2/9/2018: The new tires arrived, are mounted and we already tested them during 310 miles [500km] on the new "Trans Papua Highway" in direction Manokwari. The quality of riding is good. Our enthusiasm for this excursion however is limited. Only some exotic sounds of birds and a few tropical flowers cheered us up on our first leg to Ayamaru. On our second leg from Ayamaru towards the Petik Bintang Pass the landscape became at least more scenic and the course of the road more challenging. The new road meanders on a roller coaster ride with breathtaking steep climbs through a landscape partly still dominated by genuine jungle. On the mountain pass (3'284 ft. [1'001m]) we were rewarded by a sweeping all-round view. But already the next tropical downpour was on the horizon – it's basically rainy season. Not having the slightest desire for mud fights on the unsurfaced continuation of the "highway" we made a u-turn and headed back to Sorong. Next Wednesday, February 14th, we will take from here the two nights lasting ferry to Wahai on Seram in the South Moluccas, thus ending our West-Papua tour. Due to the obvious inevitable construction delays, it's simply too early for our Papua adventure!
2/5/2018: The fourth page of our “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip” with 87 new pictures from the island of Halmahera in the North Moluccas is now online.
2/2/2018: Our four tires "BFGoodrich Cross Control 7.50R 16 LT" ordered in Jakarta are now from Makassar in Sulawesi on their way to us to Sorong. The complicated procedure of our online ordering in Indonesian language would be enough topic for a separate thread! Certain things went wrong and only through intervention of our hotel manager it seems now to work out. We expect to get them soon by airfreight. Inshallah! We succeeded also in finding coincidentally an old Chinese regulator for our LandCruiser – just in case our current ailing one stops working. Yesterday, Thursday we were able to collect our second 1-month visa extension at the Immigration, sponsored by the same restaurant owner lady. And also yesterday we experienced a huge surprise: The Mayor of Sorong South popped up at our hotel and presented us an envelope with a very generous donation with the words "You are my heroes". – Wow!
1/23/2018: "More about a 33¼-Year-Journey around the World" is now updated (last time 8/22/2017). Finally the Route Map around the World is updated again (last time 7/11/2017).
1/20/2018: Our electrical car problems are "improvised" solved for the moment, the LandCruiser is loaded, the 58 gallon [220 lt.] fuel tank and three of our ten 5.3 gallon [20 lt.] jerrycans are filled to the brim for the 370 miles [600km] long jungle ride to Manokwari. Highly motivated we take off, but already after 20 miles [32km] our 189th flat tire announces itself. We cannot and don't want to continue without a spare tire and return to Sorong to have it repaired. Because it isn't identifiable why the air leaked - a cracked steel belt cannot be ruled out and might happen anytime again - we decide to have sent a set of new tires either from Jakarta or Surabaya, as our size 7.50R16 is simply not available here. We are now checking the possibility of a delivery per airfreight.
1/13/2018: The third page of our “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip” has another 27 new pictures online from the island of Tidore in the North Moluccas.
1/12/2018: Before we tackle the adventure of the next 370 miles [600km] of the ‘Trans Papua Highway’ to Manokwari with nothing in between than jungle, bush and some thatched huts, we need to get the grip on three problems of our LandCruiser: The starter, which only works after several attempts; the fuel pumps, which are not fully operating and the horn that is only screeching. Everything seems to be related to the 36 years old condition of the corroded electrical wires with its voltage drop. Our work with installing now new cables in front of our ‘Guardian Family Hotel’ in Sorong is constantly interrupted by “interrogators and selfie” enthusiasts. But we had also the honor of a photo with the mayor of the district of Sorong (to the right of Emil).
World Route Map
1/5/2018: The third page of our “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip” with 45 new pictures from the island of Ternate in the North Moluccas is now online.
12/31/2017: "News – December 2017" is now online.
12/31/2017: Happy New Year!
The last turn of the year we celebrated amidst golden domes and Buddha's at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon/ Myanmar. Today, in Sorong in West-Papua, we are in a totally different world. We are sliding into 2018 without our passports. They are at the immigration office for a visa extension. Probably we will be able to collect them beginning of January 2018. Then 'off we go' to new road and ferry challenges and of course also to new experiences and encounters. The picture shows the sunset during the ending new year at the Kasuari Valley Beach Resort in Sorong.
12/24/2017: Merry Christmas!
We just received a big Christmas gift: We found today a sponsor in Sorong for a further monthly extension of our Indonesia visa, which expires on January 8th, 2018. Is this not a perfect gift – so we don't have to leave the country for a visarun! Thus, we will still spend the festivities in this hot and humid city in West Papua, before we will tackle the challenges of the obviously not yet completed Trans Papua Road to Manokwari.
12/23/2017: 30 pictures more – the last from Sulawesi – are on our website of the “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip.
12/17/2017: Last Friday, 12/15/2017, we had the chance to meet some members of the Toyota LandCruiser Indonesia Club at the Kasuari Valley Beach Resort in Sorong, where we could gather some information about the conditions of the Trans Papua Road to Manokwari on our next leg. We spent a few relaxed hours together and enjoyed the gift of a LandCruiser T-shirts each. Now we are discussing if we are going to manage all alone the mud stretches we shall encounter, which remembers us of our adventures in former Zaïre (today D.R. Congo) in 1991 and Guyana in 2005. Also our road tires became an issue, although we still carry snow chains along. Likewise we are not sure, which of the three possibilities we should choose to cross the Birds Head Peninsula. There's hardly current information available and should we have to return, we need enough gasoline as there isn't any during the 370 miles [600km] long trip.
Merry Christmas!
12/14/2017: We got yesterday the mandatory "Surat Jalan" (Travel Permit) from Polres (Police) in Sorong to visit West Papua and Papua (see pic below).
