In the light of past experience and current worldwide political, economical and desease developments we considered the following options of continuing Truck-the-World:
Driving back through Thailand, Laos and China overlanding home through Mongolia, Russia and Eastern Europe. Not attractive to travel Thailand, Cambodia, Laos or China again.
Driving back through Thailand and transit Myanmar to India with shipping and overlanding options to Europe or Africa. Not desirable, see above.
Shipping to Corea. But like China, USA and Japan South Korea did not ratify the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic including acknowledgment of national vehicle registration, effective 1977. But they had signed Geneva Convention in 1949 which was never signed by Germany for historical reasons… Other than China or USA South Korea makes null exception for German plated vehicles, not even for temporal import. Talks to South Corean Ambassador in Bonn had no effect. So Korea was out of truck-the-world.
Same with Japan. Jap autorities seemed more flexible at first accepting authentification of German Carnet de Passage by Japan Automobile Federation. But inspection and registration of German plated vehicles was required for temporary import. Those regulations address new car import and sale and their fulfillment costs at least 5000 US$. We did not expect our 25 year old truck meeting current Japanese emission or noise standards, eg. So Japan was out of truck-the-world, too.
Shipping outbound Kuala to Vladivostok, Russia and continuing West as above.
Shipping outbound Kuala to Australia’s Darwin or Fairbanks. This is extremely costly and laborious because of Australia’s compulsory vehicle disinfection process. Their motto: Stop disease at the gate... We have past experience with camper fruit fly inspections driving across Aussie states and were not interested to repeat that experience.
Overland wonderful Malaysia and Singapore and shipping outbound Kuala or Singapore with lots of options to Europe, South Africa, North or South America.
We voted for option 7, overlanding Malaysia and Singapore, since we had been hindered to do that earlier due to technical truck problems. We overlanded for 4 weeks and 1.800 km and left the truck in Malaysia for the next leg, i.e., shipping outbound
Malaysia and Singapore provide every comfort you need at times, many people are familiar with English, service and technical standard of hotels or workshops are high.. So at the beginning of February 2020 we flew back to Kuala, inspected, tested and checked our truck, did final services and tests and and start our Malay Singapore Tour.
After start, however, Corona virus became virulent especcially in Singapore, not a problem in Malaysia at all. As a consequence we declined Singapore from our travel options.
In Kuala Lumpur we checked into Subang Jaya Empire Hotel providing high standards for a 5-day-stay, KL centre was easy to reach by train and Grab as well as our truck workshop in Shah Alam. We spent half days at that workshop and leisuring in KL.
We served an IJAB/Ministry of Foreign Affairs contract at the ACT to CHNAGE conference on International Youth Work during November/December 2019. Aside from reporting conference documentation and results and results interviews on 3 different youth projects were conducted on location in Casablanca, Essaouira and Tiznit.
We are desert lovers and decided to add a visit to Fort Bou Jerif in Southern Morocco , the Prtr to Sahara, again. This is an overlander relay/campement founded by our friend Guy Dreumont in the early years of Dakar.
Guy had been the first medical doctor in Chief of the very first Raris to Dakar Rallye in 1978/79 on Peugeot 504 Break and decided to move to Southern Morocco where he still dwells in Agadir. Time for a visit.
So we rented a car and started working in Casablanca at the conference ACT to CHANGE with 100 people from Egypt, Germany, Morocco and Tunesia.
After lots of problems with the truck and repairs, holdup robbery, hospitals and health a light at the horizon had occurred in the persons of David Goodchild and his friend Glenn Clements. They convinced Thai authorities to accept our truck into Thailand and transferred it to and stored it at Plodd Stop in Pattaya.
Our humble thanks go to Dave, Glenn and their families for their selfless help and care without even asking for any earnings. We also learned that overlanding provides positive and healing experience as well.
In December 2018 we decided to continue trucking the world for 2 months and flew back to Pattaya. We drove around 4.500 km through Thailand and Malaysia. We parked the truck in Kuala Lumpur in January 2019.
Dave picked us up at Bangkok Airport and we stayed in his guest house for truck check and final repairs, car wash and haircut. Meanwhile we spent time with Dave and his friends, all of them engaged pool players.
