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This is a re-post of my [now deleted] post on the General chat, titled: 'I'm driving around the world/Social media advice needed' from January 11th 2018. Due to lackadaisical typing I noticed several typos I couldn't go back and edit and before the post gained any more views I figured it would be best to re-post and move category.

Instagram: @drive_further
Facebook page: drive_further

My story so far:

I write this in part as you guys may be interested in my achievements which I haven't really publicised - for no other reason than the fact I'm travelling for my own personal experience. In 2016 I left England on what so far has been a 2 year road trip across the northern hemisphere (with a brief visit to west-coast America whilst I applied for Central Asian visas)  in my 2002 Ford Fiesta.

I've driven to date over 25,000 miles and explored countries such as Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, Russia, Georgia ... In late 2016 I visited the northern Russian city of Murmansk experiencing temperatures as low as -22 and my car was fine! In the coming days I will cross the Ural river, the geographical feature separating Asia and Europe; and and arrive for the first time in the continent of Asia.

I've severely neglected social media ad wasn't sure how best to 'advertise' my travels, I simply thought someone may be interested. I'm not looking for fame, simply, I have accumulated so many interesting stories, both car and non car related, along with tens of thousands of DSLR photos and 'car selfies.'  I just thought as my story is perhaps unusual and in a Ford Fiesta someone/you all may be interested.

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I never took a traditional gap year so have taken a hiatus from my career to travel for 2 years. I left the UK in 2016 with an odometer reading of 68,267 - I'm now just over 91,000 miles. My road-trip to-date can in effect be can be broken into 2 parts, 

Part 1: Predominantly exploring Europe: (August 2016-May 2017) Returning to the UK to obtain Central Asian VISAs

Yellow line = Primary road-trip in the Fiesta; to be read > leaving England towards Scandinavia,

Of particular note:- My entry into Kosovo via Serbia from the north, all roads due to the war have been deliberately destroyed bar a single road used for goods vehicles which was shelled by mortars during the war. This hasn't been fixed, needless to say my suspension had a good work out. I was in Kosovo for their annual Day of Independence [from Serbia] celebrations in February 2017.

Orange line = Detour road-trips in the Fiesta; Of note: to the northern Russian city of Murmansk situated over 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in October 2016 Personal best of -22, car was fine! I was cold.

Red  line = A single flight to Bulgaria and back into Saint Petersburg - Sep 2016

Part 2: My current road trip: Russia into Central Asia: (Sep 2017-Current)

Yellow line = Primary road-trip in the Fiesta; leaving England straight for Saint Petersburg, Russia -

Of particular note:- My entry in Annexed Crimea, [The FCO advises against all travel to this region for British nationals] was via mainland Russia and thus not though a border controlled by Ukrainian forces - as the UK.. and well most of the world don't consider Crimea part of the Russian Federation  - According to UK law I've committed an international crime and face arrest. I'm very proud of this amusing feat. Without hesitation I can say I had an amazing time in Crimea, I will have fond memories of this place for a long time. Christmas 2017

I entered Chechnya and Dagestan, both of these regions the FCO point blank advises all British nationals not to travel under any circumstance, this was the 3rd region I've explored that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises point blank against all travel for British nationals... and this was the third region I've had a positive experience.

My interactions with people though these two caucus regions have been nothing but warm and welcoming, very humbling. Once again people asking for car selfies, one driver aged about 60 was so amazed by my presence here, he filmed me for a good few miles! From personal experience and through talking to locals, I've released tourists here are incredibly well received, and respected.

Red line = My planned main route - I write this currently in Astrakhan near the western Kazakhstan border. With a rough plan to be at Baikal for April 2017

Orange line = Planned detour route from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Baikonur, Kazakhstan - Arrival date in Baikonur 10th March, for the purpose of watching live manned Soyuz launch Expedition 55/56 to the ISS. 

I'll add a small gallery of images from the previous post shortly..

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wow, looks good fun and in a lovely car, i look forward to seeing more of you travels, i couldnt do it, i prefer a hotel and hot weather.

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I've recently crossed onto the Western Steppes, and successfully crossed into Kazakhstan. The border itself this time of year is rather unique, from experience a conventional border crossing via road consists of a country's exit border, a section of 'no man's land' then the new country's entry border.

