Road to London, India, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan
“Sardarji, where are you going?” questioned the person working the toll booth at the Agra Expressway. “I am going to London,” I replied with a grin. He stared at me with disbelief and a frown on his face, “Stop joking with me. Have you gone mad?!”
I smiled and invited him to take a peek at my car’s map, which resulted in his jaw-dropping wide open. This was just one of many conversations on the road – and I thrive upon it!
Travel, to me, is synonymous with happiness. It is essential for me to stay happy in my life and, in turn, spread joy to those around me. I am totally and completely in my element when traveling – I explore, eat, talk, and feel intimately connected to nature.
For me, the journey is much more important than the destination. It’s a very liberating feeling when you are behind your wheel, all set to embark upon a long drive. I cherish counting my miles and spreading smiles along the way.
My association with Adventures Overland goes back to 2016 when a chance meeting with Sanjay and Tushar led to a bond of brotherhood is forged. My first overland drive with them was to Bangkok, and there has been no looking back. It has led to establishing a friendship which is now a seamless part of my way of life. They have helped me achieve my dreams of being a wanderer and explorer.
Among all the excursions I have undertaken with Adventures Overland, my absolute favorite is the Road to London tour from 2017. A convoy of 13 cars and 27 crazy travelers from all over was ready to launch into an epic drive of 20,000 km, which would span 55 days and across 18 countries; the excitement was palpable as we awaited the beginning of the journey of our lifetime.
Each day brought a surprise for us; a new road, an exciting place en route, changing weather conditions and engaging with the locals. Our day during our drives began with us sitting together over breakfast and discussing the day’s drive, route plan, pit-stops and fuel breaks. We used to drive 400 – 600 km daily, sometimes less or more, depending on the terrain.
Out of the many surreal moments this journey afforded us, the experience of traveling through the Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan was what just blew me away.
For almost 600+ hours of driving, we were braving snowfall on tricky mountain passes, driving through the Gobi Desert, manoeuvring through rain forests and traversing long and lonely drives in Central Asia. After losing track of time on the expressways of Russia and Europe, it was time to put our cars on the Calais to Dover Ferry to reach our final destination – the United Kingdom.
As we drove towards London, I realized I didn’t want this drive to be concluded. I finally understood the import of Albert Einstein’s famous words, “I love to travel, but hate to arrive”.
Traveling is a humbling experience which teaches you a lot. Driving alone on long roads makes you aware that nothing is more freeing and empowering than learning to like one’s own company. On the other hand, fellow travelers’ stories, encounters on the road with people from different countries and cultures, and the sheer magnitude of Mother Earth teaches one modesty as you witness firsthand what a tiny place you occupy in the grand scheme of things.
Another critical aspect that is dear to my heart is food. They say people like me who work in the hospitality field often have exclusive access to the best food, fine wines, the finer things in life, etc. Still, it wasn’t until about ten years ago, when I took my first solo road trip across the country, that I comprehended that no matter where our adventures take us, food is what helps tie it all up. For me, good travel also means good food. I am a firm believer in the fact that food is powerful. It can shape your journey and define your memories. Without it, there is no authentic travel experience.
As a self-acclaimed foodie, I look for opportunities during my travels to interact with the locals and eat with them. This immersive experience leaves me with a keen understanding of the region. Eating at a roadside eatery in northern Myanmar which served fresh organic vegetables straight from the farm, and fishing at Russia’s frozen lakes in sub-zero temperatures only to have seafood as fresh as it can be – make for some of my most-cherished memories.
So, this is what I will continue to do. Live, love and explore as I follow my mantra of tasting one’s way around the world, as it is THE surest and purest way to its soul.
As told to Adventures Overland by Dilpreet Singh Bindra.
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