dire! Thanks again to all who took an interest in our trip, our very kind sponsors and all the lovely people we met along the way. We certainly had a ball whilst it lasted!
Saturday 30th June 2012:
After trips down the east and west coasts from Salalah and some great wild camping we're finally about to leave the south.
We head back to Muscat and then by ferry for a quick visit to the northern province of Musandam before crossing back into the heat of the UAE.The misty rain has finally arrived here in Salalah and people are arriving in waves from the rest of the gulf.
We're repeatedly told that we're mad to be heading back into the furnace like heat just now and maybe we are! First stop will be the remote Jiddat al-Harasis plain to see the rare Arabian Oryx.
Exciting news!!! We've just heard that Exedy in Australia have agreed to come on board as a sponsor by giving us a new clutch to replace the old one which is still going strong after an unbelievable 250,000 km! Thanks to all at Exedy but especially Karin Fersterer & Georgia Gillett in Marketing. See the link on our sponsor's page for more about their great products. http://www.exedy.com.au
Sunday 10th June 2012:
We're relaxing down south in Salalah, Oman's second city, enjoying the quiet before the Khareef or rains come, and with them the crowds escaping the heat elsewhere in the Gulf
Saturday 26 May 2012:
Just crossed by ferry to Masirah a largely unspoilt island off the SE coast, home to one of the world's largest turtle populations. Thankfully due to the trade winds the temperature has dropped and we now have perfect camping weather.
Thursday 24 May 2012:
We're still braving the heat -plans changed and we decided to do a coastal trip south before cooling off in the mountains. It does get a bit hot at night -those desert winds are like an oven!- but we are coping.....just! Now in Sur a lovely coastal town with a tradition of wooden boat building.
Thursday 17 May 2012:
We're loving Oman -though it's HOT..an incredible 45 degrees at 8.45 am here in Muscat yesterday! We head soon to the Mountain Range of Hajar where we hope to find some cooler temperatures.
Friday 11 May 2012:
We crossed into Oman 2 days ago. We're loving it -gorgeous scenery and super friendly people -though it's getting VERY hot! We head to the mountains soon, but are now at the relaxed coastal town of Sohar.
Wednesday 2nd May 2012:
We're still in Dubai - trying to find work, which feels tough going at the moment to be honest! We head to Oman next week both to renew our visas and to have a look round this fascinating area. The mercury is definitely starting to rise now- summer's on its way!
Monday 23rd April :
We've been enjoying Dubai, and staying with our friends Stephan and Corinne in their lovely apartment. Finally we got the car back today so we'll soon be able to do a lot more exploring!
Wednesday 4th April :
We were due to drive straight to the border with Iran via Quetta the day after our press conference, but the Aussie Embassy got in touch to advise us very strongly against driving through the Balochistan province. Always dicey the area has recently got worse and the chances of kidnapping/attack on a target as obvious as us/our car is now too big. The police said they'll organise a special escort if they get a letter authorising this from the Aussie Consulate but they won't give it, so we're stuck in the middle. A hard decision weighing up what is a very small but very real risk. So...we're shipping again :((((((( either directly to Bandar Abbas in Iran or via Dubai. Either way we'll be on the move within the next few days.
We're still in Karachi after a week of big decisions.
Friday 30th March :
We had a great trip down through Pakistan and made it to Karachi late Wednesday evening in good time for our press conference today. Huge thanks go to all at Mobil (especially Romana) for all their generosity in organizing this, providing us with oil and many lovely gifts and putting us up in the very nice Beach Luxury Hotel. Thanks also go to Central Toyota for giving us a free service and spare parts. We really do appreciate the kindness of these companies who go out of their way to help us. Finally, two days after arriving we're off for a look around Karachi tomorrow.
Friday 23 March :
Finally (!!) we leave Lahore tomorrow heading south to Karachi where we have a TV interview and press conference organized by our sponsor Mobil Oil next Friday. On the way we plan to see a few places of historical interest, first stop Multan.
Tuesday 6 to Friday 16 March :
Back in Lahore we're at the Lahore Backpackers really enjoying catching up with some old friends and meeting some new ones. After a few days we begin our journey south, first stop Multan.
