'Biotruck' pair back from epic trip
Published 09/09/2011 | 13:27
A pair of eco-adventurers have arrived in Britain after driving around the world in a clapped-out "biotruck" salvaged from a scrap yard and powered by used cooking oil.
Andy Pag, 36, and Christina Ammon, also 36, scavenged from fryers to clock up more than 18,000 miles travelling through 25 countries in an environmentally-friendly way.
The trip was the brainchild of Mr Pag, from Croydon, south London, who rescued the 22-year-old Mercedes school bus from a scrap heap and used reclaimed materials to turn it into a comfortable eco-home.
He converted the bus to run on waste cooking oil and installed a filtering system and a 1,200 litre tank under the bed before setting off in September 2009 determined to prove what can be achieved with people's rubbish.
A year into the journey while he was passing through Indonesia, he was joined by American freelance journalist Miss Ammon who wanted to write about his trip. Love blossomed between the pair and they became a couple, but Miss Ammon joked that her friends thought she was "crazy" to be taking to the road in a beaten-up old bus.
Their travels brought some hair-raising encounters as they ventured through hotspots such as southern Pakistan where Taliban fighters often attack road convoys. But the most worrying period came after Mr Pag was arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences and incarcerated in the tough Ajmer Prison in India.
He was fined about £15 by a court for using a satellite phone illegally, violating Indian wireless and telegraphy laws, and delaying their journey by six months, but the more serious allegations of terrorism were dropped.
In spite of some setbacks, the couple said they have received random acts of kindness and had experiences which it would not be possible to have travelling any other way.
After arriving in Dover, Kent, Mr Pag said: "The thing that I have come away with is what a great planet we all live on. There are people out there who have shown us great kindness and being from Croydon that has surprised me. Even when I was locked up in prison, I came across a lot of good people."
Miss Ammon, from Oregon, said: "The breakdowns were the best bit. That's when we met the most interesting, friendly people and had the unique sort of adventures which you can't have travelling any other way."