12/12/2017: To give West Papua a second chance paid off. The ferry docked punctually at 2pm at Weda port in the eastern part of Halmahera on North Moluccas on December 8th, 2017, and left punctually eastwards towards West Papua at 1am on December 9th. Together with countless packages of fertilizer and other merchandise, with a dozen calves and about 40 goats, finally also our LandCruiser was part of the freight. The captain offered us as the only westerners on the ship place in the VIP lounge, where at least sleeping mats were available. We grabbed also two and laid them between two rows of seats to be able to lay down at night. At the end, also here everything was filled to capacity, partly with shouting and screaming children. Altogether the whole chaotic atmosphere on board with its colorful exotic crowd was a special experience for us. The sea was very calm during the 30 hours lasting journey and the three stopovers at Patani, Gebe and Gag were always entertaining. Between Patani and the island of Gebe we crossed for the 23rd time the Equator from North to South, and between Gebe and the island of Gag the provincial border of the North Moluccas and West Papua. On December 10th, 7am, we arrived in Sorong in West Papua. We shall try now our luck at the police station here to obtain a permit ("Surat Jalan") for us and our LandCruiser to drive our intended route in West Papua and Papua. Unfortunately the weather presents itself rather a bit rainy, which isn't the best condition for the roads ahead.
12/5/2017: "News – November 2017" is now online.
12/3/2017: Actually we should be today on the ferry to West Papua. But we are not! Typically Indonesian the ferry from Weda in East Halmahera to Sorong, scheduled for December 2nd, was cancelled without notice, despite that the departure date was confirmed by phone as well as per email from the head office of the ASPD ferry company in Sorong. Next sailing is now scheduled for December 9th, – as it's noted on a slip of paper at a shed of the point of departure in Weda! With it we got into a dilemma. Can we relay on it? We have not endless time. Four weeks of our second two-months-visa from Kuala Lumpur have already gone. In the meantime another uncertainty popped up: Is additionally a special permit needed for circulating in the former restricted area of "Irian Jaya" with its own car? In any case a "Surat Jalan" (travel permit) is needed from the local police for everybody if they want to leave the big cities of Sorong, Jayapura and Biak. Where do we get a reliable answer within days? After all, the ferry crossing costs about US$475 one way – way too much money, should we have to turn around and pay the same amount again for going back. Does our ambitious project, long elaborated beforehand, eventually collapse like a house of cards?
11/28/2017: Tidore, our second island in the Moluccas – only 20 minutes away from the lively small "big city island" of Ternate – belongs already to the past too. Its sleepy island character, its colorfully painted cottages, but overall the splendor of tropical flowers, which bloom in little gardens, in flowerpots on narrow sidewalks, simply everywhere, are part of Tidore's attraction. Since a few days we are on Halmahera, our third and biggest island of the Moluccas group. A new tarmac road brought us from the landing port of Sofifi, which is simultaneously also the capital of the province of North Molucca, in a roller coaster ride through exuberant tropical scenery to the 112 miles [180km] further north lying small town of Tobelo. During the next days, we will move again southwards to the ferry terminal of Weda, where a boat will sail us in a 30-hours ride with three stopovers to Sorong in West Papua – at least we hope so. The Indonesian ferries are not always reliable, at least concerning schedules! However the safety standards seemed to have improved much since our first visits in Nusa Tenggara.
11/22/2017: A more than 300 years old flow of lava, a deep green crater lake, views to the volcanic cones of the neighbor islands and a lively city with many impressive mosques – these are the main attractions of Ternate, our first island of the Moluccas, which was governed in the past by a sultan. Our Muara Hotel was a right choice. We enjoyed the all around view, and from our room on the 6th floor we experienced the volcano Gamalama with all its shades. We circumnavigated the 27 miles [44km] twice within five days. Today we chugged with another ferry (our 303rd vessel) to the second Moluccan island: Tidore (see picture below). The crossing took 20 minutes. Fare for the LandCruisser US$5.85 and Liliana as a passenger US$0.50. On the contrary to Ternate, Tidore looks rather elliptical, of course also tropically green, measures on volcano Kiematabu an altitude of 5'676 ft. [1'730m], has a size of 45 sq.mi [116km²], counts however only about 60'000 people.
11/18/2017: Now we moved further East and are since yesterday on the spice islands of the Moluccas. On November 16th, 2017, we left Sulawesi, the second island on our "2017 Indonesian tour", at the northeasterly port of Bitung and arrived after 15 hours of a calm sea journey on a ASDP ferry at the city of Ternate. The same-named volcanic island looks tropically green, almost circular, 5'627 ft. [1'715m] high, measures 43 sq.mi. [111km²] and has a population of nearly 200'000 people. White puffy clouds hovered over the island group and province of the North Moluccas (Tidore south and Halmahera east of Ternate), giving us a lovely reception. From here it is now entirely new land for us. We are excited!
11/11/2017: After a week in Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia we arrived yesterday evening, November 10th, with Malindo and Batik Air and a new 2-months Indonesian visa safe and sound back in Tomohon/North Sulawesi/Indonesia. Yes, our doctor in K.L. gave us a further free pass for our life "on the road". In our luggage back to Sulawesi there were a new Acer laptop (Swift 1) for Liliana, a Samsung smartphone (J7-Prime) for Emil – by the way his first – new sunglasses for Emil, new shoes for both of us and those who know Emil won't be surprised: A stack of cheese triangle packages, Emmental, Gruyere and Salami (we almost had to buy an additional bag for it!). Next week we will move to the Moluccas, which are completely "new land" for us. Our first destination after an 18 hours ferry ride will be the island of Ternate.
11/4/2017: In the evening of November 3rd, 2017, after a 5 hours long flight with Batik Air and a change of plane in Jakarta we arrived safely in Kuala Lumpur. It is our 19th journey to Malaysia's capital, which became in a way "our second home" during all our years of traveling (we visited Switzerland last time in 1998!). Until our return to Sulawesi on November 10th, where our LandCruiser is waiting, we booked into the Hotel "The 5 Elements" in the heart of Chinatown. We enjoy the hustle and bustle and after the spicy Indonesian food also the Chinese specialties. From our program we already accomplished two things: The visit at our "family doctor", who is looking after us since 2010 and the collection of our new "Carnet de Passage", our current one expiring on December 25th. The most important task, the application of a new two months Indonesian visa at their local embassy we shall tackle on Monday. Otherwise we need a new notebook for Liliana, probably finally a smartphone and a couple of other things that are harder to get in Indonesian's cities.