Friday 2nd March :
Back in Islamabad where we have our 5 seconds of fame - a TV interview - tomorrow,
Tuesday 28th February:
We made it all the way up the KKH until we hit the new huge lake near the China border. Amazing scenery and a great trip but bone chillingly cold! Down to minus 22 degrees one night.
Monday 13th February 2012
After an interesting few days in Peshawar we're now back in Islamabad just to pick up our new snow chains before setting off up the KKH (Karakoram Highway) the world's highest highway. It's snowing hard in some areas so we'll see how far we get.
Monday 31 January 2012:
We're now in Islamabad an incredibly swish modern city. We're staying at the Tourist Camp Site where, unsurprisingly (it being mid-winter) we're the only happy campers! We'll be here a few days before we head to Peshawar, capital city of the NW Frontier.
Monday 31 January 2012:
Thursday 26 January 2012:
Happy Australia Day! We're still in Lahore, which we've really enjoyed, a great city. "You're not born until you see Lahore" as a local saying translates! We head to Islamabad tomorrow.
Saturday 14 January 2012:
We crossed into Pakistan yesterday no worries and are now in Lahore where we've already seen a Sufi festival..very exciting! Updates to follow...
Friday 6th January 2012:
Happy New Year everyone! We brought 2012 in at a party at beautiful Agonda beach in Goa, with 10 other overlander vehicles from Europe and South America. A very good time was had by all! Since then we've been hard at it driving 12 hour stretches to finally arrive in Delhi last night at midnight. We've now at Lakozy Toyota in Delhi for the final time having a few minor car repairs done. We actually slept out the front of the workshop last night and woke up to an amazed crowd!! It's a damn sight colder up here -time to pull the duvets out again! We're both absolutely knackered so we plan to rest here for a day, before we have to push on to head to Chandigarh, pick up our excess boxes which are to be shipped (to the UK) from Ludhiana, and cross the Wagah border into Pakistan by next Friday (the 13thI just worked out !) at the latest.
Sunday 25th December:
Merry Xmas! After a frantic few days of planes trains (well buses!) and automobiles we're back in India. We NEVER want to ship again! Anyway all done now and we're at our friend Penny's charity Mad Dogs Trust www.maddogstrust.com at Fort Cochin Kerala, having a very dog filled Xmas!
Tuesday 13th December: We're biding time in Negombo -the car leaves by container ship on Friday but we can't book our flights to India pending getting our Iranian visas. We hope to get our "verifcation codes" from Tehran by tomorrow but failing that it'll be Saturday so we can't apply for the visas until Monday. Anyway it'll be a rushed trip through India to cross into Pakistan before our visas expire. From the link following it's definitely time to give up on the poor old car ferry!!
Saturday 3rd December: It's official we're marooned! No one can tell us why but what everyone agrees is that the ferry is "postponed indefinitely." Just a week earlier and we'd have made it out. Time to look at shipping by container really not what we wanted but no choice really unless we stay here forever - which is a tempting option but hardly practical!!!
Monday 28 November 2011
Back in Colombo, we've been rushing around like mad things getting everything done, and all our friends here caught up with before heading back to India. Had planned to go on Wednesday but just heard that due to "operational difficulties" the ferry isn't working this week. This eases the mad rush somewhat, though it's a bit worrying -hope it's back on again soon. We've a bit to do in India (shipping of excess stuff, Iranian visas) before we cross into Pakistan in early January. Woefully behind on the website -updates to follow at some stage!
Thursday 3rd November 2011 We're at Yala National Park, had an amazing safari yesterday. Saw elephants, bears and even the elusive leopard! Awesome. Next we head down the coast at Tangalla.
Saturday 22nd October 2011
We're chilling out and topping up the tan in Arugam Bay. Andrew was pleased to hit a few days of good waves, a bit quieter now - waves down from 7 to 2 feet. Better for me -good for swimming!
Thursday 13 October 2011
We're enjoying the spectacular views, great food and cooler temperatures of Ella in the hill country. Off to Arugam Bay tomorrow.
