Category Archives: planning

Will We Make It?

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.

the confidence inspiring sweepstake

the confidence inspiring sweepstake

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?

Tetris (formerly known as packing boxes into a small storage unit)

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:

our mini mover

our mini mover

only the big things are in and it is full!

only the big things are in and it is full!

hanging bike off the ceiling

hanging bike off the ceiling

now it's full! but we did manage to squeeze a few more things in)

now it’s full! but we did manage to squeeze a few more things in)

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!).

Axles, pool noodles and toilet paper

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.

our ship to get Lara across to KL

our ship to get Lara across to KL (yes, she is really going on this ship)

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:

sealing the vents before loading

sealing the vents before loading

reversing Lara into the container

reversing Lara into the container

strapping Lara

strapping Lara

Lara ready for transportation

Lara ready to go!

using the big toys to move it to the middle

using the big toys to move the truck to the middle

Jon getting dirty

Jon getting dirty

Rob & Robyn with their truck in the container

Rob & Robyn with their truck in the container (Lara is behind their truck)

ready to go!

ready to go!

Jude getting dirty

Jude getting dirty

Guy & Cheryl and their truck Bumble Bee

Guy & Cheryl and their truck Bumble Bee

More visa (Russia, Lao and Kazakhstan) and passport news

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….

Dutch passport 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…