Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Things that don't belong anywhere else. (Check first).

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby the_bandersnatch » Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:42 am UTC

Friday the 22nd of July I will be setting off from my home towards Goodwood Racecourse in the south of England for the following day's launch party of the 2011 Mongol Rally. I am one half of a team that will be driving a tiny 1.0 litre 2002-model Nissan Micra 10,000 miles to UlaanBaator, capital of Mongolia, via Eastern Europe, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

Here's a picture of "The Beast" we shall be driving all that way:
Spoiler:
beast.jpg


You can see our route here. We expect it to take five to six weeks, assuming our car doesn't break down, we don't get kidnapped (or worse), get lost along the way, or end up joining a Mongolian steppe tribe.

It will be, by far, the single largest journey I have ever done (a distant second is a road-trip last year from the south-west France's Atlantic coast to Venice and back, which came to about 3000km/1900miles) and will take me to countries a few years ago I would have had trouble placing on a map.

So, I'm posting this for two reasons: I believe there are other forumites who have done the Rally in past years, and I could do with any advice people are willing to give!
Secondly, one of the two main reasons (the other being pure adventure!) for doing this is to raise money for charity, specifically the Christina Noble Children's Foundation, who run a village outside of UlaanBaator for homeless and orphaned children, of which Mongolia has many.

We have two team pages, the official one and a Facebook page.

If you are able to donate even a small amount, our fundraising page is here, and we will be eternally grateful.

If you can offer any sage advice, or even just words of encouragement, please post them in this thread or on our Facebook page, because right now I feel like I've boarded a rollercoaster that is nearing the top of the first incline, I can see the huge drop ahead of me and I'm starting to wonder what the hell I've let myself in for :D

Thanks for reading,

the_bandersnatch AKA Lionel Richtea, AKA Kevston from Team Here There Here!
Last edited by the_bandersnatch on Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:31 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
AvatarIII
Posts: 2098
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:28 pm UTC
Location: W.Sussex, UK

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:09 pm UTC

what a fascinating thing to do! i have never heard of this and i live (relatively) close to Goodwood! i will definately keep up with this, will you be posting updates as you go (when you have net access) or will you just post a load of stuff after?

Drumheller769
Posts: 733
Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 7:46 pm UTC
Location: ♞♞♞

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby Drumheller769 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:09 pm UTC

Insert obligatory: "And I would drive 10,000 more...dadadadaaaa dadadadaaaaaa" (and you will coming home).

Now on to encouragement, that sounds like its going to be one of those life changing experiences that everyone seems to talk about(by that I mean like the guy who tells you he went and climbed Mt. Everest). I hope it opens your horizons and gives you a whole new and awesome view of this place we call earth and that you come back from it a whole new bandersnatch.
The Great Hippo wrote:Arguing with the internet is a lot like arguing with a bullet. The internet's chief exports are cute kittens, porn, and Reasons Why You Are Completely Fucking Wrong.

User avatar
rath358
The bone of my bone
Posts: 944
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:02 am UTC
Location: west Camberville

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby rath358 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:25 pm UTC

I remember that past forumnites would put a custom sticker on their vehicle for whoever donated a certain amount. It might be a little late for that, though...

Anyways, have a blast!

thicknavyrain
ThinkGravyTrain
Posts: 913
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2007 12:41 pm UTC
Location: The Universe

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby thicknavyrain » Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:33 pm UTC

You are a good example of what to do with a human existence! I will do my best to donate...I should get my card working...
RoadieRich wrote:Thicknavyrain is appointed Nex Artifex, Author of Death of the second FaiD Assassins' Guild.

User avatar
SlyReaper
inflatable
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:09 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, Old Blighty

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:51 pm UTC

So jealous of you right now, bandersnatch. I've wanted to do the Mongol Rally for ages, but I can't convince anyone I know to come with me. Good luck with it.
Image
What would Baron Harkonnen do?

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby the_bandersnatch » Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:22 pm UTC

Thanks for all the encouragement so far!

AvatarIII wrote:what a fascinating thing to do! i have never heard of this and i live (relatively) close to Goodwood! i will definately keep up with this, will you be posting updates as you go (when you have net access) or will you just post a load of stuff after?


