The story

Land Rover on a deserted highway in IranThe road stretches for miles across the desert in Iran

We had decided from the beginning that army green probably wasn't the safest colour to be seen in, so we opted for brighter alternatives: lilac and orange were decided upon, which really turned heads (as well as a few stomachs). Adam's lilac Land Rover was christened "Chewit" at this point, as it now looked like a blackcurrant chewy sweet. Mine became "Homer" after the toy Homer Simpson we found at a car-boot sale while looking for spares. He was strapped to the front as a good luck charm.

The day of departure, November 1, began racing towards us, and it seemed that the closer the day came, the more work we found to do. Towards the end, we were all working on the cars through the night, desperately adding the finishing touches.

Finally, we started to pack the Land Rovers with the frightening quantity of things we needed; clothes, camping equipment, cooking equipment, stores of food and endless spare parts. Unfortunately, the heavy-duty springs we had fitted to Chewit clearly weren't up to the job; they were already resting on their bump stops at standstill. Fearing we would miss the ferry, we just had time to buy some even heavier-duty ones that we intended to fit at the first opportunity.

The overnight crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge was uneventful and, once on the Continent, our trip really began. At the end of the first day's driving we found a quiet spot and, after cooking a meal, started work on the springs. We immediately faced problems because we only had one jack, but after improvising with various bricks and pieces of wood we found lying around, the job of changing the springs was straightforward, and the problem was solved.

From Belgium we passed through France to Italy, just edging into Switzerland on the way for a few hours. As the days passed we developed a routine, spending as much of the day as possible on the move, and looking for a suitable camping spot a few hours after dark.

At Brindisi, we booked the cars on the overnight ferry to Greece. Five days later we crossed into Turkey and later the same day we arrived in Istanbul. The first thing we noticed, arriving as we did in rush hour, was the traffic. It seemed that as each country passed the driving got increasingly erratic. We had initially thought that it was manic in Italy, until we arrived in Greece, but Istanbul was something else again.

A mountain flower with the Himalayas towering behindThe stunning Himalayas in Nepal

It appeared completely lawless, with cars inching past each other from all directions in one huge scrum, and the deafening sound of a thousand car horns filling the air.

We learned from experience that the car horn is to be used as often as possible, and seemed to have a variety of meanings: feel free to pull out; don't even think of pulling out; you're about to hit me; hello, etc.

As we crossed the river and into Asia we also learned that, although might is right on the road, a loud horn is the next best thing and any disagreements over priority between similar-sized vehicles are decided by the volume of horn. Luckily we had been tipped off about this and had fitted industrial-strength two-tone air horns to both cars. As the standard of driving deteriorated further, we were disturbed to notice that we too had succumbed; out with indicators and safe overtaking, in with the horn and games of chicken. It was as if our two kinds of driving were incompatible and, as we certainly couldn't beat them, we were forced to join them.

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