Thursday 29 September 2011
We're in Negombo catching up with Tim for a couple of days. Good news we got 6 month visas for India with no problems and we've also extended our SL visas until the end of October. We head next to the hill country of Ella and then back to Arugam Bay once more.
Friday 16 September 2011
We're back in Colombo for a flying visit, camping at the very salubrious Mount Lavinia Hotel. We're busy sorting out an extension of our SL visas and new Indian ones, and we'll maybe fit in seeing the Aussies play a cricket game before heading back to the coast.
Friday 9 September 2011
Back in Kandy, where we were just passing through when we were lucky enough to score free tickets for the Australia vs Sri lanka test cricket games - thanks John. More Andrew's thing than mine but I did enjoy day 1 and the Aussies are storming ahead! Big thanks also to all at Mr. Site for agreeing to sponsor this website for another year.
Saturday 3rd September 2011
Jaffna and the "far north' were an amazing experience -especially the very full on piercing festival! We're now back in Nilaveli north of Trincomalee relaxing at the very lovely Pigeon Island Beach Resort.
Tuesday 23 August 2011
Just enjoyed a couple of days surfing (Andrew) and lazing (Ann) at Arugam Bay -we begin the drive north to Jaffna tomorrow.
Thursday 11 August 2011 Off to Kandy today to see some of the Esala Perahera festival and then on to explore more of the hill country.
Sunday 7 August 2011
Having a great time relaxing in Mirissa on the south coast - great spot. We head back to Colombo for our Mobil & Toyota organised media interviews on Tuesday.
Monday 25 July 2011
We're still in Negombo and whilst we're enjoying our friend Tim's hospitality we're really ready to be off. Had a slight car problem which necessitated getting parts flown in from Dubai which turned into a major hassle. Guess what?? ..as a visitor it's illegal to transfer any money out of the country which made it a tad awkward to pay for them! Anyway Tim came to our rescue and it's all sorted now and the parts are hopefully being fitted as I type.
BIG NEWS we got our passports -complete with Pakistan visas - back! Thanks so much to Mr. Khan at the Pakistan embassy Canberra for agreeing to do this via mail so we didn't have to fly home to Australia. Hopefully we should be heading South towards Galle in the next few days.
Monday 11 July 2011
We're been taking it easy here in Negombo since arriving, despite making frequent forays into Colombo. We met with both the Pakistan and Aussie embassies. Both were friendly, pleased to meet us and hear about our trip, but sadly neither were able to help us by issuing our Pakistan visas or sending our passports to Oz! We finally couriered our Pakistan visa applications and passports to Australia via DHL on Friday. Thanks again to Mr. Malik the Pakistan embassy's consulate in Canberra and Andrew's sister Kate for helping.
We met up for a very wild (by our standards!) night out with our Aussie friend Tim O'Reilly last seen in Vizag. We did know he was now in SL but not that he was in Negombo! So we've been majorly lucky here in Negombo as regards camp spots, first the car park of the very posh Jetwing Blue resort and now even better Tim's very plush villa where he has kindly invited us to stay. Untold luxury! We await the arrival of some spare car parts from Dubai (not available here or India) and the return of our passports before we journey on.
Sunday 3rd July 2011:After a rough crossing we arrived at Colombo docks at 6am and after a lot of help from the guys at Flemingo Liners (especially Vishal) we were out and driving the streets by 10am! Now relaxing on the beach at Negombo -updates to follow.
Friday 1st July 2011: Well after our 4,500 km epic journey through the guts of India from Delhi to Tuticorin we had a major win yesterday. After spending all day in negotiations with all and sundry at the port here (customs, the manager of ferry operations, the traffic authorities manager and many more officials, all clip boards in hand) they have agreed to let the car come on the ferry!! This means we are the first vehicle to be shipped this way since the service was discontinued in the early 80s. No need to load the car in a container and crane it on and off an we can just drive on and off and travel with the car ... .JOY!!!!! We sail at 6pm tonight.
