We toured Indochina during Spring 2017 covering 8.300 km through Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. We started with a stopover in Bangkok, then flew to Vientiane and picked up our truck. Via Northern Laos we enterd Vietnam at Dienh Bien Phu and drove to SaPa, Hanoi and Halong Bay.
We aligned Chinese Sea with wonderful beaches and visited Saigon/Ho-Chi-Minh-City leaving for Cambodia. We were in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap/Angkor Wat. We aligned Mekong River back to Phnom Penh and looped back to Vientiane for new truck tires. We were not successful and my codriver had to return home for business. I returned to Phnom Penh and stored our truck flying home for business later.
Our original plan was to continue to Malaysia and Indonesia. But in 2017 Thailand has become no go area for overlanders’ third-country-campers. Trucks like ours are not even allowed to enter at all. We are not in favor of Thai bureaucrazy and will skip Thailand and due to forbidden transit Malaysia and Myanmar from truck-the-world. Instead, we will backpack Indonesia including Java, Bali, Lombok and Saurabaya late 2017.
Before that mess described above became evident we visited Thailand’s Capital Bangkok for 4 days staying at Rembrandt Hotel in lively Sukhumvit district doing those sightseeings you should do.
We retuned to Laos for our second visit meeting Friends and picking up our truck safely at our friend’s place. We toured Mekong River West aligning Thai border and then North to Luang Prabang finest city of Laos with a lot of backpcking tourists, again at Mekong.
We continued Northeast through Laos aiming at Vietnam’s Dien Bien Phu.
Finally we reached Vietnam Border close to Dien Bien Phu – in France better known as City of Defeat.
Vietnamese General Giap never lost a battle and conquered French Military here so that they had to leave their colony in 1956. End of Indochina War but US Americans didn’t know about Giap and returned later for another war… Same result.
Never alone again but in the company of 3 Vietnameses for the next 3 weeks – male welcome at Vietnamese border by officer Dzung, guide Binh, driver and leading car not on this photo at Dien Bien Phu. Nota Bene: Females are not on this welcome list | Vietnam
We left Vietnam aligning Mekong and entered Cambodia for the first time not far from Saigon crossing a new Mekong bridge towards Phnom Penh. We were happy to leave our guides and Vietnam and found a nice overnight stay at Mekong river during rain season.
We entered Laos for the third time intending to mount a set of new Michelin tires and to store the truck again in Vientiane. This was not successful, however.
Returning to Cambodia showed that Rain season was getting stronger. I aligned Lao Border towards East to Vietnam. In Banlung I turned South for Mondulkiri Nature Reserve and Sen Monorong where Nature Lodge was my goal for next 5 Days.
Returning by air to Osh we continued Truck-the-World during Autumn 2016 through Kyrgyzstan, Western, Northern and Southern China and Laos, 10.000 km in total for this leg with our MAN Unicat Truck.
After 500 km aligning Pamir Chain on classic Silk Road through Kyrgyzstan we entered China via Irkeshtam Border. Through Xingijang we followed Silk Road to Kashgar. We crossed Taklamakan Desert towards Turpan, aligned Lop Nor Desert completing Silk Road at Western end of Great Wall in Jiayuguan.
Then we drove South through Gobi Desert to Dunhuang and sipped a Cocktail on Yueya Quangs Silk Road Hotel’s roof terrace as recommended by HA Schult. We headed South for Tibet’s Lhasa and continued on Tea Road through Eastern Tibet for Tropic Yunnan and Mohan Border to Laos, a route of 8.500 km through China.
Another 800 km led to Vientiane, Laos, where we stored our truck at a friend’s place and returned home again for business.
Major issues on that leg are altitudes between 3.500 m and 6.000 m with mountain sickness including headache, loss of appetite, nausea, concentration loss, respiratory impairment and imbalance especcially for older people plus “smoky”power loss of Diesel based engines, heaters and stoves.
Driving your own Third-Country-Vehicle in a guided group through CHINA is compulsory and costly as explained. Nevertheless we decided for a small costly but flexible group of 2 vehicles and 4 people plus guide 24h/7d.
We met our travel mates at a guesthouse in Osh. After some repairs and shopping plus a Good Bye Dinner in Osh together with other Austrian traveller fellows we started and aligned Pamir on classic Silk Road droving to Irkeshtam Border.
Chinas Silk Road thru Xingjiang
We knew Mao Bible, Long March, Great Leap Forward, Great Wall, Silk Road and Cuture Revolution but we did not know China. Exciting country full of human, cultural and economic power, friendly people almost all over remembering of great Iran, amazing, just wonderful. A great experience and a major surprise among 90 countries visited so far. Go! Visit!
Nowhere in our lives, however, we were controlled, photographed and shot more often. Personal and speeding cameras all over on roads, in cities and buildings, even in temples and monasteries are a standard nuisance.