You should come down to Goodwood next Saturday (the 23rd of July), that's the launch party, known as the Festival of Slow. It's open to anyone who wants to come along and cheer the teams as they set off and, after I worked there for the day last year, can confirm it's a good laugh, with all sorts of craziness going on.
As for the updates, we hope to find internet cafés and suchlike en route, so we'll be updating as we go. I've not put anything in the blog so far as there's not really much to update on right now, other than we have the car being serviced and we're doing some last minute panic buying of camping supplies.


rath358 wrote:I remember that past forumnites would put a custom sticker on their vehicle for whoever donated a certain amount. It might be a little late for that, though...


See, this is why I need you guys! That's a great idea, though I don't know where I'd get sticker material from. If anyone wants to send any stickers for me to add to the car, PM me and I'll give you my postal address.


SlyReaper wrote:So jealous of you right now, bandersnatch. I've wanted to do the Mongol Rally for ages, but I can't convince anyone I know to come with me. Good luck with it.


If only I'd known. I was left in the lurch earlier in the year when my team-mates at the time dropped out, so I resorted to looking for suitable types on Facebook. That's how I ended up meeting Ian, the other half of the team as it stands. If I survive I'll give you plenty advice on doing it in future - though the main thing is to volunteer to work at the Festival of Slow so you get a guaranteed place for the following year.
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
AvatarIII
Posts: 2098
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:28 pm UTC
Location: W.Sussex, UK

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:38 pm UTC

you can probably buy sheets of sticker paper online, but whether printing onto them would be waterproof i don't know.

casoid
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:36 am UTC
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby casoid » Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:12 pm UTC

This is a genuinely epic undertaking. It's the sort of thing that you'll talk about for the rest of your life (assuming you don't become one with the car on the way there) and I'm really quite jealous. Going to be difficult making up an ipod playlist that lasts 10,000 miles though...

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby the_bandersnatch » Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:28 pm UTC

Not sure about a playlist, but I'm uploading as many songs as will fit onto my phone this weekend, so we should have a couple of weeks worth of music at least. I'm also quite looking forward to listening to Russian, Kazakh, Uzbek and Mongolian radio stations along the way!
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
AvatarIII
Posts: 2098
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:28 pm UTC
Location: W.Sussex, UK

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:39 pm UTC

does the car have a CD player? it might be worth seeing if it does and has an MP3 disc playback ability, it would save your phone battery at least

were you just planning on listening to your phone with the phone speaker? because for a fiver you can get one of those FM transmitter thingies, they work great.

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby the_bandersnatch » Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:54 pm UTC

The car barely has anything electronic (which is probably a good thing for repairs if it breaks down), I think a CD player is too modern for it. It does, however, have a tape player, so I've bought one of those adapter thingies that goes into the tape slot and has a headphone jack on one end. So the music from my phone will be going through that, and I have a power adapter for the phone that connects to the cigarette lighter, so all good assuming my phone doesn't get stolen.

Come to think about it, though, I haven't really tested the speakers much apart from turning the radio on briefly, so I really hope they work or all my other efforts will have been for naught!
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

casoid
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:36 am UTC
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby casoid » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:04 pm UTC

Bring two, mate. If there's anything I've learned from extended trips away from civilisation, it's to bring two sets of headphones, adaptors, etc. They're awkward, not irreplacable, but it's incredibly annoying when they (inevitably) break or get lost. And you know you'll shut the cable in the door at some point.

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby the_bandersnatch » Sat Jul 16, 2011 5:31 pm UTC

So the car is now back from the spray painters and it looks amazing:

Spoiler:
IMG_0808.JPG
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
Jacque
a member of shro's band
Posts: 870
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:28 pm UTC
Location: Oakland, CA
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby Jacque » Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:30 pm UTC

cypherspace did it a few years back if I remember correctly.

User avatar
Marauder_Pilot
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:45 am UTC
Location: Whitehorse, Yukon

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby Marauder_Pilot » Sun Jul 17, 2011 5:05 am UTC

Epic jealousy. I've always wanted to compete in a rally race of some variety-well, first acquire a rally-able car (Jeep's aren't exactly meant for, you know, turning. :?), THEN do a rally.

If I ever win a stack of money, first course of action is to promptly register in the Dakar Rally, Baja 1000 and Targa Newfoundland and buy appropriate cars for all 3.

