Welcome to Tom and Olly's summer adventure! You've probably already heard how wonderful this trip will be, now you can see for yourself!

This epic journey is part inspired by the Mongol Rally, a group of intrepids who 'race' to Mongolia in very small cars for the thrill of the challenge and to raise money for charity.

We are making our journey unique by not joining the rally and using a bigger car. We thought it would be good to support a Mongolian charity so half the money we raise will go to Mercy Corps Mongolia, which is one of the rally charities.

We are also raising money for a different charity, the Masiphumelele Youth Project in Cape Town. This charity was set up by Shake Seigel and his brother so has a personal tie to our medical school. (For anyone who doesn't know Shake he is a legendary member of the GEM staff!)

Please have a look and give what you can:

Our Justgiving page
More project info at: Masiphumelele Youth Project

We will try and use this blog thing to keep you posted on how we get on. But who knows how we'll get on updating it where we're going...

We have currently raised £350 for the Ubuntu Foundation, and by donating the car expect to raise a few thousand pounds for the Kindergarten for cerebral palsy children in Ulaanbaatar. see goodbye susie for more. (6/9/07)

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Want to drive to Mongolia too?

If your interested in following in our wheeltracks have at look at this:

These guys set up Charity Rallies to help people rally to Mongolia in their own time and give all the money they raise to charity. They put us in touch with Enkhbaatar who arranged the import and donation of our car once we got to Mongolia. This proved to be a crucial link when we reached the Mongolian border. Thanks very much for your help.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Big Thank You!

Now we are back safely its time to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped us on our way. We've had great support from family, friends, and everyone we've met on our travels. We've both had an amazing time, and feel privileged to have been able to travel through this special part of the world. Equally importantly we've raised hundres of pounds for the Ubuntu Foundation and hope the car wil sell for a few thousand to help the sick children of Ulaanbaatar.

Special thanks go to KT Green Subaru for generously giving 2 wheels and tyres at very short notice, Robbie for his GPS, Rob for entertaining us from the backseat, the RAC for arranging our Carnet so quickly, all of you that donated money online and finally Subaru for making such great cars! Thank you all.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Chinese Addendum

Yes, not technically in a Subaru, but certainly to one of the most important destinations on the Silk Road - Beijing.

Train to China was fine. I turned up roaring drunk after a day on the Chinggis Khan vodka, courtesy of our Mongolian benefactors, to find I was sharing my four bunk compartment with a family of Hong Kong Chinese living in Shanghai. They insisted in talking in English the whole time, with strong American accents, and I amused them with my ludicrous Turkmen hat (well, afro really) and tales of derring do across the continent, which I'm not sure they believed. The next day found me nursing a horrid hangover and of course, it was once we got to China that all the trouble started.

The transition from the train to the sleeper bus went surprisingly smoothly, but the news an hour later that we all had to get off because this bus was "going nowhere today" was less surprising. An American with his wife and young daughter really lost his cool and there was a collective reluctance amongst most of the passengers to unload and "transfer to other buses", which no one quite believed existed. To cut a long story short, there was much shouting, finger pointing and shoving, but it never quite got to blows, and in the end I was transported to another bus and its 5'2" bed for the 15 hour journey to Beijing. There's nothing quite like lying in a horribly cramped position whilst being rocked from side to side on a very narrow and uncomfortably sloping angle for hours on end to get some decent rest.

Despite an initial hiccup upon arrival in Beijing - it took nearly three hours for my relatives to locate me due to a combination of my tiredness, stupidity and language difficulties - I had a grand old time as I was treated to feast after feast at various restaurants with my relatives and their friends. Beijing has changed beyond recognition in the past decade, and resembles Hong Kong now... at least on the surface. The bicycles may be disappearing to be replaced by a staggering number of cars, the stock market may have doubled since the start of the year, but I suspect that many of the old attitudes that I saw so soon at the border still linger on, and I remain sceptical about next years Olympics... Still, I was treated like royalty by my relatives, to whom I am very grateful!

Then, to Hong Kong. 25 hours in hard sleeper was a breeze, and my predicted battle with bureaucracy to get my ID card updated turned out to be surprisingly easy, not even a small tussle really. Naturally there are even more skyscrapers here than my last visit, and the place still has that same energy that makes it one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

So, my 20,000 km overland journey to the place of my birth is over. A little over dramatic I know, but I've been reading the great Omar Khayyam, whose tomb we were so close to in Mashhad, yet never visited. I leave you with an (alleged) quote of his, as I contemplate a return to the joy that is Derby...

"My friend, let's not think of tomorrow, but let's enjoy this fleeting moment of life"

Monday, 3 September 2007

Goodbye Susie!