However the border between Russia and Western Kazakhstan lies across a section of the Reka Kigach river which at this time of year has frozen over. You have the Russian exit border, but then stretched across the bridges are a series of no less than 2 Kazakhstan check-points. At each checkpoint you're issued a stamp and the car is roughly checked for contraband, when you finally arrive at the Kazakhstan entry border across the river you present your stamps as proof you've legitimately traveled via road across the frozen river and haven't simply illegally driven across the frozen ice.

One of my last Russian cities before crossing is unique. Named Elista, a fascinating region, and the only part in all of Europe which is Buddhist.

The steppes here are a sight, flat grasslands for as far as the eye can see, remarkable. Herds of animals wander freely. I should cross the Ural river by car for the first time in the coming day and therefor arrive in the continent of Asia for the first time. Washing the car is futile!

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Wow, wow, wow (no I'm not a dog) fair play to you buddy, keep up the posts, awesome 👍🤞

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There are 2 main geographical landscapes separating the continent of Asia and Europe: the Ural mountains in the north, and the Ural River to the south, both of these geographical features now lie to my west meaning for the first time I have set foot in Asia. In fact the Ural river is frozen this time of year, so my first trip into Asia I actually walked across the frozen ice which in itself is a doubly cool feat from my perspective. Continent number 2 for the Fiesta, very, very proud!

Western Kazakhstan is amazing, and I'll try to write in detail about my short time here when I have better battery life in the laptop. I really wish I could have stayed in this region longer. However my goal was to enter Uzbekistan asap, I have a single month, single entry Visa for Uzbekistan which started on the 1st January and expires 31st January 2018. I explored the Greater Caucasus for longer than originally planned which has had a rough knock on effect in my itinerary.

Today after a very long drive (due to road surface in the region , approx 100 miles takes about 3 hours) I've crossed from Kazakhstan into Uzbekistan and write this from their city 'Nukus' I've already had a very friendly welcome; from the border guards amazed by my presence  - to the friendly drivers giving me a warm thumbs up and toot toot.

My car remains dirty  which is a good thing; I have written in Russian on my bonnet in big letters 'Hello from an Englishman' this has resulted in an accumulation of various forms of reply; randoms welcoming me to their regions or country. I'll travel to Tashkent over the coming week, but for now I'll rest for a couple of days and explore the region.

Attached are a few pictures, including the frozen Ural River. Also, I was able to capture a 'rainbow' which in-fact curved in on itself near the horizon making a  270 degree arc, but as there was no moisture in the sky I assume this was some form of solar/atmospheric effect caused by the sun (it almost looks like camera flare, but I assure you it isn't, I was deliberately trying to photograph this phenomenon.)

Its difficult to photograph the true scale of these steppes... perfect flat lands for thousands (literally, as they stretch into Mongolia) of miles. If there's is something on the horizon like a power pylon, its noticeable, and evident I must have a view range of 10 square miles at least.

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Wow... this is amazing and I'm hugely envious!

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another wow from me,

You should re-title this post to 'The Real Grand Tour'

Stay safe and keep posting amazing photos.

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amazing, i take it you have a good grasp of the languages of the areas your visiting? and how do you figure out where fuel stations are ? 

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On 22/01/2018 at 10:57 PM, iantt said:

amazing, i take it you have a good grasp of the languages of the areas your visiting? and how do you figure out where fuel stations are ? 

I have no grasp of these languages whats so ever. My Russian is very poor but enough to vaguely get by explaining who I am [a British tourist] where I've been, and where I'm going. 

My experience so far of Kazakhstan is that many have an English vocabulary better than most Europeans, the oil industry has made these regions tri-lingual and very multi-national. English really is a universal language, something we perhaps take for granted, many around these regions I am able to converse through a combination of broken English and broken Russian.

Most fuel stations are like in the UK and pretty obvious, but with an emphasis to LPG than Petrol, so in instances I have had to divert to find a fuel pump which I need.

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Dan.. you are a man after my own heart mate.

I have driven to Mongolia twice, and recently looped Europe via North cape to italy via Stelvio pass. 6500 miles in 2 weeks.

I have plans in a few years to do around the world too. 

I would like to follow you if you don't mind and also do a club article about your adventures if thats ok??

BTW, i did mongolia in 2009 due to a post on this club about someone doing mongolia in a Fiesta, that got the juices cooking and now I can't wait for my next adventure. Keep driving mate!!!

