Following the phenomenal success of Long Way Round (See FULL story here) adventurer extraordinaire Charley Boorman came up with a brand new voyage: To get himself from Wicklow County in Ireland to Sydney, Australia By Any Means of transportation available. From Yacks to Yugos, trucks to trawlers and ferries to fruit boats, no mode of moving transport is overlooked as Charley negotiates his way through 24 countries and over 20,000 miles.
By Any Means of Transport
Like ‘Long Way Round’ they made a 6 episode TV series for the BBC out of this adventure. Hence the three men crew of Boorman, producer Russ Malkin and cameraman, Paul “Mungo” Mungeam who manage to complete this kickass journey using 112 different modes of transport.
“Taking in Eastern Europe and the undiscovered countries of far Western Asia, moving across India and high up into the Himalayas, Charley mixes his passion for travelling with his love of meeting people and appreciating some of the world’s most incredible offerings. An exhilarating story uncovering a vast array of exciting, vehicles that in turn unleash the flavour of each nation visited. A must-watch for all. …Charley Boorman: Ireland to Sydney by Any Means “
Below you can read the entire story and see the 6 episode TV series regarding their travels. Each mode of transport used has been depicted in this bold typo. It is easy to see that they used an impressive amount of transport modes and made equally many transfers.
By Any Means: EPISODE 1
The By Any Means expedition got under way on 12 April 2008 from Boorman’s father John Boorman’s house in Wicklow. They rode their motorbikes up to Kilkeel before crossing the Irish Sea by fishing boat – not as kickass as Mervyn Kinkead who crossed that sea in a Bathtub! – to the Isle of Man, and then by ferry to Liverpool. There they took a combination of taxis and a train down to the Coventry Transport Museum to spend the night, where Boorman was reunited with the motorcycle he rode on Long Way Down, before riding again on motorcycle down to The Ace Cafe in London the next day. From there they drove a Routemaster bus down to Dover and boarded a small sailboat across the English Channel to Calais which they completed in five hours.
By Any Means: EPISODE 2
From Calais the expedition drove down to Paris in a 1969 Citroën DS and boarded the Venice-Simplon Orient Express which took them across France, Switzerland and Austria to Venice, Italy. They spent some time in Venice, experiencing the daily lives of people on the Venetian canals before boarding a catamaran to Poreč, Croatia. From there they travelled to Zagreb in a Yugo and then to Vukovar. They then boarded a train which took them through Serbia and Belgrade and they took a boat down the Danube. Later they travelled through Bulgaria by train, through Sofia where they stopped very briefly for refreshments before continuing on to Istanbul in Turkey.
In Istanbul they experienced Turkish cuisine such as Turkish delight and apple tea which is sold in abundance in the country and they boarded a boat across the Bosphorus and drove across the coast of Northern Turkey in a minibus. They encountered some memorable passengers along the way including one passenger named Fatih (the pronunciation of which is “Farty”), this unfortunate conflict of dialect/pronunciation caused some amusement to the team and consequently some upheaval to the point the passenger felt offended and had to depart the bus. They crossed into Georgia to Batumi, where they resumed their journey in an old Russian UAZ and across to the Caspian Sea in Baku, Azerbaijan. They noted how polluted this oil city was, and the difficulties of the everyday lives of the workers who worked in the multi-billion-dollar oil industry despite earning very little. They then travelled down the coast of the Caspian Sea to Astara, Iran but on the way they had to switch transport to an old Russian Volga car which was regarded as a Rolls-Royce of Russian automobiles.
They reached Iran, where they joined a cargo truck with over one million kilometres to its name and its drivers who took them through to Tehran. On the way they noted how the landscape suddenly changed from lush green countryside in which tea was grown, to a complete desolate desert landscape after passing a tunnel. In Tehran they took a taxi through the city, driven by a tough Iranian female driver and boarded the Iranian Express train which took them down to Esfahan, Qom and down to Bandar Abbas on the southern coast, travelling with the Bakhtiari people along the way.