User avatar
Cloud Walker
Posts: 605
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:37 am UTC
Location: Midwest, USA, Earth, Sol, Milky Way
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby Cloud Walker » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:00 pm UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:If you can offer any sage advice, or even just words of encouragement, please post them in this thread or on our Facebook page, because right now I feel like I've boarded a rollercoaster that is nearing the top of the first incline, I can see the huge drop ahead of me and I'm starting to wonder what the hell I've let myself in for :D


Sometimes Nike's motto really is great: JUST DO IT. You'll be fine. You'll figure shit out.

the_bandersnatch wrote:The car barely has anything electronic (which is probably a good thing for repairs if it breaks down), I think a CD player is too modern for it. It does, however, have a tape player, so I've bought one of those adapter thingies that goes into the tape slot and has a headphone jack on one end. So the music from my phone will be going through that, and I have a power adapter for the phone that connects to the cigarette lighter, so all good assuming my phone doesn't get stolen.


Test that out! I know when I plug my phone into the car charger while it's hooked up to the line in on the stereo, quite a bit of noise is introduced from the power and transmitted through the speakers. It's an unpleasant listening experience.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. - Amelia Burr

I make pretty pictures!: Photography & Video Production

User avatar
SurgicalSteel
Posts: 1926
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:18 pm UTC
Location: DMV, USA

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby SurgicalSteel » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:34 pm UTC

Is this really as dangerous as people say it is? I've heard people say that there's serious risk of getting kidnapped or murdered or taken hostage. Is this true or is this just people exaggerating or buying into fears of "savage" mongolians and eastern tribal peoples.
"There's spray paint on the teleprompter
Anchorman screams that he's seen a monster (mayday)
There's blood stains on his shirt (mayday)
They say that he's gone berserk."
--Flobots "Mayday"

User avatar
Marauder_Pilot
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:45 am UTC
Location: Whitehorse, Yukon

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby Marauder_Pilot » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:54 am UTC

Rally, in general, is pretty dangerous as far as motorsports go, for drivers and spectators. I don't know about the Mongol Rally, but several of the larger rallies in rougher parts of the world (Again, the Baja and Dakar in particular) have seen numerous instances where drivers are accosted by armed locals. It's less of an issue because...well, you've got to work pretty hard to stop an off-road rally vehicle in its element, but it definitely happens.

Although there was one hilarious instance in the Dakar (Sadly, can't find the article any more) where a bunch of AK-toting locals tried to hijack a Teir 4 truck in an old pickup, and the driver just rammed them into the stone age. I don't think any were killed, but they were pretty messed up (As one would expect after essentially being run over by a supercharged garbage truck on 50" tires at 100 KPH.)

User avatar
SlyReaper
inflatable
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:09 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, Old Blighty

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:14 am UTC

That's not really a comfort for someone driving a 1 litre Nissan Micra though.

That said, you'd have to be really unlucky to run afoul of gun-toting locals.
Image
What would Baron Harkonnen do?

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting next week

Postby the_bandersnatch » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:26 am UTC

As SlyReaper pointed out, and to clear up any misunderstandings, I should point out that while it may be termed a rally, the Mongol Rally ain't like other rallies. For one, there's no Actual Rallying™, in that it isn't a race, it's not done in Rally cars and well, importantly, it isn't a race - hence the launch party title of The Festival of Slow. It's more designed to be an adventure, and the vehicle rules state any car must have an engine size less than 1.2 litres. Our Micra has an engine size of 0.99 litres, which is tiny. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly small it is. I mean, you may think anything less than 2 litres is small, but that's just peanuts to how small our car is.

We're planning on our route taking about 5 to 6 weeks, and we've really decided to go the long way round (Ewan McGregor references somewhat intentional). Apparently it's possible to do it in 6 or 7 days, if one goes in a straight line across the highways of southern Russia and drives in solid shifts, but then, where's the fun in that? 8) Our route takes us from 3°West on the map through the tiny Eastern European countries of legend, to the northern most point at 55° North (Moscow), past seas and lakes, through deserts down to our southernmost point of 39° North (Samarkand), then back north through thousands of miles of steppe and Siberian forest, ending up 106° East in a small city in a vast sparsely-populated expanse. Dangerous as hell, sure, hence my inability to sleep these past few nights, but it beats sticking to a straight line.

