Our trucks stick out. I have touched on the subject a few times before, but it is something that bears mentioning basically in every country we travel though. Driving the Tundra and the Sequoia seems to attract a lot of attention. In the planning phases of our expedition, people warned us not to drive new, fancy cars because they would do just that… attract a lot of attention, and invariably, some of that attention was bound to be negative. Many people suggested that we drive older model vehicles to better “blend in,” but there was one individual who completed a similar trip around the world in a car that was bound to stick out. Jim Rogers drove a modified Mercedes CLK on his Millennium Adventure and succeeded in attracting more curiosity than hostility on his three year trip while driving through some potentially volatile places.
Some people we meet while traveling, namely other travelers, attempt to give us a hard time, either willingly or unknowingly, because of our mode of transportation. “You guys are really missing out on local cultural experiences. You only meet interesting locals on public transportation. You must miss a lot by driving your own cars.” True, we do miss some things by not taking local transportation. We miss out on the pointless delays as a result of antiquated, bureaucratic transportation administration. We miss out on the unique smells that you experience on an overnight bus to Tashkent, although arguably, the smells coming out of our cars are quite competitive. On the other hand, we do not miss out on the countless other encounters that would not be possible without the Toyotas present.
Just a we are curious about the local transportation (foreground) so to are the locals curious of our trucks
Without our trucks, especially new, never-seen-before model Toyotas, we would have never met the General in Cambodia who gave us his mobile number in case we encountered any problems. We would not have met Edwina, a friendly Australian who helped us immensely in terms of researching and putting us into contact with potential sponsors. We would not have met Chinzorig and his Drive Mongolia company and been put into contact with a network of crazy overland drivers like us. Last, but certainly not least, we would not have met Nino, a Nino’s Tour Company who saw us filling up at the local petrol station, treated us to a Turkish feast, let us crash on his yacht in the Black Sea town of Fatsa and showed us probably one of the best times we have had on the trip thus far. The list goes on and on and yes, these are interesting people and coincidently they also happen to be locals.
We might miss out on nightlife at the local bus station, but if we want to take a break on the Black Sea, we can
If you think we are missing out on some cultural experiences, think again. Just a few days ago we crossed into Bulgaria and before we had even been stamped into the country, we were invited by a local customs official to share in celebrating St. Nicolas day with his family. St. Nicolas day is a big celebration here in Bulgaria and we were treated to a hearty traditional meal and lots of local hospitality. It might have helped that Vesko is a bit of an “adventure man” himself. He drove his Vesko’s Trip across the Syrian desert recently and is planning a trip next year through Central Asia. I do not to take anything away from anyone who takes the 36 hour train from town x to town y… I am sure you will have lots of interesting experiences of your own… just respect ours.
The trucks bring new adventures every day… like seeing if they will fit through the town gate at Khiva, Uzbekistan