The 2013 Acknowledgement Post
It’s long overdue. Some people would have forgotten, but we haven’t. Many, many people contributed to our trip in a plethora of ways before, during and after. It’s taken a lot of drafts and few months to get it right, but hopefully this published version is it… Complete, in its entirety.
The seed for this post was planted three nights after leaving the UK. Already we had experienced overwhelming hospitality from Kurt and Mel in Bremen, and it was while staying in Copenhagen with Sara, Kim, Peter and Mela that we realised that the heart of our journey would be the people we met along the way.
So here you go, the list, in order of appearance and a huge thanks from both of us.
- To everyone that made it to our Leaving Do in Bristol before we left the UK, you came from far and wide! We were blown away by how many of you from outside of Bristol and the South West made it. It was a fantastic night enjoyed by all, and we thank you. Too many people to list, but you know who you are.
- James, Gemma, Simon, JB – thanks for coming out to meet us on the road to Dover. What a surprise, a fitting Defender fly-by!
- Si, Jem and Seth – thanks for meeting us on the road to Dover, great last Starbucks!
- Kurt & Mel in Bremen, Germany – For putting up a pair of strangers on their first night out of the UK. It was a great night and we really enjoyed it. Kurt, your pancakes were AWESOME! Keep in touch.
- Sara, Kim, Peter and Mela – A few days with you in Copenhagen, Denmark really got us into the swing of things. Great to finally meet Peter and we enjoyed taking Mela for a walk, or was it the other way around! Thanks for the stay, and the great Italian food! Copenhagen was awesome. Miss you guys!
- The gentleman near Lom in Norway who, on a closed campsite, not only let us stay but let us take the replica viking hut in the forest for free. Thanks.
- Jason Stevenson – thank you for inviting us and organising the ‘Nordkapp Run’. We wouldn’t have done the Scandinavian section of our trip if it wasn’t for you. Thank you for the route planning, the cabin bookings, the rat packs, being on hand in the frozen north and being a good friend. You are welcome at ours (wherever we are) at anytime.
- Arto Holappo in Finland for offering us a place to stay; we didn’t make it down that far which is a shame. Thanks for following Arto!
- Thanks to Gransfors Brux (GBA) for the tour of the axe factory and the time you took to make us feel welcome.
- Waz & Vicks, the Aussies in Slovenia. Thanks for the seafood feast and the warmth of the motorhome. We will visit you guys in WA soon!
- Durran – The Bosnian shepherd near Lukomir who invited us in during our snowy drive to Lukomir. Speaking Russian, we managed some basic conversation through the afternoon and it was a pleasure to share his company. We were the first vehicle he had seen in almost six months!
- Dancing Bear Santuary, Bulgaria – Thanks to the guides there who invited us to stay in the house with them the night we visited. We planned to wild camp in the sub zero temperatures and visit the next morning but they let us have a room for the night AND help feed the bears in the morning. Thank you.
- Matt at Sakar Hills Camping, Bulgaria. Out of season, he let us stay for free and downloaded a load of movies and programs for us on our onward journey. Thanks Matt!
- Thanks to Hans-Jochen, Marina and Ron Stark who we met in Istanbul. Hans and his wife were a wealth of information and great company, we met up again in Ankara for more socialising and drinking!
- Pete and Alice McNeil www.mcneilsonwheels.com for your help with our Uzbek visa application and great company in Ankara, and again in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
- Thanks to Guliz in Ankara for taking us around the University campus and out for food. Thanks Guliz!
- Thanks to the kebab shop owner who let us wild camp under the carport next to his shop (and pointing out I had ordered sheep brain stew).
- To the guys at a small harbour on the Black Sea coast who let us camp up in their port between boats, we were very grateful for the prime spot!
- To Demyri and his father in Georgia on the Black Sea coast who let us camp in their garden when we couldn’t find the ‘campsite’ shown on the internet. They had next to nothing and shared everything with us, including all their chacha! They were displaced from Abkhazia and fled with nothing other than what fitted in their car. We learned a lot of Russian that night with them.
- Thomas at Hotel Imiri in Kutaisi for letting us camp up next to his hotel and overall being a top bloke. He worked as an engineer for BP ‘oop north’ in the UK for some years. He was surprised to see us!
- Huge thanks to Ali and the guys at the Nest Hostel in Tbilisi for showing us around and being great company for the week we stayed. We didn’t want to leave! Stay in touch Ali!
- Thanks to Masha and Svetlana at the Audi Dealership in Mineralnye Vody. We got busted by the cops on our first day for not having insurance (we hadn’t found anywhere to buy it yet) so stopped by for some help. The other dealerships didn’t know what to do with us and didn’t speak any English. Masha came to our aid, driving us to an insurance place in town and organising everything. She treated us to lunch, then Svetlana phoned around dealerships trying to get us a viscous fan for our Land Rover! Top work ladies, thanks.
