Ray and Marianne Hyland on Overlanding from London to Singapore in a 1954 Land Rover
Show notes for podcast #133
Ray and Marianne Hyland on Overlanding from London to Singapore in a 1954 Land Rover
If you’ve been to the Northwest, BC, or Rocky Mountain Overland Rallies, you’re likely familiar with owners Ray and Marianne Hyland and their three boys. In this podcast from the field, Senior Editor Ashley Giordano learns more about the Hylands’ journey from London to Singapore in a 1954 Land Rover.
Ray’s vehicle choices are often considered eclectic, if not eccentric. As a member of the Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, he loves to add an element of uncertainty to each trip. In 2016, he drove 16,000 miles from London to Singapore over nine months with his wife and three kids in an unrestored, $225, 62-year-old Land Rover that broke down every single day. He is also the face of the popular Overland Rallies series of events held in the Pacific Northwest every summer, where he tries to follow the Rallies’ motto every day, “Have fun, meet people, learn stuff!” When not exploring, Ray is based near Vancouver, British Columbia.
Ray Hyland: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Giordano completed a 48,800-kilometer overland journey from Canada to Argentina with her husband, Richard, in their well-loved but antiquated Toyota pickup. On the zig-zag route south, she hiked craggy peaks in the Andes, discovered diverse cultures in 15 different countries, and filled her tummy with spicy ceviche, Baja fish tacos, and Argentinian Malbec. You can usually find Ashley buried in a pile of travel books, poring over maps, or researching wild medicinal plants. Ashley is a co-founder of Women Overlanding the World and crew member of Expedition Overland. You’ll find this Canadian-born couple exploring a different continent in 2021, and sharing their trip every step of the way at Desk to Glory. @desktoglory_ash
Ray Hyland Podcast
Ashley Giordano: Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast. I am your host, Ashley Drano, and we are here today with some very special guests, and if you've attended any of the overland rallies such as the Northwest Overland Rally, and if you've attended any of the Overland Rally such as the Northwest Overland Rally, BC Overland Rally, and Rocky Mountain overland rally, right? You may be familiar with the Hylands. You may also be familiar with the Hylands from their epic journey in a land rover, which they'll talk to you about that special kind of land rover they took with their three kids from London to Singapore. Thank you so much, Ray and Marianne for coming on the Overland Journal podcast.
Ray Hyland: Thanks for having us.
Marianne Hyland: Thank you.
Ashley Giordano: I'm so happy to have you on here. We don't get Canadians on the podcast very often. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the overland space and cuz you guys have been in this industry for a little while.
Ray Hyland: That's an interesting question. I think it came about because we needed to buy a [00:01:00] minivan I was living in Singapore. We had three little kids, at the time. I had an old classic like antique Mercedes station wagon, which broke down every time Marianne drove it, especially when she had the kids. And my mother-in-law said, you guys actually get a minivan? I wasn't really ready for a minivan. And I looked around and found a defender one 10, which is really fun. And we bought it and I think the question was, what is this? And I said, this is the world's coolest minivan. And yeah, that kind of got us started. We, we joined the Land Rover Club in Singapore. We started going on adventures and trips up into like Malaysia and stuff like that. And, and we just got hooked.
Ashley Giordano: Why a defender?
Ray Hyland: Couple of reasons. One is I think I just always liked the look of the classic defender. I mean, I grew up with, you know, mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom series. You know, the guys would be driving the old series trucks across the Savannah and jumping off the hood and tackling gazelles and stuff, right? But at the same time in Singapore, if you bought a, like a defender, because it [00:02:00] was diesel, it was registered as a commercial vehicle and it was actually much more, affordable than buying, a Land Cruiser or something like that.
Ashley Giordano: What year was it?
Marianne Hyland: It was 2004 when we got the defender.
Ashley Giordano: And what year was the Land Rover?
Ray Hyland: It was an ‘05. It was an ‘04, I guess it was. It was new. Yeah, we ordered it. Yeah, it was, uh, police blue, which was pretty funny. Sometimes you drive around the island in this truck and you know, that was kind of what the police had just given the color. Sometimes you'd roll up to a checkpoint or something and people are ready to salute you until they realized, oh, she's just some random dude in a. In an old Landover.
Ashley Giordano: So, so what were you doing in Singapore at that time?
Ray Hyland: I worked for different companies in marketing and communications.
Ashley Giordano: And then you met in Singapore?
Marianne Hyland: Yes.
Ashley Giordano: So how did you like the defender?
Marianne Hyland: Oh, the defender. I liked it cuz it was new.
Ray Hyland: It didn't break down.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah, exactly.
Ray Hyland: Well, I mean, it's a Landover, it's still broke down, but it didn't break down as much as a 30 year, 40 year old car. But also I think you like the fact that you set up really high. Right. And.
Marianne Hyland: That’s true.
Ray Hyland: Easy to see when you're [00:03:00] driving.
Ashley Giordano: Yeah. Okay. So you're in Singapore doing marketing, you have little kids. You have this defender. Then how does that lead you to, I guess, that that introduced you to the Land Rover community there?
Ray Hyland: Yeah, we started doing lots of trips. We started doing, um, you know, little weekend trips turned into bigger, longer expeditions and finding old tracks that hadn't been traveled for years. And we eventually became good friends with kind of a, I wouldn't say a hardcore group of people, but people who. Liked getting out and really using their vehicles as they were intended. So we ended up heavily modifying the truck eventually, I built it up for the Rainforest Challenge. By that time it would go pretty much everywhere, so yeah, it was a lot of fun.
Ashley Giordano: Were, was that group traveling mostly around Singapore or was it all around around Asia?
Ray Hyland: Typically into Malaysia. Yeah there's a lot of really interesting jungle trails and stuff in Malaysia. The indel ramp and rainforest is close by. And then you can drive up the Malaysian [00:04:00] Peninsula up into Thailand. Takes about a day. It's not too hard. It's a ton of really interesting places to go and beaches, rainforest mountains. Yeah, it was very cool.
Ashley Giordano: So many things have happened since then with the rallies and your London to Singapore trips.
Ray Hyland: How do we get from there to here?
Ashley Giordano: Yeah.
Ray Hyland: We moved to New York. The company moved me to New York. We brought that truck that we had was too new to bring over with us, but we bought an old one, which actually used to belong to the Singapore SWAT team. So it was like this old, you know, police truck, flat, black, kind of terrible looking, but. With really low mileage, so it was a good deal. We got it in an auction. We took all the modifications we had on our current truck and put 'em onto the old truck and then shipped it off to North America. And then we were in North America for quite a while. We were in, New York and then eventually back to Canada. Scott was looking for a marketing guy for Expedition Portal and the journal I knew of Scott because one of the clients I worked with had sponsored one of his expeditions in the past. And [00:05:00] so reached out and started working with the Journal and Expedition portal, and that was a lot of fun. We spent a ton of time in, in Prescott, got to know the whole crew, and we did a whole bunch of really fun trips together and got to do, you know, interesting trucks and interesting gear and, you know, that was, that was actually pretty awesome. One of the things that the Journal did at the time was we had this little rally called the Overland Rally. The first one was in California and then we moved it to the northwest. I was focused on the event. I was having so much fun with it that I said to Scott, eventually I'd like to just focus on the event. And so the event was kind of spun off as its own standalone company, separate from the journal. And we've been running the, the Overland rallies ever since. And we've just been having a great time with it.