11/4/2017 – Visarun @ Kuala Lumpur
11/18/2017 Ternate
11/22/2017 Tidore
 11/28/2017 Halmahera (Galela)
11/1/2017: The second page of our “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip” with 72 new pictures is now online.
10/27/2017: Twenty-one pictures more from North Sulawesi (Minahasa Highland) on our current website of the “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip.
10/25/2017: A good and a bad message. The good one: We found in Tomohon a local sponsor for the extension of our Indonesian visa. The bad one: The visa is nowadays extendable only for 1 month, not anymore for 2 months as it was common in earlier times. Therefore we decided to fly to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to apply at the Indonesian consulate there for a new two months visa. That gives us more time for our challenging project as immigration offices are just a few in regions with less tourists.
10/16/2017: The "News – September/October 2017" is now on our today's 33rd anniversary of our world record tour online.
10/13/2017: A glimmer of hope arises that we might be able to find a local sponsor in Tomohon or Manado for our visa's extension. Therefore we continue to enjoy our relaxed days in the ‘Mountain View Resort’, meeting new people, exploring more of the surroundings and in between working on our website. We managed to put a further 15 pictures on our Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-Papua website. By the way: No. 66 is the 10'000th photo on our website – thus it needs some endurance should all be viewed.
10/8/2017: Since a week we now enjoy our comfortable bungalow at the ‘Mountain View Resort’ (picture 10/8/2017) in Tomohon, 14 miles [23km] south of Manado in North Sulawesi – a delayed birthday gift to Liliana. The climate on an altitude of 2'525 ft. [770m] is nice and each day we enjoy again the luxurious tropical surrounding. Up to now we made excursions to the Minahasa Highland, to the Mahawu Volcano, to the Linow Lake and to the rice fields. In between there were nice chats with other travelers because the ‘Mountain View Resort’ is the place where travelers meet. We gave an interview for the National Television Channel ‘Trans7’ and today, we worked on our website: Our “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-Papua” photo page shows 15 new pictures and the home page a new photo. Unfortunately one month of our 2-months Indonesia visa is already gone and an extension comes closer. Will we find a local sponsor for it or will we have to fly out to Kuala Lumpur resp. Singapore for a new visa?
10/1/2017: Now we are already 10 days in Sulawesi, an island with abundant palm trees from the coast up to the mountain tops and narrow, winding and partly holey coastal roads with little sandy bays and quaint fishing settlements. This island lives up to its name of a “tropical paradise”. In about 315 miles [500km] we crossed the Province of Central Sulawesi, where Liliana celebrated her birthday in its capital Palu. Our LandCruiser had a special gift for her in stock: its 188th flat tire! We experienced some “South Pacific romantic” and recrossed the equator, now for the 20th time from South to North resp. for the 12th time together with our LandCruiser. In the meantime – after crossing the Province of Gorontalo – we made it to North Sulawesi to the city of Tomohon, a mountain region short of the most easterly tip of the island. Here, at the “Mountain View Resort”, managed by Michael, a German, we treat ourselves with some days of relaxation in a bungalow surrounded by beautiful tropical green. We well deserve it after the many 7 to 8 hours driving on partly miserable roads.
10/1/2017 – 40th Equator-Xing
10/13/2017 – 10'000th Photo
9/22/2017: Yesterday, Thursday, we checked in at the ferry port of Kariangau, outside of Balikpapan to a 232 miles [374km] long and 22 hours lasting passage from Kalimantan to Sulawesi. The vessel “KMP Tuna” of the Indonesian state ferry line ASDP was only half-full although it sails only twice a week. There are no cabins – one lies or sits where ever it's possible. The journey costs finally Rp. 3'097'000 (US$241) (LandCruiser + 2 pax). It was calm by rather overcast weather and became our 301st boat trip. The third picture in the row below shows the entrance of Taipa, about 10 miles [16km] north of Palu (to the left are the noticeable poles of the ramp).
9/20/2017: 2nd flashback into the Caribbean: The natural disasters hitting the Caribbean don't stop. One week ago – see below 9/13/2017 – it was hurricane “Irma”. This time it's called “Maria” and hit somehow more south the island chain, particularly Dominica, but touched also Guadeloupe and Martinique. From all those beautiful exotic islands, which we also could visit 2004 with our LandCruiser, we have lasting memories. In Dominica Swiss Television was present at our special reception by government officials. In Guadeloupe we barely survived hurricane “Jeanne 2004” that flooded our river camping area, blocking our escape route; and in Martinique we enjoyed the mixture of French charm, African exotic and the unique Caribbean flair.
9/19/2017: Six pictures more on our current website of the “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip.
9/16/2017: We arrived yesterday after 1'702 miles [2'739km] resp. 74¼ driving hours since our departure in Miri/Malaysia with our first Indonesian ferry from Penajam in Kariangau near Balikpapan in East Kalimantan. Duration of the trip: 1 hour; fare Rp. 269'500 (about US$21.70). With it – interestingly it was our 300th shipping since October 16th, 1984 – our journey on the island of Borneo comes also to an end. Balikpapan is a big city of almost 750'000 people. In the coming days, we are continuing to Palu on the island of Sulawesi (around 24 hours including a night ride - without cabin!; Rp. 2'666'000 (US$214.50) for the car and us).
9/13/2017: Flashback: We are devastated about the extent of the damage to the northern Caribbean Islands, caused by hurricane “Irma”. We especially recall Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, where on October 18th, 2004, we were able to celebrate the 20th jubilee of our epic journey around the world at Le Galion Beach under palm trees. But also Anguilla, as well as the British and American Virgins Islands are in our memory as islands of paradise. it is unbelievable what remained of them.
9/12/2017: Six pictures more on our current website of the “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip.
9/8/2017: Starting at Kapuas River southwards, the relatively new “Trans Kalimantan Highway” leads more than 250 miles [>400km] with countless bends up and downhill through scenic lush tropical landscape, which unfortunately already today is interrupted by new palm oil plantations. The route is partly narrow (only 175 in. [4½m], but mostly (still) without potholes and fully asphalted, even if there are many bumps. We needed for it about 10½ hours driving time.
