Where do you find a $200,000+ Aston Martin V8 Vantage sportscar followed by a clunking white Indian Ambassador? In Turkmenistan, of course.
In Uzbekistan, we’ve also come across small cars covered with stickers and driven by Westerners desperate for the next mechanic or gas station.
What’s all the fuss? Awareness, fundraising and rallies.
Phil Colley and Richard Meredith are driving an Aston Martin V8 Vantage sportscar from Tokyo to London to raise awareness for road safety and safe driving. We met them while staying in Ashgabat.
Richard was fined $100 for smoking in his own car (smoking in public places in Turkmenistan is prohibited). After almost three hours of negotiation, their guide managed to convince the police officer not to impound the car and take their passports for a few days. As a result, they managed not to overstay their visas and made it on schedule to the Caspian Sea ferry from Turkmenbashi to Baku. If they survived the roads in Georgia, they should be arriving in London any day now.
Royal Marsden and Future Hope Drive Home
Max and George are driving an Indian Ambassador from Calcutta to London to raise money and awareness for an orphanage in Calcutta called Future Hope. Future Hope was started by a British banker working in Calcutta who began taking in street kids from the train station. This developed into a proper orphanage and has now grown into a network of several.
London to Mongolia Rally
The Uzbek desert is littered with sticker-adorned compact cars (maximum engine is one liter) on their way to Mongolia. Just so happens that our route through Uzbekistan coincided with a few rally teams, including Rob Dewhurst and Phil Giblin of Team Tempus Fugit. We shared the same hotel as they set down in search of a good view of Bukhara and a good mechanic.
Although the drivers are racing through countries without much time for sightseeing, they are all gaining and learning from the experience. Rob and Phil shared stories with us of their drive across Iran where they were met with overwhelming hospitality and kindness. For example, they almost ran out of gas because of Iran’s current gas rationing regime. A local family came to their rescue and gave them almost seven days worth of gas (20 liters) and refused payment.