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Old 5th February 2017, 00:59   #121
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Originally Posted by LoneRidder View Post
Nice going, please don't delay further. A nice closure to get me hooked for the next part!
LoneRidder Bro, i am going to update this quite frequent now. Please fasten your seat belts :-D

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Originally Posted by revvenant View Post
Very well written travelogue (in progress). I have been an ardent follower of your thread for a very long time. During the long pause between Jun 2016- Jan 2017, I must have checked this thread at least once a day for any updates.

I will let out a secret. Although I have been a follower of Team-bhp for a very long time, it is this Travelogue that inspired me to seriously try to become a member.

Can't wait to find out what happened next.
Awww .. That is very sweet of you Revvenant. Thank you so much for the encouragement, i am going to be more frequent trust me :-)

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Mod Note : Slang and SMS Language are STRICTLY prohibited on Team-BHP. Please type in full and proper English for the benefit of other community members.

We advise you to read the Forum Rules before proceeding any further.
Hi Jr. Godzilla,

Thank you for pointing it out but i am a little confused on where did you find the infraction? There is definitely no sms lingo used, is it the usage of "Shitting Bricks" that caught your attention?

Looking forward to your response!

Akhil

Last edited by ajmat : 5th February 2017 at 20:11.
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Old 6th February 2017, 10:02   #122
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Default Re: London to Jammu: With a Range Rover

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Mod Note : Slang and SMS Language are STRICTLY prohibited on Team-BHP. Please type in full and proper English for the benefit of other community members.

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Akhil
Cooldudesunny, the above message is from Mod to Jr Godzilla for using SMS language and Slang. That particular comment has been deleted by Mods!.

Your writing is super cool
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Old 21st February 2017, 10:18   #123
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Default Re: London to Jammu: With a Range Rover

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Quote:
Cooldudesunny, the above message is from Mod to Jr Godzilla for using SMS language and Slang. That particular comment has been deleted by Mods!.

Your writing is super cool
Thank you buddy for clearing the air and for your encouragement. As a token of appreciation, here is Day 29 :-)
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Old 21st February 2017, 10:21   #124
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Default Re: London to Jammu: With a Range Rover

Day 29: On way to Russia-Kazakhstan Border, Left from Sochi
[Written by Akhil]

We had an early morning flight to Sochi, landed on time and rushed back to the Hotel. Cleared our stuff and were in the car in no time.

Agenda for today was really unrealistic but Aarti and me looked at each other and eye-to-eye asked ourself two question:

Who are we?
The Pathania's

What do we believe in?
Nothing is Impossible :-)

That was it, and another second we were on the way to the Russia-Kazakhstan border.

You must be wondering, what is this fuss about?
Well, we had totally forgotten that my Kazakhstan visa was only valid till today i.e. 4th October and ideally we were supposed to be exiting from Kazakhstan into Uzbekistan today! But our touristy side had gotten the better of us, we totally forgot about it and had gone to Moscow. Now, plan was that if we could somehow enter Kazakhstan today, then will figure out the rest.

However the ask was a little too much, we have to cover close to 1200 Kms in roughly 14 hours. Was possible if we could have driven non-stop at a speed of 85+ kmph! But problem was the terrain, it was mostly hilly with speeds max at 50-60 kmph.

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-sochikazakhstanroute1050x628.png

There was still some hope thou. A friend of my Jijaji lived in Kazakhstan and he told that Kazakhstan people love Mithun Chakarborty, yes our own Mithun Da! He suggested us to be prepared to sing/dance to his tunes and Kazakhstan border might be a piece of cake for us. Sounds unbelievable at first but after you think about it for a while and fact that we did not know anything about Kazakhstan! So plan was to download all Mithun and Kapil pics where they were together, and since we had Kapil's photo on our car, we would co-relate and voila! Also we planned to download popular Mithun songs which were a rage in the Stan's i.e. Jimmy Jimmy, Disco Dancer; and me and Aarti were actually discussing the dance steps :-p



For first 4-5 hours we had really bad traffic, long jams thanks to a marriage in one town on the way. And to make things worse, there was something about the sub we picked up on the way from one Subway and as a result Aarti was feeling sick and we had no other option but to call it a day 5 hours short of the border i.e in a town called Elista.