We left Dave and Leslie for a visit of Northern Thailand and were invited to come back to Pattaya for Christmas celebrations. Surrounding Bangkok we headed North to Sukhothai Thani and Chiang Mai.
Finally we entered Malyasia without Problem, our Passports got staped and Carnet de Passage was accepted and stamped by Thai and Malay auhthorities.
Georgetown is an Old Colonial City Built by Brish and Dutch Colonialists. It comes lively and with a lot of history and those buildings, motly renovated, definitely worth visiting. Today Chinese and Hindu people are running the city and its business…
On the Way to MAN Rawang, however, the Truck Ran Downhill without Braking. So I Jumped off at a Speed of about 25 km/h and Broke my Right Foot. Diagnosis at Gunung Hospital Said Nothing Broken, I asked for X-ray but the doctor did not make it.
Since the Foot Ballooned and Hurt very much I communicated with Dave and he advised to Return to Pattaya for Medical Care and treatment. I agreed, left the trck with MAN and took a flight to Bangkok where Dave picked me up at the Airport.
To be continued… See next Post on Truck-the-World Leg 8
Overlanding is kind of luxuriating high end migration and addicted to political, economic, security, safety or climate dynamics as well. After conquering such problems transiting Aserbaidjan, Iran, Stan-States and China in 2015 and 2016 we did not expect any problem driving through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore or shipping the truck inbound Japan via South Corea.
In 2016, however, Thailand DLT surprised overlanders like us establishing new regulations closing transit for overlanding third-country-trucks like ours effective 1.1.2017. Consequently we changed plans intending to ship outbound Cambodia’s Port Sihanoukville to any place in this world. We found out, however, that Sihanoukville offers RoRo extremely rarely. Since our big truck does not fit into any container it needs 40′ Flat Racks then. Their availability was quite scarce so that we skipped the plan shipping outbound Cambodia. Same outbound Saigon/HCMC currently not even offering any RoRo anymore.
Like nomads we do not stick to plans. Being unable to forsee climate, economic or political changes we adapt decently and continuously, no matter what we like or dislike. Consequently we decided to try entering Thailand against rules and regulations and willing to see how far we might get.
We returned back to Phnom Penh by air and supervised ongoing truck repairs and maintenance at ENVOTECH. Inspection showed that new Michelin Tires had been fitted and minor jobs been done.
But batteries had not been charged and the engine had not been started for more than a year. Diesel pipes and filters had to be cleaned and new batteries to be installed. The AirCon had to be repaired.
All these jobs were done badly and took much more time than expected. Even more consequences: 14V alternator, electric Diesel fuel pumps and radio were not working any more and we found ourselves on unwanted holidays in Phnom Penh during rain season.
Holidays ended, however, when Anneli was bag snatched and robbed at 10 pm in front of our Asia Tune Hotel entrance after birthday dinner. She was teared along the street and severely injured, clavicula fracture, but nobody cared, no hotel, no police, no ambulance, and snatchers were not traced.
Two friendly Trattoria Del’Arte waitresses, however, recognized us as customers and took us by TukTuk to Naga Clinic for First Aid. The good news was that the stolen bag contained just one credit card, keys, some dollars and iPhone but no passports nor anything of importance. Thanks to recommended ALLIANZ insurance each item was replaced.
We turned to luxury Royal Bangkok Hospital for X-Ray, doctor’s advice and medication. It took another 4 days to convince hotel management to raise official complaint at the police and to produce an accident report. It turned out that 3 serious bag snatchings had been video recorded in front of the hotel per night on the average.
After 6 days Anneli’s condition was stable enough to fly home for operation and treament in Germany. German ADAC organized and booked our trip with the aid of German doctors giving us a lot of support, thanks.
We were quite unhappy with ENVOTECH performance but another good news was that British friends, Dave Goodchild and Glenn Clements, offered to take our truck away from Phnom Penh and ENVOTECH and to drive it into Thailand. We were quite lucky to agree and David and John were successful in spite of hindrances by laws, Thai DLT, police and customs, thanks and congratulations, cheers!