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement so far guys, it's all appreciated!
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

Mittagessen
Posts: 140
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:21 am UTC

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting THIS WEEK

Postby Mittagessen » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:35 pm UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:Apparently it's possible to do it in 6 or 7 days, if one goes in a straight line across the highways of southern Russia and drives in solid shifts, but then, where's the fun in that?


Yeah, since they've finally got around finishing the transsiberian highway the Northern route has become boring. Back then Putin drove a part of the way in a yellow Lada if I remember correctly (there's a funny movie of this small yellow Lada between those huge SUVs of his entourage).

The "Southern" Route (mainly through Kazakhstan, following the E40) seems to be in a lot better condition (it seems to be paed all way through) than a few years ago, but there is still a part of it with potholes the size of smaller cars:
Spoiler:
Image
Spoilered for large image. -lanicita

And then even if you're in this part of the world, there's only one real road in Mongolia spanning North-South if I remember correctly, so it's kind of hard to find a decent pathway if you take the Southern route. Nevertheless, the landscape is a lot more interesting than endless boreal forests in Siberia.

I've been planning to reduce my current car to complete garbage by driving it from Germany to Bejing (or as East as possible until it breaks down ^^) after college, but the visa fees alone can kill you (following the E40 completely would cost around 800Eu in visa fees alone).

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting THIS WEEK

Postby the_bandersnatch » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:14 am UTC

It's the E40 that we'll be picking up in Astrakhan after leaving Moscow, and following back up through Kazakhstan to (hopefully) Bernaul in Russia. I just hope we're lucky with those potholes!
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
semicharmed
Posts: 911
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:04 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting THIS WEEK

Postby semicharmed » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:18 pm UTC

Oh man, I was hoping you'd be coming through Ukraine, but instead you're hitting the Baltics. I'm a PCV here, and there are about 400 of us in-country, so I was going to offer a hot meal/bed but you'd be going way out of you way to take me up on it.

If you haven't already, you should check the (unofficial) PeaceCorpsWiki and see if there are PCVs in any of the smaller countries you're going through. If there are, they could be a great resource.

Otherwise, good luck!

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting THIS WEEK

Postby the_bandersnatch » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:33 am UTC

Thanks for the offer anyway! We would have gone through Ukraine (it still feels weird not to type "the Ukraine") but there was no easy way to head straight up towards Moscow due to the border controls, and going through Belarus wasn't an option thanks to the visa process. That wiki is down due to lack of funding at the moment, but I'll keep an eye on it where I can.
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby the_bandersnatch » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:03 am UTC

Currently writing this in Klaipeda, Lithuania, at the home of a friend's family we're staying with. It's been a hell of an adventure so far and we've only just passed the one-week mark.

Highlights so far:
The launch day, blasting round Goodwood Motor Circuit with Danger! High Voltage booming from our stereo.
Drinking in Frankfurt with a team from Texas after they left a note on our car inviting us out.
Picking up a hitchhiker in Germany, a tiny Italian girl who was heading to Nuremberg, and who was an incredibly cool person.
The Czechout Party in the Czech Republic with all the other teams - downing absinthe then dancing away in a castle in the central European countryside: brilliant!
Going for a swim the next day in a Czech lake to blow off the hangover.
Visiting the Church of Bones in Kutná Hora with another team, then pulling into a nearby café to find 4 other teams parked up.
Visiting Aushwitz - very emotional.
Clubbing in Krakow's Old Town with guys from another team from Somerset. Chatting to many Polosh locals there, the friendliest people I've met.
Feasting with the Lithuanian family we're staying with in Klaipeda and being given shot after shot of Russian vodka, before being taken out to see the local festival's fireworks, then cocktails in a hotel 12 floors up overlooking the city.
Randomly meeting up with other teams on the road and deciding to convoy along together, making new friends in the process.
Blasting through the beautiful Czech countryside - in fact, the beautiful countryside and lovely weather in most places we've been.


The lows:
Arriving in beautiful Bruges to find everywhere full, before not getting to a campsite in Ghent until 1am and then getting grief off a drunken local. He later apologised, but to another team.
Trying unsuccessfully to buy petrol from a grumpy Lithuanian woman at 3am after a 12 hour drive from Poland. Fortunately, we got sorted in the end, thanks to a passing local who spoke English.
My teammate damaging his knee somehow and having to go off to hospital to get it checked out (he's there now, in fact).
Missing my girlfriend so much :(
Getting stuck in Krakow's roads for an hour and being unable to find the road out of the city.