9/7/2017: Today happened the 20th Equator crossing from the northern to the southern hemisphere (the 14th with the car) near Tayan in West Kalimantan, about 3 miles [5km] north of the bridge over the River Kapuas. Interestingly there is absolutely no sign or monument (only GPS knows it).
9/6/2017: We crossed today without any problems our 531st border from Malaysia (Tebedu) to Indonesia (Entikong).
9/3/2017: On 7/16/2014 – more than three years ago – we updated for the last time our statistics. It's now per 8/31/2017 again up-to-date and consists of the four programs below. The first three programs exist in an American (Am) and a British (Br) version for distances, weight, liquids and temperatures. Enjoy all the figures!
- Statistics per continent
- More statistical figures
- Information about us not included in the statistics
- Chronological sequence of the trip
8/31/2017: "News – May-August 2017" is now online.
8/30/2017: Firstly we had to repair our 187th flat tire, secondly we got here in Kuching within one day the 2-months' Indonesia visa for Ringgit 205 each (= US$48) at its consulate, and now there are three pictures more of our “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip” online.
8/28/2017: Six pictures more on the website of the “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip.
8/27/2017: After 457 miles [736km] we arrived in three stages in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak with almost 400'000 people on the East-Malaysian Island of Borneo. The first day was very hot (~104°F) [~40°C], the second very wet: One tropical rainstorm after the other. The third leg from Sibu to Kuching was with eight driving hours (Ø = 25 miles/h) [Ø = 40km/h) the longest, because we chose the 60 miles [100km] shorter coastal road via Pusa and Sebuyau instead of the main highway #1. However it involves two ferry crossings, which became our “shipping” No. 298 and 299 – ferries+freighters of the last 33 years counted together. Amazing was the ferry tariff for the LandCruiser and 2 persons: 1 Ringgit each (= US$ 0.20) for about a 30 minute ride!
8/20/2017: The picture site “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West Papua Trip” of our next stage is now online: It leads from Miri (Northern Sarawak) via Kuching (South Sarawak), Pontianak (West-Kalimantan) to Balikpapan (East-Kalimantan) and by means of ferries onwards to Sulawesi (North), the Molucca Islands (North) to Sorong on the Bird's Head Peninsula in the West of the Island of New Guinea (West Papua). It's now our 3rd try to reach Indonesian Papua, formerly Irian Jaya, with our car.
8/17/2017: Departure from Miri in Sarawak, besides Sabah the second Malaysian state on the Island of Borneo. Miri, just south of the border of Brunei, shows a seahorse as its mascot. Hence we separate also from our comfortable MCity apartment on the 3rd floor from which we admired many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. With a rent of barely US$800 per month, we enjoyed a fully equipped kitchen with gas stove and microwave, two bedrooms, an own washing machine, a cleaning service three times a week, aircon, wifi, TV, balcony, and a guarded covered parking. Was very pleasant – but now we are ready for new challenges!
8/15/2017: After our last visit to the workshop we bid farewell to boss Lance Lau and his crew. With three last pictures we complete therefore also the 3rd page of our totally three rejuvenations on Borneo of our LandCruiser in 2006, 2012 and now in 2017. A new chapter starts!
7/11/2017: Finally the Route Map is updated again (last time 12/24/2014).
7/2/2017: Finally the report of our Azerbaijan trip from June 2013 is finished.
6/30/2017: Due to various reasons there won't be "News" for the months of May-July 2017.
6/27/2017: Finally the report of our Transnistria trip from August 2013 is finished.
6/26/2017: Finally the report of our Nagorno Karabakh trip from July 2013 is finished.
6/24/2017: While we are refreshing memories from Miri/Sarawak and its surroundings, we enjoy the seahorse as mascot of Miri each time. Even the lighthouse at the marina is a seahorse – reason enough to have a picture of our LandCruiser with this cute mascot!
Three new pictures of our 3rd Rejuvenation of our LandCruiser are online; finally the reports of our Armenia trip part 1 and part 2 from July 2013 are finished.
6/17/2017: On April 19th, 2017, we wrote about the problems of our 3-years old Lenovo Laptop. The ordeal of the past weeks has ended, when it sometimes worked and sometimes not. Today we received from Kuala Lumpur our 6th Lenovo. Malaysia complements now the list of the five predecessors from Dubai, Guyana, American Samoa, Oman and Cape Verde. Today we made also a visa run to Brunei in order to have more time to complete without ruffle the last reworks on our LandCruiser caused by procurement problems of spare parts and the installation of the new laptop. The still rainy weather on the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Moluccas and Papua can only improve in the meantime.
6/1/2017: We would like to share the link of the monthly published customer email of Toyota Motor Sales USA – "400'000 miles and counting". "Never-ending road trip" features 20 stations of our epic journey and shows a small but nicely presented view of its variety. Already during the first six days being online, it brought us more than 12'000 clicks to our website!
5/23/2017: Our update of "The Longest Driven Journey" is now online on the website of the 'Guinness Book of Records' (see picture below).
5/21/2017: During the last week, Emil has finalized in many hours the "master plan" of our next leg through the Indonesian islands, i.e. he ascertained the coordinates of the 47 landing places of the ferries that might be in line for us (see picture below - ASDP, the biggest ferry company in Indonesia, runs 140 vessels on 154 routes), timetables, length and fares of the planned stretches. Now the "schedule" is fixed until Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), the part of the Indonesian island of New Guinea. There starts in the most westerly town of Sorong the so called "Trans Papua Road", which measures allover 2'687 miles [4'325km] and ends at the border of Papua New Guinea. 2'485 miles [4'000km] are completed and became drivable. It sounds tempting! How we could continue on the eastern side of Indonesia, in Papua New Guinea, is still written in the stars.
5/13/2017: Apart of having to exchange the master and release cylinders of our clutch, nothing else arose yet. Slowly but steadily we are starting with definite loading. We have to take decisions: What are we keeping and what are we leaving behind? Not an easy choice! Many things are an essential or emotional part of our epic journey, which by the way represents pretty exactly ⅔ of our married life since May 8th. Hence the many maps and the foreign license plates will find again a place in our luggage (see 3rd Rejuvenation of our LandCruiser).
