January 01, 2008

First Post - The Past

"So Cameron, have you blogged yet?" I said yesterday, knowing full well that I hadn't either. So here goes, the first post.

People keep asking me, why Paisley - Peking? Why go to China? And why go by buggy? So here's why.

For years I've been dreaming of the great overland journey, I've looked at maps, read travel books, and watched Ewan & Charlie's Long Way Round till the DVD's almost worn out. I thought about trying for the first car across the Bering Straits, looked at amphibious vehicles from strange Russian makers, but decided I didn't want to freeze to death somewhere in the Arctic seas. Then one day I spotted China.

China, land of mystery, still hugely unseen by westerners outside the cities, a place of mystery to me. I've seen pictures of the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, but that's almost all. So China became my new dream destination, to unlock just a few of its secrets, and experience its culture, in this period of rapid change.

So the trip began to form. Chatting to my friend Ruth (founder of Sanctuary) she told me about her friend Cameron Stout, well known for being the last sensible winner of Big Brother, but little known as being another crazy traveller. E-mails flew (and bounced), MSN chats popped up, and Paisley - Peking was born.

Why buggies? My fault again, I think. I'd started off planning to use the little Fiat Panda 4x4. I reckoned this was a great combination of silly tiny car and great off road abilities, but then one day I stumbled across the Quadzilla buggy on the web. I just knew we had to use them. With their chunky tires and nippy Piaggio engines they're almost unstoppable off-road, their open design lets you be as much a part of the place as you can be, smelling the air, feeling the wind on your face, and no-one has driven one that far, yet.

And that's it: Paisley - Peking, two blokes, two buggies, to Beijing.