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After the trip of a lifetime driving to destinations most people can only read about, such as the untouched rugged coastline of Newfoundland (setting of The Shipping News), the ancient trading route known as the Silk Road and the surreal landscapes of remote Middle East, this treasured 1991 Toyota Landcruiser has successfully returned to Australia with the help of Martin and the team at Clarke Global Logistics.
As part of the PMF team, Alan and Lynn Taylor completed the 18 month World Motor Challenge in September this year after visiting 34 countries, spanning Asia, South-East Asia, the Middle East, Europe, the Balkans and Canada. They travelled 70,000 km, used 10,000 litres of diesel fuel and after all that, are still happily married! Also travelling were long-time friends and fellow motoring enthusiasts, Barry and Donna Armstrong in a 2007 Ford Ranger. They were supported by an amazing group of friends and associates who assisted them along the way with documentation, research, blogging and transport.
Among the highlights (pictured) were the spinning dolphins of Autoro Island in East Timor, a 17 hour overnight wooden cargo boat journey in Indonesia captained by “Jack Sparrow’s brother”, trekking and crawling sheer cliffs of the majestic Hushuan Mountains in China, the vastness and isolation of Mongolia and an “Indiana Jones” like experience in the magnificent subterranean caves of Slovenia.
Travellers to remote locations in the world can often experience difficulties at border controls and with language barriers. To prepare, Alan had arranged a Carnet de Passage, a type of internationally recognised passport to enable smooth and swift passage of the Landcruiser across borders. However, at a Chinese border control, the authorities did not recognise the Carnet. After a heated exchange with police, military and border control officers, Alan left the car in a position that blocked the truck/trade entry into China from Laos for around 20 minutes, eventually getting the right papers signed, perhaps just to ease the congestion that was building up.
Also travelling in Mongolia to visit a sacred mountain, the team took a wrong turn which led them to a border post where a patrol officer lay down with rifle aimed, ready to shoot, until after a rigorous interrogation, it was proven that they were 4 lost “Aussies”. Things improved and they became friends with the commandant after that.
For the most part, the team kept away from tourist hotspots like the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed meeting locals, such as villagers in Mongolia that were amazed at their undertaking such a journey for 60 years olds!
The team didn’t realise that Russian was spoken in 6 or 7 of the Central Asian countries, otherwise they would have studied some of that language. “So, we just used sign language. It worked very well, we could eat, fix the cars, buy fuel and laugh and joke with anybody” Alan says.
I asked Alan if they experienced any bandits or felt threatened. He said that bandits were not a problem but there were a few ‘odd’ locals. They did come across a bunch of young Indonesians, in Sumatra, that threatened them by gesturing that they would shoot Alan between the eyes, but the team swiftly left the area, driving an extra 50 kilometres before looking for a camp. Another time in Mongolia, Gobi Desert, they were intercepted by two guys on a motorbike who intimidated Donna, looking for cash or cigarettes. The two 4-wheel drives managed to out-manoeuvre the bike when it tried to stop them by ramming it off the out-of-town gravel road. They then drove a further 50 kilometres in the desert before looking for a camp.
This amazing 4-wheel drive journey, often on unsealed roads, was not without mechanical issues however an extended team of supporters was prepared to help with things like that. Alan’s cousin, Jim Black, a retired scientist, would send questions to an automotive workshop to determine what sort of parts or work was required.
The Ford Ranger did experience more problems than the Landcruiser as Alan claims “Barry drove it harder.” There is an interesting photo of the Ranger being welded up just metres from a group of Mongolian women, slaughtering a bullock. Without the same 4-wheel drive capability as the Landcruiser, the Ranger became bogged at six different locations, having to be towed out by the Landcruiser, however both vehicles ended up bogged in NW Mongolia which is said to be one of the most desolate places on earth.
After hitting a pile of gravel in China, the Ranger broke a torsion bar which was able to be fixed with a bracket from a tiny parts shop, 3,000 km away in a town called Barram Urt in Mongolia. The bracket cost $4 plus 3 bottles of Vodka, a staple trading material in Mongolia, Russia and other Central Asian countries!
All up, they had 10 punctures and Barry went through 10 tyres. Across the top of Mongolia and some parts of Kazakhstan, roads were very poor and slow. The team were only able to cover 100 kilometres per day in 6 or more hours.
Imagine changing a flat tyre at 50 degrees Celsius plus!! Well the team experienced that in the Sahara Desert of Morocco where they saw no one in 11 hours driving and after covering 200 kilometres. At the other temperature extreme, they camped in their roof top campers in minus 7.5 degrees Celsius while in Istanbul, Turkey, just before flying home to Australia at Christmas time in 2015 to warm up for 4 months, before hitting the road again.
Alan kept in contact with Martin over the course of the journey and once a port of departure was eventually decided on, Martin was able to assist with the logistics necessary for returning the Landcruiser from Vancouver, Canada to Fremantle in Australia.
Alan Clarke’s Review of Clarke Global Logistics
“Initially the plan was to ship the car back from Los Angeles to Fremantle. We contacted three shipping organisations, Clarke Global being one of them. I asked for a quote to move the car with every contingency included so that I could help if/where required, but without the need to learn any “shipping” dialogue. Martin Moyano sent an itemised budget which covered everything he could think of. One of the tenderers didn’t get back to me and the third gave me a price about a third of Martin’s, but on further examination, couldn’t satisfy me that they had everything covered – a lot of promises, but not much substance. So, I stuck with Martin but told him we were months away from shipping. He said “that’s fine, get back to me and we can confirm”. Anyway, after six months of travelling, the USA entry requirements made it difficult for us to travel through as we had been to Iran in 2013. We would have had to wait in Rabat, capital of Morocco, for five weeks for a face to face interview with one of their consular staff, to see if we were an acceptable risk to enter the country. Five weeks being too long, we applied for and eventually drove across Canada. I contacted Martin by email from Morocco about a change of departure point, he said “no problem”. He gave us an address in Vancouver and we rendezvoused there. I might add the depot/agent used by Clarke Global at Vancouver treated us with terrific respect, no co-incidence to me that we were a client of Clarke Global. The Landcruiser arrived in Fremantle unscathed. Australian Customs charged approximately $325 to give it a steam clean (which was in Martin’s quote as a Provisional Item), everything else was covered in the quote!
By comparison, our travel mates Barry and Donna, using a different shipper, paid the similar amount to what we paid to go from Germany to Port Kembla, THEN it cost him $3,000 to get the car (the old Ranger) off the dock. To say my wife Lynn and I are happy with Clarke Global’s service is an understatement.”
To read more about this motoring adventure and to see all the photos, follow the link to the PMF’s team website: www.pmfmotorchallenge.com.au
To find out how we can help you on your next adventure, contact the team at Clarke Global Logistics on 9854 3000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Established in 1917, Clarke Global Logistics is a reputable Australian Customs Broker and Freight Forwarder; offering a totally integrated trade service both locally and globally.