5/10/2017: Our picture on the start-up website has changed again: From the 3rd overhaul of our LandCruiser in Miri/Sarawak/East-Malaysia on March 27th, 2017, to a beautiful earlier picture of 10/11/2011 from the "Avenue of the Baobabs" in Marofototra near Morondava in Madagascar.
5/4/2017: The fourth part of Myanmar is now online: From Mandalay to Nyaung-U (Bagan) by ship and by plane back to Yangon (Rangoon).
5/3/2017: Our LandCruiser left the workshop; it's now going to be vetted thoroughly.
5/2/2017: Three pictures more of the "3rd Rejuvenation of our LandCruiser".
5/1/2017: Not too many world travelers go astray in Borneo! A lovely surprise was therefore our yesterday's reencounter with our countryman Heinze with his "Red Camel", a Toyota LandCruiser HZJ78. Heinze is on a 4-months partial section through Southeast Asia with his companion Florian. We first met Heinze in April 2016 in Kerman in Iran. Of course, there was much to talk about!
4/30/2017: "News – March/April 2017" is now online.
4/23/2017: Wonderful coincidences do happen! On April 13th, 2017, it was at the airport of Miri/Sarawak/East Malaysia. There we greeted our friends Julie and Ruedi – this time with their children Markus, Ella and Noah – for the 5th time since their spontaneous invitation in May 2006 in Kuala Belait in Brunei during the 1st rejuvenation. Four years and five months later, we made a stopover in Brunei while our LandCruiser sailed from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines. Another reunion in Brunei took place in 2012 at the occasion of the 2nd rejuvenation of our LandCruiser in Miri. In between, on 2/25/2015, there was a lovely reencounter with the whole family in Stellenbosch in South Africa and with just Ruedi on 2/27/2016 in Dubai. Ruedi brought us for the car a coil and a distributor cord set from Switzerland to Miri – and of course also cheese, sausages and chocolate. What a feast!
4/22/2017: Our LandCruiser left the spray booth – the 3rd rejuvenation draws slowly to its close.
4/19/2017: Our today's message is "What does NOT work?": It is our 3-years old Lenovo Laptop that is obviously on the brink to stop working at all. We still try to revive it, but have so far little hope. It is our 5th laptop: No. 1 was received in March 1999 from IBM Middle East in Dubai as a gift for reaching our 500'000th kilometer [= 310'686 miles] milestone on our epic journey; No. 2 brought us on Feb. 2005 a friend from the USA to Georgetown in Guyana; No. 3 was bought on July 2009 on Ebay and received in American Samoa; No. 4 was brought to us on Feb. 2013 by our friends from Switzerland to Oman; and No. 5 was bought in Dubai on Oct. 2013, but activated only on April 2014 in Cape Verde.
4/12/2017: Our LandCruiser is in the spray booth. Liliana follows the spraying process and is excited about the progress of its new impeccable look during the rejuvenation. The third part of Myanmar is now online: From Nyaungshwe at Inle Lake by minibus to Mandalay and by train over the Goteik Viaduct.
4/7/2017: The bodywork is now finished and the first grey undercoat is sprayed. The second undercoat will be applied tomorrow Saturday, 4/8/2017, and on Monday, our LandCruiser will get its former blue color.
4/4/2017: The second part of Myanmar is now online: From Bago (Pegu) by train to Shwenyaung at Inle Lake.
3/27/2017: Eventually we changed once again our picture on the start-up website: From the 15’272 ft. [4‘655m] high Ak Baital Pass in Tajikistan on June 26th, 2016, to the current 3rd overhaul in Miri/Sarawak/East-Malaysia on March 27th, 2017.
3/25/2017: Two were working this week on our LandCruiser – the welder and the bodybuilder with the putty. An end of the bodywork is now in sight! Both of us were busy too. Emil had the time-consuming task of compiling the evidences of the yearly update of our Guinness Book entry, and Liliana's job was and still is writing the captures of the 84 pictures of page 2 of our Myanmar site, what is not less time-consuming. In between, our 32 years old Zarges aluminium boxes got new hinges and clasps and our "sleeping room" was smartened up with new curtains and new mattress covers.
3/18/2017: We received this week in Miri our new 'Engel MT27F' ice box, ordered in Singapore. It is 17.7" (45cm) (before 13.7" [34.8cm]), thus slightly higher than its predecessor 'MT15E'. At least, we can now store in its content of 22.2 quarts [21Lt.] (before 15.85Qt. [15Lt.]) beer bottles upright. It's 2.6" [6.6cm] higher inside! As we mentioned on February 11th, our fridge, bought also in Singapore in September 2005, didn't cool anymore despite that its compressor was (still) running. It showed that nobody was able or ready to repair it here in Miri. Five years ago, the willingness to try to repair was bigger. Today's "throwaway trend" is taking over also here. Btw: The ice box runs on 12v or 220v and cost SGD1'244 (US$882) + freight (SGD150), no tax and duty.
Regarding our LandCruiser, the body repair makes daily some little progress. It will still take a little while too to see the end of the 3rd overhaul.
3/13/2017: The first part of Myanmar is now online: From Yangon (Rangoon) to the 'Golden Rock' of Kyaiktiyo by bus.
3/11/2017: We are now into the second month of our LandCruiser rejuvenation and the bodywork started somewhat sluggish. Since the mechanical part is virtually completed and we don't need to hunt for spare parts anymore as often as before, we have more time for other things. Thus we started sorting out the 2'000 Myanmar pictures for our website and writing the captures. There will be four lovely pages.
3/4/2017: Mechanically everything is completed. A little test drive went fine. Now it is the bodywork's turn.
2/28/2017: "News – February 2017" is now online.
2/24/2017: The time has come again, at least a "half-a-milestone" birthday: Emil is getting 75 and is unpacking an unusual gift from 4x4 fan Paul Si from Kuching: A used carburetor!
2/22/2017: The front and rear axles together with the differentials are now also reassembled. It became apparent that the two pro-owned side shafts, donated by the "Land Cruiser Club - Southern Africa" together with the axle case and mounted on February 13th, 2015, had to be replaced (see "Major Repair in Cape Town"). They run for 24'927 miles [40'116km]. Our two new axles, bought before at Gemini Parts in Johannesburg, have been used now.
