From The Archives. Stage 4. Laos to Singapore.

19 January 2011

Stage 4 seems like a million miles away now, having just stuffed myself silly at various Christmas/New Year celebrations. Feel a little sad writing this now I am about to embark on my first day back at the office for 2011 but here goes my overview of the best month of my life so far…

The stage started back on a very rainy night in October when Lyndsey, Seve and I were united at Heathrow, all very excited and eager to embark on the journey ahead. After 18 hours and a quick pitstop in Bangkok to sample the sights and sounds of a very busy Khao San road, and the tastiest Pad Thai I have ever eaten, we touched down at Luang Prabang airport. My first impression on landing at the airport was one of pure admiration of the beautiful landscape Laos had to offer, and then secondly I was overcome by giggles at seeing ‘plane spotter Steve’ in the bushes of the airport trying to get a snap of us getting off the plane. The first few days on the trip were relatively easy as the boys of stage 3 needed a well earned break before we headed off on the road. While definitely not the longest of the stages in terms of distance and duration it did have 3 borders which we were more than a little concerned about crossing. We needn’t have worried though. The team at Global link, KPP and the Singapore Civil Defence service did a sterling job of hand-holding us on our crossings through these notoriously busy and difficult borders.

Highlights for the trip for me were:

Tubing in Vang Vieng

Lyndsey and I were promoted to the role of ‘mum’ for all three lads when they went missing after we’d all been tubing. We had left them to it as they were clearly having a great time but hours later and with a huge storm looming, they still weren’t back. We went searching and found then walking aimlessly around the town center having been stuck in the storm and as such were so very slightly disorientated. Alcohol may have played some part in this!


What a wonderful country! I would recommend it to anyone. It is such a lush and beautiful place and relatively untouched.

Kellies Castle

The video does not do it justice but one of the top attractions in Malaysia was brilliant, but for all the wrong reasons. It really isn’t that bad. Pretty but bad!

Steamin’ Martha

She really is very uncomfortable to travel in at the best of times but when it is 30+ degree heat it is unbearable when you have no air-con.


Lyndsey and I found two in our hotel room. Luckily Seve was on hand to save us from screaming the place down.

PR Failure

Missing the legend that is John Barnes thanks to Steve and Barham spending too much time doing their hair in the bathroom.

Radio Malfunction

Having no stereo for the end of Stage 4 was a disaster and made the long days in the cab a little harder to bear. Luckily, we found an old rubix cube and soon Seve, Steve and I were locked in a battle to complete the cube. The boys were clearly not happy when I whooped them (as well as well as winning Name That Tune)!

Since I have been back, I have been asked by numerous people if it was as brilliant as it appeared. I can absolutely and whole-heartedly say it was but I do have to balance that with the fact that it was incredibly tiring and while you are out on the road you never stop. As part of the crew you are either blogging, navigating, driving or taking photos to capture the journey. In the morning you are up early doing the daily and weekly checks on Martha to ensure she does not breakdown. I still have withdrawal symptoms from not picking stones out of Martha’s big wheels in the mornings as this was my favourite of all the jobs (not sure what that says about me).

Although it may at times seem like a ‘lovely trip’ or, as some people have commented ‘a great idea for a holiday’, I would have to say that the blogs and photos don’t convey to our lovely supporters the amount of work that is involved in keeping the show on the road. The reason that Martha and the crew are doing so well in terms of time is down to the sheer work and determination of Steve, the crew and the wider FTFE team who have worked tirelessly over the last year and a half to make this expedition happen. Without the long hours and the regular daily checks by the crew, Martha would never have got as far as she has and we, the crew, would like to thank everyone for pulling out all the stops to make this happen.

Good Luck Martha and crews 7, 8 and 9 on the rest of your fantastic adventure. Can’t wait to see you back on English soil in April.

Michelle, Stage 4

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