Mr Enkhbaatar appeared at our guesthouse the next day. Fortunately we were up and sort of awake and we were whisked off with him, his translator and driver to the Children's Development and Protection Foundation office. They we're all very pleased to see us and exlpained that they had been eagerly awaiting our arrival for some days.

By giving them our car, they would sell it at the 'car market' and then use the funds for a project to buy equipment for a kindergarten in central Ulaanbaatar. We asked a few questions about the project and the next we knew we were whizzing off to visit. On the journey there we passed under the only concrete overpass in Mongolia, a very important landmark explained our hosts.

The Kindergarten accomodates about 80 children, about half of which have Cerebral Palsy, Down's syndrome or other development problems. The children were still on holiday but we met some of the staff and were shown around the rather grim soviet era building. It was very bare and the childrens decoration on the walls did not seem to overcome this feeling. Toys and harsh looking walking aids for the cerebral palsy children were stacked in storerooms, and sporadic bids off maintanance were being completed. The place realy felt like it needed some help!
Luckily we soon met 2 women who ran the place and seemed to know what they were doing. One was an american trained Occupational Therapist who spoke english and she explained a bit about how the place ran.
They are constantly battling to get funding and competing with the dozens of other 'charities' in UB for government help and recognition. They hope to upgrade the Kindergarten to a proper Rehabilitation Centre for all children with physical and mental develment problems from the whole city. At present there is no other similar centre available. Apparently a group of American and Dutch physios and OT's had visited a few years ago and trained the staff properly, but now they we short of equipment. They had drawn up a shopping list for Enkhbaatar and all hoped our car would sell for enough to get some way doen the list! They weren't the only ones.

We left the kindergarten and they were taken out for lunch and shown traditional Mongolian hospitality. A big meal, and three very generous measures of Chinggis Gold Vodka later and we were embarassingly presented with some engraved certificates and souvenirs as a thank you gift for the car. And that was not all, these gifts had come from the organisations president, the esteemed Gandi T, member of the Great Meeting of Mongolia and who I had a very brief phone conversation with to thank her for the gifts!

Finally Enkhbaatar was very keen to visit the English pub with his new English friend so took us for what turned out to be a heavy session at Dave's Place (the Mongol Rally end of the road.) Countless beers and huge vodkas later we were destroyed, and he left with a sore head.
Olly got his Beijing train in this state and I worry for his health. I meanwhile made a fool of myself a while longer and retired to bed.

The following day I delivered the car to Enkhbaatar and handed over the keys. The trip was really over, and Susie was gone. I walked to the Aeroflot office and booked my flight home.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


So we've been in UB for three days now, and still not really seen anything apart from a smattering of restaurants and bars. This place has an unexpectedly cosmopolitan range of eateries, which we've been taking full advantage of. There's also the daily ritual of hanging out at Dave's Place on the main square waiting for the Mongol Rally stragglers to limp in (usually very, very noisily). The state of some of the cars arriving has to be seen to be believed, and we've taken ample photos for your future viewing pleasure.

So what now? Tom is kicking his heels until his flight home next Tuesday on the dodgy Russian carrier, Areoflot. I have a rather unpleasant 34 hour train/bus combo to Beijing on Thursday evening, and then a 24 hour train on Monday down to Hong Kong where I have the pleasure of more bureaucracy as I sort out my ID card problems. Then back to Blighty and we'll upload our photos to my Flickr account for you to peruse at your leisure...

But what of the car I hear you cry? Well, we're slowly getting in contact with the delightfully named Enkhbaatar somewhere in downtown UB who will take Suzy off our hands in the next few days. It will be a tearful departure as she has served us admirally. Hopefully she'll raise plenty of money for the orphan's charity, and not end up in the Big E's private fleet of vehicles...

Sunday, 26 August 2007

End of the Road

Ulaan Baator. 10,855 miles, six weeks, sixteen countries and only one puncture. Mongolia has been one huge rallying track, so it was fortunate, and fun, that we were in a Subaru. God bless the clever chaps at Fuji Heavy Industries. Anyway, I'm off for a much needed shower and beer, and maybe even a spot of laundry and a haircut...

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Mongol Madness

Olgiy, Western Mongolia. It's cold, overcast and raining and the town looks incredibly grim and Soviet. On the other hand, it's an absolute miracle we're even here!