Using our offline GPS, we found one hotel (which seemed more like a hostel). Even thou it was a crappy place but with Aarti's health and considering the time of the day, we checked in and crashed on our beds after gobbling whatever we could get our hands on.

Now, 4th October was gone too. Our masterplan now was to enter Kazakhstan on an expired visa, banking heavily on our dancing skills and Mithun's photographs!

What song of Mithun did Aarti and Akhil dance to at the Russia-Kazakhstan border?

Did it work? Did they enter Kazakhstan?
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Old 24th March 2017, 21:15   #125
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Default Epic journey: Mumbai London self drive by 'young' couple with grandchild!

21,000 kms; 18 countries; 72 days. Mind boggling statistics for a planned self drive! Something I can't even think of, for all my love of driving!


Let me add a few small details of the bravehearts who have set off on that journey: a super enthusiastic and young at heart 72 year old, his even more enthusiastic soul mate in her 60s and their 9 year old granddaughter. Now, how does that sound? Made me fall out of my chair when I heard it!


Turns out this wonderful couple have had many adventurous trips - Antartica, North Pole, Kailash-Mansarovar trek, Everest base camp trek and a drive around Iceland!!!

These extraordinary folks are the parents and niece of my batch mate from college and the intent of this post is to make our super enthusiastic and helpful Team-BHPians aware of this epic journey and follow the developments. [Mods, please place this thread as you feel appropriate]. With a story like this, I felt a strong urge to share with our wonderful community who will no doubt appreciate, encourage and I'm sure, take inspiration from them.

Their wonderful family plans to help them update their blog with the journeys progress here - http://smritiweb.com/badri/. You could also check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/badrinarayan.baldawa

Here are some pics from the flag off ceremony:
Attached Thumbnails
London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-img_20170323_204000671.jpg  

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-img_20170323_205243707_r.jpg  

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-img_20170323_205606406_r.jpg  

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Old 24th March 2017, 22:06   #126
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Default Re: Epic journey: Mumbai London self drive by 'young' couple with grandchild!

Hats off! Truly mind boggling numbers and even more astonishing team! 3 people. From 72 to 9. 21000 kms! That number itself makes my head spin. Wonder how they get such courage and strength to do such things. And how did the parents of the 9 year old child allow her to go?

I mean, few days back I did a round trip in my reasonably comfortable car from Blore > Mysore > Blore (130+130kms) with a full day rest and I kept thinking my god when will I reach home!

Btw I'm just 22.

Last edited by GTO : 27th March 2017 at 11:41. Reason: Typos
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Old 25th March 2017, 08:18   #127
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Default Re: Epic journey: Mumbai London self drive by 'young' couple with grandchild!

Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post messages that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the quality of this forum.

Please read our rules before proceeding any further. We request you to post ONLY when you have something substantial to add to a discussion.

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Old 27th March 2017, 05:00   #128
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Default Re: London to Jammu: With a Range Rover

Day 30: Driving Towards Kazakhstan with Expired Visa
[Written By Akhil]

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-russiasheepcrossingroad1050x591.png

Today was 5th October, meaning my Kazakhstan visa had expired! Aarti was feeling much better, and we decided to carry on towards the border hoping our Mithun Chakraborty performance will work for us and we will be let in.

We had quick tea with some biscuits and left towards Astrakhan. Russian roads are excellent and landscapes are just plain flat, wherever you see there are just flat grounds. While on the way, we were practicing a popular Mithan Da song and some moves to go with it. Wherever we could find internet we download photos of Mithun Da with Kapil Sharma, since we had Kapil's photo on our car so from 1 and 2 we were going to prove our relationship with Mithun Chakraborty.