Ashley Giordano: Yeah, they're really well known for being small and family oriented and yeah, just intimate with really good opportunity for learning. And of course the bonfire [00:06:00] at night and campfire talk and all those things. So I could see how that would be a really fun event, but also a lot of work.
Ray Hyland: It's a lot of work, but it is, it is fun. It has a, it has a great feeling in the Overland community because it's so casual. We've always said to people, you know, show up, drive what you've got. You don't have to have the latest, coolest, biggest truck to go camping. Right. And we've had people just show up with the weirdest, funnest, eclectic vehicle. We had a couple showed up at the Northwest rally one year in a little triumph, TR seven convertible that they were gonna drive, I think, to UAA and back and they had like two little Kermit chairs in the trunk and a, and a pup tent. And that was it. That was their whole setup and off they went and we're like, these, you guys are awesome. So yeah, it's, it's been a lot of fun. I think people enjoy the fact that they are very relaxed and we have amazing presenters coming from around the world and you know, some of the top instructors and yet even the instructors and presenters that come to the shows, they say, we really enjoy coming back to your events because they're just so fun and they're [00:07:00] just so casual.
Ashley Giordano: Absolutely can confirm. And they're in, so the Northwest Overland rally is in plain Washington. If listeners aren't familiar with the events, the BC Overland rally has had a couple different venues, right?
Ray Hyland: Yep. We started out in a little ski resort called, Sasquatch Mountain, and we outgrew that and then we moved to the Whistler Olympic Park, which was pretty cool. And we outgrew that. As of last year, we moved to big venue in Merrit, bc and so it's a couple hours away from Vancouver, but it's a, it's a beautiful spot. It's a great big valley, nice river running through it. Tons of places to explore around there. So yeah, we're really happy with that place. Ashley Giordano: Nice. Yeah, it was great. And then there was a Rocky Mountain.
Ray Hyland: The Rocky Mountain event was a lot of fun. We did that for, for one year. Covid happened. And then, you know, we were looking at, renewing it after Covid. It's been challenging getting the dates that work for us, so that one's currently in limbo, [00:08:00] but, we'll see what happens. It'd be nice to resurrect that one in the future. Yeah.
Ashley Giordano: That was in Colorado.
Ray Hyland: That's right. Yeah. In Gunnison.
Ashley Giordano: Take me behind the scenes of organizing an overland rally. We talked about this a little bit last, this, like the amount of work that, or I guess time. So obviously you're both working full-time and doing the rallies on the side. And it takes months of preparation for these events to come together.
Ray Hyland: I should probably defer the question to Marianne because she does more of the work and I'm more of the face of the show. But I think, you know, one of the, the, one of the challenges is making sure that the show's really balanced, right? So you need to have enough, enough offerings that people can come back to and feel they’re learning. So you need to have interesting classes, interesting instructors, interesting gear, interesting things to do, whether you're, you know, an overlanding expert or whether you're just a beginner. [00:09:00] And so having that mixture of classes and activities and fun stuff and fun presenters every year, you know, is, is a challenge. And sometimes, you know, at the last minute we're scrambling and I think one year I called you up and said, Hey, you wanna run a yoga class for me in the morning? But, you know, because we, we do to try to make sure that there's a little bit of everything for people so people can, when you drive out there into the wilderness with your overland setup, it doesn't just end there. It's not like you pull out your snow peak cook, set and have a nice meal and that's it. That's the whole destination. It's all about, okay, now that I'm there, what do I do? Right? So we have a lot of fun stuff there with like REI and people who come to the shows and they bring. You know, they're latest kayaks and mountain bikes, and we've got guys there with, you know, teaching fly fishing and like, all sorts of just fun, interesting things. And then in addition to that, we have full lot of the traditional stuff. So, you know, how do you fix a flat tire? You know, how do you, you know, fix your winch when it's broken? How do you get yourself unstuck? How do you safely [00:10:00] recover another vehicle? A lot of those classes. And then we have the ridiculous fun stuff too. We have, we have what we call the trophy challenge. On the last day of the show. And that's, that's where we have, it's almost like an obstacle course or like some sort of a fun competition where people get to race their vehicles in a safe ish manner, through, through our technical and obstacle course. Then we'll put fun things into it. So, what are the classic ones is we call it the embarrassing wetness challenge, where we'll tape a cup of water to the hood of your vehicle, and then you have to drive through the off-road course as fast as you can without spilling the water. And then whoever has the lowest time and the most water wins. And this year we did, what did we call it?
Marianne Hyland: Nerf Guns?
Ray Hyland: Its, yeah, we had a Nerf gun challenge. I can't remember what the name of it was, but Oh yeah. It was the biathlon. Yes, because it was going really fast as well as shooting. And so every, every driver got a Nerf gun, with those little foam bullets, and we had little paper cups set up throughout the course, and you [00:11:00] had to drive through the course as fast as you could. and then you had to stop periodically and shoot these little targets. With the Nerf gun, the targets were on either side of the vehicle, so sometimes you had to lean across and shoot out the passenger window. And that was entertaining. I think the hardest part was, when we were trying to find all the Nerf bullets afterwards in the forest, but, but everybody had a good time and we had a consolation prize. There was a little kid, he was about eight years old, who decided to go through the course on his bicycle at the end, and he didn't realize that the mud pit at the end was deeper than he was tall. And he went straight in full blast and just buried himself in his bicycle. And he came out and he was just covered head to toe in mud. So we gave him a consolation prize. He was pretty happy. But it's, I mean, and that's I think, kind of the nature of the, of the events, right, is we all have a lot of fun. We learn a lot of stuff. There's great instruction, there's great people there, fun and inspiring speakers, but, but the whole event is all about have fun first. Right. So, and that's the, that's the slogan, right? The slogan of the shows has always been [00:12:00] have fun, make friends, learn stuff in that order.
Ashley Giordano: I like that a lot. I also liked that there were quite a few classes for kids. But they were, put on by kids. Yeah. So that was pretty awesome.
Ray Hyland: That's a lot of fun. We have, we have classes for kids, kind of two ways. One is we've been working with the, the guys from Veteran Overland for a number of years. Great organization. So every year they'll send a team of vets to the show and these vets will be teaching these little kids, you know, outdoor survival skills and how to light a fire, how to make a shelter, how to tie different knots and ropes and that kind of stuff, which is fun. And then on the other side of it, we have a lot of little kids. Who will do classes for other kids. So you'll have, you know, a family who's been driving around the world in their, in their sportsmobile or, or Mercedes Sprinter and they've got three kids and, you know, ages like maybe eight through 15. And the kids will put on a presentation for other kids at the show about what it's like to drive around the [00:13:00] world with your mom and dad in a van. And that's actually been a lot of fun cuz they're like, all right, so yeah, your mom and dad are gonna wanna do this and they're gonna think it's exciting and okay, it's kind of gonna suck a bit cuz you're gonna have to get away from your friends and your video games and all your stuff. But on the other hand, there's this other, there's a cool side of it too, right? And they'll talk about what they enjoy. And I think that's been really interesting for little kids to kind of go, wow, I'm mom and dad are telling me this is gonna be epic. And sometimes I believe mom and dad and sometimes I don't. But if other kids who've gone through this are sharing their experiences, it's more real. Right? We had little kids teaching things like water filtration classes and cooking and stuff, at the kid level. So that's a lot of fun.
Ashley Giordano: That's a nice segway because we're talking about kids and traveling and kids being on the road and having experiences traveling with their parents. So I wanted to touch a little bit on your trip that you did as well with your three boys from London to Singapore, because it's probably like one of the most epic trips ever I've [00:14:00] ever heard of. It's so hardcore and so cool.