2/19/2017: The overhaul of our LandCruiser continues: Clutch, gearbox and transfer are already reinstalled. We easily found the clutch disc and pressure plate as well as bearings, seals, o-rings, shims, etc. Hopefully the gearbox will now stop "singing". Mr. Lau continues to keep us busy. Preventively, both differentials and the front and rear axles are dismantled. Yesterday we have been running from one Chinese parts shop to the other for genuine parts – there are too many "me-too-products" (generics) around.
2/11/2017: Slowly work on our LandCruiser started. It already showed that the clutch and parts of the transmission and transfer have to be replaced. Today, we already found a new clutch. Regarding the transmission and transfer parts, we will start the search next Monday, February 13th. Mr. Lance Lau, the workshop boss (on the right of the picture next to his son, daughter in law and his employee) obligingly gave us a replacement car free of charge which we also use for looking for spare parts. At the moment however, we have another "headache": Our Engel refrigerator, which we bought in September 2005 in Singapore, suddenly does not cool anymore despite that the compressor is running. Therewith and many things more we are now busy.
2/8/2017: So far everything goes according to plan: Over the weekend, we moved the complete content of our LandCruiser to our spacious and comfortable apartment on the 3rd floor. On Monday, February 6th, it was the roof load's turn. Like in 2006 and 2012 it was quite hard work to carry our fully loaded aluminum cases and all the other odds and ends the steep wooden stair up to the workshop's attic, where a part of it has been cleared for us. Gradually our LandCruiser is loosing its special look: Roofrack, pillars and all bits and pieces have been removed. This is how our car looked an Wednesday evening, February 8th!
2/3/2017: Since February 1st, 2017, we are now in Miri and booked into a studio for the time of the "3rd rejuvenation" process of our LandCruiser. The workshop Yung Lee of Mr. Lance Lau will begin with the repairs next Monday, February 6th. We are now unpacking the whole content of our vehicle – a huge undertaking! Today our LandCruiser was blessed with a "Lion Dance" – a Chinese New Year's custom, which is meant to evict bad or evil spirits. If this is not a good omen!
2/1/2017: "News – January 2017" is now online.
1/27/2017: Since yesterday, January 26th, 2017, we are three of us again! Our LandCruiser was already waiting for us in its 29th container in the port of Bintulu in Sarawak in East Malaysia when we arrived late evening on January 24th, with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur. It survived its 56 day sea journey from Odessa/Ukraine with two transshipments without any harm. Our agent, the Harbour Services Corp. was most helpful in smoothing the way for the release of our LandCruiser. He showed around the Certificate of our Guinness Record with the result that we were able to just drive out of the port without even stopping for an inspection. It felt so good to have our "freedom machine" again! Tomorrow the Chinese New Year celebrations are starting for three days. Therefore we will drive only on February 1st, the 125 miles [200km] to Miri. There, a new chapter will begin: The 3rd "rejuvenation" of our LandCruiser, after the previous ones in 2006 and 2012.
1/21/2017: Our 28-days marathon program in Myanmar is coming to an end. On January 22nd, 2017, we will fly with Air Asia for the 18th time to Kuala Lumpur. We crisscrossed former Burma by overland- and mini-busses, with shared taxis, by truck, by trains, boat and plane. We stayed in 10 different hotels/guesthouses and shot around 2'000 pictures. It was an incredible journey with such a wealth of stunning sites. Since our last post, we experienced the fishermen's life at serene Inle Lake, crossed by train the spectacular Gotaik viaduct (335 ft.) [102m], explored Mandalay with its longest pedestrian teak bridge (3'967 ft.) [1'209m] and enjoyed a 14 hours nostalgic boat trip down the Irrawaddy River. It recalled our 21 days' adventure in March 1991 on the River Zaire in Africa (today DR Congo) and our river trip on the Amazon in Brazil in March 1988. Bagan, the town of over 2'200 pagodas, was our last experience. Soon there will be a reencounter with our LandCruiser; it's now scheduled to arrive in Bintulu/Sarawak on January 21st, 2017.
1/10/2017: We are now at half time of our Myanmar trip and we don't regret one single minute. After having visited for two days the rich cultural sites of Bago, we were off for a new adventure: Two days of 10 hours each in nostalgic trains. The first day (4 US$ p.p. "Upper Class") took us from Bago to Thazi through flat land with cultivated and harvested fields. The next day from Thazi to Shwe Nyaung near Inle Lake (US$ 2 p.p. "Upper Class") was a wonderful long drive through the hills up to about 4'675 ft. revealing the genuine rural life. The floating activities along the many nostalgic stations remembered us a bit of Bolivia.
1/4/2017: We are swept in Myanmar from one marvelous experience to the other. On January 2nd, 2017, a comfortable four-hour bus ride took us from Yangon to Kinmun and a truck further to the “Golden Rock” – an important Buddhist pilgrimage site hidden in the mountains of Kyaiktiyo – where thousands of pilgrims gathered. It was an overwhelming sight. But the next bus ride is already booked: Tomorrow we'll continue to Bago.
1/1/2017: Happy New Year from Yangon/Myanmar!
The many golden towers of the Shwedagon Pagoda rising at night into the dark sky, thousands of lighted candles and praying people made the last hours of 2016 very special to us. Right in front of our hotel window a beautiful firework display announced at midnight the New Year. Our LandCruiser left yesterday Piraeus in Greece in direction Southeast Asia. (more in "News – December 2016")
12/28/2016: We are since Monday in Myanmar (Burma), the "Land of the Golden Pagodas", which we already visited shortly in 1975 between Christmas and New Year. Already on the first day at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon (Rangoon) we realized that we made the right choice to bridge the time until the arrival of our container in Sarawak (see below 12/16/2016), all the more as the entry with an own car is anyway only possible in an organized manner and with a guide (analog China, Bhutan and apparently starting March 2017 also Thailand). We will have time for all the sights and highlights up to January 22nd, 2017.
