18 000 kilometers in 83 days | margot (67) drove from hesse to laos
Finally retire, finally travel! In october 2019, 65-year-old margot flugel-anhalt climbs into her 24-year-old benz and sets off: 83 days, 18,000 kilometers through 15 countries, all the way to southeast asia.
from northern hesse to austria, slovenia, croatia, bosnia-herzegovina, montenegro, albania, macedonia, greece, turkey, iran, pakistan, india, myanmar, thailand and laos. Just before corona, on 10. January 2020, she will return to her village in Hesse.
She has written a book about her new adventure, "einfach abgefahren" will be published on 29 September. March.
For the former civil servant, it was always clear that she wanted to go out into the big, wide world right after retirement: "that’s exactly why I applied for partial retirement, so that I could retire earlier. For me, the official vacations were never enough to do everything and I wanted to finally be able to be on the road for a longer time at a stretch."
"I want to travel now, not 20 years from now. In 20 years, I’ll be able to keep chickens, grow potatoes and go to coffee parties
In 2018, margot traveled 18,000 kilometers through eastern europe and central asia on a small moped. Alone! "this is how the world opens up in a special way. It is enough to share my beautiful experiences with me. And I can share the moments with friends online. All the countries I have traveled to have better internet than here. I never felt lonely at any time."
"simply departed" by margot flugel-anhalt will be published on the 29th of this month.3. Photo: ullstein verlag
Her journey was not without danger. "in india, the gasoline has caused quite a few problems. Due to the bad roads, the mud, sand and the potholes, the brakes were gone. Then the hose to the brake cylinder on the left front wheel is also torn.
During an overtaking maneuver between two trucks, I suddenly could not brake anymore, because the brake fluid had leaked out. It was very tricky, but fortunately nothing serious happened and the benz held out until the end."
one of margot’s most impressive moments: she discovered an old, abandoned caravanserai on a lonely desert road in central iran photo: ullstein verlag
Worries did not travel with
margot was never afraid, not even of getting sick. "the only illnesses that worried me were stomach and intestinal problems. It really always catches you. Everything else I had well covered with vaccinations. If something had happened to me, I would have been able to use my travel health insurance – except, of course, in the parts of the country for which the foreign office had issued a travel warning. Doctors and hospitals were there enough. So I never had any worries, because here, too, something can happen to me at any time."
And even in the most dangerous situations margot stayed cool. Because in addition to touching encounters with foreigners and breathtaking landscapes, there were also some threatening moments in war and crisis zones: "i drove from turkey along the syrian border in the direction of iran. There have been many military police checks there that have caught me out.
on the way to iran there were many checks by heavily armed military police photo: ullstein verlag
In iran, there were serious clashes over fuel price increases and demonstrations with many deaths. When I drove from iran over the border to pakistan through bulichistan, I was detained by the police and had to spend the night in the guardhouse.
Luckily I had my sleeping bag with me, because it was 0 degrees and the windows in the guardhouse were broken. In pakistan itself i was with heavily armed guides all the time. All in all it was really not easy."
it is the spirit of adventure that makes margot survive such situations. She never thought of canceling the trip. "at no moment!"she stresses.
And what costs such a trip? "i had to pay 2000 euro for guides in myanmar and thailand alone, this brought me to an average of 76 euro per day. In addition, each country has about. 100 euros for a visa, some are cheaper, some are more expensive," says margot.
In thailand, margot also switched to a kayak once photo: ullstein verlag
she books her accommodations in the different countries mostly spontaneously. "usually in the evening, when i arrive, have showered and eaten, i start thinking about the next day. Then I set the route, I already know approximately how the route is and how much I can do in a day and think about where I can find accommodation nearby. Then I try to book them online or I call there. i have a sim card for each country and can call everywhere. If all that doesn’t work, I’ll risk it and just go there."
Where can you get cash in such remote areas??
"in iran you have to take US-dollars in cash with you, there it is not possible to withdraw money with our cards at ATMs, because iran is cut off from international money trade due to sanctions from nuclear agreement. Apart from that, you can actually withdraw cash everywhere. Unless empty or broken. At least I always had enough cash in my pocket for refueling in case of an emergency," explains the pensioner.
the globetrotter never has much in her luggage on her travels: "of course, i always take the standards with me, like i.d., credit card, cell phone charger – and the most important: my reading glasses! Everything else is replaceable. Plus necessary medicines, clothes needed in all climates and books about the countries I travel to."
Margot during her stay in india photo: ullstein verlag
Margot’s next travel dream is already fixed
margot was not even slowed down by corona. "actually i wanted to do a motorcycle tour through laos with my son in 2020. Instead, we drove to the volcanic eifel, explored germany on the motorcycle.
I also went kayaking on the werra river from north hesse towards the sea. This was really fascinating. In the long run I would like to go further away. My next destination is already clear. I would like to climb the 5137 meters high ararat. I am already training for this."
This time margot will have to travel there by plane. She left the faithful benz behind on her last tour in laos.
Margots benz in front of the ararat in eastern anatolia. She wants to climb the 5137-meter mountain as soon as corona allows it. photo: ullstein verlag