Ray Hyland: It didn't, we didn't plan it that way. It just sort of happened that way, but yeah. Marianne Hyland: Yeah, yeah. Happened by default because of the vehicle.
Ray Hyland: And by lack of planning and preparation, I think. Yeah.
Ashley Giordano: Well, let's start from the beginning, I guess, of that whole thing. Like you just said, it started because of the vehicle. So that was pretty important to the inspiration of how it went and where you went.
Ray Hyland: We were still living in Singapore, the, and members of the Landover Club. These guys came over with a bunch of old guys from England, and it was 2005, and it was the 50th anniversary of the first Overland Expedition from London to Singapore. And if listeners aren't familiar with that trip, no one had driven from England further than India at that time. They'd never driven further overland because there was this impenetrable jungle in Burma and in World War ii, general George Stillwell. As part of the forces to resupply the people fighting the Japanese, they cut [00:15:00] a road across the, it was called the Burma Hump. They cut this road through the jungle and, it was called the Stillwell Road, sometimes called the Alito Road, and then it was abandoned at the end of World War ii. Because, you know, nobody really needed to drive that way. It was just, you know, it was a road of convenience because of the war. So in the early fifties, a group of students from Oxford and Cambridge decided, Hey, what if we did an epic trip? An epic adventure, let's drive as far as it's possible to drive from London, well, from Oxford, cuz that's where they set off from in the British Empire. How far can we go? And the farthest point was Singapore. They said, you know, in theory, Somebody cut this road through the jungle in the war, and it was only like, you know, five or six years ago, or 10 years ago, I guess by the time they actually set out, and maybe we could get through this jungle, because they've invented this new thing called a four by four, right? Then the Early Land Rovers were based on the US military Jeeps, and so they went to the Rover company [00:16:00] and they said, Hey, we'd like to drive to Singapore. We've got this crazy idea, and would you be interested in sponsoring a car? And Land Rover had just come out with, in their series ones, they had come up with something called a station wagon in 1954. They weren't sure if it was gonna be very popular. So they had a, a few of them, you know, kind of floating around as press vehicles. And they lent two of them to this, this group of students. And those guys drove, you know, from, in 1955 and 56 from London all the way to Singapore and had this epic trip and wrote a book about it. And, and it was popular at the time because, The BBC gave them cameras and, David Attenborough young, David Attenborough in his twenties was running a travel program for the BBC at the time. And so he would get the film, these cans of film that these guys are mailing back as they drove around the world and he would like edit them and have this little BBC program every week in, you know, jump ahead 50 years. It's 2005, it's the 50th anniversary of this [00:17:00] trip. And these guys remaining members of the expedition flew to Singapore to do, you know, they were gonna do a 50th year reissue of the original book. And they also decided to do an audio book recording at the same time in Singapore. And one of my buddies, Dave, who was the, in the Landover club with me, he was the sound engineer who put the audio book together, so invited us to come and meet these guys. And so we went down and we met them and they were really nice. We had a great time. And Marianne and I said, you know, how cool was that? Like, Wouldn't it be amazing if you could recreate that journey today? Right. But it was just a thought because, you know, the, the roads through me and Mar so Burma is now me and Mar and, and the borders have been closed for years and you couldn't, you couldn't recreate the trip, right? And we're like, okay, well that's a fun idea. And we kind of forgot about it. And then, you know, fast forward another eight or nine years and we're now living in Canada, in the mountains and we've got our defender and we're doing a lot of trips and I'm working with the journal and I decided I wanted to have a [00:18:00] little project vehicle to work on with the kids. And the boys were getting a little older that grade, you know, they were I think 11, 12 and 13 years old at the time. And I found this old Land Rover terrible vehicle. It had been sitting like abandoned in a field in Revel, Stoker somewhere for like 20 years, right? It had chickens living in it and didn't have any doors and didn't have any windows and like it was just a shell. and, but it was really cheap. I think I paid 300 Canadian dollars, so it was like $225 us. Dragged this thing home on a U-Haul trailer and I didn't really know what I had, so I started, you know, kind of tinkering with it and trying to find some parts and put it back together. And in an effort to figure out more about the truck, I, I wrote to the series one registry in the uk and I said, Hey, I've got this truck, this is the VIN number. And they said, well, I think that's a station wagon. And they said, you know, you pull the cab off the back, you know, you can look at the way the cappings are done and you can tell if it's the original station [00:19:00] wagon body. And so I said, oh, okay. And now it's pulling it apart anyway. And so I looked at it and I said, yeah, this is, it has all the correct, you know, bits and pieces. It's an original station wagon. So I, I kind of reached back out to the series one guys and I said, yeah, so I have this truck, this is the vin, I've confirmed it, you know, the body matches the VIN on the frame. It's an original station wagon from 54. How rare is this? And they said, well, there's three. And I said, what? What do you mean? And they said, well, we knew of two still existing in the world and now you've got one, so now there's three, you've got the third. And I said, oh, alright. Wow. And so I went back in the house and I talked to Marianne and I said, turns out this. Little wreck of a truck that we bought is a bit more rare than I thought, and then we didn't really think too much of it. And then I happened to pick up my copy of First Overland, like just randomly to look at something one day. And I realized that the vehicle we had was the same as what those guys had driven in, and then an original 86 inch station wagon. And I said, wow, [00:20:00] that's very cool. And I happened to mention it to Marianne and, and I said, you know, wouldn't it be amazing if we could take that vehicle and recreate the first Overland trip from 19, you know, 55? And she was like, that would be really cool. But, um, you know, of course the borders, you know, Myanmar's, land borders are still closed. And a couple months later, Myanmar opened the borders and we said, okay, it's, it's an omen, right? Okay. Road trip. I think I had about a year to get the truck. Running and like, I didn't, I didn't restore the truck in any way. I mean, I just, I literally got it running. I found some old doors. I found the bench seat from the auto wrecker for an old Chevy Astrovan, which I threw in the back of the kids. The front seats were trashed, I think I took a couple of beach towels and folded them up and set them on top of the seat, says as cushions and strapped a piece of canvas over, put some seat belts into it. And.
Marianne Hyland: The [00:21:00] seats that we sat on, were they the original seats?
Ray Hyland: Yeah.
Marianne Hyland:That's straw filled, they’re straw filled.
Ray Hyland: They're wooden seats. Filled with straw. But the straw had all collapsed and I didn't really want to go out and repack the straw. And then, so I just, I folded up a couple of beach towels and threw them on top and said, okay, they'll do It. Didn't have any locks or anything on the doors.
Marianne Hyland:No, there were no locks.
Ray Hyland: Yeah, I, I took a big chain and like just wrapped it around the truck with a padlock and that was how we locked it when we left our stuff in it, on our trip. Yeah. And the first I got it running and it was like, okay, the, you know, we're gonna ship this to Singapore next week. I got it running that week. I. Decided to take it to a Land Rover show. That following weekend, it caught on fire on my way to the show, managed to get the fire put out, fixed some electrical problems with some buddies at the show itself. That was kind of the shakedown. And like the next day I put it in a box and I sent it to England. And so that was the total prep for the trip. And I mean, the truck is tiny. It's the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah. It's [00:22:00] kudos to our boys. Really. Because, um, they sat in the back. Right. It was not designed for sitting in the back, was it? Well, they, there was no space for their legs to come down.
Ray Hyland: It was designed for side facing seats.