By Any Means: EPISODE 3
From Iran the team took a catamaran across to Dubai which Boorman described as “paradise” before boarding a 270 metre long cargo ship across the piratewaters of the Gulf and the Arabian Sea to Mumbai, India. Boorman found Mumbai extremely crowded and hot, but took the time to visit some pottery makers in the city. He then took a cab to the train station where he boarded a train for the 852 miles journey to Delhi that took 19 hours. In Delhi they took a tuk tuk across the city, where they picked up Royal Enfield Bullet 500cc motorcycles to take them to Agra. During this time the cameraman, Mungo, learned of his grandfather’s death and seriously injured his leg meaning he had to return to London to receive treatment whilst the others continued. They took a taxi to Kanpur and then boarded a Tata Truck which Boorman was emphatic about through Allahabad to Mirzapur. There they switched transport to Mahindra Jeeps for some 42 miles to Ramnagar Fort. Subsequently they boarded a rowing boat on the Ganges for the five miles journey to Varanasi, one of India’s holiest cities for both Hindus and Buddhists. Boorman found the city extremely spiritual and a moving experience, witnessing the Sandhya Aarti and cremations at the river side at night and the cleansing.
By Any Means: EPISODE 4
After some time driving a tuk tuk themselves, the team caught the Gorakhpur Express train to Gorakhpur and then an Ambassador 1800 to Sunauli across into Nepal. Due to heavy rainfall the 68 mile trip to Tharu lodge in the Royal Chitwan National Park was a difficult one and they were forced to use 6 different modes of transport in 24 hours including a minibus, Mahindra 275 jeep, a tractor, a Chitwan dugout canoe and even elephants towards Kathmandu in which they eventually caught a taxi. On 28 May it was announced that the old monarchy was coming to an end and a new Republic with a president would be replacing it and they experienced massive crowds in the streets proclaiming the end of the monarchy. After visiting a UNICEF site in the city they took one of the UNICEF minibuses to Kodahi.
Later they took a helicopter trip to Tengboche in the Himalayas which Boorman described as “the most awesome flight he had ever taken in his life” due to the scenery of the green valleys, the looming mountains and Mount Everest. During their time there it coincided with the 55th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Everest, and they met his son, Peter Hillary who was visiting with family. They witnessed a marathon being held there, logically won by the Sherpas due to them being accustomed to the thin air at that altitude. They were also under scrutiny on the Tibetan border by the Chinese army as their helicopter teetered marginally into Chinese airspace.
Back in Kathmandu, due to the natural disasters that had devastated Burma and Sichuan, they caught a plane to Guangzhou in south-east China, where Boorman received treatment for his painful wisdom tooth. They then caught a cement barge along the Lijiang River in a westerly direction through Xijiang to Wuzhou, spending time with a family who live the entirety of their lives going back and forth along this polluted river. In Wuzhou they caught a bus to Yangshuo where they experienced village life in the area and the rice fields, exploring the deep pot hole mud caves, and enjoying a balloon ride. They then took a minibus through Nanning and the Guangxi province to Pingxiang on the border with Vietnam.
By Any Means: EPISODE 5
From the Chinese border they rode Minsk motorbikes down to Hanoi, where they spent some time learning about the Vietnam War. They then took the 75 miles to Hạ Long by bus and went out onto Hạ Long Bay in a shuttleboat to experience the local pearl trade. The engine of their boat was drenched by a passing wave and they had to be rescued by a fisherman, later catching a passenger boat to safety.
They then caught a minibus to Nam Định and then the Reunification Express train from Haiphong to Đông Hà, a trip of 289 miles. They then rode 19 miles in an open top U.S. jeep to a village named Vịnh Mốcwhich had experienced extreme bombing during the Vietnam War as it was a landmark between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. During the war the local villagers built many tunnels to hide, and 17 babies were born beneath the ground between 1966 and 1972. They then reached Dongpanh in Laos and after some part travelled on a Lao Songthaew to Phnom Keng, and they caught a Lod Mei bus through the Savannakhet Province. They later travelled down the Mekong by boat past Pakse to Champasak and by minibus to visit the Khon Phapheng Falls in southern Laos near the border with Cambodia, the largest waterfall in southeast Asia. Then via minibus to Veren Kham in Cambodia, they took a rocket boat for two hours which was equipped with a powerful road engine, leaving Boorman confessing it was the greatest mode of transport to date. Past Stung Treng they used dirt bikes to travel across much of Cambodia, including a ferry to transport their bikes across the river, through Kratie and up to Beng Mealea to visit the ruins before continuing on to visit the grand Angkor Wat site, encountering a monsoon along the way.