The drive from Almaty to Semey was 1000km of grim determination. The road got steadily worse and worse, so much so that a couple of guys we know in a Suzuki jeep managed to lose their wheel and axle on the road. Two days and we crawled into the grim Soviet town of Semey, famous for hosting an exiled Dosteyevsky and being affected by radiation from nearby nuclear bomb testing. The next day we broke for the border and it wasn't half as bad as we expected, meaning that we got to Barnaul, Russia in time for tea. In fact, we met up with a couple of other cars from the Mongol Rally and went out for a boogy at the local dive, "Africa", which was something to behold.

800km to the Mongolian border in two days, and what a drive. Everyone was expecting Soviet hell and bleak, dystopian landscapes, but in fact it was an amazing, Alpine landscape with a superb road. Turns out that the Altai region is a popular holiday destination for Siberians, and with good reason. It was easy to imagine you were wending your way through Switzerland or Austria.

Russian border at midday yesterday, and just in time for their two hour lunch. As a result, a queue formed, with at least ten British cars turning up, from Suzuki jeeps to a Citroen 2CV and a Morris Minor. Spirits were high, which was just as well, because we didn't get through to the massive 20km "no-mans land" until 4pm and then not through the rather disorganised Mongolian border until 6pm. Still, it meant plenty of time to swap tales, spot kites and marmots and play frisbee and football with the local kids.

Then, an early camp and instant nosh and a night under the stars, well, clouds. We're at over 2000m here so it's cold and there's occasional sprinkles of snows on the higher hills. We've already experienced curious locals driving/cycling/riding over to investigate the strange tents being erected in their backyards, and their ability to stand around watching us for hours as we cook, eat and drink whatever's at hand. Mongolian itself is a challenge, and we haven't even mastered "thank you" yet, which appears to require an ability to speak as if one is chewing on potatoes whilst simultaneously clearing your throat. Perhaps this is what enables the locals to perform the famed "Mongolian throat singing".

Which brings us to today. Up early and then point the car in a South Easterly direction and choose the nearest track. And it's as simple as that! The car is still holding together and of course, it turns out that you can get 90+ octane petrol here, so we're lugging 130 litres of the stuff in our back seats for no real reason. Still, it might still come in handy if we're snowed in somewhere!

So, Ulaan Baator in five or six days we reckon, and if the worst comes to the worst, there's a rumour we can be towed there for a hundred dollars. Then again, we've heard a lot of rumours on this trip...

Ba yar tai!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Anodyne Almaty

An amazing few days next to Kyrgyzstan's two major lakes, Issyk Kul and Song Kul, spent in Yurts and riding horses and going on short hikes. Beautiful alpine scenery and dodgy roads and a very remote border crossing this morning into Kazahkstan means that we're now in the expensive city of Almaty, and just shy of 8000 miles on the trip so far!

There's a lot of money about as evidenced by the huge numbers of German cars and huge 4x4s everywhere, and we've yet to find a cheap hotel to stay for the night. Currently in a very Western mall and planning to find the nightclub with the indoor go-kart track this evening. Then, north to Russia and then the Mongolian border, assuming it's open at the weekend, and that there's decent petrol in the region...

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Krazy Kyrgyzstan

Just my two pennies worth as we prepare to visit the famous lakes of Kyrgystan.

Iran got wearing - the heat, lack of beer and women shuffling around in black tents. It leaves you drained after a week, so we were excited to move on to the 'stans.

Turkmenistan. A fascinating place, but possibly in my top three worst places I've ever been to, including Derby. Obstructive officialdom (a five dollar fine near the border for "playing loud music whilst driving"), the blatant chasm between the rich and the poor (who are clearly the model for the "Sand people" in Star Wars) and the general atmosphere. Admittedly, we didn't get to meet many real Turkmen, and the women looked lovely in their traditional gowns - a welcome change from Iran, but I'm in no hurry to go back.

Uzbekistan. The bloody police in this country. They're sat by the side of the road every kilometre with their ridiculous orange batons that they use to flag you down to inspect your documents or try and fine you. We got done for speeding - and paid the guy off with a one pound coin! The famous cities were nice, but getting out of the country wasn't. We turned what should have been a straightforward 30km drive to the border into a 9 hour marathon of getting lost in a restricted area, chats in the local police station about who were were and what we were doing, and finally being let through the border at 4am, only to discover that the Kyrgyz weren't going to let us in until 6am. A couple of uncomfortable hours in the car in no mans land and then we were finally through!

Kyrgyzstan. One of the highlights of the trip so far. Big mountains, high passes, nomads and hardly a policeman in sight. The road to Bishkek was amazing both in quality and in the sheer engineering as we wended our way through mighty valleys and past large lakes and dams. A night camping on a meadow high in the hills meant that finally our cold weather gear was required, and thank god we brought it! Currently in Bishkek, but we're going to spend a few more days here in the countryside and hopefully staying with nomads. The Mongol Rally people we've met are mostly bombing it all the way to Ulan Bator where they have a black tie do arranged for the 19th, but it seems a shame to rush now we're here. So, off to eat sheeps eyes and intestines with the locals...