So far the lows have most definitely been outweighed by the highs, so let's hope it stays like that!
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
modularblues
Posts: 689
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:33 am UTC
Location: Escher's Wonderland
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby modularblues » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:09 am UTC

Perhaps you'll encounter the Mongolian Bactrian camels!

User avatar
semicharmed
Posts: 911
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:04 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles, starting THIS WEEK

Postby semicharmed » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:01 pm UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:Thanks for the offer anyway! We would have gone through Ukraine (it still feels weird not to type "the Ukraine") but there was no easy way to head straight up towards Moscow due to the border controls, and going through Belarus wasn't an option thanks to the visa process. That wiki is down due to lack of funding at the moment, but I'll keep an eye on it where I can.


Ha, after 15 months here I have problems when talking about it in English, it's Ukrayina in Ukrainian.

And yeah, I didn't even think about visa/border control stuff. We're not allowed to drive, and I have a multiple-entry work visa that's good for two years, as well as an Ministry of Foreign Affairs accreditation card. And from all accounts, even if you could have gone through Belarus it's not the kind of place you want to spend a lot of time. Especially if you don't know Russian.

Sounds like you've having a fantastic adventure so far, though!

User avatar
Cloud Walker
Posts: 605
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:37 am UTC
Location: Midwest, USA, Earth, Sol, Milky Way
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby Cloud Walker » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:34 am UTC

Sounds like you're having the adventure you're supposed to have :). I would say write all of this stuff down somewhere, but. . . you are!
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. - Amelia Burr

I make pretty pictures!: Photography & Video Production

VanLeeroy
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:30 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby VanLeeroy » Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:34 am UTC

this sounds like a funny adventure for me, because Mongolia is a very closed coutry. anyway, good luck. hope you won't have many problems with customs office))

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby the_bandersnatch » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:42 pm UTC

Ok, it's over a week late but here's my second-week update:

Russia

So, it's been over two weeks now since we set off and one week since we entered the largest country on Earth, Russia. It's 2am here in Astrakhan and we're in the most luxiourious hotel we've yet stayed in (for the grand total of £10 each a night), so I'm looking forward to taking full advantage of the comfy bed and air-con and catching up on some sleep, hence this will be a short update.

Some observations on Russia so far:

The roads are terrible, for the most part.
Outside of Moscow, men's fashion is still somewhere around 1992.
Fatties are few and far between.
The Russian people, especially the younger generation, are the kindest and friendliest people I've ever met.
Russians drive like crazy possesed people. The Moscow ring-road doubles as the 4th circle of hell.
It is a country of great contrasts.
Moscow is big, cool, beautiful, ugly and scary and welcoming all at the same time. And the nightclubs never close.
Volgograd is big, dirty, and not a party city.
Officials, even when being friendly and having a joke with you, still always have stern faces.
In banyas (bathhouses) it is traditional to wear a crazy-looking hat and nothing else, then hit yourself or friends with branches.
People will come up to you and offer to help if you look at a phrasebook or map. Usually we do need help, so this is brilliant!
For an all-American experience, go to Moscow.
The words "da", "spaseeba", "khorsho" and "vodka" get you a long way.

So we spent 9 hours at the border coming in from Latvia last Tuesday (the 2nd), and stayed in a motel a few hours drive on the road towards Moscow. After that we spent 2 nights in Moscow seeing the sights and partying. Did the touristy things, saw Red Square, took a metro, etcetra. I spent 2 hours in a traditional banya, having a sauna and a shave with a local beer (the downside is there were too many middle-aged Russian dudes' penises on display).
From there we drove to Kalininsk, to stay with Aram, the uncle of Ian's friend Arman, and his family. They were so kind and hospitable, and even though we didn't arrive til 2.30am, they brought out loads of food and Aram cracked open a bottle of vodka, making us drink shot after shot until the full litre was gone. And it turns out he doesn't even usually drink except at New Year!
The next day, after spending some time with the family, we drove to Volgograd. Whilst driving round lost, we pulled in to turn around and a guy got out of a car and came over. He said he'd seen us driving round and asked if he could help. When we said we were looking for somewhere to stay he went over to talk to his wife, then came back and said he'd spoken to her, and we could stay with him. We thanked him, but declined his offer, but have taken his email address to get in touch. He did give us directions to the city centre, and another local drove to a hotel so we could follow.
Two nights in Volgograd, where we met some Finnish and German guys driving to Kazakhstan too (not part of the Rally, though). Skinny dipping in the river at 5.30am as the sun came up, and downing vodka with local lads, are highlights.