After driving close to 5 hours, we were in Astrakhan. While anyone in their right mind would have stayed in Astrakhan and applied for a new Kazakhstan visa (could have easily taken 5-10 business days) but since we knew that if we did not enter Kazakhstan today or in a day or two, the whole trip would jeopardize and we would have to return! So, another hour or so and we will know which way we were heading.



Russian police is as corrupt as Indian police and there are plenty of corrupt stories you will hear or read about. While we were driving on a straight road and were supposed to take a right turn as per the GPS, i did the mistake or trying to take an earlier right turn. The moment i gave the signal and started turning but then i realized my mistake and started driving straight (there was no other traffic on the road at that time). As luck would have it, there was a traffic check-post right before the next turn and we noticed the cop checking out our number plate. He waived us to stop and said something in Russian. We had downloaded the offline version of Google translator and used it extensively during our trip specially after crossing EU. We wrote about us and showed the cop translated text. He read it and took out his iPhone, that bugger had a paid translation application that would convert what he spoke into the mic. According to him, we have broken the traffic rule by misguiding the traffic behind us by first giving a right signal and then coming down straight. I tried explaining the situation but he said it was a major violation with fine up to $1000.00, he took our paper and went inside the station. We had read about Russian Police's corrupt practices but this was going to be a first hand experience. Both me and Aarti got down trying to request him to let us go. Aarti is a big drama, in these kind of situation her inner artist just jumps out and gives an Oscar worth performance. So, now she was a helpless lady on the road thousands of miles away from her country and running late to reach the Kazakhstan border. The cop asked me tell her to stay in the car while i follow him into the station. He seemed very serious so i asked Aarti to calm down and followed him in. There was another cop inside the station and he started telling how serious the violation was and how his senior officer is trying to help us out and if this goes to the court, we would be stuck here for days! So, change of strategy and i told the officer that i will give him whatever we have as we were both short on time and money. Using his mobile application, he asked me how much we had. I pulled out all the money i had in all my pockets, which was roughly $35 and 20! They both started laughing at me and while we were at it, Aarti was trying to enter the station. Officer told me to ask her to go back in the car and he was serious. Now, i was trying to convince Aarti to go back and let me handle it alone and it took some time for me to convince her.



She went back and i tried convincing the officers. Suddenly there was sound of some other vehicle stopping out the station and only, it was another police vehicle and the office thought it was his senior office who came by. He quickly used his app and told me to keep quite, which i did. Once that guys was gone, i tried convincing them again saying i listened to whatever he said and i genuinely had only that much money! These guys were frustrated by us both i guess, they bought it and let us go only $35 and 20 lighter.

Beyond Astrakhan, the road was not as great but manageable. Just 15-20 kms behind the border we had to cross a floating bridge which was in a bad state and with a truck stuck on top of it. With vehicles on the bridge, the bridge was coming down to almost at the same level as that of water. After that truck moved out, we crossed the bridge and carried on towards the border.



Getting through the Russia-Kazakhstan border is a 2 step process. First they issue you a coupon, then you drive through the no mans land which is quite some and then once you reach the Kazakhstan border, there was a long queue and the border check-post seemed unlike anything we were imagining, it was a pretty big building and clearly a modern day office with plenty of army personnel walking around. Both of us knew that dancing to the tunes of popular Mithun Chakraborty songs were not going to work for sure. We planned to be oblivious of the visa expiry if it was brought to our notice, plead our case and see if they will let us in. Almost after an hour wait, it was our turn to get cleared. Aarti went first and since she has UK passport she did not need additional visa, the officer at the counter was a lady and she called me at the counter and started looking at the visa. She asked us a couple of questions and then started looking for the stamp to let us in. She stamped the stamp pad and then was about to stamp the visa page when it stuck her that last date on my visa was yesterday! The scene was very much like the last scene from movie "Argo", however we were acting taken by a surprise and pleaded everyone we could. Fortunately, we met a soldier who had spent enough time in US and spoke fluent English. We explained him everything and spoke to his commanding officer but we had no option but to go back to Astrakhan and apply for the Kazakhstan visa.

