Monday, May 3, 2010

Asia Overland - notes from the archives


Asia Overland - majority of overlanders, whilst glancing at a world map, plot a number of routes across the continents.  By far the most popular is Africa, however, Asia was the preferred route of choice a few decades ago. In this blog I pull out a few interesting facts and figures from the archives of various authors:

The Asia Overland route options:
In the 1970's a common route was from Turkey into Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and into India.  We recognise today that this route is closed and that more travellers are crossing Russia and China before heading to Singapore.

The Cost of a Trans-Asia trip:
Colin McElduff, in his 1976 edition of  "Trans-Asia Motoring" writes:
It is not possible to provide true and accurate costs for an overland journey across Asia because of the ever-changing conditions that will be encountered. Local price variations, weather conditions, road conditions , political developments - all these factors can affect he ultimate cost of the journey as a whole... you should constantly bear in mind the fact that an overland journey across Asia is not the cheapest method of travelling!

Peter Fraenkel, in his 1975 book 'Overland' writes that the three basic cost elements to any overland trip (and still relevant) are:
  1. Pre-departure costs - buying, preparing a vehicle, equipment etc
  2. Costs related to distance - the costs of running your vehicle will be roughly proportional to the distance covered. 
  3. Costs related to time - These are mainly food and accommodation and tourist related ventures.

A 1974/5 budget for a 90day (16000mile) trip was roughly £633 of which the largest propotion was costs related to distance (fuel, oil, tolls, repairs).

Words of Advice from the authors:
Jack Jackson writes in 1979:
By hard experience of using some 50 Land Rovers of the various models over 10 years in extremely rough conditions on this route (Asia) and in Africa, I have discovered what difficulties are most likely to occur and can suggest ways to avoid or correct them. No vehicle will remain in mint condition after thousands of miles of heavy use. 
The diesel Land Rover is not in general nearly so reliable as its petrol counterpart and spares are more difficult to obtain.
It's a good thing that since 1979, the reliability of diesel engines, and the ability to find spares has proved the opposite to the authors advice.

Jack Jackson:
It pays to be helpful, cooperative and very, very patient at borders. The customs officials and border police are all-powerful and can cause you and enormous amount of difficulty.
Peter Fraenkel
Someone who is keen on maps makes an ideal navigator, and his main function is to look after the maps, guide the driver through cities, find out as much as possible about places worth visiting and how to find them, and keep day-to-day records of mileage covered, fuel used and road conditions.
All travellers should keep a log or diary. Years later it will bring back memories which otherwise would have been lost for ever.
Colin McElduff:
If you break down, you should immediately consult your journey log together with the relevant map and route itinerary, in order to establish a fix or position. You should then enter the details in your log, together with an appreciation of the situation.

Reference Books:

The Asian Highway - Jack Jackson and Ellen Crampton











Trans-Asia Motoring - Colin McElduff

Overland - Peter Fraenkel

Current Asia Overland Trips:
See www.asia-overland.net