A team of explorers is set to recreate one of the 20th century's most iconic road trips by driving from Singapore to London in August.
Tim Slessor, the award-winning British filmmaker, presenter and author, was part of the six-man Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition that travelled overland from Singapore to London in 1955-56. They made history as the first team to successfully drive the 10,000 miles between the two cities. A journey that naysayers at the time believed couldn't be done. Now, 64-years later, Slessor will recreate the trip in the reverse direction from Singapore to London and in the very same 1955 Land Rover that was part of the original expedition.
Slessor's trip is famous for popularising the "overlanding," travel movement for a generation of adventurers who cared more about the journey than the destination. The groundbreaking trip, known as "The First Overland, was even documented in three BBC films, commissioned by Sir David Attenborough, who described it as a "madcap adventure" that would be "impossible to recreate today."
"Before we had set out, the experts had told us that we were geographically ignorant and politically naive; the journey couldn’t be done," Slessor said of the original journey. "All that did was to make us more determined. Six months later, we pulled in to Champion Motors on Singapore’s Orchard Road. I can tell you, the champagne and flash-bulbs really popped that day. We’d made it."
The 2019 trip, billed as "The Last Overland" will see the 87-year-old pioneer and a new team of eight, fresh-faced explorers cross three continents and 20 countries; through the jungles of Myanmar and Malaysia, the mountains of the Himalayas, the deserts of the Middle East and the plains of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. If all goes to plan, the team will flag off from Singapore's Formula One circuit on 25 August.
Regarding his motivation to recreate history, Slessor said: "As I get older, I have been bothered by a recurring and nagging whisper: ‘Go for it – before it’s too late.’ Which is why I am here today – I am 87, and if I don’t do It now, I may never get another chance. After all, as that whisper reminds me, ‘you’re only here once'."