With 7 other MGB's we are driving from Bangkok to Beijing to Abingdon in England starting on 2nd April 2017. You may have a lot of questions starting with why an MGB not a HiLux, why drive all that way when there are perfectly good air services and why start in Bangkok to see the Silk Route. Well, because we can!
Well really its not quite as flippant as that. Travelling the Silk Route is something I've wanted to do since learning of Marco Polo's travels when I was in Primary School.
In reality the route has only opened up again in the past 20 odd years after being closed down by the Chinese and Russians in the 18th century. Now, not only is it possible to traverse, but the Chinese are committed to opening it up again as a serious alternative freight route to the west.
We have been planning this trip for well over 12 months now. Buying and preparing cars, investigating routes as well as working out visas, insurance and finance details. Each car has been given a task, whether it plan a route and associated accommodation, guides and assistance through a region, the logistics of getting the cars from Australia to the starting point in Bangkok or what is required to get the cars across the 17 borders we will encounter. On top of this most of us did not own an MGB before we decided to join the group, so there was the additional task of purchasing a suitable vehicle and preparing it for the journey.
The car we are driving is a white, Australian assembled 1970 MGB Mk2 Roadster with Overdrive. There are 2 other Roadsters (soft top / convertible) and 5 MGB GTs (hardtop). I chose a Roadster because that was THE car of my teenage years. Luckily Loris was totally unaware of the existence of the GT's when we/I made the purchase as she sees them as an eminently more practical alternative (read: dry, roomy, quieter, cooler and with more protection). She thinks the decision to purchase the Roadster for the trip was totally emotional. Which it was.
We are not setting out to break new ground here.
In 2010, the Beijing to Abingdon leg of this trip was completed by Dave Godwin with a group of MG enthusiasts. Then, in 2012 Dave decided to transit Africa from Cape Town to Cairo and across to England. Friends, John & Ros Bastian joined that trip. Their blog can be found here: https://rjbastian.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/cape-town-to-cape-agulahs/
Subsequently in 2015, the group decided to drive the Pan American Highway from the tip of Tierra del Fuego to Alaska. Mike & Kay Herlihy joined John & Ros on that trip. John & Ros' blog can be found here: https://rjbastian.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/santiago-chile-and-the-adventure-begins/
At the conclusion of that trip John and Mike decided to pull a group together to tackle the Silk Road. So here we find ourselves, with a group of enthusiasts, two tried and tested teams and six about to be baptised.
Details of our group and their blogs can be found here: http://mgsilkroad.mgcc.com.au/
While the skeptics may wonder whether the MGB's are up for the challenge, they've done it all before.
Starting in Bangkok we firstly head east to Siem Reap in Cambodia where we turn north through Laos and into southern China. From there we head across to the new MG car factory just outside Shanghai and up to Beijing where we turn west. After inspecting the entombed warriors in Xian we head off to Dunhuang and around the northern side of the Taklamakan Desert to cross into Kazakhstan at the Horgas border crossing. From there its south west through the 'stans and the heart of the Silk Route: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan. Our first stop in Iran is Marshad, where we turn west again and skirt the bottom of the Caspian and Black Seas into Turkey. From Istanbul its then a dash across Europe in 6 days: Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany, France and finally on 12th July after travelling for 102 days, we hopefully end up at the old MG factory at Abingdon in England after covering just over 24,000 kilometers (although the speedo's in the cars will be telling us its closer to 15,000 miles).
The Silk Road or Silk Route was an ancient network of trade routes that for centuries were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the East and West from China to the Mediterranean Sea.