Sun 19 June 2011: Well we all (myself Andrew and the car) have to leave India by the 7th July so we've got to leave Delhi soon thank God! Andrew's just left on a quick overnight run to Chandigrah to pick up the fridge and then we begin the drive south towards Tuticorin from where we ship the car to Colombo. Can't wait to see the beach again!
Friday 3 June 2011 Still suffering the heat in Delhi sorting a few things out. It was no go with sending the passports. As it is illegal to be without your passport in India apparently (first we've heard of it!) the Australian Embassy were not prepared to help. So we have to get somewhere else for 2 months (another Indian rule 2 months out ) and send our passports by courier from there, so good news is we don't have the added expense of returning to Australia. We're very keen to go back to Sri Lanka, with the car this time. Sadly though the long promised car ferry from India to Colombo (which has been starting "next week" since January!) doesn't seem to be materializing and we're having difficulty pinning down a reasonable shipping quote. So may well be back to Nepal for another visit. We'll get there in the end.
Sunday 15 May 2011 We've had a bit of a tough week or so, pushing ourselves to get some maintenance work done on the car in the intense heat. It's 40 degrees by mid morning, a really uncomfortable radiating sort of heat. All not helped when Andrew went down with flu! We fitted in a trip up to Ludhiana and met the shipping agent who's looking after our boxes, big sighs of relief to get that one back off our "to do" list! No time to fit in the Golden Temple trip for now, as soon as Andrew was recovered we to head back to Delhi (where we are now) for some meetings with sponsors. Fantastic news though, a "BIG WIN" on our visa situation, as the Pakistan Embassy in Canberra have agreed as a "special case" to grant us our visas remotely so we don't have the added expense of shipping again or returning to Australia …such relief! We still have the problem of getting the passports sent as (of course!) to do so by courier or post is illegal in India! We're off to see the Aussie/Pakistan embassies tomorrow to see if either of them will help us out with this. Wish us luck.
Monday 11 April 2011 We're still in steamy Delhi. After trying every which way looks like we'll definitely be missing Pakistan and shipping straight to Iran in July. One possible scenario was going back to Darwin to get the Pakistan visa -and working there a few months to pay for it. Only trouble with that was that the car would be impounded by then for being too long in India, Andrew wouldn't have his tools or vehicle so couldn't get a decent job and the delay would mean the crossing between Turkey and Iran would be under snow and impassable by the time we got there! Never easy is it!
Ah well….we'll get to Pakistan another time. In the meantime we've been running round in Delhi and have got heaps of boring stuff done. Planning to head back to Kashmir (where incredibly it's snowing now) next. Penny who runs the Kochin animal shelter came up for a visit with 4 canine friends - Monty and Worcester the dalmations we met before and 2 new puppies en route to a new life in Kashmir. We didn't think it possible but Penny and entourage were even more of a show stopper than us! The dogs behaved very well and were pronounced "very polite" by all who met them! So -another week of the heat and crazy traffic (4 wheeled and 4 legged !) of Delhi unfolds!
UPDATE 11 APRIL 2011 MOBIL AND LAKOZY MOTORS
We are delighted that Mobil Oil in India is continuing the generous sponsorship we enjoyed from their sister companies in both Bangladesh and Nepal. When in Delhi we always take the opportunity to go to Lakozy Motors an excellent workshop which has a specialty in foreign imported cars particularly Toyotas and has always provided us with high quality service. Mobil are in partnership with Lakozy under their "Mobil1 Car Care" banner an initiative which since it started in 2008 has spread to encompass 175 workshops all over India. Mobil support these workshops by providing training for staff as well as cosmetic enhancements for their building and surroundings to help them offer a truly professional service. We'd noticed that Lakozy had had some refurbishment and was looking particularly swish this visit after Mobil gave them a facelift!
Thanks again to all at Mobil. In particular our thanks go to both Sandeep Khoran who helped us organise all this and Wasim Ahmad who came to meet us bringing oil for our next change as well as a very generous "goody bag"! We really appreciate all your support. Thanks also go to all the staff at Lakozy for their generosity, expertise and support.