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-kazakhstancheckpostcoupon.jpg

Positive thing was that incidentally i had Russian visa (Aarti dint require one) with 02 entries allowed (not multi entry) and Astrakhan was less than 2 hours away. By the time we started towards Astrakahn, it had gone dark and while crossing the border control i hit the car really hard on the gap between road and the bridge. I knew it was hard to tried hearing for any rattling or other sounds, check engine light but all seemed good so carried on towards the Russian border. This time at the border there was an insurance guy available as well, so got insurance too this time. Aarti arranged for a room in Hotel Park Inn, by this time i had started feeling tired and feverish. Aarti checked with the receptionist about Kazakhstan embassy and work hours, we request her to call them in the morning and inquire about the details so that we could apply for the visa as soon as possible.

I was dead tired, we ordered some food from the room, had it and dozed off.

While plan to sing and dance on Mithun Da's tunes did not work but will we able to get the visa stamped on time? That question remains ;-)
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Old 28th March 2017, 09:01   #129
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Originally Posted by Top-Gear View Post
21,000 kms; 18 countries; 72 days. Mind boggling statistics for a planned self drive! Something I can't even think of, for all my love of driving!


Let me add a few small details of the bravehearts who have set off on that journey: a super enthusiastic and young at heart 72 year old, his even more enthusiastic soul mate in her 60s and their 9 year old granddaughter. Now, how does that sound?
OMG .. Hats off to the couple
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Old 28th March 2017, 11:54   #130
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Default Re: London to Jammu: With a Range Rover

Hi Cooldude
I am virtually experiencing your experiences! This is just superb and I finished reading the entire 30 days travelogue in 5 hours today !

Glad to see this travelogue on Team BHP!. Getting glued to this thread and waiting for the next episode

How do they know our Mithun Da ?

Last edited by gkveda : 28th March 2017 at 11:56.
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Old 31st March 2017, 02:10   #131
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Default Re: London to Jammu: With a Range Rover

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Originally Posted by gkveda View Post
Hi Cooldude
I am virtually experiencing your experiences! This is just superb and I finished reading the entire 30 days travelogue in 5 hours today !

Glad to see this travelogue on Team BHP!. Getting glued to this thread and waiting for the next episode

How do they know our Mithun Da ?
Thanks Veda for your kind words :-)

Actually, thanks to Raj Kapoor Bollywood is a known name in Russia and the Stan's. In all these U.S.S.R. countries Bollywood movies and TV serials are broadcasted after translation, therefore Mithun Da is an icon over there as well.
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Old 9th July 2017, 13:14   #132
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Day 31: Visit To Kazakhstan Embassy & The Wonderful Kazakhs

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-kazakhstanborder11050x591.jpg

While i did sleep through like a dog, i wasn't feeling too great in the morning. Was still feeling tired and weak. Thanks to the medicine i took in the night (from the receptionist), the fever was gone and i was hoping to be back in travel mode by afternoon.

Thankfully Aarti had recovered fully and while i continued to rest after having my breakfast, Aarti coordinated with receptionist's help with the Kazakhstan Embassy and fixed up an appointment for afternoon. They din't convey much on the phone but we both were really keeping out fingers crossed that things will work out.

Had to leave that comfortable bed to leave for the embassy and by now i was feeling quite well too. We had lunch, put together all necessary documents and left for the embassy. Thanks to our offline GPS software (Sygic), we did locate the embassy but looking at the location where it was and the way the street was deserted, we had our doubts!

It seemed more like a house, we ringed the well and a nice looking gentleman welcomed us in. We explained to him our situation and requested if we could get the visa stamped today itself! That was quite an ask, and was denied immediately (for obvious reasons :-p). However, he suggested that we talk to the ambassador and present our case to him. To say the least, they were a bunch of really helpful guys. They listened to us very patiently and gave us visa forms. We submitted the forms along with all supporting documents and they told us they will inform us when the visa is ready, they did not confirm anything except they will try their best and usually it takes up to 5 business days.

