Freedom is one of the biggest appeals of off-roading. On the road through snowstorms, deserts and mountains, the world is your oyster.
Finland: Mesmerising Aurora
A Scandinavian country, Finland is known for its dazzling northern lights, midnight sun, glasshouses, sapphire-coloured lakes and lush forests. A visit to the Santa Claus Village is a childhood dream come true, while the clean air and smooth traffic put people at ease. The Finnish may seem reserved at first, but they are passionate people at heart. Tourism in Finland is growing in recent years, and driving is one of the best ways to explore the country.
Located in the Arctic circle, Lapland is covered in snow half of the year. Driving in the snow is a one-of-a-kind experience. Just two hours from Lapland is a small town called Levi, which offers a high chance of aurora sightings and excellent views. It will not be a bad idea to put on love songs in the car, since the open landscape free of light pollution offers the most romantic experience.
Compared to driving in cities, a trip on the snow is a lot more exciting. It is a great way to explore nature as well as the sense of freedom. Snowflakes are splashed into the air as the car goes. A high level of focus must be maintained at all times because of the wet and slippery ground. If snow has accumulated on the car on the journey, it may drop to the windshield as it brakes and blocks the view. More dangerously, the car may even skid. Even if the view is not entirely blocked, the possibility of worsening weather must be considered. In case of lowered visibility, slow down. Driving is enjoyable only when it is safe.
Cambodia: Off-Road Expeditions
Tropical Cambodia is surely very different from arctic Finland. Apart from the ancient temples and World Heritage sites, the country also offers thrilling driving experience in all-terrain vehicles. The light-weight automobiles are easy to control and drivers can speed through the countryside of Phnom Penh like in “Indiana Jones” immediately after instructor’s briefing.
All-terrain vehicles are operable on beaches, muddy and grass terrains. They are very popular in Europe and America. Now the activity has reached Cambodia and become a must-do for tourists. It is a unique experience to drive between the village fields as the wind blows and sand whirls.
No licence is required for this particular type of vehicle in Cambodia. However, basic motoring knowledge is always helpful. The car is controlled by just a thumb. An instructor will brief the participant one-on-one before the journey, and it is generally safe even for novices. If one is still worried, the instructor can assist in the back seat. There are options of different lengths and difficulties. The simplest ones go through paddies and villages, while the halfday and full-day routes go into forests and across rivers. Each of them offers a different view of Cambodia.
Dubai: Desert Dunes
If driving on the snow is about courage and forest expedition is about adventure, then driving in a desert is the ultimate combination of skills and knowledge in your vehicle. In recent years, some SUV aficionados team up to explore the vast desert outside Dubai. There are also dune driving experience in the market for those who want to give it a go.
Driving in the desert involves handling a variety of difficult terrains. It is a trafficability challenge of the wheelbase, approach angle, departure angle and the torque-on-demand system. In general, a shorter wheelbase means a higher trafficability but lower stability, while the four-wheel drive prevents the car from being trapped. Even for a car engineer, it is impossible to detect the trafficability of a car in difficult terrains with naked eyes while staying inside the car. In case of uncertainty, it is best to explore the road ahead on foot and have someone outside the car to direct according to the actual situation. Traversing
a desert is about teamwork. With growing confidence, one can explore steeper dunes. As you explore the desert, do not forget to stop and record the interesting scenes there as well as in the oasis.
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