09 September 2019
The Last Overland which is recreating one of the twentieth century’s most iconic and challenging road journeys- the very first expedition by the 1955 Oxford Series I Land Rover from London to Singapore, has arrived in Yangon, 11 days after flagging off in Singapore on 25 August 2019. Upon entering Myanmar from neighboring Thailand, the Last Overland team made its way through beautiful ancient cities of Myanmar such Mawlamyine, Hpa-An and Bago before arriving in Yangon while meeting the most enthusiastic Land Rover fans in the country.
Speaking to the media Mr. Alex Bescoby, a member of the expedition said, “In 1955, this car (pointing to his 1955 “Oxford” Land Rover Series I) was the first in history to drive all the way overland from London to Singapore.” Speaking on what is so special about the expedition, he also said, “Well, I think it special for two reasons. They were the first in history to ever do it. Everyone told it was impossible, and many people have tried but then they never managed to cross Myanmar. So this car was the first car to cross to the north of Myanmar on land. That’s why it is so important and we are recreating it in the modern day to celebrate a wonderful old vehicle and the spirit of adventure.”
Between 1955 and 1956, a team of six men embarked on the Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition (The First Overland), and made history by being the first so successfully drive the 10,000 miles from London to Singapore. The young group inspired generations of adventures through their extraordinary endeavor, showing many remote corners of the world on film for the first time. Now 64 years later, the team of eight includes Alex Bescoby, award-winning filmmaker and co-founder of Grammar Productions and Nat George, the grandson of Tim Slessor (a member of the First Overland). This time they will make the journey in reverse, from Singapore to London. As before, they will travel across three continents, through the jungles of Malaysia and Myanmar, the mountains of Himalayas, the Northern Turkey, and the deserts of the Middle East as well as over twenty countries including Nepal, China, Uzbekistan, Iran and Bulgaria. The aim is to arrive in London within approximately 100 days of setting out from Singapore.
Speaking on what may be some of the major challenges during the expedition, Mr. Alex also said, “Well, I think there are two things that can go wrong, human failure and car failure. It’s a very hard journey, hundred days of driving, moving all the time through many countries. So everybody is a little bit tired already, we are all eleven days in. And then this old car, so far she has been brilliant, no problems, couple little problems but no major problems but I think when we get to Tibet, it is one of the highest road in the world and this car may struggle to drive without enough oxygen.”
For several members of the team, the crossing of Myanmar is an emotional homecoming. Alex, Marcus, Leo and David all met while living and working in Myanmar for many years and the idea for the Last Overland was sparked by a shared passion for exploring this incredible journey. Departing on 7 September, Oxford and The Last Overland team will continue their journey to the border with India through the hilly border regions of Chin state.
Speaking on his feeling for the expedition, Mr. Alex said, “I Still cannot believe it is true, when I arrive in London, I will believe it is true. We’ve travelled for eleven days almost two thousand miles. It’s been an extraordinary journey so far. I am delighted to be here in Myanmar, Myanmar is my second home. Right now I am going to enjoy Myanmar and think about India next.”