Plodding along on the ‘trip of a lifetime’

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When Dave and Lesley Goodchild named their converted police van “Plodd,” they seemingly chose the perfect moniker. It had been a prisoner transport for the “plod,” and certainly is not the fastest vehicle on the road.

The former 10-cell transport truck was manufactured in 1996 and they bought it in March 2013. The renovation began with their purchase of an accident-damaged German motor home, which they stripped of its interior to furnish Plodd.

The installation was an easy job due to the compatibilities, and the Plodd became a complete motor home and ready to hit road in no time. Plodd had all this equipment fitted by the U.K. prison service department in line with the human rights of the prisoners. There are two air-conditioning units and two diesel heater units with two roof fans, a bed, a kitchen, a freezer and a toilet, just like a home.

Dave Goodchild proudly shows off the Plodd, their home for 148 days, 25,454 kilometers and using 3,870 liters of diesel as he and Lesley travelled from England to Thailand overland.

The idea for their “trip of a lifetime” all started about some eight years ago after various visits to Asia for holidays. The couple purchased a condo in Thailand for a start, but then fell in love with the country and settled in a quiet community in East Pattaya afterwards. They both had a passion for traveling and visiting new countries, as for Dave, driving was a hobby. Dave did a lot of research online, looking at possible routes and countries they would have to go through to reach Thailand.

Lesley knitted and crocheted a bed cover made up of all the flags of all the countries that they passed through. Most of the flags were made in the country that the flag represents.Lesley knitted and crocheted a bed cover made up of all the flags of all the countries that they passed through. Most of the flags were made in the country that the flag represents.

The journey begins and the actual trip kicked off on March 9, leaving sunny Blackpool, England for Pattaya. The couple had no clue what they were going to face in the foreign countries on their journey; rocky roads, difficulties in communicating, deserts, mountains, culture, food and weather.  The twenty-six en-route countries included England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Transnistria (not included with the 26, but part of the journey), Ukraine, Russia, Mongolia, China, Laos and last, but not least…Thailand. Experiencing the best and the worse, the whole story has yet to be told in detail.

Paul Strachan interviews Dave (left) and Lesley Goodchild (right) for PMTV.Paul Strachan interviews Dave (left) and Lesley Goodchild (right) for PMTV.

Firstly, the size of Plodd certainly wasn’t easy for both to live in after living in large homes in both Thailand and in England. Storage was the big problem; food was a struggle when they knew that they would be in the desert for two weeks, so they stocked the freezer as best they could and bought tins of pasta.

Fruit and vegetables were nonexistent in Mongolia and were poor quality in Russia also. The weather was constantly changing as they passed through various countries, so out with the jeans and in with the t-shirts was a constant battle as everything was in storage bags.

Border crossings were easy in nearly all countries, except for Moldova/Transnistria/Ukraine, which all happened one short morning and agents wanted $300. The couple ended up giving them approximately $30.

After spending some time in China, both Dave and Lesley had to manage with chopsticks instead of knives and forks unlike the traditional English, but they’ve actually got into the habit after using chopsticks for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Plodd is equipped with two air-conditioning units and two diesel heater units with two roof fans, a bed, a kitchen, a freezer and a toilet, just like a home.The Plodd is equipped with two air-conditioning units and two diesel heater units with two roof fans, a bed, a kitchen, a freezer and a toilet, just like a home.

Arguments often occurred. In China, Dave bought an electric bike which caused no end of arguments because he wanted to keep it inside Plodd. Fortunately, the bike could be folded in two and kept in the back of the vehicle and was one of the items that couldn’t fit under the bed.

They’ve met some wonderful people passing through Hungary and Romania and Bulgaria. The stunning scenery of Croatia became a memory as well as the altitudes and mountain terrain, along with diabolical drivers and experiencing the wildlife in Mongolia.

The renovation began with their purchase of an accident-damaged German motor home, which they stripped of its interior to furnish Plodd.The renovation began with their purchase of an accident-damaged German motor home, which they stripped of its interior to furnish Plodd.

Many people thought the couple may not make it. There were some friends that thought Les would jump ship at the first airport. There were times that they both thought, “Good God today has been hard and others where we thought we must be crazy doing the trip.” But they have now something to talk about together and with others.  Things like the eggs in Albania, crossing the tallest bridge in the world, but most of all it has been the people they met on their way: families in Hungary, staff in hotels and campsites, Vladimir in Bulgaria and his gift of a pot carafe, the kids camping on the campsite “S” in Romania, the girl selling CDs and DVDs and her husband, the guys in many of the Russian truck stops, and the waitress in the restaurant in Mongolia that took their washing home with her and brought it back washed.

They arrived in Thailand on Aug. 1 after 148 days on the road, driving 25,454 kilometers and using 3,870 liters of diesel fuel. Many goodies and souvenirs were purchased throughout the various countries, which made unpacking a tough job on their arrival.

Plodding along on the ‘trip of a lifetime’

PMTV