Archive for the ‘7.UAE’ Category

Tearful Goodbyes 8-14/11/10

Posted: November 14, 2010 in 7.UAE

She’s gone and I miss her so. Yes she made me cross, infuriated me at times, but deep down I loved her in my own special way. Maybe I didn’t show her how much I cared, maybe I should have had more patience with her, maybe I shouldn’t have stared at hot Asian models right in front of her, but it’s too late now, I only hope that she will forgive me the next time we meet. There’s a hole in my heart where she used to be and now I’m only left with boring old Megan, as the one true love of my live, my car (Harriet as she has come to be known) was put in a large metal box yesterday and is currently sitting in Jebel Ali free trade zone waiting to be shipped to Malaysia. She did put up a fight; at one stage she refused to go any further and wanted to go home but after a little wining and dining (posh new oil and three sparkling filters) she finally came round to my way of thinking. The trick is to make them feel like it’s their idea….

So the Land Rover has a name, in fact it had one from the start and certain members of Megan’s family think that the trouble we have had with her is down to the fact that we have not called her by her name. I just can’t bring myself to do it though, we really don’t want to be ‘those people’, but to be fair we did use it once or twice when she was on fire (usually with the pre-fix ‘bloody’ and slightly more risque terms) and now she is all better. Make of it what you will.

Let’s sum up last week’s trails with her; as you know if you were paying attention she caught fire twice and went through 4 different handbrake cables, but after Mark (the wonder) electrician came to the garage and waved his magic multi meter all is well with the world. I really can’t thank him and the chaps (Jason and Gareth) at A2B garage ( enough. The car was with them for well over a week and the time they spent on it was substantial. However they only charged me for the parts they used, around £70, which is quite frankly one of the nicest things that has happened to us on this trip. We also nearly got our car in the new Mission Impossible film and we both got very excited about meeting Tom Cruise (well Megan was). You will be glad to know that I played it all very cool and in no way went home to change and ‘do’ my hair. Unfortunately they wanted a white one, boo.

With the car fixed we finally went to explore what the UAE had to offer outside Dubai city limits. We drove to the East coast to a place called Dibba and camped on the beach for about an hour until quad bikes and 4x4s drove us to a hotel instead. It would seem that the evenings on the beach are given over to Arabs and their toys. It was unfortunate but the hotel had a private beach and views of Snoopy Island (yes it really is called Snoopy Island, I’m not making it up) and from the photo perhaps you can see why.

The next day we hopped back in the car, and once we’d got over the novelty of no fires starting when we started the engine we headed over the mountains to Al Ain, a small city on the border with Oman and home to another of Megan’s mum’s friends, Michele and another couple of nights free accommodation! Al Ain is a very interesting place with a massive Oasis, a mountain and a Camel Market. Our host also took us to watch the camels being trained for the races in the middle of the desert. It was quite a surreal sight watching all the camels being ridden around a race track whilst the owners drove next to them in the Land Cruisers shouting instructions to the jockeys. I studied the form so if anyone is interested in a hot tip for the next 2:15 race at Al Ain go for Humphrey running in the outside lane, but only if the going is good to firm.

On our return to Dubai we went to the mall to get some cake for tea and returning to the car found a magazine and business card from Daniel at asking us to get in contact as he loved the car. It turns out after checking the website out that he wants an article for the magazine, so I’m hopefully going to be a published author! Considering I only got a D in English at school and am 93% dyslexic when it comes to splxleling it’s quite an achievement!  You should probably put your orders in now as it will no doubt be flying off the shelves once it hits the news stands.

Then yesterday we had our tearful good byes with the car. Once again we did battle with customs and after they finally gave in and stamped our carnet we loaded the car into a container. Shipping a car has to be the most drawn out, stressful, expensive and mildly annoying thing in the whole world. Seeing as I work (used to work) on ships I thought I had an idea of how the shipping world worked, but it’s a maze of trumped up charges, hours in custom offices and rubber stamps. I have below listed Simon’s 10 steps to shipping to help others out;

  1. Spend 2 weeks trying to find an agent who understand the Carnet Du Passages system.
  2. Ask for a price.
  3. Spend another week finding another agent who will quote a more realistic price.
  4. Look for a ship that sails where you want to go and not via Panama to get to Malaysia.
  5. Ask the agent why the price has gone up since last week.
  6. Ask the agent why we have to pay for transportation if we are driving the car to the port ourselves.
  7. Ask the agent why the price has gone up since the morning.
  8. Sit in customs for at least 3 hours for one stamp.
  9. Go back to customs,      as they forgot to stamp the Carnet.
  10. Ask the agent why the final price is more than the original twice amended quote!