Monday 4 April 2011 Still killing time in Delhi dealing with "boring stuff" and trying to get shipping quotes sorted. Great that India won the world cup (cricket.) There was much partying and fireworks going off all over the city all night! Have got all the pictures on for Nimar and Harpreet's wedding in Chandigarh so have a look.
Thursday 24 March 2011 Bad news! After finally getting to the Pakistani Embassy (it was shut Wednesday for a holiday so we had a wasted journey) we were told in no uncertain terms that NO WAY were they giving us a visa. They helpfully suggested that we go back to Australia to apply. With the whole Indian visa nightmare scenario (must be out of India 2 months between visas, must let one visa finish before applying for the next etc) - it really isn't feasible. Bugger! Oh well -back to the drawing board -what about shipping to Oman ( though we REALLY didn't want to ship again!) and catching the ferry to Iran instead?? Watch this space!
Monday 21 March 2011 We're back once more in Majnu Ka Tilla the Tibetan enclave of Delhi. We're off to apply for our Pakistani visas tomorrow -wish us luck!
Wednesday 8 March 2011 What a wedding! 7 days and as many functions we really enjoyed it. Big congratulations to Nimar and Harpreet, pictures to follow.
Tuesday 1 March 2011 After a couple of long hard days driving we're now back in India, in Delhi to be exact about to drive the last leg of our current journey to Chandigarh. We're really looking forward to seeing the Dhandes again and enjoying a Big Fat Punjabi wedding! We're having some trouble getting our phones re-connected here, the old numbers are now barred for some reason, so will put the new or revived numbers on here ASAP
Friday 24 February 2011 ATTENDED PRESS INTERVIEWS ARRANGED BY MOBIL1 -thanks guys for all your help.
Saturday 19 February 2011 We're (still!!!) in Kathmandu but we have been on a road trip. We drove first to Pokhara, and then all the way to Muktinath via Jonsom. An amazing trip with spectacular views and some of the best scenery we've seen to date. We're still enjoying our friend Jyoti's hospitality, but we have to tear ourselves away in the next few days to head back across the border to India and to our friends the Dhandes where we attend their son's wedding which we're Friday 4 February 2011 This is getting silly but we are in fact still in Kathmandu (!!) where we have been enjoying some real r & r staying with a friend. We're shortly to tear ourselves away and set off on a trip first to Pokhara and then hopefully to drive on to Jonsom if the roads allow. In the meantime I've got the website updated re: our tibetan border trip, so have a look if you're interested.
Friday 21 January 2011 - We arrived back in Kathmandu last night to find that -whoopppee!!!!- our parcel is waiting for us at the post office. We had a great trip with Marc and Mathias climbing up to 3,000 metres and seeing snow for the first time in ages. We nearly had to leave Andrew behind in China (or rather occupied Tibet!) when he upset one of the thuggish Chinese border guards and he starting waving hand cuffs in his face! Nevermind we escaped! Now just to get the parcel and we'll finally leave Ktm for good and head to Chitwan National Park. I'm working to finish off the Ktm page of our site and then do one for our Tibet trip - keep checking for updates.
Tuesday 11 January 2011 - So finally the car is all A OK and ready to go - only we can't as we're still stuck here, now waiting for our Keen footwear parcel to arrive from the US. It's been 3 weeks since it was posted so we're getting a bit stressed - keep everything crossed for us that it arrives! On a brighter note we have new neighbours at the scouts. Marc and his son Mathias from Aachen Germany, fellow over-landers who've driven all the way in a VW camper. We're all off on a few day's drive to the Tibetan border tomorrow. Supposed to be spectacular scenery wise, though no doubt pretty chilly at the moment. PLEASE let our parcel be waiting for us when we return!
Tuesday 28 December 2010 - Disaster! We thought we had the car all ready to go, only when the bearings were replaced we've discovered the camber of the wheel is out - again from that bloody unmarked pot hole we went down in Sikkim. This is a real biggie which means we have to replace the entire axel tube. Feels like we'll NEVER leave Ktm! Andrew has gone off to source a 2nd hand one from the scrap yards - fingers crossed he's successful!