Consequently we pronouce a WARNING: Never ever use ENVOTECH services or even store your car or truck there. Former owner Finn is a friendly European without influence on ENVOTECH since his stepson Vuthy Uy has taken over promising and signing any contract and excusing any fault without any responsibility, manners or sympathy. Plus 3.30 USD per day without valuable trade-off but destroyed batteries, clamped Diesel pipes, electric shortcuts and more.
The Americas including North, South and Central America are on our truck-the-world list. Senior Expert Service SES is a nonprofit foundation of the German Economy for International Cooperation and cooperates with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. CAFA is one of the biggest Mexican construction companies building Panama channel in those days and located in Auguascalientes, centre of Mexican Automotive industry.
Ten years ago CAFA built Aguascalientes Ovalo, a race track for US American NASCAR series.
Since the track was abandoned because of security concerns, CAFA recently designed a project converting the track into a professional vehicle proving and testing ground for Mexican automotive industry. Mexican Ministry for Technology and Development supported the project and asked SES for testing and evaluation expertise.
During work at CAFA headquarters in Aguascalientes I went traveling to several Colonial cities North of Mexico City. After finalizing the consulting contract we drove around Yucatan peninsula by car. 8.000 km were covered overlanding Mexico.
As a start of 3 weeks consulting several overviews over ISO vehicle handling test standards, procedures and testing technology were presented. CAFA personnel was educated and trained on vehicle dynamics and real time data measurement, sensor technology and data analysis. Training on the job including the organization and realization of testing execution and evaluation of results was given including safety and security aspects.
In several meetings test standard requirements in terms of surface, slope, track length and curve radii were analysed, compared and selected from hundreds of tests.
Test rides according to selected ISO test standards were executed in order to make sure that required testing speeds, 100 km/h, e.g., were attained by standard vehicles and that braking distances were safe. Furthermore, safety zones were evaluated.
Suitable ISO test standards were selected and documented and time and business plans including concept, personnel and finance for what CAFA called „Vehicle Test and Design Centre“ were developed.
…is a historic Spanish Colonial city with 700.000 inhabitants at an altitude of 1.800 m. Restored Colonial buildings are located around central Plaza Patria. Adjoining is a nice but small historic center with a limited number of pubs.
ZACATECAS and GUADALUPE
These are famous Colonial cities 600 km North of Auguascalientes at an Altitude around 2.000 m.
… is another rich and beautiful Colonial city North of Mexico City and full of life, sightseeings and tourists, and worth to visit.
SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE
…is another Colonial City next to Guanajuato and quite touristic, too, but smaller, UNESCO World Heritage and worth to visit.
After completion of CAFA consulting our trip around Yucatan Peninsula started in Merida, political and economical centre of Yucatan with historic Colonial centre around PLaza Grande. We did a 3-week-tour counter-clockwise around the peninsula by car and stayed in many hotels close to the sea.
..yes, correct, that is where Sisal comes from, made from Agave fiber for clothing, hats, carpets, ropes…
Uxmal is an ancient Maya city of the classical period in today’s Mexico around 9th century, UNESCO World Heritage. It is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of Maya culture, along with Palenque, Chichén, and Calakmul in Mexico.
…was next stop at Yucatan West Coast, another attractive Colonial city with a lot of tourists and a big Plaza, quite nice.
CIUDAD DEL CARMEN
The route from Campeche to Vilahermosa in Tabasco state touches boring Ciudad del Carmen but follows the Caribbean beach most of the time. Thanks to many bridges it crosses several islands off shore and passes lagunes for almost 400 km.
…is the Capital of Tabasco state and quite industrial but comes with one of the most important archaeological sites in Mexico.
…a former Maya state blooming in 7th century AC in today’s Chiapa state close to Guatemala is a must-see archaeological site and most beautiful in the middle of the jungle, UNESCO World Heritage.
PUERTO AVENTURAS & TULUM
On our route back North we aligned Belize border and joined West Coast. Puerto Aventuras is a retort city for the Elderly, you should have money and own a boat. This was our base for a visit of Tulum site.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN
On our way to Chichen Itza we stayed in lively and Mallorca-like Playa del Carmen – not quite worth it although tourists here do not own boats nor houses and are much younger.
…was one of the largest Maya cities between 8th and 12th centuries, UNESCO Wold Heritage today and is one of the most important archeological monuments in Mexico today.
…was passed on our way back to Merida airport, a Maya as well as Colonial city, founded between 7th and 2nd century BC and abandoned with the rise of Chichen Itza around 10th century AD.
We returned back to Merida for a final Good Bye to Mexico and Yucatan and flew home…
Truck-the-world’s expedition truck was not allowed to enter Thailand due to Thai DLT regulations effective 1.1.2017. Since Thailand is transit country for Malaysia and Myanmar we skipped this leg for now.
Instead, we took a break from trucking but backpacked 11 of Indonesias islands during late 2017/early 2018 including Bali, Lombok, Sulawesi and Java by air and visited Flores, Rinca, Komodo, Siaba Besar, Sumbava, Padar and Medang by boat.
Indonesia is one of the most beautiful and friendly of about 100 countries we have visited so far, an insular state with 17.508 islands, 6.044 of them inhabited. Beautiful nature, wonderful seas, magnificient beaches, wildlife and fruit all over. People are poor in terms of money but rich in terms of life, full of energy and exremely friendly, laughing and easy going almost most of the time. Maybe integration of Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jewish cultures may provide benefits like tolerance, freedom, understanding, happiness?
Major drawbacks, however, exist with terrible pollution across land and sea with plastics all over and even the beaches if not cleaned by individuals. Terrorism is reported anywhere almost every week, not to mention corruption.
Eathquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanos
Volcanic and seismic activities are reported daily for many places in this centre of the Pacific Ring of Fire with movement and collisions of lithospheric plates.
Bali’s Mount Agung was always active during our travel time but never caused major problems up to date. A safety zone around the crater was established and residents had to leave it. They lived in camps around Mount Agung being supported by National and International Humanitarian agencies. Bali and Lombok airports were closed because of smoke several times but reopenened again soon with the consequence that only a few tourists were arriving.
A few months after we had left Indonesia, Lombok was hit by a severe earthquake and Mount Rinjani eruption killling 500 people and destryoing major infrastructure. Almost all hotels and restaurants were and still are closed, a major impact for people earning their living with tourism.
Same happened to Sulawesi after we had left, earthquake and Tsunami killed more than 1.500 people and destroyed most of the infrastructure in Central Sulawesi. In Northern Sulawesi Mount Soputan close to Tomohon erupted.
Indonesians are used to live with it but if you are a Westerner and get scared easily…
We took Garuda Frankfort-Amsterdam-Jakarta-Lombok with a boring stopover in Jakarta and spent a week in wonderful Puri Mas resort close to Senggigi at Lombok West coast. We watched active Bali’s Mount Agung being 2 of 7 guests, 50 would be standard during high season.
We took an express ferry to Bali’s East Coast and spent another week in several locations at Bali North, East and South coast. We met extremely friendly people, easy going, helpful and always ready for ceremony.
…was recommended to us by friends. We flew to Manado in Christian Northern Sulawesi and spent Christmas at Gran Luley**** hotel by the sea. Pool was due because swimming in the open sea was never recommended.
Next stop was Java’s Yogyakarta by air for its Pubs and Buddha- and Hindutemples.
On our way to Flores island we had another stopover in Bali.
SHIPPING FLORES, RINCA, KOMODO, SIABA BESAR,SUMBAVA, PADAR and MEDANG
We took a flight to wonderful Flores Island just North of Australia, quite lonely, natural and Christian. In Flores we booked a 5-day-trip back to Lombok by ship together with other European Tourists with full pension and accomodation onboard the ship together with a nice captain and crew.
We arrived at Lombok Port by microbus and chose Puri Mas Hotel again for our Good Bye to Indonesia.
Shortly after leaving Indonesia several earthquakes and Tsunamis occurred in Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok. As a consequence Lombok tourism went down and Puri Mas Resort was closed like almost all Tourist hotels and restaurants.
Except security all personnell was sent off into unpaid holidays waiting for reopenings and jobs since…
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 Austrian/Swisstravel mates at a guesthouse in Osh. After some repairs and shopping plus a Good Bye Dinner in Osh together we started aligning Pamir on classic Silk Road driving 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