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https://www.facebook.com/Drive_Further-1498699446914070/

Now following your facebook.

 

I have always said to friends, you just get up and go, i never understand why more people don't do these kind of road trips. I decided one evening to just book myself to Mongolia, then i was in after that. It was as simple as that. Planning and vehicle prep was great fun too.

Dan, was there any reason why Mongolia is not on your list? I would have said this was the best country in all of our travels. Lovely people. If you get an opportunity to get a visa for it then this will be well worth your time. 

 

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On 24/01/2018 at 9:33 AM, Steve said:

Dan.. you are a man after my own heart mate.

I have driven to Mongolia twice, and recently looped Europe via North cape to italy via Stelvio pass. 6500 miles in 2 weeks.

I have plans in a few years to do around the world too. 

I would like to follow you if you don't mind and also do a club article about your adventures if thats ok??

BTW, i did mongolia in 2009 due to a post on this club about someone doing mongolia in a Fiesta, that got the juices cooking and now I can't wait for my next adventure. Keep driving mate!!!

Hi Steve, very humbled at the request to do a club article, follow away although I recommend following the thread rather than Facebook.

I've sent you a message with my email as this may be a better way to get in touch.

You mentioned the Stelvio Pass... ...In late March here's me in the Swiss Alps on the Gotthard Pass, the sign at the bottom clearly stated 'Road closed' ..so typical Dan style I drive up. Obviously didn't see another single car so sat in the middle of the road and had a photo-shoot for 40mins (as you do) 

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On 24/01/2018 at 9:56 AM, Steve said:

https://www.facebook.com/Drive_Further-1498699446914070/

Now following your facebook.

 

I have always said to friends, you just get up and go, i never understand why more people don't do these kind of road trips. I decided one evening to just book myself to Mongolia, then i was in after that. It was as simple as that. Planning and vehicle prep was great fun too.

Dan, was there any reason why Mongolia is not on your list? I would have said this was the best country in all of our travels. Lovely people. If you get an opportunity to get a visa for it then this will be well worth your time.

 

By bad coincidence I'm continuing to neglect Facebook, and although my intention is to update it I doubt it will be updated as often as people would like. I enjoy writing here and as I'm simply travelling for personal experience I intend to keep my time on  social media to a minimum and just enjoy my travels. Its likely this thread will remain my most active and updated place... I'll perhaps revisit Instagram and use that with more frequency.

For me my story was very similar I in effect have always wanted to visit Russia and one day simply chose to apply for a visa, and instead of flying decided to drive because it 'wasn't too far'. Within 4 months or so I had set off, and 5 days later I had crossed the border into Russia for the first time.

There's no particular reason I've chosen not to visit Mongolia, I have quite a large Russian Visa which allows an extensive stay and multiple entry, my planned route was to arrive into Baikal from Almaty. and from Baikal head to Vladivostok which naturally took me across Siberia rather than into Mongolia.

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There have been 2 main updates since I last wrote about my progress last Monday...

Its worth interjecting quickly to note: The 'roads' I've experienced since entering central Asia have been rough to say the least. About a week ago I drove into what can only be initially described as a 'crevasse' at roughly 25mph, but I've now come to the realization this can more accurately be described as a 'minor and frequent pothole' This was with sufficient impact to smash both my fog lights, but upon a check of the car I didnt' see any fundamental problems. Which basically means my tires and suspension were fine so I drove forth with due care.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, with over 1000 miles traveled since the pothole in question - and the car experiencing no issues - after a scheduled stop at a petrol station the car randomly didn't start. A single turn of the ignition and dash lights worked and all lights were bright. The car didn't even attempt to start of try and turn over. Were it not for the very kind Uzbek locals i would have been somewhat stranded, however the car was perfectly happy once push started and I made it into my scheduled stop for the night, the historic city of Khiva. After turning the engine off I experienced identical issues, we were able to push start it again with little effort and took it to the local competent car mechanic. (See below for this reference to make more sense, but this push start in Khiva was initiated by a very friendly police officer who after being informed at what we were doing, called over no less than 3 members of his police force colleagues to help)

The mechanic was able to diagnose the specific reason for the engine not starting was due to a blown 60A fuse in my Auxiliary fuse box in the engine bay. In addition ,after a check of the car he was able to see that my front end was smashed more than my initial lamen inspection. The front radiator fan had clearly not been working for sometime and my radiator itself was a good 10 degrees offset. I hadn't experienced any overheating and oil temperatures have remained normal. However its his professional diagnosis that my car was overheating and the reason for the blown fuse.

