Going Overland From Europe to Southeast Asia

David Hielkema

7 July 2016

During the last couple of few weeks I really started to realize what we are about to do. And it scares me. Driving from the Netherlands to Southeast Asia is quite a big adventure. Why are we going to make this trip? How did we get to this plan? Where are we going?

Our decision

It must have been a few months after Josephine and I started dating each other that we discussed what we were going to do after our studies. We both had some ideas, but in these plans we didn’t involve each other. Josephine was sure she wanted to travel; just the where and how was not decided on yet. I didn’t really know what to do; perhaps working, perhaps some traveling, perhaps study some more. But as I said, these plans were made on being alone. And when you are together, in love, you want to be together. Also after your studies.

The decision to drive to Southeast Asia actually started as a joke. Josephine was determined to explore the world, so I had to give in. I didn’t feel like backpacking through Southeast Asia or South America and if I would go traveling again, I wanted it to be big. Josephine suggested to do the Trans-Siberia Express. I nodded and asked her why not to do this by car? Josephine, being as impulsive as you might know she can be, said without thinking that she was up for it. Was this a challenge or a joke? Any way, we started to figure it out. And so our plan was there.

“What if we are halfway and we find out that we have just a thousand euros left?”

However, the Trans-Siberia Express is another route then that we are going to travel now. Partly we blame the Chinese government for this. They make it almost impossible to drive through their country. It costs way too much money, you need a guide who drives with you wherever you go and before they let you in, you need to have Chinese number plates that you can only get by going to the country beforehand. But that was not the only reason we changed our route. While we were planning our trip, we were watching Onze man in Teheran, a serie about Iran. And Iran seems to be amazing. So another route to Southeast Asia had to be made.

David and his photoshoot with Dox

Photo take by Sydney Groot

Scary thoughts

We will leave in September. We need to sort out our visas, something that is particularly difficult for countries like Iran and Pakistan. And we still need to fix our carnet the passage, a kind of passport for a motor vehicle, which will allow us to drive through Iran, Pakistan and India. But, the paperwork will be sorted out eventually. And if that is not the case by the time we will leave, we will cross the bridge when we get there.

Money is also an issue; when will it be enough? € 10 000, € 15 000, € 20 000 or even more? We both have been working for almost a year and we are the luckiest persons in the world with our car Dox (in the next article more about the car), but when will it be enough? What if we are halfway and we find out that we have just a thousand euros left? But also then, we will figure it out.

So if we have thought the safety through, the paperwork will be done, money is okay, our car and stuff is there, why does it still scare me?

Going together scares the hell out of me: but not in the negative way you might think of. In the three years I traveled I was most of the time on the road by myself. I made my own choices, I decided what was safe to do and what was not, I decided to go left when I wanted, I was just responsible for myself. And now I’m not. I’m still responsible for myself, as much as Josephine is responsible for herself, but we need to do this together. Decisions need to be made together. And though I know everything will be alright, I hope I’m allowed to be a little bit afraid of doing this together.

You gain some, you loose some

Then there is also the life we have that we are going to leave behind us. I have done it twice before and it is always hard. I will miss my life I in Amsterdam. I’m going to miss my family and friends; I’m going to miss playing football with my teammates; I’m going to miss sitting on a terrace having beers; I’m going to miss cycling with my racing bike through Amsterdam; I might even miss my work where I’m calling with people about their pensions. I’m going to miss all the stuff that I know that is here for me.

I know it is good that leaving scares me. It should be like that. And it is not in a way that I think everything can go wrong, because I know it can, but I also know it won’t (and again; if it will go wrong, we will fix it, so how wrong did it go then?). It is in a very positive way that I am scared.

One month and a bit before we will leave from the Netherlands, going to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. It is a long way.