- Huge thanks to our friend ‘Slava’ in Elista, Russia. When we asked if we could camp outside his hotel he declined, but got in his car and told us to follow. He took us to a secure carpark and said we could stay for free and it was 24 hour secure. But he didn’t stop there. In the evening he came back, bundled us in his car and took us out for a traditional Mongolian meal. (Elista was founded when Genghis Khan and the Great Horde swept west. It is made up of ethnic Mongolians and Chinese and they are very very proud of their city.) After that we got a full tour of the city, it’s sights and monuments, before returning to his hotel/restaurant for more food and dessert then dropping us back to the tent. What a legend!
- The following night in Elista, at our car park campspot, we were greeted by the Dyakova family. We were invited to food and drink at their house and then encouraged to stay. Their daughter Inna had recently returned from University in the UK and translated the myriad of questions their family had well into the small hours (well done Inna!). A great night at their home in Elista.
- Thanks to the guys with the water tanker in Kazakstan who let us fill up the tank and jerry can so we could have a shower in the desert that night.
- Big thanks go the Uzbeks on the Kazakh/Uzbek border who spoke to the guards and got us rushed through the border (by rushed I mean 9 hours). They had been there for three days in some pretty unsanitary conditions as it was. We shared food and drink and many hours conversation in the baking dirt that day.
- Ali from Hotel Aist in Bukhara for calling his doctor friends who gave me an injection and sorted out my heat stroke pretty quick and for next to nothing. That was a bit of a life saver, literally!
- Big thanks to Said and Zubaida at the Pamir Lodge in Khorog, Tajikistan. Not only for looking after the trailer and half of our possessions while we ventured into Afghanistan, but providing great food and a comfortable, safe place to stay while in Khorog.
- Big thanks to Azim who was our guide in Afghanistan. Due to unfortunate events that threw us together we probably did not come across as very friendly at the time, but Azim did an excellent job sorting out paperwork for us and translating into Farsi. If you need a guide in the Wakhan Corridor get in touch for his details.
- Thanks to Aydar for inviting us into his Pamiri home in the Wakhan Corridor and taking us to his Grandad’s reconstructed home which is now a Museum.
- Big thanks to the retired Russian living in Langar, Tajikistan. He did a top job of welding up the awning for us considering where we were!
- Thanks to the friendly farmer in southern Kyrgyzstan who let us stay the night in his field.
- Thanks to the couple who invited us into their home and fed us after spotting us wild camping.
- Big thanks to everyone at Nomads Home in Bishkek where we stayed for ten nights. They made us feel so welcome, we didn’t want to leave!
- A warm thank you to the Kazakh family at Kolsai Lakes who invites us into their holiday home out of the rain and let us help them drink their vodka and cognac along with eating an entire, freshly butchered lamb!
- Thanks to Ivan and Katia for teaming up for the unchartered Gobi Desert crossing, providing vodka, French hospitality and allowing lie-in’s till midday. A trip highlight.
- Thanks to the family in Mongolia who invited us into their Ger and gave us local ‘delicacies’.
- Thanks to Misha at Lake Baikal for giving us all the Omul (endemic Baikal Fish) we could carry.
- Thanks to the guys in the computer shop in Irkutsk for helping us get our signed Carnet documents sent back to the UK (much more helpful than the RAC themselves).
- Big thanks to Misha and Andrea the truckers at Ust-Kut for helping us get on the freight barge up the Lena River. The ticket guy was an arse-hole and they really helped us get onto the next boat.
- Massive thanks to Andre, Alexey and Illya in Mirny for everything they did there. Helping us fix the window, taking me out for my birthday and showing us the sights along with massive Cognac sessions and letting us sleep in Andre’s house!
- Warm thanks to the exploratory geologists we met at the end of the Old Summer Road on the way to Magadan. Food, tea and, most importantly, a hot banya (after 8 days without a shower!). Great company.
- Huge thanks to our Auto Electrician in Aldan for sorting out our electrical short that was knocking out our indicators and gauges as well as letting me swap out brake pads on the 90 and trailer in his warm insulated garage. You should have seen him trying to read a Haynes manual!
- Thanks to Radik who let us stay in his room above his roadside cafe near Solovyevsk when we enquired about camping in the car park.
- Big thanks to Yuri (Links Ltd) for sorting out our shipping and Russian customs in such a cool and collective way.
- A massive thank you to the Radishevsky family in Vladivostok who looked after us for two whole weeks. Thank you Vasily for the offer of a place to stay even though you were away! Vera did a sterling job of playing host (daily afternoon tea was amazing!!!); we really enjoyed her company and the chance to further improve our Russian. Tanya & Dimar took us out on many occasions to show us around, which was a great way to wind down in the evening after spending ten hours a day cleaning the truck and trailer for ten days solid! We couldn’t have done it without you guys.
- Thanks to Khardine and Oli for putting us up (putting up with us?!) in Hong Kong while we found our feet and our way back into western life (and a warmer climate!). Thanks for being great friends.
- Thanks to my great uncle Ieuan and Pat for looking after us for three weeks in Melbourne while we sorted out the truck, trailer and our lives in Australia. Those three weeks were extremely relaxing and we are both very grateful for the hospitality.
- Thanks to Paula & Cal to for letting us stay in their caravan for two weeks, taking us fishing and swimming in the bay.
And last but not least a big thank you to our parents and family back home for their love, encouragement, faith in our ability and acceptance to see this through.
We hope you all enjoyed riding along with us.