Marianne Hyland: Ah, okay. So they, their legs literally had to be like, where the, where the seat meets the floor, that's where your legs are. Right. So the legs are never hanging down. They're always bent and raised.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. We put a false floor in the back. So we could put some cargo underneath. So that meant it took the room for your legs away. So they basically had to sit with their knees up for, you know, nine months.
Marianne Hyland: Oh, long hours and days and months.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. So it was, it was crowd.
Ashley Giordano: So what was the feeling or the mood or whatever, when you brought up this idea to do this trip and it seemed like it was happening. What was your reaction, Marianne, and what, what were the kids thinking? How did they react? Were they excited? Were they like, this is [00:23:00] crazy.
Marianne Hyland: It comes up with, great ideas on a daily basis and I, I that's awesome. I half don't pay attention to them. But then it finally dawned on me that, oh, this is, this is happening. This is happening. I meant to take this seriously cause this is going to happen.
Ray Hyland: I like the way you said a little pause before you said great ideas. I don't think great was originally the word you were gonna choose, but yeah, I come up with a lot of ideas. Yes. Yeah.
Marianne Hyland: So I, I just, I think I just needed the list of countries. We were visiting and then I just needed to check them out. With regards to safety. And the only one I had concern with was Iran. Right? And then when you go to the Canadian government website, it says in big red letters, do not visit Iran. If you get in trouble, we may not be able to get you out. And I thought, okay, let me see where else I can get information on Iran. So I went to a lowest prices [00:24:00] blog, and I read what she wrote about Iran, and I was like, okay, that's fine. We can do Iran. That, that, that was it really.
Ray Hyland: Honestly, Iran was amazing.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah, it was amazing.
Ray Hyland: The whole trip was great. We never had a bad experience, but I mean.
Marianne Hyland: No, not at all. The people, the people of Iran really make Iran amazing. I mean, it's a, it's an amazing land, but the people there, yeah, it's special.
Ray Hyland: And everywhere we went, we had so many people who would, they would see our license plate. And see we were from Canada, and they'd come over and they would say, we're so happy that you're here. So you can go back and tell people, you know what it's like here. And the one thing that consistently said, look, you have to recognize that our government doesn't represent us as people. It's just the government, you know? And then the people were wonderful. The people were just kind of caught in the situation that they're caught in. But, but yeah, they were some of the most generous people we'd ever met.
Ashley Giordano: Were there any, steps that you had to take specifically as a Canadian traveling [00:25:00] through Iran?
Ray Hyland: Three countries at the time, were restricted in their travel. So it was Canada, the US, and Great Britain. So if you had one of those three passports, you weren't allowed to travel unaccompanied. So you had to, you know, register ahead of time and get a guide to meet you at the border. And you were supposed to be escorted. While you were there.
Ashley Giordano: So you shipped the Land Rover from Canada to the uk.
Ray Hyland: Shipped it, put it in a box in Vancouver.
Ashley Giordano: Did it get trained across Canada?
Ray Hyland: No, I think they just put it in a, on a boat in Vancouver Harbor and it.
Ashley Giordano: Oh, it went from Vancouver. Okay. Yeah. I see.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. And then we drove across, so we drove to, to Pennsylvania. At the time we were still running a show called the Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival with the Henwood. And so we went over there, we did that, Overland Festival. And then when it was done, we flew from New York to the UK to pick up our truck. Of course we got there and we found out the [00:26:00] truck was delayed, right? And so now we're in the UK with no truck and that was really fun. That kind of set the tone for the whole trip because at that time Facebook was the dominant. You know, social media platform. And so I put a post on Facebook and I said, Hey so, we're here in the UK and our truck isn't here. And I'm not sure when it's gonna get here, but if anybody happens to have an old vehicle that we could borrow or rent, and, you know, if it was an old Landover, that'd be cool. Please let me know. And within a day, like a friend of a friend of a friend, this guy Pete, who's now become a, a great friend of ours that we keep in touch with, Pete reached out and said, Hey, we've, we've got an old defender. Like he's, he basically said, I, I bought a new one tan. I was gonna sell my old one. I haven't sold it yet. It's still insured. If you want it, just come and pick it up and use it as much as you want. Which was amazing. So we went and we had this nice, you know, 300 tdI defender, one 10, you know, we drove around the United Kingdom for the. [00:27:00] Almost a month really. Well, we waited for our truck to show up, so we went all over Ireland and England and, you know, the coast of Scotland and Wales and like we just explored, you know, the, the islands and it was fantastic. And of course it was, it was probably a nicer way to explore then in our little series one cuz you know, it had had working windshield wipers and it had a heater and it had all these things that we'd take for granted.
Ashley Giordano: For people that haven't traveled in a series one Land Rover before, can you paint a picture of what the experience was like over those nine months? Because.
Ray Hyland: Yeah, if you can imagine like an old farm tractor, you know what I mean? Like those ones with the big wheels in the back and the skinny little wheels and you sit in a metal seat and you're perched up on top of the engine and the wind is blowing in your hair and it's kinda like that with a windshield, right? I mean it's honestly, it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but it's not. The boys had to wear hearing protection. Well, actually we all did. We all wore hearing protection while [00:28:00] we're driving. Because when you got up to, you know, close to highway speeds, it was literally deafening inside. It's like riding in a big cookie tin. Right. So there's no sound insulation at all. It was designed as a vehicle that you could use as a farm tractor that you could also, if you wanted to, you could drive to church on Sunday. Right. So that's why I had a cab on it. But, you know, straight cut gears, crazily underpowered, like everything in that vehicle was overbuilt for mechanical solidity. You know, it was a very robust design, but it was not designed for comfort at all. And so, yeah, it was a bit like riding a motorcycle kind of thing, but.
Ashley Giordano: Tell me a little bit about limitations on packing, because you only had so much space and you had five humans in there.
Marianne Hyland: I can't remember what the weight limit was. I remember, we had to weigh everything and we had to weigh ourselves.
Ray Hyland: We're still slightly over.
Marianne Hyland: We're still slightly over, which we [00:29:00] discovered. When we drove from London to the coast.
Ray Hyland: Oh, that's right when the springs collapsed. Yeah yeah, everybody had one little duffle bag. Right? So, you know, like a little, you know, maybe 18 inches long, little round duffle bag. And we had these little, dry bags, so each person got a dry bag and that had to contain your clothing, your blanket, your pillow, your sleeping pad, all of your entertainment and anything else you wanted to bring. It was like, like I said, it's a bit like being a motorcycle traveler, right? Like you had to go super paired down and so every morning you'd pack all your gear into your little duffel bag and roll it up and we'd throw it onto the roof rack and strap it down and off we went. And other than that, I had four little wolf boxes in the back, under the floor, and one had our kitchen stuff and one. Spare parts and fluids and one had some basic tools and I think the other one might've had, I don't know, maybe some homeschooling stuff in it, but yeah, cuz we homeschooled the kids on, on the way, so.
Ashley Giordano: [00:30:00] Okay. Yeah, I was gonna ask if you pulled them outta school for that period of time, but it, yeah.
Ray Hyland: We'd been homeschooling the whole time, so it was, that was actually pretty easy. Ashley Giordano: Did you have some like, great gear wins or some really crazy gear fails, or did everything kind of.
Marianne Hyland: Oh man. The fails, they failed at the worst time they could fail.
