Category Archives: planning
This is not a Land Rover vs Toyota discussion. It is very boring and I have heard it too many times. Does the Queen drive a Toyota? Exactly.
My very kind and considerate colleagues decided they would run a sweepstake on where Lara would ‘die’, that is ‘where Lara involuntarily stops your progress for 24 hours due to a mechanical breakdown’. They might have had a lawyer write this definition. A world map was presented at my leaving drinks plastered with pictures of broken down Land Rovers. I shall reproduce some of the highlights:
“I wanted to put Brisbane in, but that would be stupid because the car has left, so I’m going for Kuala Lumpur”.
“Mental Breakdown in 2 months, Lara breakdown in 4 months”.
“London, but several months late”.
Statistically, Mongolia was the favoured location. All I can say is that we intend to spend the rest of the year proving you all wrong.
So, will we make it? Really? It you want to read about an epic motoring adventure, you should read ‘Peking to Paris’ by Count Louis Borghezi. He was one of five participants in the 1907 motor race between the two cities. He drove an Itala, an Italian racing car, with no windscreen or doors, cart springs, wooden wheels and very primitive electronics. Sure, he was a Count and had a budget to pay locals to carry his car for sections in Siberia and the Gobi Desert. But he made it, and there were no roads. I won’t linger on the fate of the others.
We do have spares, we do know where the Land Rover garages are located (there is one even in Ulan Bataar!) and we do have the number of Kevin at Nene Overland in the UK who has supported countless trips like this.
In truth, we don’t know, but isn’t that the essence of an epic adventure?
After loading Lara it was time to pack up the house and try to fit it all inside an 11m2 storage unit. After a week of packing two strong looking guys helped us with the ‘big’ things and the next day (Friday 15 Feb) it was our turn. Jon had the day off work so he could drive the truck.
It took us 3 trips to the storage unit (it was a small truck), but most of the time was spent trying to fit things in. Instead of moving the full boxes into storage we unpacked them to make use of all the cupboard space available. It felt like we were playing a life-sized game of Tetris! After many, many hours playing Tetris we could finally tick off another big thing off our ‘todo’ list as we closed the doors to the storage unit with only a few cm to spare.
On the Thursday before the move we had already moved to Marjolein’s place (thanks for letting us stay at your place M!!) which is just across the cemetery from our place, so we hosted the last Tuesday night run there. We will definitely miss those!
The last days in Brisbane are a little bit of a blur as we were running around like chooks without heads trying to sort all the usual last minute jobs, mixed in with plenty of leaving drinks, but we managed to do (almost) everything on our list.
In case you are planning to do a trip like this, you should expect a list of approximately 200 jobs to do which never seems to get any smaller, no matter how many you tick off…
Here are some photos of the various stages of Tetris:
We’ll post a few more blog posts in the next few days as we have excellent wifi now with Sal & Ais (woohooooo, it’s awesome to catch up with great friends after so many years!).
Now what do axles, pool noodles and toilet paper all have in common you wanna know?
Loading our precious cars into the container is what they have in common as today was L-day (aka D-day) and after a long night yesterday, we were ready for it!
We had enough time this morning to pick up a last parcel (our safe) at the DHL office which we were hoping to have fitted to the car before leaving, but at least we can shove it into the car so we can have it installed in Malaysia.
As we were waiting for the others who still had to finish vacuum packing the last rolls of toilet paper for the first 3 months of the trip into their trucks, we opened the box and tested the safe. And that’s when the key got stuck. Not just a little stuck, but very stuck. To cut a long story short, it’s still stuck and currently sitting in our living room with the key still in it. We decided that a safe which cannot be opened is a little bit too safe for our liking….
Luckily the loading went a lot smoother.
First up was Lara. It was an easy reverse drive in with plenty of space on all sides. Tied down with 4 ratchet straps and 4 chocks she won’t be able to move for the next 3-4 weeks. Next up was the Wanderoos truck from Rob and Robyn which was reversed into the same container. She needed to be pushed in the last meter as you can’t open the doors to get out once she is in, that’s how close the fit is for these big earth cruisers. They had brought some pool noodles for cushioning, but didn’t need them in the end as the big forklift truck was used to shift her over a bit more to the middle. Quite handy having those big toys driving around.
Last today was Bumblebee, the yellow truck from Guy and Cheryl. The fit is even tighter for this one and she needed 2 smaller wheels at the back to get her in. Guy managed to reverse her into their container in one go (apart from some height and space checks). Nice work. Climbing over and under the back axle to fit the chocks and add the straps was pretty hot work (but heaps of fun).
And that was it. It’s all done. She is loaded and will be transferred to the docks later today. The ship (Xutra Bhum) will be loaded on Monday and will sail on Tuesday we have been told, taking some weeks to get to Kuala Lumpur where we will be anxiously waiting for the containers to be opened again.
In the mean time we are back home (thanks for the lift home Rob and Robyn and thanks for lunch Guy and Cheryl!!), wondering what we have forgotten 🙂 and getting ready for our next challenge: packing up the house and getting everything into a 10m2 storage loft.
Here are some pictures from today:
Those were very wise words that were spoken to me many, many years ago in my first class of a woodwork course. They are very true, but now I would like to add my own wisdom to these words as I discovered it is even more important to know what size you need to measure before you can start measuring… Thinking you know how big a piece of wood needs to be and measuring that size and checking before you cut it doesn’t help if it needs to be a different size!