Friday 24 December 2010 - Merry Xmas!! We're (still!!!) in Kathmandu as we've had trouble getting some routine work on the car completed due to the frequent power outages here. Never mind -we'll find somewhere to celebrate tomorrow! Thanks everyone for your Xmas messages and we hope all our readers have a wonderful festive season.
Friday 17 December 2010 - We're still in Kathmandu (Ktm) doing some car maintenance which is a bit hindered by the frequent power out ages which are all part of the game here! I've FINALLY got all my picutres on the Ktm page of the site. Had a good birthday yesterday. We had a delicious French meal to celebrate - imported cheese and wine- very decadent!
UPDATE Thursday 25 November 2010 Well we've spent the last 2 weeks back in Kathmandu doing a bit of socializing and sightseeing and what feels like a lot of the routine sorting-out type of jobs that tend to get neglected on the road. For ages we've been saying "we'll do that when we get to Kathmandu" and so we've had to! I've come to the end of what felt like 1,000 dental appointments and the teeth are now A1 ok -long may it last! We also have lovely pristine new passports (the old ones were full!) and a beautiful new bespoke shower tent as the old one was getting a bit threadbare. We're also been sorting out lots of car maintenance and awaiting car parts which are flying in from around the globe. On this note thanks go to both old and new sponsors for their extreme kindness and generosity. So big thanks for providing the car with new - shocks (Mat at Raw4X4) airbags (Debbie at Airlift) roof racks (Peter at Rhino) and mirrors (Ross at Britax.) Furthermore Carie at Keen's Footwear has very kindly given us both new sets of shoes at half price, which are on their way via Andrew' sister's sister in law (and friend) Shea who kindly provided us with a US shipping address. They can't come too fast -especially for Andrew whose shoes are literally falling off his feet after over 3 years on the road!!
We said a sad goodbye to my friend Gill who's flown back to the UK but have been lucky to meet lots of new people on Ktm's busy ex-pat scene so we have been out and about a lot - to art exhibitions, live music in pubs and even lunch at the British Embassy's Sterling club -all good fun. We even have Xmas lunch to look forward to there- the real deal turkey and everything! It actually even feels like Xmas for me (being cold) for the first time since I left the UK! Finally in any spare time as an ongoing project I am surely but surely -despite frequent power cuts and snail pace internet -getting the pictures up to date on the site - it's hard going here!
UPDATE 11 November 2010 One year on and it's déjà vu time ….we're back in downtown Kathmandu camping at the Scouts (with our hounds Chopper and Whiskers back in situ guarding the car) enjoying catching up with Gill and Bipin and doing "chores." Andrew's off getting the car sorted and I'm doing website maintenance - somewhat hampered by the snail like pace of the internet here! We also have to get new passports (the old ones are full!) and Indian visas and I've got 3 dental appointments lined up -ouch! -I only popped in for what I thought was one filling replacement! All this has been majorly expensive so we're really thrilled to both thank an old sponsor and welcome a new one. Firstly thanks go to Mat and the team at Raw4X4 who are couriering us out a new set of shocks to replace those which bore the brunt of our prang in Darjeeling last month. Similarly the Airlift Company has agreed to provide us with a new set of airbags to replace those that were similarly annihilated in the same incident! Thanks so much guys we REALLY appreciate your kindness, and we can't wait to get some suspension back in the poor old car!
UPDATE 8 November 2010 We've enjoyed a couple of days relaxing at the beautiful Dhulikhel Mountain Resort before we head on today the final 30km to smoggy Kathmandu.
UPDATE 2 November 2010 We continue our journey across eastern Nepal moving slowly towards Kathmandu. We're now in the Hindu pilgrimage town of Janakpur it's dusty noisy and there are cows everywhere - it feels more like India than Nepal!
UPDATE 21 October 2010 We crossed into Nepal safely -with the car sort of fixed - and we're now in Iiam - Nepal's "Queen of Hills" looking back at Darjeeling across the valleys. Lovely scenery here too!