Ray Hyland: We're good friends with, cam, who owns, NEMO tents and he's, he's been a longtime supporter of the Journal and Expedition portal and, and the whole team uses his Gears gear is great. And at the time he had this little tent with, AirBeam and so he is like, look, this, this tent is amazing. It's a two person tent and instead of. Carrying poles around. It just has like this little, these little air beams that hold it up and support it. It comes with a little tiny pump the size of like a tennis ball. And we're like, okay, that's cool. That's great. You know, and the whole tent, you know, folds down to the size of a grapefruit, right? And so we're like, okay, that's [00:31:00] awesome. Until it. Leaked, I think we discovered it. It was like a, at 2:00 AM 2:00 AM pouring rainstorm, and the tent has collapsed on us, and we're both drenched and, and you know, and of course the tent is, is the tents wrapped around you now and it's soaking wet and the rain is thundering down on you and you, you can't even get yourself out of the tents. You know what I mean? That Yeah. It was, it was an adventure. And we, we went through a couple of patch kits and stuff, and, and eventually Cam just sent us a different tent, I think he said, we're not allowed to test gear anymore. I have a bad reputation of destroying gear. So, but other than that, I mean, we had, we had a full set of nemo, like the sleep sets, right? So the down blankets and the little matching pads, they were amazing. Um, they fold up to almost nothing. And they're really lightweights.
Marianne Hyland: We still have them, they’re great.
Ray Hyland: Great. Yeah. Other big wins. Oh yeah. So, and then we switched over to the Nemo, the, the Dagger and Galaxy tent. So a little two man for Marianne and I, and a three man, tent for the boys. Those are great. We still use 'em every day or every, every [00:32:00] year when we go camping. And then we, use the Kermit chairs. And I'm not sure if you've ever used a Kermit chair. There used to be this old guy named Kermit, and he'd made these chairs in his basement in like Tennessee or somewhere. They're like handmade out of I think ash or hickory wood or something. And, and they, they fold up tiny and they roll up into a little tube and they, you know, with canvas, and they're not terribly light, but they're really, really robust and they're really small and and you sit low to the ground. Right. That's the only thing that some people don't like about them. But you know, the nice thing about sitting low to the ground is you don't have to worry about having a foot stool or a tall table. Right. And those were great. So we had a set of those and they, they've been fantastic. And then, our other big wins where we had an M S R stove, little tiny backpacking stove. The dragonfly. Yes. And the dragonfly stove is.
Marianne Hyland: It is loud. There's no other way to describe it other than loud. It's really loud.
Ray Hyland: It sounds like a jet turbine when it's running, but yeah.
Marianne Hyland: It's [00:33:00] the only stove. And this was recommended to us by Jason Ramos, the only stove that can simmer.
Ray Hyland: Yeah, true simmer.
Marianne Hyland: Interesting. Which is so important because we eat a lot of rice and you have to simmer for rice, right? Yes. You have to swim up for rice.
Ray Hyland: So when you're doing big one pot meals with kids who've grown up in Asia, I mean, you know, being able to make good pot of rice. Yeah. Right? Yeah. Is is awesome. And of course a lot of the world where we're traveling through rice is a staple everywhere, right?
Marianne Hyland: Yeah, sure. Yeah. And then of course the snow peak.
Ray Hyland: I was gonna say the pot, because the challenge with most camping pots is they, they're all about light weight. And so they're like titanium or they're anodized aluminum, or they're stainless or whatever, but typically they're like almost paper thin. And they're designed for boiling, right? Yeah. Boil water as fast as I can and I'll throw my instant food into it and rehydrate it and everything's good. It doesn't matter how good your stove is, if you've got a paper, thin pot and you're trying to simmer rice, it's gonna burn. And so we said, surely there [00:34:00] must be a company. That makes camping gear, but still understands rice. And we're like snow peak, right? Snow peak.
Ashley Giordano: Just makes sense.
Ray Hyland: Classic Japanese company. And so we bought this, it's called, I think it's the Snow Peak calera, whatever they called it. But I mean, it's a giant anodized aluminum pot and the base of the pot is five eights of an inch thick. So it's perfect for cooking rice and, and big one pot meals.
Marianne Hyland: And it's a light too.
Ray Hyland: And it's super light. It weighs almost nothing cuz it's aluminum. But they didn't sell it in north America. It was kind of a, Japan only product. So we called up the guys from Snow Peak and made a special request and they imported one for us. And that became our, our one big pot for the trip. And you know, old Land Rovers, they have a spare tire typically on the, on the hood. And so we put our big pot inside the spare tire and put all of our cooking utensils into the pot. And we had one of those little, front runner tables that kind of clips onto a spare tire, and we clipped that on top. And that was our [00:35:00] whole cooking and eating and camping setup. It was right, right there in the spare tire. It was really cool.
Ashley Giordano: What kinds of meals were you cooking on the road? Do you have any go-tos or was it a little bit of everything?
Marianne Hyland: It, it really was whatever we could find, because we didn't have a fridge. We had like a soft Coleman 12 can, or.
Ray Hyland: 6 can, we had a, we had a little tiny, the cooler that you'd take to the park for lunch, right? Like, it literally was the size of a six pack and, and soft sided and, and you know, because the truck was full, it wasn't room for anything else. And so we had this little tiny cooler, it would keep things cool for a couple hours. Really? Not really. And so we just, we just. Lived off the land as we went along. We, we just, every day we would stop and buy food as we traveled. And that was actually kind of cool because it forced us to eat whatever the locals were eating wherever we were. And we would be in some little village [00:36:00] in Turkey or Greece or somewhere. And you didn't even know, like there was nothing in the town that looked like a market.
Marianne Hyland: You might have to go to a butcher and then just, you know.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. Or, or I mean, like, I, I remember one town in, in Iran somewhere and we're out in the middle of nowhere in the desert and there's like little houses, this look like maybe there's 20 houses here. And I'm like, well, surely somebody must have food here. Like these people eat obviously. And, you know, used Google Translate, which I think in those days it was so-called Babelfish, but got the little translation program and, and asked somebody Where can I buy food? And they pointed to a house and I went and knocked on the house and I used a, again Google translate on my phone. I said, do you sell food? And they're like, yes. And I went in and, and like, you know, one of the rooms in the house was set up as a little shop, and they had some staples, they had some canned food, they had some beans and things. They had some little bags of rice and some random dried mystery meats and some dates and things like that. And we, we bought some food and off we went. But yeah, it was, it was [00:37:00] interesting because we never would've, we never would've had those experiences if we just had a fridge and we just packed a bunch of food and we're like, okay, we're good. We're, we're good for the next week. We don't need to speak to anybody. Right. We've can be self-contained by not having that. It forced us to interact with people even when we were outside of our comfort zone. And there are comfort zones expanded pretty rapidly.
Ashley Giordano: You had some weather during this trip, it sounds like.
Yeah, we, when we got to Europe, the truck was delayed, so then we, when we went into the mountains and stuff, it was much later in the year, in the season than we had planned for.
Marianne Hyland: Well, Europe experienced winter, earlier that year in 2015, I remember we were camping outside London and it was September and it was like two degrees Celsius. And I remember FaceTiming, you know, probably at that time it was like, what was that? I can't remember the equivalent of FaceTimed and one of my boys teachers. And we, Liam and [00:38:00] I were like huddled with, you know, blankets over us and trying to talk about, I dunno what English or something like that. But then, I mean, there was a lot of rain. There was a lot of rain. And uh, when we crossed into France, took the ferry across and we got off the ferry and it was so cold and the wind was blowing so hard. And then there's this little hole where I, where my feet went.
Ray Hyland: Oh, that's right. Yeah. Yeah. Cuz at some point.
