The story

It seems that, if there is one uniting law in the world, it is that the standard of driving in any country is indirectly proportional to its people's friendliness. By the middle of Turkey, edging along the northern Black Sea coast, we would be swamped with interested and friendly locals wherever we stopped.

Frequently, if stopped at the side of the road to eat or camp, we would have to return the waves of every single passing car and lorry, accompanied of course by a toot on the horn.

The Swayanbouneth temple in Kathmandhu, Nepal The 'Monkey Temple', Kathmandu

In the mountains of eastern Turkey we became very aware of a mechanical problem with Chewit, which became increasingly sluggish and unresponsive. As the problem worsened, we could barely accelerate even downhill, and 30mph became our top speed.

In Iran, after a day spent churning through paperwork and inspections to get visas, we decided a small service was called for. Stopped at the side of a quiet road, Adam changed the injectors and fuel pump and also noticed that the engine kill was not freeing up properly. The work was observed by the usual incredibly generous crowds of people stopping to offer their help. After about three hours, two offers of a meal, three volunteered mechanics, a loaf of bread, a large bag of oranges, several bottles of water and an English-Persian phrase book, we declared it a success and decided on a route through Iran.

Over the next few days, however, the problem resurfaced and it was not until we were halfway home that the root was finally found. It seemed that the grub screw that locates the injection pump drive shaft was not properly seated, leading to enormous fluctuations in the injection timing.

We hadn't really allowed for the huge scale of Iran and, having only been given a seven-day visa, and effectively losing one day to get it and another to repair the car, we had five days left to cover the immense country.

We were pleasantly surprised to find magnificent, empty, good-quality roads stretching across the desert and with diesel at 0.01 pence per litre we had no problems covering the distance. The only problems came from navigation; we had never before had to follow road signs written in their alphabet and were forced to read road signs out as "looks like a small man lying down next to a dripping tap - 283 km", before trying to relate this to the map.

In Pakistan and India it was usual to have place names in English and local languages.

A typical house in the mountains of Nepal A typical Nepalese house near one of the hospitals

We had to move swiftly as we crossed into Pakistan to reach the nearest village by nightfall, as the border area is lawless bandit country. As the roads became increasingly covered by the desert, we were being constantly overtaken by other cars travelling at high speed and with large armed escorts. Our fears increased tenfold when the gearbox started to make dreadful whining noises, then clunking ones.

We found we had developed a leak in the gearbox and had lost all our oil. We had no gearbox oil with us and were forced to ignore the problem until we finally reached a village in the middle of the night. After finding some gearbox oil the next day we survived for the next two weeks until Kathmandu, by adding half a litre a day.

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