12/23/2016: Doctor and dentist visits are completed. We are fit for new adventures! We will celebrate Christmas in Kuala Lumpur where the luxury Christmas decorations are putting us in festivity mood despite the tropical climate. However we shall fly on Monday, December 26th, with AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur to Myanmar (formerly Burma), where our new year will start in Yangon (formerly Rangoon). A year ago we spent this holiday season in the desert country of Sudan. Our LandCruiser is still in Piraeus/Greece.
Merry Christmas!
12/18/2016: We arrived yesterday, Saturday, with AirAsia from Bangkok for the 17th time in Malaysia, where we want to do some "maintenance" on ourselves: Doctor and laboratory, dentists etc.. Meanwhile our car is said to remain until mid-January in the port of Piraeus/Greece, until the backlog of all the piled-up containers is cleared, which could'nt be transported to Asia due to the many strikes.
12/16/2016: Bad news: Due to a strike of the dockers in Piraeus/Greece our container could not be transshipped to the connecting vessel in the direction of Malaysia. It is now scheduled to arrive in Bintulu/Sarawak only on January 29th, 2017, instead of January 1st. Where will we make "forced holidays" in the meantime?
12/10/2016: We finally escaped the cold! From 19°F [-7°C] in Odessa/Ukraine. we flew first with 'FlyDubai' to Dubai and landed afterwards in a (jam-packed) Airbus A380 of 'Emirates' in Bangkok in the warmth at 88°F [31°C] after totally 24 hours. In the meantime our LandCruiser is on schedule: The ship of 'Evergreen' is docking today in Piraeus/Greece, where our container will be transshipped on December 14th, 2016, to a vessel on the way to Malaysia.
12/4/2016: On Sunday we were invited in Odessa by Serge Bulan (Timofeevich), another 4x4 enthusiast, for a lunch "in style" in the Steakhouse at Derybasivska Street 20. Everything was perfect in every respect. He bid goodbye with Christmas presents and a bottle of Champagne for the New Years celebration.
"News October/November 2016" is now online.
12/1/2016: Today is the day! Temporarily we say goodbye to our LandCruiser, which has been stuffed into its 29th container. It will sail on December 5th, with Evergreen Shipping Line via Piraeus/Greece and Tanjung Pelepas/West Malaysia to Bintulu/Sarawak/East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo. The personal engagement of the BSA Shipping Agency in Odessa/Ukraine ensured a smooth procedure. (Article in Russian with pictures here).
11/26/2016: Flashback to a special encounter in Kiev: Oleg Golik (Gos) from the "Offroadmaster 4x4 Club" surprises us with a floral bouquet and overwhelms us with gifts. We are really touched! He follows us enthusiastically on our website already since over eight years and is happy to finally meet us personally. We spend some enjoyable hours together.
11/26/2016: After visiting Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, we finally reached after 3'100 miles [5'000km] Odessa. Our LandCruiser is now scheduled to leave on December 7th, for Bintulu in Malaysian Sarawak on the Island of Borneo. It is our second shipment from this port. The first one was on 9/22/2013 to Cape Verde Islands. We shall fly on December 8th, with stopovers in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Much more details in our "News – November 2016", which will be online around November 30th.
11/18/2016: We are now about 100 miles [160km] before Ukraine's capital Kiev preparing here our shipment from the Port of Odessa. The best things come in threes! Yes, we do it again! Our LandCruiser gets its third and likely last rejuvenation at the same place as in 2006 and 2012: In Miri/Sarawak on the island of Borneo in East Malaysia. This gives us also the opportunity to escape finally the harsh approach of winter in this region.
11/11/2016: We made it! On 11/11 at 11.11am we were standing after 3'391 miles [6'423km] of Russian roads at the exit border to the Ukraine Krupets/Kyaterinіvka. Three hours later we were still standing there, chilled to the bone. One thing was that on the entry customs form into Kyrgyzstan - also member of the 'Eurasian Economic Union / EAEU' - our LandCruiser was inadvertently not mentioned, and the other thing was that the customs officer tossed our belongings thoroughly. It was obvious that he actually didn't look for something, but that he expected something else. More welcoming were the Ukrainians; but having no green insurance card to show, bakshish was inevitable. However later at the insurance office, we got even a cup of hot coffee. But four hours was really enough to cross a corrupted border.
11/5/2016: Yesterday Friday we didn't want to continue on M5 (= Ural resp. Trans Siberian Highway) to Tolyatti near Samara, due to an all-day snow storm. We also saw today some truck accidents along the 185 miles [297km] long stretch. During changeable weather - occasionally some snow and sunshine at freezing temperatures - everything worked fine until close to the destination, when suddenly the windshield wiper conked out during snow flurries.
11/3/2016: After having driven another 125 miles [200km] - we spend tonight at Oktyabrsky - we decided not to write currently the "News – October 2016", because we are a bit stressed due to our expiring Russian visa. But we'll make good for it once we reached Odessa in the Ukraine or Poti in Georgia.
11/2/2016: We are impressed! Toyota Ufa repaired our LandCruiser in record time. We delivered it yesterday at 2pm and today at noon it was ready. The parts of our used spare differential from Jakarta could be used. We have been looked after very well. Tomorrow we shall continue towards Samara. We have still about 1'100 miles [<1'800km] to drive to the Ukraine border. The weather forecast for the next days: Heavy snowfall and low temperatures!
10/29/2016: Our entry into Europe was ill-fated. In the city of Ufa, only 178 miles [286km] after the Ural crossing, on a steep ascent the rear differential broke. Luck has it that since Jakarta in Indonesia we carry a used one on our roof rack, exactly since December 11th, 2006, during 3'610 days resp. 80'683 miles [129'846km]. On Monday we will take action.
10/27/2016: After another flat tire, our 186th in Chelyabinsk, and a tough drive of 1'334 miles [2'147km] in 7 days, we crossed today at the Urenga Pass the Ural for the second time on our epic journey. The first time was on July 2nd 1995. In its wintery snowy splendor, it was a wonderful shift from Asia to Europe.
10/23/2016: At constant and strong freezing temperatures we managed four more sectors towards the West: Barnaul-Novosibirsk, Novosibirsk-Barabinsk, Barabinks-Omsk, Omsk-Ishim. At Novosibirsk we left the Chuysky-Trakt and drive now on the monotonous but smooth Trans-Siberian Highway through endless birch forests.