Marianne Hyland: We forgot to cover it. Yeah. And look. And the wind was just blowing in and we had to keep moving. So I had to take my bag and I had to shove it up the hole and put my feet there. Had to just stop the wind from coming in.
Ray Hyland: That's right. I'd forgotten about that. Somebody had cut a hole in the bulkhead to put in like an auxiliary heater or something. At one point the heater was no longer there, but the hole was still there. And so Marianne was exposed to the element elements as we were driving down the highway. I think eventually I just put some duct tape over it or something.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah. It was duct tape. Yeah. And [00:39:00] then we made the decision not to go to Paris to just skip Paris entirely.
Ray Hyland: Oh yeah. And just head south.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah. Which was a very good decision because we figured, you know, if we want to see Paris, we can always fly into Paris. That's so easy to do. But everywhere else in France that requires a little bit more.
So we were just gonna go. That was elsewhere that we could go.
Ray Hyland: That was awesome actually. Yeah, we were, we, we spent quite a bit of time exploring France and like the LA Valley and some of the amazing chateau and castles and that type of thing. And then we went down to.
Marianne Hyland: Aon.
Ray Hyland: Aon, which was very cool. And then niece and, Yeah, we have a good friend, Patrice. Patrice has been a long time contributor to expedition portal. He used to have a, an overland import business in Europe. We went to visit Patrice. He, he now runs a business in N called Niece Caravans. Caravans are basically what they call motor homes in Europe. And so he's got this [00:40:00] big RV dealership. And so we went to visit him. He had a mechanic there who helped us do some work on our truck, which was kind of a consistent story. Stop everywhere, find a mechanic. But he also let us camp in some of these fancy new RVs in the, in the lot while we were there. And so we used Niece as a little base and we spent about a week there just exploring around kind of Southern France and going into Montecarlo and, and the type of thing. And it was really cool. Yeah. Great experience.
Marianne Hyland: And then we had to leave.
Ray Hyland: And then we had to leave. Yeah. We said that Monte Carlo was the only country, or Monaco was the only country that the series one didn't break down in.
Marianne Hyland: That's true.
Ashley Giordano: And then Turkey, it was like winter, did you say minus 17 Celsius.
Ray Hyland: Minus 18. Yeah. We, well, you know, from Europe, we, we went down through Italy and we took a ferry over to Greece and we kinda island hopped through Greece and then from Greece to Turkey, we took another little ferry in. Of course, at that time there was thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing in the opposite [00:41:00] direction. So that was really interesting kind of seeing and meeting all these refugees as they were traveling in the, in the opposite direction of where we were going. And then we got into Turkey itself. Spent some time in the south of Turkey, which was really pretty. Went up to Istan Bull, did some truck mods, met some really fun Land Rover people. And then we crossed into Iran at dog ba. Which is a little small, small border town, northern border crossing, and it's in the mountains and it's right literally beside Mount Aara. Right. We pass that on the way.
Marianne Hyland: Oh right, where the ark was supposed to have landed.
Ray Hyland: Or the arc of the covenant was supposed to have, you know, and anyway, if your, if you follow your Bible references from Sunday school when you're a little kid, you'd probably still know the name. But anyway, so we, we crossed there. It was absolutely freezing. Like I said, 18 below the night we got a little hotel close to the border. So we'd be up in early, ready to go. And also, we weren't really prepared for sleeping in minus 18 outside in our tent. Right. We got up in the [00:42:00] morning, everything's covered in snow, and the truck won't start because, you know, it's just, you know, this old engine, it leaks so much oil that I was running pretty thick oil in it. And it didn't like the cold and I didn't want to kill my battery trying to crank it over. And I said to a guy in the hotel, I said, Hey, can you, you know, is there a tow truck or somebody that you know has a vehicle that maybe I can hook my jumper cables up to, and I can slowly crank the engine over until it loosens the oil up enough that it'll fire. And he goes, oh yeah, no problem. You know, go in and have some breakfast and we'll take care of it. And so we were sitting there having some breakfast, and I think breakfast consisted of.
Marianne Hyland: Hard boiled eggs.
Ray Hyland: Hard boiled eggs, and sliced cucumbers. And, so anyway, we're there enjoying our cucumber slices and Marianne's looking out the window, I'm sitting with my back to the window and she goes, I think somebody's building a fire under our truck. And I'm like, what? And so we went out to see what was going on. They had understood the problem, but they didn't quite understand the solution I was asking for. And they were like, oh yeah, well the [00:43:00] engine's really cold. We'll just build a fire under the engine. It'll warm it up. And I said, no, you, you don't understand. This is an old Land Rover and it's leaking fuel and oil. Continuously . If you build a fire underneath this engine, the whole truck is just gonna go kaboom. So what we ended up doing is, is they started bringing out teapots from the kitchen. A little chain of teapots coming out.
Marianne Hyland: Kettles.
Ray Hyland: Kettles, yeah. And we were, we were pouring this, you know, almost boiling water, like hot water over the block to warm up the oil. Cuz the block was just basically a giant heat sink. Right. And so we, we poured enough water over this thing that there was a skating rink underneath the truck. But, um, but eventually the engine was warm enough that it turned over on its own and started, and off we went. It was just, just another morning on our trip. Yeah. And then we drove to the, to the border and the border was insane. Just trying to get across that border. There's no way you'd ever get across that border without using a fixer. And we, we found a great fixture and he, yeah. That's a whole story. That's a whole [00:44:00] episode in itself, just talking about that one border crossing. But, but yeah, that, that's got us into Iran and it ran, was really pretty, super friendly. Cold up in the north, but when we got, we got down to the, we were in Noran for about a month down on the southern coast.
Marianne Hyland: End of this. No, before Christmas. Yeah, we spent Christmas in Dubai.
Ray Hyland: We, yeah. So we got there just before Christmas.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah. We were about a month in.
Ray Hyland: unders was nice and warm. It was kind of interesting little port, something you'd imagine from an old Indiana Jones movie. Right.
Marianne Hyland: It was very different from the rest of Iran. Yeah. Unders
Ashley Giordano: That's in the southern, very southern part of Iran. And that boat takes you into the Uua E.?
Marianne Hyland: Yes, that's right. Sja.
Ray Hyland: Sja. And that was an interesting trip. Oh my goodness. So there's sanctions against Iran at the time, so they couldn't get spare parts for their vehicles and the ferry that normally crossed the Gulf. And it's a pretty big crossing. Right? It's like a.
Marianne Hyland: It's the Persian Gulf.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. It's like what, eight or 10 hours or something like that? Right. The crossing time typically. So the, you know, it's kind of an ocean going ferry, like a big ferry except that the [00:45:00] ferry had broken down. They couldn't get parts. And so they had this little tiny ferry that just typically runs like a, a half hour trip over to these local islands. And they said, oh, we'll just take this across the gulf and it tiny little fairy can flat bottom. And we got out there into the middle of the gulf and this big storm came up and this boat is pitching all over the place. Everything was covered in salt cuz like the spray is breaking over the boat. And then, Everything was like the truck, you know, all the trucks were just covered in a, in a sheen of salt. It was amazing actually. It looked really cool, but probably not very good for them.
Marianne Hyland: But that's when we met the Spanish couple.
Ray Hyland: That's right. When they were trying to get onto that boat. By the time we reached sja, I mean the, the boat was just basically encrusted in salt and vomit from everybody on the boat.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah everyone was sick.
Ray Hyland: Yeah, it was, it was an adventure.
