Peter Schindler, the Accenture-partner-turned-traveler, once drove a 1950s Lotus through the most exotic places in China – appear to be totally out of place, he made lots of interesting people, and discovered a lot of color stories.
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Pity the customs official who needs to deal with me when I cross a border by car. My documents can be rather confusing, if not downright suspicious: my car has an Austrian license plate; I hold a Swiss passport, but it shows that my residence is in Hong Kong; as for my driving license, take your pick: two from China, one from the U.S., and several others; and my miniature laminated marriage certificate says that my Malaysian-Chinese wife is Australian.
When I was a lot younger, I raced cars in Europe – Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula Super-V and Renault Elf – for four years, on occasion even successfully.
I then entered the ‘dark years’ of my life during which I studied I.T. at M.I.T. and business at INSEAD. Painfully, I heaved himself up to become an associate partner in Accenture’s China practice. Then it was time to move on.
My passion for driving has never left me, however. In 2005, it resulted in what BBC Radio called a love letter to the pleasures of being on an open road: On the Road – Driving Adventures, Pleasures and Discoveries.
Having driven over the years a million-plus kilometres on roads in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, and loving every moment of it, I nowadays quench my thirst for driving by taking to the roads of China. The upshot is www.ontheroadinchina.com, a company through which I offer driving holidays in China and want to show the world just how beautiful China can be.
Most recently, between May 9th and August 12th 2007, a dream came true for me. After two years of preparation, I took off on a 100-day road trip through China, not in a Land Rover or a Porsche Cayenne or a Hummvee, but in the granddaughter of a 1950s Lotus, a car made for British race tracks and Sunday morning leisure rides on the smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom country roads of England. My 21,000km journey along China’s two great rivers – the Yangtze and the Yellow River – took me from the artificial glitz of Shanghai to the natural splendour of the Tibetan Highlands, and from the terraced rice fields of Longsheng to the plains of Inner Mongolia.
At the end of the journey, Miss Daisy – as my open-top mother of all sports came to be called – was auctioned off at a gala charity event hosted by Yao Ming. Nokia, the title sponsor of this adventure, donated the proceeds to the China Youth Development Foundation.