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-kazakhstanembassyastrakhanaarti1050x591.jpg

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-kazakhstanembassyastrakhanakhil1050x591.jpg

We tried all we could, now it was time to sit and play the waiting game. We drove back to the Hotel Park Inn as i wanted to use this time we had to relax and get my strength back. Ordered some nice food, spent some time on the internet, prayed for our visa the next day and called it a day.

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-hotelparkinnastrakhan.jpg
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Old 9th July 2017, 13:37   #133
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Default Re: London to Jammu: With a Range Rover

Day 32: Visa Stamped, Entered Kazakhstan, Car Broke Down
[Written By Akhil]

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-astrakhankulsary1050x601.png

We had a nice relaxing sleep and woke up just in time to catch breakfast. The window for us to go through all Stan's was getting narrower day by day and any delay in getting the visa would mean, we might have to cancel our trip and take a flight to India!

Keeping our fingers crossed and with a positive outlook, we got all our stuff packed and were waiting for a call from the Embassy regarding our visa approval and stamping. And the call did come, we were very happy and thankful to the Kazakhstan embassy for approving our visa in record one day. They called us to the embassy with all paperwork. We checked out from the hotel and left to collect the passports and leave on our way to Kazakhstan border.

At the consulate, the Counsel general himself welcomed us and after talking to him we realized he actually was a big Bollywood fan. We talked about Mithun, Raj Kapoor. We told him about our trip, the fact that we were distributing T-Shirts signed by Kapil, they were all excited and happy that it worked out just in time. We clicked photos with them and bid farewell.

In a matter of an hour, from being worried about completing the trip to actually being on our way to Kazakhstan border, we went through a roller-coaster of emotions and were glad it worked out.



London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-kazakhstanborder1050x1868.jpg

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-kazakhstanborderpolice1050x1868.jpg

We were not too far from the border, we left almost immediately and after getting lost on the way we were at the border in 2 hours. We were greeted by familiar faces and the fact that we got our visa stamped in record time, they felt good for us and we shared some laughs as well. It was a long process at the border thou, and all formalities we got back into the car trying to play down with our excitement, the moment we were out we could not help but scream with excitement and in the process jumped the red light right outside the border control premises. Kazakhstan Police Office cam out from their office building on the side of the road after the traffic signal and waved us to stop.



Me and Aarti looked at each other as if someone had poured water on excitement. Keeping fingers crossed, i took my document folder with me and followed the officer into their building. It is now we realized that communication is not going to be as easy hereafter (even though English is not a widely spoken language in Russia as well, but cops had access to technology and with the help of translator tools they were keeping their pockets warm), and it kind of played to our advantage as after spending close to 10 minutes in making me understand that we did a traffic violation and we need to pay fine, the offices gave up and asked me to leave :-D

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-g01024111050x591.jpg

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-kazakhstancamel1050x591.jpg

Thanking God for the visa and getting away with the violation, we setup the GPS and started moving. The road was in a very bad state, reminded me of roads in rural Jammu (my native). I was hoping the things will get better since it was a highway and i could see trucks and other cars on the road quite frequently, but on the contrary now i have to drive zig-zag or on the side to avoid large potholes. I don't know if it is applicable to most of you but sometimes when you are in a peculiar situation and suddenly you realize that you have a solution for that, while you do not spell it out for others in the room but you have that grin on your face! It was that moment for me and parked our car, extended my hand towards the switch to raise the air-suspension of our RR and looked at Aarti for her reaction.

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-kazakhstanroad11050x591.jpg

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-kazakhstanroad21050x1868.jpg





I heard the air-pump comes to life, the front of the car rising and in an instant the whole front just dropped down. I tried again a number of times, again the sweet sound of the air-pump but nothing. I was still avoiding Aarti's questions hoping soon the RR will rise and we will be on our way but nothing like that happened. Now i had to explain to Aarti, while everything was working fine, i decided to experiment and now we are in a bad situation! "No Front Suspension" was not the only problem right now, if you guys recall i had winch upfront and that too quite low and the fact now it was touching the road!