UPDATE 17 October 2010 Just when it was all going so well........we spent a wonderful few days touring the beautiful Sikkim area which is more like Nepal than India really and very scenic. Then yesterday when we drove back to Darjeeling we came unstuck when we hit a HUGE pot hole -more like a canyon really - and the car went down it. It was right in the middle of the road and had apparently been there 2 weeks -though no one had thought to put any warning sign up...!! We were both a bit shaken (Andrew head butted the windscreen!) but the poor car came off worst. The leaf spring is totally stuffed and the shocks twisted into pretzels. It's driveable but has no suspension now. Better and better - it's a big holiday here (Dhassara) so nothing is open so we can't find a workshop. We have to leave India tomorrow (end of visa) so in the circs we will have to limp on to Nepal and try and get it sorted out there. Really bad timing!
UPDATE 12 October 2010 The drive from Kolkata to Darjeeling has been a bit tough in parts. We got caught up in the holiday traffic (the Durga Puja starts next week) and it took us 14 bum-numbing hours to drive 300km! Now in beautiful Darjeeling and it's 3 years to the day (and 85,000km on the clock) since we left Australia!
Monday 28 June 2010 MOBIL OIL
As mentioned before we have been sponsored by Mobil Oil in both India and Nepal and now we are thrilled that Mobil Oil in Bangladesh have also come on board. They organized a company meeting in our honour at which their acting CEO handed over oil for our next change, and also provided us with some great gifts and a delicious lunch.
We've been using Mobil1 Oil throughout the trip and have always been very satisfied with its performance. On a journey (80,000 km to date and as much to go!) which has encompassed extremes of temperature from minus 10 (Ladakh) to 50 plus degrees (the deserts of Rajasthan) Mobil1 has done us proud throughout. Being 100% Synthetic the oil is also compatible with an older (26 years) 2 H diesel engine. After switching to this oil a welcome surprise was how much cleaner the internal engine appears which in turn protects the bearings and moving parts by stopping friction. We feel the condition and longevity of the engine is much improved, and we're very happy to be promoting Mobil1 on our trip around the world. Please see further details of their products on our sponsors' page.
Thanks particularly go to Waisal and Ariful in Business Development and to Fatema the Brand Executive who went to so much trouble to organise a really special presentation.
We're thrilled to finally be back on line but even more excited to welcome a new sponsor on board. Maxxis Tires (South East Asia) have very very kindly agreed to completely replace all our tyres and both spares! As you can imagine they've had quite a pounding and so this has been very good news.
We started using Maxxis in Thailand, so they have driven us over some very mixed terrain including the world's 2 highest motorable roads and around/over what we're sure are some of the world's deepest pot holes and we can vouch for their strength and durability. Please see their site on our sponsor's page. A huge thank you goes to both Luke Chen in Taiwan and Raj Kumar Yadav in Delhi. Raj also took us out for a great Indian meal whilst we were in Delhi so thanks for sponsoring our stomachs too!!
The journey goes on ........
We began our overland adventure driving around the world when we flew to Singapore - (having waved the car off from Darwin Port) - on 12 October 2007 almost 2 years ago as I type. So far we have covered 57,000 km, 10 countries ok…..that includes 3 Singapore, Vietnam and Myanmar where they wouldn't let us take the car so we had to revert to public transport! We have driven across SE Asia and around India and are now in Nepal. From here our journey takes us back to India, and then on to Pakistan, Iran Turkey Greece Italy Belgium France and finally to England our final destination - for a while!!
Thus far the car has survived 12 punctures, 4 road side boggings (requiring recovery trucks!) 2 bust wing mirrors and 1 broken head gasket. We have driven the world's 2 highest motorable roads and around what must be some of the world's deepest pot holes. We have survived both jelly fish and snake attacks (Ann) and a nasty bout of malaria/typhoid/dengue (Andrew) which required 2 hospital stays - but all 3 of us are still going strong!!
The first stage of our journey is driving from Australia to England using a Carnet de Passage or passport for the car. The 3 of us making the journey are: Andrew :- driver /mechanic and general maintenance man Ann the navigator (who can't read a map!) and diary keeper and our trusty Toyota - 25 years old and still cruising along!! For a bit more information on how Andrew built the car and the journey so far please see our previous site www.drivingoz2uk.com
For the journey still to come please see the pages to follow: