On the 20th January 2020, we completed the first leg of our trip: driving from the UK to Singapore. To celebrate, we thought we would publish a slightly different blog post, reflecting back over 306 days on the road.
As well as a goal to drive from the UK to Singapore, the goal for our whole trip is to drive from Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Tyne Bridge to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So our trip first began on the 3rd March 2019 with a brief tour of the UK, driving from Chris’ family home in Suffolk up to Newcastle and then back down the country stopping off to visit friends and family on the way.
It was our intention for this leaving date to be “it”, however unfortunately, Natalie was not quite ready to leave at the same time as we were. Just before leaving, Chris had sent her to the garage to get some suspension components replaced, but he wasn’t quite happy with the finished result, so Natalie had to go back in to have it done again. As a result, we embarked on a Mini Adventure up to Newcastle in Charlie’s car instead.
The last minute preparations took us longer than expected (plus it was hard to leave the glorious home comforts at Chris’ parents house), so we had the second beginning of the trip on the 20th March 2019, leaving the UK and catching an overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre, France.
Countries visited: 20
France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore.
Borders Crossed: 24
We entered Kazakhstan three times; the second time to renew our Uzbekistan visa, and the third time because it was logistically easier to enter Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan than Uzbekistan. We also went back into India after Nepal in order to get to Myanmar.
Total time spent crossing borders: 56 hours and 20 minutes!
Miles driven: 18,493
Average distance: 60 miles per day.
Top five distances driven in one day:
- Day 3: 359 miles from Beaulieu-sur-Loire to Montpelier in France.
- Day 263: 296 miles from Tak to Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
- Day 292: 279 miles from Krabi Town to Koh Lanta, Thailand.
- Day 158: 276 miles from Khanpur Dam to Lahore, Pakistan.
- Day 246: 247 miles from Kale to Bagan, Myanmar.
Longest time in the car: Day 249, 9 and a half hours, driving (without any traffic or stopping for more than a few minutes) just 201 miles from Namsang to Kengtung in Myanmar.
We haven’t documented how many hours we have actually been driving for – lets just say it’s a lot!
Number of breakdowns: 0
Of course, this depends how you define “breakdown”, but at no point has Natalie been undriveable due to some kind of mechanical failure.
The closest we have come to a breakdown is on day 14 when we fairly urgently had to replace a universal joint. Luckily, we discovered this when we were about a mile away from a car parts shop. Not so luckily, the only universal joints they had in stock were Ford parts (luckily the same overall dimensions, but unluckily not quite the same strength). Eight months later, the same problem arose, so on day 298 Chris replaced it again, this time with one designed for Land Rovers which we hope will last longer.
We have had a few other minor issues with the car, but Chris has been able to diagnose and solve them before they have reached what we would consider a breakdown.
We are by no means taking this for granted, and are very aware that we have every chance of breaking down many times throughout the rest of the trip. But, for those who say that Land Rover’s are too unreliable to drive half way across the world, we have proved you wrong.
Number of crashes: Too many to count
After the first couple of crashes we started keeping a record. That lasted until crash number 7 and then we lost count. Thankfully, the only damage caused by collisions with other vehicles has been to the paintwork and wheel alignment.
Number of crashes outside of Pakistan, India and Nepal: 0
Charlie: Slovenia, Northern Pakistan, Chernobyl, Thailand.
Chris: France, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Singapore.
Nights under canvas: 116 (out of 306)
We camped a lot less than we expected to – not out of choice. Our best nights sleep were almost always in the tent with our soft mattress and own duvet/pillows. Camping was difficult in/around cities, forbidden in China and Myanmar, and next to impossible in India (except the North-East). It was also too hot/humid for camping in Uzbekistan and Malaysia.
Money spent: Less than we expected!
Since leaving the UK we have listed every single penny we have spent. For the entire trip we have budgeted £32 per day for daily costs, with a separate budget for car parts, visas, compulsory guided tours (e.g. China & Myanmar), and shipping costs.
At the end of leg one, we are within budget, and have spent an average of £29.56 per day, including an average of £12.30 per day on fuel.
Average mileage and spending in each country:
We have driven to Singapore but our journey is not over yet! Our aim is still to drive from bridge to bridge, so we still have a little way to go.
As the container ship carrying Natalie sails from Bangkok to Melbourne, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc across the world. Since arriving into Singapore, the details of our plans for the next part of our trip have changed countless times. For now, we are sitting tight in the beautiful city of Hobart, Tasmania, and playing a bit of a waiting game until it is once again safe to continue with the next part of our adventure.