After accepting what just happened myself and explaining to Aarti that everything will be fine, my initial troubleshooting idea was to checkout the air-pump. Air-pump in a RR is mostly the main issue in any suspension related issue and to my smartness i was already carrying an air-pump repair kit. We were on the main road, so we started moving slowly with the winch scrapping against the road, trying to find an open place where i could park the car and check out the pump. In another 10 minutes we found an open area on the side with some small houses, i pulled the RR over and started removing the luggage from the back in order to get access to the air-pump. I was quiet confident that it was an air-pump issue and after i repair it we will be good to go. Opening up the pump was not going to be straight forward, to get some guidance i took out the printed document that came with the kit and while going through it i realized none of the issues that can arise because of a broken pump fit the situation we were in! So, after pondering for a while, i put the stuff back in while strong winds were blowing carrying quite some amount of sand with it. Now, the idea was to remove the winch from up front and put it on top of the roof until we are in a area where we can find a mechanic. I could have tried dismantling the winch but after the suspension came down and after all the scraping the screws were unscrew-able, so the task was out of my hands. We asked some villagers looking at us with a surprised look on where to find the mechanic and what we could understand was there was one 10-20 minutes away.

Luckily it did not take us much time to find one, explained them the situation and they started working on it happily. It was a father-son duo and they were excited to see a SUV and strange faces. One point i want to highlight is that if you are from Hindustan and you tell that to anyone in any of the Stan's (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan), you get so much love and warmth from them. It is a great feeling and one of the moments you wish India was not called India but by her old name "Hindustan".

While they started cutting the winch off, we asked how much will they charge us. Dollar is a very popular currency in Russia and the adjoining areas, and we were planning to give them 1-2 dollars and leave them with smiling faces but to our surprise they asked for $5000.00! While we were shocked, we knew there was some non-trivial calculation involved which went wrong somewhere. Finally we had the winch move to the top and we parted with $5 and were on our way. While there was nothing scrapping against the road, but the whole front suspension was dead with 3+ Ton of weight.

Original plan was to drive through Kazakhstan non-stop (not stopping for tourist activities as we had to get out of Uzbekistan before the visa expires), as if driving through the worn out roads was not going to be difficult enough, now we had no suspension as well!

Sticking to the plan we started driving towards the Uzbekistan border via Atrayu. We have been driving for miles and miles and road was not getting better even a bit, there were no lights nothing. I was driving literally on the extreme right side of the road as it was all sand and stones instead of potholes filled tarmac. In addition i had to maintain a minimum speed of 80 miles/hour in order to make it on time. And full marks to RR, even without the front suspension and rear suspension stuck in off road mode, it appeared as if the suspension has just gone hard and not missing.

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-rangeroversuspensionfail1050x788.jpg

London to Jammu: With a Range Rover-atyrauwithrustom1050x1400.jpg

After driving for more than 6 straight hours, came the first major city i.e. Atyrau. We were confused if we would stay overnight here or carry on as there was still a lot to be covered and driving with no suspension on Kazakhstan roads did get us tired little bit. While we were looking for a hotel in sight, we could not find any on the mail road. Also we had to get diesel, so stopped by a gas station but to our surprise they refused to accept dollars. Luckily Rustam was at the gas station as well and offered to help us, he accepted dollars for the local currency and answered all our questions which we would had google if internet was available ;-)

We filled the gas, bought some snacks, cup noodles, clicked photos with Rustam and were back on the road. Road was now better and smooth, we managed to drive for another 3 hours and checked into a really bare-bones hotel in Kulsary. Even thou the room was not too comfortable, our bodies were tired enough to not complain and sleep :-)
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Old 14th July 2017, 22:53   #134
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Default Re: London to Jammu: With a Range Rover

Where are you boss. We all are eager to hear from you. such a lovely TL that I was closely following you but after day 29 there are no updates. Please hurry up and complete your TL. Please take out some time and complete it for our sake.

Thanks,
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