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Ford Fiesta World Tour 2010: Around the World in 60 Days (Part 3)

Jeremy Hart
Ford Fiesta World Tour 2010
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The speedometer reads 130 km /h. The Ford Fiesta plows in the left lane of a pristine freeway. The left exterior mirror is only 40 centimeters away from the concrete central barrier. We are traveling through southwest China and approaching Kunming.

P Suddenly, out of nowhere, a woman jumps onto the central building, crouches and stretches ready to jump. Your jump will end fatally, it flashes through my head, fatal for you and probably for me too. Driving in China has always been dangerous. When the first highway from Hong Kong to Guangzhou was opened, I almost halved two road workers with pylons on their heads and a bamboo pole stretched over all three lanes.

Asia is dangerous

While the Middle East was predictably arduous, driving in Asia is extremely dangerous. 'I bought my driver's license,' says our guide, smiling smugly. In China, driving is rarely taught or even tested, but every year there are over a million new license holders. In the first two hours of our stay in China alone, we witnessed two near-serious accidents.

Families of four - father, mother and two small children - wobbly on a dismantled moped, crossed our path several times and forced us to hairy Evasive maneuvers. We reach a two-lane thoroughfare that is covered over and over with broken glass. My mindfulness didn’t have any rest during our trip through China. The tour meant five days of nervous torture.

The weather did not bring any improvement either. It rained all week that we covered the 2,300 kilometers from Hong Kong to Kunming on the border with Burma. Small rivers and ponds formed on the highways. The Ford Fiesta plunged into the floods like rock stars in swimming pools.

First breakdown after 15,000 kilometers

It was almost inevitable that after crossing the USA and Canada, we were completely Europe and the Middle East would eventually run out of luck. On another brand new highway, we were suddenly surprised by a pothole that stretched over two complete lanes. I gave the Ford Fiesta the spurs and hoped to escape a flat tire. It worked. The Fiesta popped through the hole, but the tires remained intact.The subsequent fiesta was less fortunate and suffered a flat tire. The first breakdown after around 15,000 kilometers through 17 countries. After this horror, I was allowed to travel on to Chiang Mai in Thailand as a passenger.

Elephants writing Ford Fiesta

The Hotel Amri spa was waiting for us, radiant and fragrant - that was it the exact opposite of the hotels with which our big brother China had received us in the north. In Thailand, the most bizarre story that we had experienced on our trip so far awaited us. The Maesa elephant shelter outside of Chiang Mai was founded in 1976 with a horde of ex-working elephants. These elephants are extremely productive artists. In just a few weeks they learned to hold a brush with their trunk and to paint beautiful pictures of plants and flowers. Our idea was to visit the elephants and get them to paint a kind of Andy Warhol elephant portrait of our Ford Fiestas. Unfortunately, elephants are afraid of cars, including those in Maesa.

Only the bull elephant KongKam was instructed by his trainer, Mr. Noi, to paint the Ford Fiesta in red letters on a canvas. We were speechless as the wild animal put the name of our car on the canvas. 'He is very obedient, unless he is distracted by food,' Noi praised his protégé as he patted the pachyderm's ear.

Spotlessly clean streets in Malaysia and Singapore

Our way continued World trip to Malaysia and Singapore. Here the streets seemed to be washed with Perrier, so clean were the streets. Our arrival coincided with the dismantling of the Formula 1 racetrack, of which almost nothing can be seen outside the GP for the remaining 51 weeks. 'Singapore has fallen into a real car frenzy since Formula 1 came here three years ago,' explained Yuey Tan, who, as a local racing driver, had contested a frame race in the Porsche Carrera Cup. 'There are more car clubs and more supercars here than anywhere else,' said the 28-year-old, who was born in Australia. 'Singapore has become a real auto nation.'

