Explorers drive 20,000 miles in Transit van

Two friends have arrived home after the trip of a lifetime, driving to and from Mongolia in an old rental Ford Transit van.

Charles Hewitt-Dedman and Teddy Samengo-Turner, both 22, encountered deserts and mountain ranges as they drove through parts of Asia and eastern Europe.

Teddy, of Staplefield, and Charles, from Rusper, covered 20,000 miles across 24 countries and returned home on Tuesday September 16.

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And the van, donated by Choice Vehicle Rentals, now has around 150,000 miles on the clock.

Acknowledging it was ‘weird’ to be back, Charles said: “It goes to show how open the world is - two men can get in a car and keep driving.

“As long as you get the Visas, you can go to Mongolia.

“It was special to reach Mongolia and just drive.

“Every day we have been getting in the van and on the road. It will take some getting used to not having to drive every day.”

Teddy added: “It hasn’t quite dawned on us that we have driven that far.”

The pair took in some incredible sights, including the spectacular Door to Hell in Turkmenistan, as well as driving to Auschwitz, Chernobyl and the war memorials in Ypres, Belgium.

Despite the old van suffering from the occasional breakage, Charles and Teddy always found a helpful mechanic on their unfamiliar route, and agreed the attitudes and hospitality of the people they met was a highlight.

When the van became stuck in sand in Iran, two men on motorcycles appeared and assessed the situation, only to return with 20 litres of diesel.

Charles said that even in war-torn Iraq, their welcome was ‘fantastic’.

He said: “The hospitality in Iraq was fantastic.

“We stopped for breakfast, they made this lovely bread and tea, and the owner said it was on him.

“We were amazed by the hospitality and their attitudes. They welcomed us to their country.”

In contrast, the pair said the corruption among police forces overseas was an eye-opening factor, as officers demanded bribes from tourists.

Charles said: “They have so much power, they just go out of their way to make your life difficult.

“They always want ‘dollar, dollar, dollar’.”

Teddy said: “When you get pulled over you find out all they want is your money.”

The pair are raising money for St Wilfred’s Hospice in Eastbourne, and have documented their journey on their charity Facebook page, Choice Mongolia.