Ashley Giordano: So you had Christmas.
Ray Hyland: Christmas. Yeah. In Dubai. And then, that was fun. We met some really cool people there, lots of [00:46:00] Land Rover fans. Met one guy who took us out to show his collection of Land Rovers and ended up driving into Ahman with him, unknowingly across the border of the desert. From there we went to India, and that was in India. Oh my goodness. Yeah. Shipping is the, I mean, anybody who's done a lot of overland travel, will tell you the worst part of any overland trip is anytime you put your truck on a boat.
Ashley Giordano: It's like the most worth it, but also a headache.
Ray Hyland: Oh yeah. The biggest headache. Yeah.
Ashley Giordano: Where were you shipping the vehicle? Like how.
Ray Hyland: We were shipping from Dubai to Mumbai. In India, we did that because I didn't wanna take the kids through Pakistan, Southern Pakistan at the time. It wasn't that it was very violent, it was just that. Unpredictable.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah. Cause you'd have to cross the border at Baluchistan. Right, right. And as it is when we, in v our bus, there was an incident on the Iranian side where there was a bomb that went off. Yeah. You know, I mean, if probably need military escort too. It seems [00:47:00] indulgent for me. That's what I think, you know, to.
Ray Hyland: To have the escort.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah. To have the escort.
Ray Hyland: Right. Yeah. But I.
Marianne Hyland: You know what I mean? Yeah. But they've got better things to do. Yeah.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. Not only that, but I mean, people who had done the trip that we spoke to said the escort was not gonna add any value. If you're driving along and some bandits came along, the escort's just gonna run away anyway. But yeah, so there was a, there's a lot of uncertainty along that route, so we decided to just ship around there. So that's why we went down to Dubai and then up into Mumbai. But then we had to fly to New Delhi because we had to go to the Myanmar Embassy to get our visas.
Marianne Hyland: Oh yes. That's right.
Ray Hyland: And so we were in, we were in New Delhi without our truck. And then we had to go.
Marianne Hyland: To get our visas. Yeah. Atmar embassy.
Ray Hyland: That's right. And then we traveled down to Mumbai, picked up our truck again, which was late. The timing on our visa for the border crossing into Myanmar was fixed. We had to cross on a certain day.
Marianne Hyland: We had to be out of India by a certain date. 30 days in India. That's all we had.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. And India's a [00:48:00] pretty big country. And the roads aren't very good. Especially when you get .
Marianne Hyland: India broke the truck.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. Multiple times. But yeah, so then we had to basically race across India in this truck and.
Marianne Hyland: Heading Northeast.
Ashley Giordano: You're like, I'm racing it. How many kilometers an hour across India?
Marianne Hyland: I dunno. But it was long days of driving. Yeah, yeah.
Ray Hyland: Very long days.
Marianne Hyland: And stressful because literally, the, the truck collapsed, right? The roof.
Ray Hyland: Oh yeah. The roof mounts collapsed. But that was when we were in, yeah, that was in Nagaland and that, but I think that was from those. Indian highways.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah. We couldn't open the door. Like we couldn't open the door. Somebody had to prop up the roof and then we could open the door.
Ray Hyland: Right. Yeah. Yeah. It, I mean, it, it was brutal. The roads in India were just so bad, and I mean, if you've, if you've done any travel in India, You think it's pretty bad in the cities. The cities are are pretty terrible, but when you get into the countryside, I mean the highways just deteriorate. And you'll have, you know, you'll [00:49:00] have a, a nice big four-lane highway and you're driving along at a good clip and then you're like, what is that across the road? Is that like a strip of paint or something? And you get, and you always slow down cuz you don't know what it is. I mean, one time we were driving along the highway and somebody had dug a, a trench across the highway, like they were gonna put a pipe in or something. So they dug like a two foot wide, three foot deep trench right across the highway and then just left it. And like if you hit it at full speed, like you'd be dead and that kind of stuff was everywhere. Or you'd be just driving down the road, like in, if you're driving at night in India, it was brutal because you'd have, you know, people would drive the wrong way down the highway all the time cuz it was more convenient for them to just drive on the wrong side of the highway rather than go up to the exit that they needed. and at night they would drive with no headlights because they're trying to save diesel fuel. And so you'd be driving along at night in the fog and suddenly a dump trunk with no headlights comes out of the fog heading right for you. Right. It was, it was terrifying. It wasn't boring, that's for sure.
Marianne Hyland: No, that was stressful.
Ray Hyland: It was stressful. Yeah. Yeah. So eventually we crossed into [00:50:00] Nagaland and then into Myanmar and we made our border crossing like we got to the border the day before our visa expired.
Marianne Hyland: Do you remember when the ignition wouldn't work? This was just for the, like the day before reaching the border town, between India and Myanmar. And the ignition wouldn't work. So you hotwired it.
Ray Hyland: Well, that's right.
Marianne Hyland: But that meant that we couldn't stop the vehicle until we reached our destination.
Ray Hyland: Oh yeah. Cuz the, the starter failed. The starter switch failed. The ignition switch failed. And so I just wired it direct cuz I didn't have any parts with me. And so, you know, Hotwired, it got the truck running, but I mean, the only way to turn it off would be to pull the wires back out. We just let the truck run all day until we got there. And I think at some point I found a button. I wired a button up as a starter switch. But yeah, it was, it was an effort. I had forgotten about that actually.
Marianne Hyland: We were, sometimes we were lucky that we made it into the city and then we'd have to find a place that sold car pots. Right? Always.
Ray Hyland: Oh yeah. There's [00:51:00] always something breaking down there.
Marianne Hyland: And you’d buy like spark plugs and batches. What was that? What was that piece of, I can't remember what car part that was that kept failing and we kept buying it a new one in every town. We always had a spare, I can't remember what it was.
Ray Hyland: No, there's a lot of those.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah. Yes, that's true.
Ray Hyland: But yeah, we went through a lot of spark plugs. And so, you know, the, the truck was, I mean the, it was so old, right? And I mean, we got it running, but we didn't refurbish it. Right. The rings were all broken. Piston rings we're all broken in three or four places each. And so as you'd be running, it would be contaminating the, the spark plugs and spark plugs would get covered in oil and then they would eventually fail. So we're always swapping plugs out and cleaning them and drying them and swapping them back in. Because the rings were gone, the engine would build up too much pressure in the crank case, and it eventually blew the main seal out of the back of the engine as we were climbing into the Himalayas, as we're going up into Dar Gling. So we had to, we got some guy to help us [00:52:00] machine and Overseal, and he cut a, a leather seal out of an old Geka army hat and packed that in to hold it in place. That's still in the engine. And, that kept us going. The truck literally broke down every day.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah, it did.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. And every day something would break on that truck and we got really good. Pulling this truck apart, fixing things, putting it back together, and the kids just kind of got used to it. It would be like, okay, this is a typical day. You get up in the morning, you drive until the truck breaks, you spend a few hours fixing the truck, and then you drive until it's dark and hopefully you arrive somewhere where you could camp.
Ashley Giordano: Do you guys have like a special capacity for type two fun, or would you have changed anything about this, the way that this trip went? Like what was, when you're breaking it down every day, how did you, like, where did the resiliency come from? I guess I'm wondering like in the, there must have been patience involved and.