We leave the Formula 1 racetrack and turn to the Raffles Hotel, which not only marks the end of our trip through Asia, but also gives us a foretaste of the long-missed Western standards, even before we do Reach Australia. We treat ourselves to a cup of tea and 'Singapore Sling', only then will we continue by plane down-under.

Road trains are dangerous in Australia

Australia is known for its terrifying reptiles and arachnids. As drivers, our main focus is on cattle and kangaroos. Because involuntary encounters with these can end fatally for small cars like the Ford Fiesta. So we only drove during the day. There are around 5,000 from Darwin to SydneyMiles as far as from Los Angeles to Miami or from London to the Middle East. With the difference that only a dozen settlements awaited us on this way and not a thousand cities. And there is only one road that leads from the Northern Territory to South Australia - the Stuart Highway, which crosses Australia more or less in the middle.

But kangaroos weren't the only opponents for the Ford Fiesta in the Australian outback. The small car had to fight for every meter of the narrow street with the world's largest trucks. If you want to overtake one of these monsters, which are more than 30 meters long, you need good planning in advance or visionary skills. A car in front of me had underestimated the danger, wanted to pass a road train, but was then surprised by an oncoming truck. In this case, the driver escaped off-road, but there is not enough space everywhere.

Halfway to Alice Springs, we stopped in Daly Waters - a pub that looks like it was in the backdrop of Crocodile Dundee. News spreads quickly here in the outback - so all twelve residents of Daly Waters awaited us in the pub. The walls of the bar resemble a giant bulletin board, filled with souvenirs, notes and legacies of people passing through. To our surprise, Lindsay Carmichael, the innkeeper, told us that Daly Waters is more than just a rest stop. 'This is Australia's first international airport,' he said proudly. 'This is where the planes landed on their way from London to Sydney, after their last stop in Singapore.' 'These flights used to take around 34 days, just as long as it took you with the car,' jokes Carmichael. 'That's what I call progress!'

Aboriginal artists are turning the Fiesta into an art car

Art cars are nothing new, BMW has produced numerous of them. In Alice Springs, however, two Aboriginal artists were waiting for us who wanted to redesign our Ford Fiesta. 'As Aboriginal artists began to paint on canvas and other things, new possibilities opened up,' said Kit Ballan, owner of the BPG Gallery in Alice Springs. 'Go out and have a look around, you will find numerous examples!'

And we found two artists who want to paint our car. Damien Marks Tjangala was told by his grandfather to only paint his own car. Now he was allowed to drive to our Ford Fiesta. In the classic Aboriginal painting style, a large picture soon adorned the bonnet. 'This is a turkey and this is a watering hole,' Damien said of his art. Westerners see the turkey as the bird's footprint, the waterhole is made up of many small drops, represented as circles. Joylene Reid Napangati decorated the other half of the hood with a motif.

Mad Max is waitingon us

Mad Max is probably the ultimate outback road movie. While part one was shot around Melbourne, Broken Hill, our next destination, formed the backdrop for the two other episodes. A fourth part is supposedly being considered. So it might be. We visited Silverton and the Mad Max Museum located there. Adrian Bennett has decided to set a monument to the Mad Max cult here. 'People said to me,' Hey, you've got so many Mad Max cars and movie items here, put it on display and show people around. '

Bennett owns three replicas of the Ford XBGT Interceptor alone -Film cars by Mel Gibson, plus some movie buggies and motorcycles. His buddy, the pub owner Pete, is on the Mad Max trip and has built a VW Beetle in Mad Max style.

Australia was the fifth continent on our tour and we were slowly getting closer to our destination two months after starting in Los Angeles. But the return to everyday life seemed unreal. Sydney seemed to await us like a big checkered flag. This is where our path ended, on the Pacific, We had planned to end the tour with a ride over the famous harbor bridge, but some guys at Ford in Australia came up with a better idea and guided us to a ferry big enough for two Ford Fiesta which we hindur under the harbor bridge I drove. The finale was accompanied by loud foghorns. What an end.


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