A $1000 nightmare.

We fly out on Tuesday to Kuala Lumpur and the car will hopefully arrive about 10 days later. Whilst we are waiting the plan is to find a beach somewhere and stay put, preparing ourselves to find an agent to clear the car and repeat the entire 10 steps again.

One final thought, I have put up the blog stats on the front page now and as you can see over 16,000 people have visited the site. That’s mind blowing, especially since we only started it to keep the folks informed as to our location and mental state. Thanks for the support people………. Now how can I make money out of this?!?

It’s Alive!

Posted: November 10, 2010 in 7.UAE

The car is working, but I don’t want to jinx it so I can’t say anymore right now. We have driven 200 miles with no fires; things are starting to look up for the Trek to Oz team!

The fireworks continue 28/10/10-7/11/10

Posted: November 7, 2010 in 7.UAE

Hello people, just a little update. Firstly the car, well it’s still properly broken- it caught fire again in the garage yesterday and we are still no nearer to finding out what the problem is. The lads at the A2B garage have been great though and are calling in the big guns, hopefully with an idea of why the car seems to insist on spontaneously combusting as soon as it senses the key in the ignition. No idea on what the outcome will be… The boat to Port Klang, Maylasia leaves on the 13th so somehow we have to get the car to the docks by that time.

Our plans have also totally changed. Getting the car into India by boat is a nightmare: the cheapest price we have been quoted is $2500, which is just way out of the budget. Plus we have heard from others thats it’s simply not worth the hassle, as the car could be held up for weeks/months by customs in Mumbai. We were held up by customs in Dubai for 4 hours and that was enough so we are going to do India on the train in the New Year and spend more time in SE Asia with the car (if it is fixed of course!).

So for the last week Mike and Ann have put us up in their lovely apartment in Dubai Marina and we have enjoyed the sights of Dubai. What a place, I can’t believe how much ite has changed in the last 10 yrs since I was here as a green Cadet on a container ship. We have seen the old town and spent hours wondering the malls, mouths agape at the size of them and the extravagance of the architecture.  The pictures don’t do it justice.

After a mammoth session with the UAE customs we slept soundly on our first night in Dubai, dreaming about sand dunes as our host had suggested a trip into the desert for a BBQ the next day. Our first foray into sand with the car did not go well. About 50m from the road we stopped, as the car in front got bogged down. Once he was free we tried to set off again only to find ourselves axel deep in sand with the consistency of talcum powder. An hour of digging ensued until finally a helpful Arab came along and pulled us out with his small Toyota, a tad embarrassing to say the least. We made it the the BBQ site and enjoyed the food and the local wildlife in the shape of a scorpion! No bare feet for Simon from now on.

The next day we took the car off to the garage to have all our troubles looked at, and there were a lot! We got it back a few days later and after installing a new £200 battery a small fire started underneath the car, melting a lot of the new wires. It went back to the garage where it still is to this day, so we have used our car-less time sight seeing and exploring this strange new land of Starbucks, Ferraris and Mega Yachts.

Over the weekend (Friday to Saturday here) our hosts kindly took us to Oman and an amazing snorkelling spot they know. I’ve never seen so many fish (that weren’t battered, with chips on the side), it was quite simply phenomenal. On saturday we both tried paddle skis (yeah, we had no idea what they were either). The best way to describe them is: take a canoe, halve it, make it very unstable, and you get an idea. I fell into the water around seven times before my first stroke with a paddle and by the end of the day I had swum more than I’d paddled. Megan ‘Redgrave’ Cartwright however took to it like a duck to water and was half way back to Iran before Mike could turn her around.

It’s been great having  friends to take our minds off our car troubles, and acting as tour guides and we really can’t say thank you enough to Ann and Mike. As soon as we get news on the car we will let you all know, as I am sure you are all having sleepless nights as well.

Fire down below!

Posted: November 2, 2010 in 7.UAE

So the Land Rover caught fire today. What more is there so say? It’s all very upsetting and I had a little cry. Luckily we are staying with some lovely people, (thank you so much Ann and Mike), so we have somewhere to sleep whilst the car is looked at by the nice guys at the A2B garage in Dubai.

We will wait and see what the outcome is but the wiring under the car is a molten mass of plastic, it looks bad. As soon as we find out I will fill you in on the last eventful week.

The whys and hows are yet unknown but needless to stay this could be a deal breaker. Anyone want to buy a Defender 130? You’ll have to come and collect it though…