British adventurer returns from global eco-bus trip

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An eco-adventurer arrived back in Britain on Friday after driving round the world in a battered old "biotruck" rescued from a junkyard and powered by used cooking oil.

Andy Pag, 36, scavenged oil from fryers to clock up more than 18,000 miles (29,000 kilometres) travelling through 25 countries in an environmentally-friendly way.

He set off in September 2009 and his adventures included a spell banged up in an Indian jail and falling in love with journalist Christina Ammon, who joined him for the rest of the trip.

Pag, from Croydon in south London, salvaged the 22-year-old school minibus from a scrap yard and used reclaimed materials to transform it into a home on wheels.

The clapped-out vehicle's diesel engine was converted to run on waste cooking oil, stored in a 1,200-litre tank under the bed. It has a 500-watt solar panel on the roof.

Pag and Ammon made it back to the port of Dover on England's southeast tip.

"It was an experiment to see if we could recycle our way around the world. I'm as surprised as anyone that we got around the world without putting any fossil fuel in the tank," said Pag.

"The random acts of kindness have given us an overwhelming faith in how great humankind is."

The couple travelled through parts of Pakistan where militants often attack road convoys.

However, the worst moment came after Pag was arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in India for illegally using a satellite telephone.

"Even when I was locked up in prison, I came across a lot of good people. We would play cricket together and read papers. By rights it was pretty unpleasant but I met some nice people," he said.

"Fortunately, I was only in prison for seven days but it cost thousands in legal fees and set us back six months waiting for it to come to court."

While driving through Indonesia, a year into his trip, he was joined by US freelancer Ammon, who wanted to write about Pag's journey.

Romance blossomed and she stayed with him for the rest of the adventure and the pair are still together.

"The breakdowns were the best bit," she said.

"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."

Pag previously drove from Britain to Timbuktu in Mali in a truck fuelled by cocoa butter extracted from waste chocolate.

© 2011 AFP

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