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
- 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
- 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.
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
Sulawesi. The vessel “KMP Tuna” of the Indonesian state ferry
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
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
From all those beautiful exotic islands, which we also could
visit 2004 with our LandCruiser, we have lasting memories. In
Swiss Television was present at our special reception by
government officials. In Guadeloupe we barely survived hurricane
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.
- 9/16/2017: We arrived yesterday after
1'702 miles [2'739km] resp. 74¼ driving hours since our
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
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
Islands, caused by hurricane “Irma”. We especially recall
Maarten, where on October 18th, 2004, we were able to
jubilee of our epic journey around the world at Le Galion
Beach under palm trees. But also
well as the British
Virgins Islands are in our memory as islands of paradise. it
is unbelievable what remained of them.
- 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
More statistical figures
- - Information about us
not included in the statistics
- Chronological sequence of the trip
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$48) at its consulate, and now there are three pictures more of our “Borneo-Sulawesi-Moluccas-West
Papua Trip” online.
8/27/2017: After 457 miles [736km] we arrived in three
stages in Kuching, the capital of
almost 400'000 people on the East-Malaysian Island of Borneo.
The first day was very hot (~104°F) [~40°C], the second very wet: One
tropical rainstorm after the other. The third leg from Sibu to Kuching
was with eight driving hours (Ø = 25 miles/h) [Ø = 40km/h) the longest,
because we chose the 60 miles [100km] shorter coastal road via Pusa and
Sebuyau instead of the main highway #1. However it involves two ferry
crossings, which became our “shipping” No. 298 and 299 –
ferries+freighters of the last 33 years counted together. Amazing was
the ferry tariff for the LandCruiser and 2 persons: 1 Ringgit each (=
US$ 0.20) for about a 30 minute ride!
8/17/2017: Departure from Miri in
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,
now in 2017. A
new chapter starts!
7/11/2017: Finally the
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
6/26/2017: Finally the report of our
Nagorno Karabakh trip from July 2013
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
Rejuvenation of our LandCruiser are online; finally the reports of our
Armenia trip part 1 and
part 2 from July 2013 are
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
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
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
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
Rejuvenation of our LandCruiser).
The fourth part of
Myanmar is now online: From
Mandalay to Nyaung-U (Bagan) by ship and by plane back to Yangon
5/3/2017: Our LandCruiser left the workshop; it's now
going to be vetted thoroughly.
5/1/2017: Not too many world travelers go astray in
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
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!
4/23/2017: 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
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
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
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
4/4/2017: The second part of
Myanmar is now online: From
Bago (Pegu) by train to Shwenyaung at Inle Lake.
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
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
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.
2/24/2017: The time has come again,
at least a "half-a-milestone" birthday: Emil is getting 75 and is
unpacking an unusual gift from
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
- 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.
– October/November 2016" is now
- 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
- 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]
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
Kuala Lumpur. Much
more details in our "News – November 2016", which will
be online around November 30th.
- 11/18/2016: We are
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 10/6/2016: "News
– September 2016" is now
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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:
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