Luckily we had enough spare wood to make up for these beginner errors (you’d think we were experts by now after already successfully making other boxes for Lara!) and we are now finalising the last 3 storage boxes. We’ll see how far I get today, but they need to be finished (painted and all) by tomorrow evening latest. A huge challenge, but we have decided to pack the car this weekend as we have no other weekends left before Lara is loaded into the container that will take her to Kuala Lumpur. Well, not exactly true. We would have another weekend, but we decided to use that weekend to ride in the Tour Down Under Community Challenge and catch up with friends in Adelaide instead. So packing this weekend it is. We’ll let you know how that went, but just in case I have added a big panic button here. You never know if we need it after the weekend.
At the moment we think we are in good shape (unfortunately not physical fitness shape which means we’ll struggle on the Tour Down Under ride), but we had a pretty successful week in terms of preparing Lara for her imminent departure.
Yesterday Jon picked up the aluminium roof box we had made and it is perfect. As you can see Jon fits in it very comfortably so all we need to do is add a bit a foam as a mattress and his bed is ready too.
We now also have:
- most of our spares, including some sump washers sent to us for free by a fellow Defender owner (thanks Hamish!)
- a GPS – to ensure we don’t kill each other
- tie down straps – for in the container
- a shovel – so Jon can dig us out of trouble
- shoe racks – an awesome job done by Davies Sheet Metal in Milton (they did all our aluminium work and have done a fantastic job)
- pink hiking boots for Jude – the most ugly, but very comfortable boots I could find
- storage – cheap, but we need to get everything in there using a forklift as it is above another storage unit with no fixed access! If you can help let us know!
- our first vaccination for Japanese encephalitis and typhoid – only 3 more injections to go (the second one for Japanese E and 2 more for tick borne E)
- flights booked to Singapore
- new tyres on the car, including spare wheel and second spare
We’re still waiting for a few things we ordered online. Soon we will be the new proud owners of:
- a new camera – small but with great zoom
- new driver’s licences – we had to renew them as they would have run out in the middle of the year which would be slightly impractical
- a safe – to be added to a secret location in the car 🙂
- a sat phone – second hand but still with warranty (thanks Andre for picking it up for us!)
- a mini safe to put our spare key in – yes, we expect to loose our key at some point, wouldn’t you?
I’ve decided to start collecting e-books and audio books for on the way as I might get bored of Jon’s taste of music. If you have any you can email or dropbox me that would be really appreciated! I have a few already, so more than happy to do some swaps.
Yesterday evening we got together with Rob & Robyn, Guy & Cheryl and Miles. We are going to ship our vehicles together with the first 2 couples so we wanted to make sure Lara and Rob & Robyn’s truck would fit in the container together. They do, with 36cm to spare (on a total of 12.01m internal length of the container). Plenty of space.
And, we also have decided on a name for our trip (everybody has a name of their trip so we didn’t wanna be left behind): LOST + FOUND ADVENTURES. We will lose things (and hopefully find them again) and we’re hoping we will get lost along the way too, maybe we should have a chat with Clayton to get some advice on how to find those shortcuts! But most importantly we hope to only lose time and find lots of great memories and friends along the way!
We’ve made a logo for it as well:
Do you like it? Did you notice our route in the background on the suitcase? (we think it is brilliant!) I’ll add it to our blog soon, but now I’d better get on with the making of the mozzie box, the wine box and the box with no name yet.
I don’t think I mentioned it last time, but because John and Ann can no longer travel with us our Lao visa is pretty much useless as it now has the wrong dates for our time in Lao (due to moving the China section forward by 3 weeks). That means we are now back to having zero visas in our passports and many to go. I don’t even dare to count how many at the moment – too scary!
We wanted to apply for our 12 month business visa for Russia here in Australia, but after some research, many emails with Stantours and finding out about the new regulations for this visa (now also requiring an HIV test and our cv’s in Russian with valid business purpose for travel…) we are now completely going to change tactics: apply for a tourist visa in Europe instead! More research needed, but it seems it is much easier to apply for in Europe and also cheaper. And it appears we can apply for multiple entry tourist visa in Europe too. We’ll let you know more once we find out.
Applying for a visa in NL does mean I would need a second identity form as we are also traveling to Germany and Norway when we’re in Europe and as the Dutch allow you to have both an Identity Card and a passport, I wanted to apply for one now (they take about 2 weeks). BUT when I started to call the consulates here in Australia I found out you can’t apply for one here. You can only apply for them in the Netherlands (if you are registered there), or in a country where they accept them as proof of identity… But then the guy suggested I apply for a second passport! I told him I had read that personal reasons (ie travel) were not a reason to be granted a second passport, and he told me that is correct, BUT that they don’t ask for a reason….
I quickly send all the documentation to Jon to print, called the consulate in Brisbane to make an appointment (between 10-12 only), rushed off to the post office to get a registered envelope and raced into the city to submit it all (keeping my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t matter that they can’t see my current passport as it is with the embassy of Kazakhstan in Singapore!)
That means we are now waiting for our passports with the visa for Kazakhstan to come back and I am waiting for my second passport!!
Next visa is the Chinese and we’ll get that going as soon as our passports are back from Singapore if we have enough time before we leave for Europe on the 15th of December…