LONDON: Some 21,000km across two continents in a Land Cruiser, a Kuala Lumpur couple is halfway to proving a point in the true spirit of Malaysia Boleh.
When Mejar (Rtd) Mohd Arshad Khan, 59, and his wife, Salina Abdullah, 55, made known their adventure to drive round the world, doubts were expressed about their capability, not least their age.
Undaunted, they went ahead and some three months later, they are on course to achieve their aim of being the first Malaysians and the oldest couple to travel the furthest distance by road.
They will realise their ambition on April 15 when they enter Wang Kalan in Perlis, six months after setting off on their round-the-world quest covering 26 countries and more than 37,000km.
“My biggest surprise was the warmth of the people we came across in every country. They were nice and friendly. Some even went out of their way to help,” Arshad told The Star.
For Salina, his co-driver and navigator, the going has been tough, with all the worries of travelling across strange countries and the “extra burden” of missing her two grandchildren.
Since leaving Kuala Lumpur on Oct 15, her four-year-old grandson Alif has been calling her on her mobile every day without fail, and these calls meant so much to her.
“It has been worth it,” said Arshad, who took five years to plan the Caltex Overland World Challenge with support and advice from government agencies, especially Wisma Putra.
He had to do a lot of convincing to get Salina (“I thought he was joking”) on board. Arshad was full of praise for his wife, who has been a strong support.
Despite the discomfort, tiredness and the strain of the long and arduous journey, it has been a wonderful experience for both of them. They were thankful that they did not encounter serious problems when travelling from India to Bhutan, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and across Europe to London.
Their journey across Europe was bitterly cold –caught in the midst of the Baltic freeze which swept the continent last week.
On Wednesday, the couple left London by air for Montreal to continue their Caltex Overland World Challenge across Canada to Vancouver where they will leave for Japan.
Then it’s on to South Korea, driving through China to Kunming, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and finally home.