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".