Some of you may have seen my recent post titled 'Fuse box diagram needed' Long story but the fuse box diagram for my car is harder to find than one assumes, but thankfully due to the help of the forums here (specifically @dansallis TY! and the guys over on the Puma forums specifically 'Ian G') I was able to locate not only my fuse box diagram but find out the specific fuse blowing is a 60A Engine Management fuse. The explanation of this fuse is vague but after a search and through talking with some mates - a guesstimate is that this fuse could be blowing as I have loose Ignition Capacitor or Radio Suppressor wires which are earthing somewhere.

(Incidentally - I couldn't actually locate these personally, are they behind my radio?)

However after a thorough check we couldn't see any loose wires and all earthing wires are connected accordingly. The car is now out of the shop, and I'm very saddened I wasn't present to take images of the car being worked on as I've never seen the front end off my car. Anyways, the car now starts perfectly and the front end has been fixed (which isn't a bad thing regardless) I guess the only way to know if the car has indeed been fixed is to continue to drive and see if my Fuse continues to blow - if so then perhaps I do indeed have a loose wire which is earthing, and I guess if it doesn't blow then the problem was indeed something to do with the front fan not spinning.

- Any additional opinions on the cause on why my F51 60A Engine Management fuse blew are welcomed -

I mentioned 2 main updates, the second is that totally unrelated to recent car issues (as I say: it now starts fine and is presumably fixed) I've had to return home to Yorkshire with immediate effect. This isn't something I will discuss further, but needless to say I've temporarily abandoned the car in Khiva, Uzbekistan. All non essentials I've bought back to the UK including all car and import documentation.

I'm very humbled by the response from the local community in Khiva, I've given the owners of where I was staying the car keys and they've kindly said they will look after it until I return, also the local police have been very friendly, and one officer specifically has been so so helpful, I get the feeling he almost feels personally compelled to insure my car remains perfectly fine during his watch, and during my absence.

This is a non scheduled return to the UK and thus a new visa is required for me to enter Uzbekistan, but I anticipate returning to the car to continue my road-trip in 4-5 weeks.

With several stories from my road trip around Europe prior to entering Central Asia, this perhaps is a good and logical time to have an intermission from chronological events, and near future posts will be of events past.

Attached are images from a very random event, in-fact immediately prior to my petrol stop mentioned above;  whilst driving I noticed a plane on the horizon. Risking multiple punctures I drove somewhat off piste to investigate. Very randomly from my perspective just sat there in the middle of the steppes I came across an old abandoned Yak 42 with a tail number of 42305 - you can see, but not go, inside - as the rear has been welded shut and I didn't want to risk tetanus investigating further! I've been unable to find further information on this...


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Intermission from chronological events, road trip on pause, car is currently in Khiva, Uzbekistan. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Intermission from chronological events, road trip on pause, car is currently in Khiva, Uzbekistan. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

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Finding that plane is seriously cool.  Was there an airstrip nearby?

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30km from nearest airport. But plenty of desert to land on.lol you can see it on Google maps. Been there at least 13yrs.

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6 hours ago, iantt said:

30km from nearest airport. But plenty of desert to land on.lol you can see it on Google maps. Been there at least 13yrs.

Well spotted! I searched on Google maps after the fact to try and find it to no avail, you have eagle eyes! Could you share co-ordinates please for GMaps @iantt ?

It certainly made me do a double take seeing it on the horizon that's for sure!

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yeah, theres a road of some sorts to it then some buildings a little further on. will have a look for co ords.

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i dont know how i found it to be honest . knew it was near nukus so assumed you were on the a380 and followed that road looking towards the dessert until i found it then googled the plane number and a little info came up with a photo

CCCP-42305 , ex instructional airframe of the Nukus Technical School.

 

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4 hours ago, iantt said:

i dont know how i found it to be honest . knew it was near nukus so assumed you were on the a380 and followed that road looking towards the dessert until i found it then googled the plane number and a little info came up with a photo

CCCP-42305 , ex instructional airframe of the Nukus Technical School.

 

you're a fountain of knowledge lol

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Dan, you need that Mongolia Visa. It's cheap and will be well worth it, honestly.

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