Queen of the Slipstream

Unlike our posts on here our travels have continued. Although plenty internet has been available we haven't been able to get on this site and actually post until now. anyways:

We left iran after crossing 900km of baking desert in a day and battled with traffic and pilgrims in mashad. From there we enter the strange world of turkmenistan. We toured this place with a russian women who was very keen to explain as much as she could about the history of this bizarre place, we weren't quite so enthralled! More to follow on the king of countries to never return to!

Uzbekistan felt a bit more civilised and slightly more free, but still scores of police on every corner. We drove into Bokhara, promptly got lost down some tiny back alleys and arrived at the nearest thing to a tourist trap we'd seen since istanbul! We met up with some rally cars at last and had a few beers with 2 teams. Both had started with suzuki jeeps, unfortunately one had perished in germany and the other had battled through repairs to reach bokhara and beyond! To those and all who started the trip with sj's we salute you!

We had a great time chilling around Bokhara with those guys, unfortunately here olly suffered a bout of 'the runs' and was laid low for a day. We moved on in convoys to mythical Samarkand, where we met up with more teams, a few micras, a london cab, ice cream van and a polo! Great to hear all their stories and vent our frustrations about the obstructive turkmen!

Next it was up to Tashkent (we had an unpleasant arrival to this sprawl in the dark and when we eventually found our place to stay and went to town to eat it was too late and we found nothing!) Beautiful drive down through uzbek to Andigan and the border at Osh. Here the fun continued, we must have taken a few wrong turns because we arrived at what we thought was the main border but turned out to be a minor local crossing point in this sensitive region. By this time it was about 10.30pm and the police had no idea what to do with us. We we escort miles away to a police headquarters and waited around some more. Passed gangs of men weilding clubs around some trucks, and my new co driver (some local chancer who owned a minimarket) told me it was 'contraband'! After whiling away a few hours trying to explain the mongol rally to some police chief we got directions to the real border. By then it had closed and we passed out of uzbek at about 2am to wait in no mans land until the kyrgiz border opened at 6. This effort was rewarded later in the day with a beautiful mountain road up through kyrgizstan. This place is really amazing, beautiful lakes and mountains. Camped out on the nomad pastures on the way here with Rob and Phil in the sj. Stunning to be up in the mountains at last. Today we leave the trodden rally route as they rush to their party in ulan bator on the 19th and we take a scenic detour to lakes Issyk Kul and Sol.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Glorious Esfahan

No, not the 80's Latino pop sensation, but the most beautiful city in Iran. Long drives across desolate landscapes, avoiding the traffic hell of Tehran and we finally arrive at the premier destination in this country. The big square lives up the hype. Smoking the quaylan lives up to the hype. The bridges across the river live up to the hype. Walking across the river next to the bridge was fun! The food remains fairly mediocre, but, inshallah, we have yet to suffer from 'the Brads'.

Today is a rest day so we've had a haircut and shave (an experience in itself) and attempted to sort out our stinking laundry. Later we may explore the possibility of entering the hellish world of haggling in an attempt at buying a small Persian carpet, or 'kilim'. Then we're off to Yazd and hopefully the road between the two huge Iranian deserts to Mashhad. Petrol of sufficient quality for Suzy (...the Subaru) is scarce here so we've resorted to lugging huge amounts of petrol in various jerry cans in the boot. The plan is to cross into Turkmenistan on Aug 2nd...

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Axis of Evil...Traffic

Quick post as Tom is waiting to go for a kebab. Well, we made it into Iran. Everyone is very helpful and friendly, except other road users. Traffic here in Tabriz is a joke, which makes us think we might give Tehran a miss. Biggest problem is finding a petrol station that sells "super" unleaded - the regular stuff (which costs about 5 pence a litre) would knacker the car unfortunately. We had to pay $150 at the border so that we can buy 300 litres during our stay. Local are rationed to 100 litres a month! Prayer calls mean I must fly. khoda hafez!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Handbags and Gladrags

Yes a rare appearance from me on the blog, whilst olly has been bloggıng i have been mostly sleepıng! We have made great progress ın the last few days. After vısıtıng the Blue Mosque (and wearıng nıce blue skırts to cover our western legs) and Aya Sofya we we're back on the road. We got past Ankara that nıght and dossed down on a track just off the road, wıthın 5 mıns a local ın a Dacıa had arrıved to make sure we were alrıght, and wıth salaam alaykum dısappeared ınto the nıght!

