Scots couple take the 44,000 mile high road from Australia through 35 countries

Published:  13 Feb at 6 PM
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A Scots couple returning home after spending 11 years living in Australia are taking the self-drive scenic route and visiting 35 countries on the way.

After some years working in Australia’s banking and finance sector, Phil and Lisa Armstrong decided it was time to return to Scotland. Unlike most homesick expats whose first priority is buying a plane ticket, the couple bought a second-had Toyota Land Cruiser and a map, then settled down to plan their amazing itinerary.

According to Lisa, they’d always enjoyed road trips and simply decided to embark on a real adventure. After touring Australia for four months, their next move was to load Troopy the Land Cruiser and themselves onto a cargo ship heading for Singapore. Once there, the real journey began, leading them through Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos and on to China, where they arrived last March.

As they toured China, visiting the Terracotta Warriors, Tiger Leaping Gorge and the Great Wall, the vast, ancient land blew Phil away with its long history, beauty and the genuine friendliness of its people. Mongolia was the next destination, chosen for its nomadic culture and endless wildernesses.

The couple found the experience challenging and the people proud, tough and slightly crazy. Helping build yurts, riding the tough little Mongolian ponies and herding goats are all experiences they’ll never forget. Another unforgettable experience happened at Lake Khovsgal, where Phil fell and broke his wrist, necessitating a fast return to Sydney to get it properly fixed.

Two months later, attempting to leave Mongolia and enter Russia, a river crossing nearly put an end to everything. Raging snow-melt water had turning the safe crossing into a dangerous obstacle which nearly proved fatal when the tractor towing Troopy failed to get up the far bank. With the water up to the windows, the tow rope snapped and enabled them to reverse out of trouble.

A one-night stop-off in Tajikistan provided another scary moment when they realised they’d parked in an uncleared mine field! Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Greece and more brought their total of countries visited to over 20 of the 35 on their itinerary. Their amazing experiences and dramas across 44,000 miles will end in May, when they arrive back in East Lothian and organise a huge party for their families and friends.

Sourca: Daily Record
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