Ray Hyland: No, not really. There was a lot of frustration. But I think the thing was at one point, I said fairly early on, [00:53:00] look if this truck. I mean, it's not a very expensive truck, right? It's like $300. If it dies, like dies, dies, and I can't get running again, fine. I'll just take the license plates off it and I'll just leave it. I'll just abandon it on the side of the road and we'll just hitchhike. We'll just take a bus to the next city, right? And so there was always that in the back of my head, if this truck ever completely dies on me, that's it. I'm just, I'm not gonna worry about it. And that took a certain level of stress away. It was like, I'm quite happy to abandon this vehicle if I have to. And I think, you know, for a lot of overlanders, that's not an option, right? Because they have a lot of money invested in the vehicle, right? Yeah. The vehicle is their home. But for us to be able to say, look, if I get frustrated to a certain point, I'm just gonna walk away from this thing. That kind of, I think took a lot of stress away, but the truck never actually died completely. It would sort of die.
Marianne Hyland: It could be resurrected.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. It, it, you know, it, it never completely gave up the ghost. It, it, you know, it [00:54:00]
Marianne Hyland: Maybe that was the annoying thing.
Ray Hyland: Yeah. It stuttered and puttered and failed and.
Marainne Hyland: Oh my gosh, right, we’d hear that sound, the knocking sound, I'd be like.
Ray Hyland: Oh my goodness, what's gonna happen now? It always came back to life and it always got us to the next town.
Marianne Hyland: Yeah it did.
Ray Hyland: It just, it never, yeah. All the little issues we had, we never got stranded. It never. We never had to get towed or rescued. We always were able to get it running again and get it to the next town. Yeah. And it, it made it all the way back to Singapore. So, and then we, from Singapore, we shipped it back home here and, and uh, and, you know, it was fine.
Ashley Giordano: So, oh, you still have it?
Ray Hyland: I still have it, yeah. I eventually took the engine out and sent it to an engine rebuild, and I asked him to kind of refurbish it and he took it apart and he called me up on the phone and he was laughing at me. He said, Ray, I've, I've never seen an engine in such bad condition that still ran, because I had said like, take it apart and go through and make a list of all the parts that we need to replace and, you know, I'll, I'll order the, the parts and we'll do some machining and we'll rebuild the engine, the original engine. And he said, I need everything. He said, every [00:55:00] single part that you can order for this engine, I need, he said, every single thing in this is worn up. He said, the camshaft is completely smooth. He says, I don't even know how it runs anymore. He says, the lubs are completely worn off. He said, every piston ring is broken in three or four places. He's like, and he just went through every single component and he said, this component is worn to the point where the engine shouldn't run and this component is worn to the point where the engine shouldn't run and this component is worn to the point where the engine shouldn't run and guess what? The engine's still running. So yeah, it was amazing.
Ashley Giordano: You were talking a little bit about how this is like playing, I wouldn't say devil's advocate, but taking an inexpensive old vehicle, I think obviously has its pros and its cons, but some of the pros really regarding budget on this trip in terms of Carney spending and parts along the way. You were saying something about that?
Ray Hyland: Yeah. Marianne said to me one time while we're driving right about, I'm so glad we didn't restore this before we left, cuz it's so much cheaper to do it on the road. Because cheap mechanics, cheap parts, you know, as you're traveling through Asia [00:56:00] and Europe.
Marianne Hyland: And you gave us that worldwide restoration.
Ray Hyland: Right? This is mechanic we met in India or in Istanbul. Yeah, that was funny. But yeah, I think, you know, the, like, like you said, the, the, the carnet was really cheap because the cost of the truck was really cheap. Right. And then the other fun thing was, I mean, it was a classical Land Rover. So everywhere we would go, I mean, like you'd, you'd see people would show up in a, in $150,000 decked out G wagon or sprinter van or what, you know, we had guys showing up with uni mos and stuff right on some of these over landing destinations. And we'd roll up in this terrible little truck and everybody wanted to come and see the truck. Everybody wanted, everybody thought it was really cool. We'd, we'd roll into a town and everybody would come out. We stopped at a traffic round about traffic circle in Tehran, I think take some pictures and a cab driver pulled up behind. He got out and he came up to talk to us, and he offered to share his breakfast with [00:57:00] us because he thought we must be so poor because we drove such a terrible old vehicle. We must be so poor that we couldn't afford our own food. So he offered to share his breakfast with us, which is the sweetest thing, but it was, it was pretty funny. So that tells you just how good the truck looked?
Ashley Giordano: Yeah. Oh yeah. Classic Land Rover.
Ray Hyland: Right? No paint. The, the little bit of paint that was on the truck was in multiple colors and Yeah. But most of it was just bare battered aluminum.
Ashley Giordano: What did you learn from this trip? What was the lesson? Was there anything that you took away or were you just like, wow, that was really hard, really rewarding?
Ray Hyland: I think the biggest lesson one I hope the kids also took away was that, you know, you'll figure it out, right? Like, okay, everything's going wrong. It's okay. Everything's going wrong. It'll, it'll, you'll figure it. We'll just figure it out. We'll figure out what we need to do. Okay. This may not be the plan, but this is what we're doing now. And don't, don't get too hung up on the fact that everything's going wrong because things go wrong. It's what happens.
Ashley Giordano: And then you work through it. [00:58:00] And I'm assuming build confidence because you keep figuring it out.
Ray Hyland: Right? Yeah. Everything will go wrong and you fix that problem and everything will go wrong again tomorrow, but tomorrow will be a different problem.
Ashley Giordano: So was that the same for you, Marianne, or?
Marianne Hyland: I think, I think meeting so many people who are just kind and generous, wanting to help. That probably was the most significant thing.
Ray Hyland: Every single person that we met. From every single culture. And every single socioeconomic division in society, every single person we met wanted to help. They wanted to be helpful. They wanted to see what they could do. Wow. That's cool. Where are you going? Why are you doing that? Doesn't make any sense. Can I help you? Right. I mean, it was, it was awesome.
Ashley Giordano: I always take this from Scott Brady or I figure out my own question. But today, uh, because we were looking through your collection of books last night and it is great. What is your favorite book and why?
Ray Hyland: For me, it's a, a short walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric [00:59:00] Newby. And it was because it's a story of a guy who decides to drive overland in an old station wagon in the fifties from London to Afghanistan and climb a mountain. And he's never traveled overland before and he's never climbed a mountain before. And everything that could potentially go wrong on his trip went wrong and he still had a great time.
Ashley Giordano: Sounds familiar?
Marianne Hyland: I'd say probably midnight's Children by song. I think it just captured me right from the beginning. Right to the end. Just, that's what a good story is. It just catches you and it takes you along all the way to the end. Well, thank you.
Marianne Hyland: You're welcome.
Ashley Giordano: Your story has captured me today. Oh, it brought me all the way to end and I'm sure the listeners as well. So thank you guys so much for taking the time.
Ray Hyland: Thank you.
Ashley Giordano: To chat with me. It's been wonderful.
Ray Hyland: I'm the senior.
Ashley Giordano: I feel like we barely scratched the surface, so we'll have to definitely get together again and do [01:00:00] another podcast at some point and we can talk about all the other stories that you have from that trip. So yeah.
Ray Hyland: How to meet friendly mechanics in every place that you stop and how to get through random border crossings. So, yeah, we had a lot of fun on that trip, but there's a lot of stuff we learned there that we never expected, so, but yeah. Yeah, definitely stories for another day.
Ashley Giordano: Yes, I look forward to it. Thank you guys so much.
Ray and Marianne Hyland: Thank you.
Ashley Giordano: And thank you to the listeners for tuning in to this episode of the Overland Journal podcast. And yeah, we'll catch you next time on the next episode.