Now we've just got to Astrakhan, and asked a local couple for directions to a youth hostel or if they could recommend a cheap hotel. They got in the nearest taxi and told us to follow, and took us to a lovely hotel that we would never have found otherwise. It's cheap and the nicest place we've stayed yet. As I say, Russian people are incredibly friendly and lovely!

Tomorrow, the border crossing to Kazakhstan and hopefully from there into Uzbekistan. So now I'm off to bed!

спокойной ночи!
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby the_bandersnatch » Wed Aug 17, 2011 1:04 pm UTC

Week 3 (and so far in week 4) in a nutshell:

Puncture shortly after crossing into Kazakhstan caused a two-day layover in Atyrau, which wasn't too bad as we met some great people, got our tyres sorted for cheap and the wheel bolts replaced for free by the amazing Yerdos and his garage.

Drive through the night brought us to Uzbekistan via some interesting and funny border guards. I would have loved them more if they hadn't taken 2 harmonicas as "gifts".

Got to Nukus, Karalpakstan, western Uzbekistan to find there was no fuel anywhere in that part of the country.

Bought fuel off the black market.

100km out into the desert the fuel destroyed our engine.

Towed to Urgench by Team 2Big 2Fail.

Told it would take 5 days for repairs and cost $700 (it's currently standing at $800).

No banks open on a Sunday, no hotel in Urgench would take us except the most expensive one. 20 min phone call to my girlfriend: $80.

Uzbeks try to bleed us dry every which way they can. My money belt with my dollars in goes missing.

Ian stays in Urgench with car, I take shared taxi through the desert to Bukhara. 7 hours crammed in with 3 other blokes plus driver. At least they find me amusing.

I get food poisoning in Bukhara. Car repair is delayed, my cash runs out and the one bank in Bukhara has no currency (foreigners are only allowed to withdraw in dollars).

Lovely internet cafe lady calls a doctor for me, translates, then helps me get my medicine. Fortunately my remaining handful of cash is just enough to cover prescription but not doctor, so she pays that for me.

Jono Stokes, a fellow Rallier from Oz, who's team I forget now, helps me out with a $50 loan so I can pay her back and get a cool hotel room to stay in.

Hotel boots me out as my visa has expired. I try to explain we've already spoken to the embassy and it's cool but they don't want to listen.

Temperature inside: too damn hot. Temperature outside: deadly.


So fun times so far! Can't wait to get out of this country!
Last edited by the_bandersnatch on Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:43 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
Microscopic cog
in his catastrophic plan
Posts: 769
Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:09 pm UTC

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby Microscopic cog » Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:13 pm UTC

Incredibly fun to read, Russia seems amazing, Uzbekistan not so much, hope you're alright! It's reassuring to hear there are some nice people there though. Hang in there and good luck with the trip! Don't forget to have fun.
Spoiler:
Interviewer: Some people say they can’t understand your writing even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

William Faulkner: Read it four times.

User avatar
Cloud Walker
Posts: 605
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:37 am UTC
Location: Midwest, USA, Earth, Sol, Milky Way
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby Cloud Walker » Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:51 pm UTC

Wow, yeah, Uzbek sounds brutal. But at least it'll make the good times ahead that much better. 8)
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. - Amelia Burr

I make pretty pictures!: Photography & Video Production

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby the_bandersnatch » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:45 pm UTC

So, this will be my final Rally update as The Beast finally gave up the ghost in Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan, 7100 miles into the trip.

After the vehicle was "repaired" in Urgench, Uzbekistan, we drove on to Tashkent as our visas had expired and we needed to see the embassy there. The embassy were brilliant, they helped sort out everything, the only downside was we had to wait from the Friday through to the Tuesday due to our bad timing of getting there on the weekend, and the time it took the police to sort out our paperwork.

Whilst in Tashkent I stayed with a lovely family in a guesthouse that was officially closed, so I had the place to myself. They even took me to hospital to get my stomach sorted out finally, though the diet of bread and water I was placed on wasn't much fun, I wanted a beer and a good steak!

