The homework for this trip started (in a pretty casual, speculative basis) back in September 2008 and geared up to the ever-increasing and in-depth research that we’re still doing now.  Once we’d finalised our proposed itinerary (January 2009), we needed to put the rest in place, for example:

(i)    Are we actually allowed to drive through these places?
(ii)    Just how much paperwork is going to be involved with this? (everyone knows how Customs officials the world over love nothing more than endless mountainous bureaucracy; by giving ourselves just over 50 border crossings on our route we knew we weren’t making this easy for ourselves)
(iii)    Just how much is it going to cost? (uh-oh..)

And so it goes on…

Then the bad news… At the beginning of March, Charlie unfortunately got made redundant.  The good news was that we expected it - the majority of his team had exited in November in a previous cull; this really was a case of when, not if.  

The really exciting news was that this was the spark to light the touch paper that we had been waiting for, and we could begin to put some concrete dates and decisions around our trip – we were actually going!!

16 weeks may sound like plenty of time to organise all our kit and papers for a trip leaving on our revised leave date of 15 June, but in reality, there was an incredible amount to do:

•    Research and buy vehicle
•    Kit out said vehicle
•    Learn Russian (the language we thought would be the most useful and easiest to learn – relative to say, Cantonese or Farsi!)
•    Finalise itinerary (properly this time, no ‘we’ll play it by ear’ patches…)
•    Choose Chinese driving agency and send off details by 1 May (bless ‘em, runaway winners of the ‘utterly mindless bureaucracy’ trophy , necessitating a local agency to assist in obtaining all the right permits / consent / licences etc etc..)
•    Get new (jumbo) passports
•    Visas x 22 (ouch!)
•    Shipping for car x 1 (around Burma, which despite our best endeavours, still seems nigh-on impossible to enter from India, unless you hunker down and go native with the drug-runners for a month)
•    Rent out the flat
•    Get every vaccination on the inoculation list (yep, every single one – ouch!  again)
•    Source contacts in each country (if not full-on ‘fixers’ at least friendly faces in case of disaster)
•    Off-roading course
•    Mechanics course
•    Medical course

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