Chinese couple drives through 19 countries in vintage car

Updated: Oct 23, 2017 China Daily Print
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Driving between their hometown in Southwest China's Guizhou province and London, a couple has left tracks in dozens of countries over the past seven years, and plans to continue their dream of driving around the world in a vintage car.

Luo Chang and his wife, Ding Jie, were both born in Guiyang, the provincial capital.

They met in high school and went to Shanghai to work after graduating from university.

They both love travel and have driven around China, accumulating considerable experience in self-drive travel.

In April 2011, Luo got the job of an automobile engineer in London. After carefully studying the feasibility, he and Ding decided to drive to the British capital along the ancient Silk Road.

"Once we make a decision we don't get overtaken by fear. Going full steam ahead is our style. Our parents, relatives and friends are familiar with that and support our decisions," says Ding.

It was hard to see a car with Chinese plates going abroad in 2011. The couple were stuck at Horgos customs in the country's northwest for three days and finally went through with a temporary import and export permit.

"Fortunately we did not experience such tedious customs process after that," says Luo.

The journey to London was difficult, but they enjoyed themselves on the road.

At that time, foreign tourists were rare in Iran, especially those driving a car with Chinese plates.

"But Iranians were hospitable. They even shared CDs with us in traffic jams so we could enjoy Persian music," says Ding.

From there, they headed into the heartland of Turkey-Cappadocia-which consists of a high plateau at over 1,000 meters that is pierced by volcanic peaks.

Many tourists visit the area in hot-air balloons to see the special landform that seems like the surface of the moon.

They then spent two months getting to London.

Later, their car was spotted by an overseas Chinese on London Bridge and pictures of the couple and their car went viral on the internet.

Netizens thought the couple must be rich to afford self-drive travel of over 20,000 kilometers.

But Luo started work the day after they arrived in London.

The birth of their daughter Luo Xiaoya did not stop their travels.

After working for nearly six years in London, Luo quit his job in March and decided to continue traveling with their 4-year-old daughter.

"Are you crazy?" one neighbor asked when he heard that the family of three would travel in a 32-year-old Tin Snail, a classic Citroen 2CV, which Luo had bought in London and mended for nine months. The vintage car had been out of production since the 1990s.

"We want to do something meaningful together before our girl goes to school," says Luo.

The trip was to start from London and would take them across the Eurasian land mass. One month before departure, they entrusted a travel agency with the paperwork to get them back to China.

To enable their daughter to travel comfortably, they allowed for plenty of time to rest during the trip.

They also tried to choose families with children to stay with along the way as they couchsurfed.

After traveling through 19 countries, they arrived in Guiyang on June 26.

During the trip, the couple raised 24,000 yuan ($3,607) for China Rural Kids Care, a public welfare fund in China, to help children in rural areas of the country.

Now the family has started planning for another journey. They will ship the car to North America and then start a 10-month journey across the Americas.

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