Once we were officially deported (including police escort through the border!) we re-entered Kazakhstan with a fragile car but our hopes high.

Spent a few nights driving and camping rough in Kazakhstan, which was cool, though I'm now covered in bites everywhere from the bugs!

Got as far as Taldykorgan, 250km north of Almaty after some drives through amazing scenery when The Beast decided to go no further. We managed to get towed to a garage by some friendly locals who also helped translate for us. Unfortunately, the verdict was the engine was completely gone and would need replacing. We simply couldn't afford this, plus our Russian visas expired on the 30th of August, we so we wouldn't have time to get the repair done and then drive through Kazakhstan and the Altay region of Russia to the Mongolian border before then. So with heavy hearts we had to admit defeat.

At a loss for options as the procedure for signing over the car to Kazakh customs, we rang our friend Yerdos from Atyrau (earlier in the trip when we first passed through Kazakhstan). He got a friend of his to drive from Almaty then tow us through the night back to Almaty, a feat in itself, as the road went over mountains and it was in the pitch black with torrential rain.

We're currently in Almaty, waiting for customs to open on Wednesday so we can get the paperwork sorted and head home (our timing is impeccable as always, arriving right when there's a 3 day Bank Holiday and everything's closed).


So, that's it. Highlights of the trip, for me, have been:

Above and beyond everything, the amazing people we've met on the journey, the kindness they've shown us, and the laughs we've had.
Swimming in the Volga river as the sun came up.
Seeing the medrassas, minarets, mosques and mausoleums of Khiva and Bukhara.
Clubbing in Moscow with an international crowd of very cool people and very friendly Russians.
Sunrise and moonrise over the desert in Uzbekistan.
Chillling out in banyas in Moscow and Almaty.
The camaraderie of the Rally teams we've met along the way.
The Czechout Party at Klenova Castle.
The launch at Goodwood.
Managing to drive 7000 miles in a 9 year old Nissan Micra!


That's all folks! Thanks for reading!
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
Cloud Walker
Posts: 605
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:37 am UTC
Location: Midwest, USA, Earth, Sol, Milky Way
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby Cloud Walker » Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:29 pm UTC

Sounds like you had a great time and the whole rally idea was a win!
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. - Amelia Burr

I make pretty pictures!: Photography & Video Production

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby the_bandersnatch » Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

Yes and no - it was an amazing experience but there were too many parts of it that were a complete ordeal. For example: getting food poisoning followed by heatstroke on the same day in Bukhara and thinking I was going to die. Or the visa issue and being stuck in Tashkent for 5 days. Or struggling to get on with my team-mate: we met on Facebook and only met in person 4 times before the trip, so it was very difficult at times.

I think on the whole it has been a positive experience, but I would like to do it again, this time with a close friend or, preferably, with my girlfriend - and actually make it all the way!

At the moment I'm stuck in Almaty with only the prospect of government paperwork and an expensive flight home to look forward to, and am feeling quite down about not getting to see Mongolia, which was to be the highlight of my trip. Maybe I'll view the whole thing a lot more positively in a week or two once the rawness of the feeling of failure passes...
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26510
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:52 pm UTC

You didn't fail. Maybe you didn't completely succeed in the way you intended, but that's far-as-fuck from failing.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

User avatar
the_bandersnatch
Actually not so frumious.
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:46 am UTC
Location: on a bed in a room inside a TV in a hotel room in a hotel on a Monopoly board

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby the_bandersnatch » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:13 pm UTC

Thanks for the kind words, but it definitely feels like failure right now. Today I met up with two other teams who where moving on from Almaty, I wished them well, and passed on the guitar I'd been taking from England to give to the orphanage in Mongolia. They said they'd get it there for me. It was hard not to cry my eyes out, frankly.
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni

User avatar
Cloud Walker
Posts: 605
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:37 am UTC
Location: Midwest, USA, Earth, Sol, Milky Way
Contact:

Re: Driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia

Postby Cloud Walker » Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:44 am UTC

Even though you didn't reach your goal, you still did (and even thought about doing) what most people probably wouldn't have the cajones to do. And hardships build character and all of that.</Calvin's dad>
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. - Amelia Burr

I make pretty pictures!: Photography & Video Production


Return to “General”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 27 guests