10/19/2016: Finally we quit Gorno Altaysk - it was time! The weather was fine early morning, but after about 60 miles [100km] strong wind came up and shortly afterwards it started to snow. We asked ourselves whether we should stop already in Biysk, but no - we decided to continue direction Barnaul. It became a "snow-storm-drive" - for once something different, but unfortunately with a a kind of a "smack": Our 185th flat tire didn't please us at all at this nasty weather conditions!
10/16/2016: We celebrate our 32nd jubilee of our epic journey. It was October 16th, 1984, when our dream became true and we left with our LandCruiser with 7'077 miles [11'390km] on the odometer our 3½ room apartment in Wallisellen to discover the world for one to two years. Meanwhile, it became 32 years in 186 countries and 457'142 miles [735'698km] driven on our worldtour (odometer shows today: 747'088km = 464'219 miles).
10/13/2016: During the last days we moved one step further. After many, many discussions, assessments, discarding ideas, new plannings, researches in the internet and over 50 emails a solution emerges. We will head for the port of Odessa in the Ukraine for a shipment. Where to we will tell when everything is sewn up. Western Siberia sees us off with stunning winter scenery not seen for a very long time!
10/6/2016: "News September 2016" is now online.
10/5/2016: The sun is shining again for the first time after massive frost. Our itinerary that we changed in the meantime envisages that we shall drive in Novosibirsk westwards, thus dropping the initial idea of Vladivostok - South Korea. The shipping agent informed us that we have to count in Vladivostok as a minimal freight to "anywhere" above US$ 3'000 plus. The same freight rates originating in the West wouldn't cost half of it - this by same driving distances from Novosibirsk to the nearest port of about 3'500 miles [5'500km]. The decision to drop Mongolia as our 187th country wasn't easy. But if the obstacles are getting to big - we don't have to do it at all costs.
10/4/2016: The Uzbekistan website is now online.
10/2/2016: We receive from the weekly Swiss magazine "Doppelpunkt" a 'pdf' of the article (in German) "In einem halben Leben um die ganze Welt", published about us on
August 25th, 2016.
9/29/2016: The bad weather front reached us at Gorno Altaysk!
9/26/2016: We decide to turn back at the customs' exit of Russia due to the following reasons: 1) It's absolutely unclear whether the Mongolians let us enter without paying a bond of US$ 12'232.50 for our 34-years old LandCruiser. This huge amount results due to the big engine capacity of 258 in³ [4'228cm³]. Although the Russians would let us re-enter after a try at the 16 miles distant Mongolian post, but then our double-entry visa is used, which we intended for another place. 2) Despite of welding the front pillars, the windscreen is still swaying - not the best precondition for the bone-jarring corrugated tracks in Mongolia. 3) The weather forecast is for a hefty start of winter with snow and low freezing temperature, which isn't necessarily recommended for our "outdoor-lifestyle" in our advanced age.
9/25/2016: Today there is again sunshine after two rainy days. At freezing temperatures this is not only nice for our journey's continuation to the Russia-Mongolia border, but of course particularly for Liliana, who celebrates today a "half-decadal" birthday. Emil however recovers still from a pretty bad cold.
9/20 to 22/2016: We drove from Gorno-Altaysk via Onguday and Aktash 300 miles [485km] by varying weather (beautiful, cloudy, overcast and rain showers) on the Chuysky Trakt through the wonderful Altay Mountains to Kosh Agach, where - 45 miles [73km] before the Mongolia border - the rather treeless steppe starts.
9/19/2016: It's raining and we decide to use the day for internet research on yesterday's "Mongolia horror story". If the 'Carnet de Passages' isn't accepted, we won't place a caution but would go on without visiting our next new 187th country.
9/18/2016: The test-drive was OK. We discovered on the internet a "horror story", saying that Mongolia introduced recently an import bond on cars of US$ 4'500 + 15% of the current value (presumably due to the Mongol Rally). This shall apply also for temporarily imported tourist vehicles, excluding trucks.
9/17/2016: Repair finished. Test-drive follows tomorrow. Liliana stops with antibiotics - the toothaches decreased, but the cause isn't remedied yet and therefore deferred until later.
9/15/2016: Due to yesterday's rain, we were able to start fixing the front axle only today. Because of missing a tool we were stuck. Thanks to our friend Stas from Kazakhstan, who managed everything from there, the problem is solved. Tomorrow work will continue.
9/13/2016: The spare parts from Moscow arrived.
9/12/2016: Update to our "More about a nearly 32-Year-Journey around the World"
9/10 to 13/2016: Waiting for the spare parts from Moscow. Liliana is taking now antibiotics and is waiting also that their toothaches go away.
9/6/2016: Liliana's toothaches don't stop anymore and she decides to make an appointment with a dentist while waiting for the arrival of the spare parts.
9/5/2016: It shows that the upper knuckle bearing is destroyed completely and also the lower one is damaged. Toyota Russia in Moscow confirms that the spare parts are available, but needed time (1 week) to arrive in Gorno-Altaysk. They refer us also to a specialized website: http://www.exist.ru/. The other parts (main bearings etc.) seems to be unaffected.
9/3 and 9/4/2016: Emil dismantles himself the front axle.
9/2/2016: A visit to a workshop doesn't show any result due to insurmountable language difficulties.
9/1/2016: We leave Uznezya near Chemal and drive on the "ultra smooth" Chuysky Trakt, the 205 miles [330km] long highway 'M52" in direction Mongolia. Because it's so smooth we notice a shimmying of the front wheels. Jacking them up on a rest area, we detect with horror that the right front wheel wobbles between 4 to 6 inches [10-15cm]. For a better check-up and to be on the safe side we decide to return the 50 miles [80km] to the small town of Gorno-Altaysk (about 60'000 people) (guesthouse coord. 51.97660/85.89301).
8/28/2016: The front pillars, which keep the windscreen in place, had to be welded in Gorno-Altaysk, after they broke completely while returning from Teletskoe Lake - otherwise we would have driven suddenly without any "window".