“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” ~Oprah Winfrey
Here’s an update on what is happening in a life where any sense of adventure is far away right now (except Coen becoming a vlogger and drilling holes in his camera, but hey…).
Spoiler alert: we didn’t buy a white, double-axle limousine.
The End of an Overlanding Phase
With the transition from 2018 to 2019, we completed yet another stage in our travels – a fantastic ten-month adventure in Russia, Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan.
We certainly hadn’t expected to be overlanding in such cold temperatures for so long, Siberia’s winters being longer and starting much earlier than we could ever imagine. It made for stunning scenery and at time challenging (but fun) driving.
The warm and dry summer in Mongolia was too short to see it all, as were our two weeks in Kazakhstan which we didn’t even have time to write about. We’ll be back to see more of all these countries.
Read More: Rough Camping along Lake Baikal
Just before New Year’s Eve, we arrived in Bishkek, giving ourselves ample time to round off this stage and prepare for the next ones. There are two, in fact, and both require preparation: one for the coming months abroad, and one in Bishkek this summer.
Meeting Fellow Overlanders in Bishkek
The joy of meeting other overlanders never fades. Maybe because it doesn’t happen very often as we generally seem to be away from the overlanders’ trails, or maybe because overlanders are just awesome people.
How nice is it to receive an email inviting you to use the couch at their Airbnb? And that’s how we met GrizzlyNBear. Stephanie from France and her husband Leigh from Australia have been driving from Europe to Central Asia in their Defender and are spending part of the winter in this cold part of the world as well.
As we arrived on December 31, we walked downtown just before midnight. The place was packed, but boy was it quiet! Silent, almost. On a stage were two women playing traditional music on classical instruments and about ten minutes before midnight, the president gave a speech that was aired on big screens.
No countdown, no shouting, no beer or other alcohol, no dancing. It was a bit odd, to be frankly. The fireworks were pale compared to anything any of us had ever seen (but certainly nicer for the environment than the 70-million-euro worth of fireworks that the Dutch shoot in the air that night). And so, at one thirty we were back at the Airbnb and in bed!
We spend leisurely days at the Aibnb with Coen and Stephanie stuck to their laptops making videos. GrizzlyNBear has fantastic videos detailing their journey with and they update a new vlog every Friday. I can vouch for the hard work that’s put in to weekly bring a surprising, entertaining, and informative movie, so make sure to check them out!
Coen had some footage lying around for a long time – ever since we got stuck in a river last spring. With Stephanie’s help he improved his editing skills, which led to this fun movie about getting unstuck. Thanks Stephanie!
The Land Cruiser’s Ins
After the two months of winter overlanding in Siberia the Land Cruiser was in desperate need for a thorough cleaning. The outside was easy enough, as there are tons of car washes in Bishkek.
The interior, however, was a disaster. Due to all the accumulated condensation, there was moisture pretty much in every storage compartment. Lots of cleaning and letting everything dry to be done (which worked well thanks to our recently installed Planar Heater given to us by Tigerexped). The honor of that job was mine.
The Land Cruiser’s Outs
The reason to spend more than two weeks in Bishkek was to give ourselves time to prepare for a big job this summer. The Land Cruiser’s Bodywork is screaming for attention. And so, the hunt started.
Thank you Ryan from Iron Horse Nomads (the place to rent a local overland vehicle), for your help and suggestions. We took two days of driving around, talking to people who’d be willing to do a thorough welding job on the Land Cruiser’s bodywork this summer. It turns out that a bar of the side panel is broken and so the job is bigger – already – than we foresaw.
We don’t even want to think about the surprises that lay ahead of us even though the last overhaul was only three years ago, in Guyana. This will be for another story, but we are leaving Bishkek having found a workplace that will do the job and an Airbnb to meanwhile stay – which is a good start.
Read More: The Overhaul in Guyana
Often forgotten, but taking up lots of time, are a ton of ‘little’ things that need to be taken care off. All seemingly small or unimportant but they are not. Whether that’s finishing all our freelance work, emptying cameras, bureaucratic red tape that goes way beyond this blog post, getting everything organized for our next adventure, all kept us glued behind the laptops for many hours.
But, as our time in Bishkek is drawing to a close, it is a pleasure to see the to-do lists to be almost empty.
The Next Adventure
The Land Cruiser will be in a warehouse for the next couple of months. We will fly to Turkey to do yet another long-distance hike. Our long-distance hikes in South Korea and Jordan got us addicted to this totally different form of travel and adventure.
Stay tuned for more.
Read More: Why Hike the Baekdu-Daegan in South Korea
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