On the opposite, outdoor Camping was quite easy outside populated areas and secure, in cities hotel car parks or accomodation are first choice. Good hotels are quite comfortable and cheap but travelling China in your own vehicle is lavish and time consuming due to controls and bad roads especcially in Tibet. Anyway, we were extremely lucky to obtain 2 out of 20 permits per Year in total for Tibet and Xingjiang.
A guide picked us up at the border and took us through a number of police, customs, vehicle and post border controls until we reached Silk Road Oasis Kashgar on the edge of Taklamakan Desert half a day later.
Shang, our guide for the next 2 weeks received us in Kashgar, easy going, a wonderful person even speaking good German. Papers and SIM-Cards were done and vehicles checked TÜV-like. All that cost a full day and more – depending your professional agent and some bribe – yes.
We aligned Taklamakan North Road close to Mongolian Border and entered Gansu Province, more easy going than Xinjiang, less Police control and petrol stations without secuity gates and controls. We reached Western end of Great Wall in Jiayuguan, our final Silk Road leg. We did not follow Silk Road to its official starting point at Xi’An avoiding boring expressway driving for days.
Tibet people are easy going and friendly but crossing Tibet is time consuming and harmful at altitudes above 3500 m on bad roads. We were lucky with our guide Pema taking us through several police and military controls per day with great patience. Often, hotels were allocated by police, local police expects you at arrival. For 1.200 km to Lhasa we needed 4 days: Traffic jams and military convois all over.
After 39 days under control of 3 guides we were lucky to enter Laos Tropic Rain Forest, wonderful, great weather and: No guide but friendly people all over.
We stored our truck at a friends place and returned home for business again. We plan to continue Truck-the-World at the beginning of February 2017 for Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Returning by air to Teheran we continued on Silk Road for 5 weeks visiting Iran’s Yazd, Shiraz, Kerman, Dasht-E-Luth Desert and Mashhad. Transit through Türkmenistan to Uzkbehistan continuing to Chiva, Buchara, Samarkand and Tashkent. In Kazakhstan we visited famous Almaty, drove back to Bishkek and stored our truck in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, 7.000 km in total. Again we returned home for business by air.
Our truck was found safe and expected us in the morning dew close to Tehera Khomeini Airport.
Entering Türkmenistan was weird with strict regulations and police presence everywhere, clean cars, empty streets and a Disney Land Capital designed to impress, not for people.
Entering a country with friendly people and bad roads was relaxing though. Northern border post was closed causing a detour to Dashoguz.
Continuing to Kasakstan was awesome because Tashkent borders were closed for International Tourists. So we had to go back South and take Chinaz for Shymkent, an additional 300 km. Police almost everywhere and unfriendly with tourists who do not bribe.
Reaching the final destination of this trip we drove to Bishkek and took Tien Shan Highway in Snow to Fergana and Osh where the truck was stored.
We are planning to return late 2016 for crossing China, Taklamakan and Gobi Desert heading to India via Tibet and Nepal. We will sip a cocktail or two at said to be the oldest known fountain at Silk Road: Yueya Quan, Gobi Desert, see http://www.action-blue.de
Truck-the-World started in July 2015 with a 6 weeks trip to Iran via Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. Almost 10.000 km in total without any technical problem, a new experience. We returned home for business by air.
Austria Italy Greece Turkey
We were happy to enter Iran and to meet friendly people and officials.
THANKS A LOT TO A WONDERFUL COUNTRY AND BELOVED FRIENDS
The project is following famous 1907 Rallye Beijing Paris and German females like Clärenore Stinnes or Heid Hetzer and others around the world by truck. Starting from our home base Bonn the idea is to travel in five week legs twice a year, to store the truck where we are and to fly back home since we are working class people. And to fly back.
Our route will take about five years and more than 100.000 km in total. It requires elaborate logistics for truck storage and maintenance as well as for visa, airports, ferries and cargo ships plus vehicle import export all over this world. We are optimistic and communicative people knowing a lot of folks world wide.
A group of 10 befriended globe trotters in 5 vehicles visited Lac Er Reched, said Lost Lake, in the middle of Tunesian Sahara south of Douz and Ksar Ghilane.
Starting down to Douz into that Sahara triangle between Algeria and Libya, actually restricted area. It covers parts of the eastern tail of famous Grand Erg Oriental in Algeria vanishing in Barchan type of dunes.
One year later, another faulty design and fatigue frame breakage was detected. For more information about configuration of our MAN UNICAT truck plus repairs please see:
We visited Ukraine on tracks of my father fighting here during WWII for what reason so ever. Front line has been Dnipro River between Kherson and Kiev. The tour through Austria, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Transnistria, Ukraine and Poland met Esterhazy, Sibiu, Cisnau, Odessa, Nikolaev, Sevastopol, Yalta, Dnipropetrovsk, Kiev, Wroclav and took five weeks and more than 7000 km.
Visiting Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungaria, Ukraine and Poland we thought to travel to Eastern Europe. As we learned the geographical center of Europe is found in Ukraine and European music, poetry, science and Art Nouveau were at home all over here.