After some time visiting the ruins of Angkor and the surrounding temples, they continued on to Phnom Kulen and rode on an elephant truck to Chang Neas, witnessing the primitive rice farming livelihoods of the Cambodians on their way to Sisophon. In Sisophon they rode about on an old bamboo cart train, and remarked that the town was very dirty and undeveloped. They then reached Aranyaprathet on the border with Thailand by minibus, before boarding a Mercedes Bus to take them four hours west to Bangkok.
In Bangkok, Boorman was surprised by the level of commercialisation of the city, comparing the difference between the vastly undeveloped parts of Cambodia like “chalk and cheese” . He caught the Bangkok Skytrain to beat the heavy traffic congestion and took the time to see some Thai boxing. They departed Bangkok on the International Express Train for a 24 hour journey down to Butterworth on the border with Malaysia, from which they caught a coach directly down to Kuala Lumpur, leaving Boorman disappointed that they couldn’t have experienced that leg further. After seeing the Petronas Towers and a mosque they used a hire car down to Danga Bay, and then Boorman became the first man in history to wakeboard from Malaysia across the bay 12 miles to Singapore. In Singapore he met with old friends and family and their colonial black and white home there, before boarding the Indera Supala ferry to Bintan. They then drove in a 1971 Holden Kingswood, an Australian car across the island, and then caught a water taxi to Nikoi Island before continuing to the mainland on Borneo.
By Any Means: EPISODE 6
Boorman went to Pontianak in West Kalimantan, and visited a UNICEF tetanus vaccination facility in the area before catching a flight on a Boeing 737 to Bali where he caught up with Russ. He rode in an X2K speedboat for the 68 miles to the Gili Islands as night was falling. On the Gili Islands he rode in a horse and cart (known to locals as a Cidomo) before resuming a 218 mile journey in the speedboat the following day, arriving 9 hours later in Bima. From Bima he boarded a 222 ft Phinisi wooden sailing ship, crammed with people across the Flores Sea where he stopped off at Komodo Island before returning to Bima to resume the trip to Kupang, in West Timor on the Pelni ferry. There Boorman then boarded a small iron wood ship named the Oelin helmed by an experienced Australian and they crossed the 643 miles to Darwin in six days at an average speed of 7 knots. On the way Boorman witnessed dolphins swimming around the ship, remarking it was the closest he had ever been to them.
From Darwin they drove in an old camper van for the 906 miles to Alice Springs, where they took the time for some camel riding and for meeting up with a group of old touring Australian bikers. They then resumed in a modern pickup can/truck and detoured to visit Uluru/Ayers Rock, camping in the vicinity in the outback, resuming the next day and experiencing some enormous modes of transports such as a road grader and a road train which Boorman compared with his boyhood dream when he would play with Tonka trucks.
They resumed in the pickup van to Coober Pedy and William Creek, reportedly the smallest town in Australia located near the world’s biggest cattle run (the size of Belgium but only farmed by three people). Boorman then drove in an old 1953 classic Holden which was a popular family car in Australia in the 1950s to Quorn where he tested out a solar car which had been used in the World Solar Car Challenge. Near Woolshed Flat, he and Russ rode in a steam train, and then resumed in the pick-up van. In the Snowy Mountains, Boorman went horse riding, before driving up into the peaks via a Ski Tube and then a snowmobile at the top. After descending, they resumed the journey to Wollongong, on the coast where they caught up with their families. They then met up with a rally of bikers in a fashion that emulated Long Way Round, and Boorman on a BMW motorcycle with gang rode the 76 miles north along the coast to Sydney. There, the journey finished right at the Sydney Harbour opposite the Sydney Opera House.
In total they used 112 modes of transport that took them through 24 countries in 102 days which does definitely count as a trip By Any Means.