About a year ago, in spring 2007, Arnold Pilon got a phone call. Arnold, who has made many world trips, often gives lectures about all his travels. In the last 40 years he has been traveling through about 100 countries, mostly in a way that others would describe as adventurous.

Highlights were traveling on horseback through Mongolia, driving his 1959 oldtimer Jaguar MK IX through Siberia crossing through the Gobi Desert and China back to Holland using the old silkroads. He cycled through Vietnam, and crossed China and the Himalayas with a Land Rover Defender, He has been to Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, India, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jemen and Saudi Arabia. He traveled from Capetown to Nairobi by truck. No mountain too high, no desert too desolate. And Iceland, did I mention Iceland yet?

Arnold received that phone call. It was Henk of Bhutan and Partners, telling Arnold about the special events in Bhutan in 2008. Arnold then first heard of the plans of buying a Grand Piano and donating it to the Kilu Music School in Bhutan.. If Arnold could give it a thought of organizing the transportation of it to Bhutan.

But when ideas develop into a solid plan, you need to let go of some and come with fresh ones. Transporting a Grand Piano wouldn’t be an easy task, transporting it over 10.000 miles on bumpy roads. It would have been a write-off upon arrival in Bhutan. The idea was wonderful, but It was a no go. But Arnold had put off other journeys already and had gathered together a couple of his travel buddies. Thus a new alternative plan was born.

In February of 2008 there was an informal meeting at Arnold’s home. Although I used my navigator to find it, there was still a lucky guess needed…would it be here? I saw him in the distance at the end of a trail that led up to his farmhouse. A man with a with a grey beard, waving….it’s here…!

from left to right: Linda, Erwin, Rein, Arnold and Wim

I finally met Arnold and several travel companions, politely refusing the cigars that I was offered. I had stepped into the world of Arnold Pilon, World traveller. Soon I felt comfortable among them and almost instantly I could identify the different personalities. They were not a club of same minded and same acting people. But they all had the same passion for traveling, adventure, other cultures. A group of people, one by one bringing in their own speciality. I was amazed. I could fit in there. And so I did.

By then it was still not clear if it all would go through. So many things to look into and not clear, so many things still to overcome and to arrange. But the drive was there. The power was there. The Road to Bhutan already had started.

Early April 2008 there was a new meeting. We all met at an convent in Drachten. Purpose of this meeting was getting the potential participants together, going through the in and outs of the journey and getting an approval on the financial planning.

Linde Nijland and Bert Ridderbos were introduced and longtime travel friends met up again. Cigars were presented. But there were bumps in the road. There were still financial uncertainties and could we all keep up with the planning? Were we running out of time? A lot still needed to be looked into. We decided that next to the funding of the musical instruments, we also would set up other projects and find sponsoring for it. We talked about ideas for the movie. And about the role of music in it. Within the group a few commissions were set up to divide the work that still needed to be sorted out. A new meeting would be necessary.

Linde Nijland & Bert Ridderbos perform Sandy Denny’s beautiful “No End”

Last but not least Linde and Bert performed a couple of their songs in the chapel of the convent. Bert also introduced us to the cittern to us, an instrument that will play a special role during our Road to Bhutan.

May 17, 2008. A new meeting and new faces. The moment of truth, a go or no go. The spirit is cheerful. Based on new research and there finally is a GO!

Everyone seemed to be happy with the plans and especially the financial aspects of them. Based on the last calculations, everyone is positive. Two more weeks to sign up. Finally there is a realistic deadline. And still a lot to be dealt with like visas, permits, preparing cars, preparations for the filming, the projects, PR, this site, sponsoring and so on. And very important, people needed to arrange their time off from work or business. Arnold finally could start setting up the detailed version of the roadbook.