A slıght detour down to the amazıng landscape of Cappadoccıa took us ınto the vast emptıness of turkey. Turns out most of the ınterıor of turkey we have drıven through has been fılled wıth mountaıns, a surprıse to us! Cappadoccıa boasts loads of weırd chımney type rock stacks and cave dwellıngs where the trogglodıtes lıved. We went 60m down ınto an underground cıty (small tunnels connectıng lıttle bedrooms, storerooms, a school and a church) wıth a very nondescrıpt entrance ın a dusty, quıet and forgotten town. Donkeys and dogs roamed the deserted streets and the houses were all low dusty lıttle boltholes. Although plenty of sıgns of an up and comıng tourıst destınatıon the whole regıon was empty and quıet.

The turkısh roads are largely empty and wıde, usually 2 lanes each way but wıth sectıons of dırt around roadworks. They have been much better than we expected, wıth some of the newer mountaın sectıons beıng ıncredıble wıth empty dual carıageway blastıng you up to 2500m!
We are now ın Erzurum after spendıng the nıght ın a modern sılk road karavansarı and eatıng kebabs and baklava wıth (or watched wıth great ınterest) by the locals. Tonıght we reach the turkey ıran border and hope to cross tomorrow, paperwork permıttıng.
Susıe the subaru has been performıng very well and we have added 3500 mıles to her clock sınce settıng off last week! We hope the occasıonal drınk of oıl wıll keep her sweet. Now ıf only i could fınd the tıme to start my all ımportant trıp dıary...

addendum: Border of Turkey/Iran is called Dogubeyskit, or something similarly unpronounceable. We stayed at a campsite run by a Kurdish family and a retired Dutch psychiatrist(!). They put on a great meal for us and a musical extravaganza culminating in a traditional Kurdish "bobbing" dance. And they weren't even drunk...

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Turkish Delight

Turkish baths are not for the faint hearted. After a meal of lamb shish kebabs Tom and I went to a 400 year old Turkish bath in Istanbul's old town and were promptly beaten senseless by large mustachioed men in the name of personal hygeine. Remarkably, we left feeling refreshed and a damn sight cleaner than when we entered, not surprising considering our previous three days.

After our last post in Budapest we broke for the Romanian border, but darkness beat us to it, meaning that we left Rob in a petrol station a short distance from Hungarian terratorial limits. The latest news is that he kept 24 hours ahead of us and made it to Istanbul in time for his flight home. Well done that man.

Meanwhile, Tom and I stayed in a "thermal baths" campsite near the Hungary/Romania border and then the next day bumbled through Transylvania, involving a stop at Dracula's home town. We spent the night in a campsite outside the city of Brasov and then the next day went to a conveniently discovered Subaru dealer to have the incessant squeaking from the front tires investigated. Typically, when we took the car to the dealer we could no longer get the damn thing to squeak - just like going to the doctors. With a typical shrug of the shoulders, the boss there reassured us that everything was OK, but checked the brake pads anyway and threw a free soda into the bargain - nice guys the Romanians. About five miles later, the squeaking returned. We have decided we will have to live with this for the next 6000 miles.

Yesterday we drove through Bulgaria and their baffling cyrillic road signs. We visited a student town (V. Tarvano?) that is up and coming with British property speculators and then drove through the Shipka pass (a "towering pass", as described by the Lonely Planet) by accident at 11pm, complete with half of Eastern Europe's trucking contingent. The constant hairpin bends and kamikaze overtaking were not good for the nerves, but we eventually made it through and found a tree next to the road to camp down for the night.

Which brings us to today. Uneventful drives to the Turkey border and then to Istanbul, punctuated by a tedious, boiling hot four hours of mayhem at the border, where half the Turkish European diaspora decamped. Coming back to vote in tomorrows all important elections, or simply bringing back goodies for relatives in the motherland? In any case, it made for a deeply unpleasant, sweaty midday, and a new appreciation of the Turkish love of car horns.

Tomorrow - mosques and bazaars, and then on to Cappadocia....

Wednesday, 18 July 2007


Yes, we've arrived in Hungary and it's about 35 degrees Celcius. Or at least, it feels that way.

We picked up Rob Hadman (friend from college) at Dover after a night camped on the side of a country lane. Whizzed through France to Basel where we met Naomi, also from college. Tour of the town which culminated in the obligatory Irish pub and then a night spent in a town park, or the car if you were me. Tuesday meant 500 miles through Switzerland, Germany and Austria, taking in sausages in the Bavarian hinterlands and Schnitzel in Vienna. Vienna looked great by car as we struggled to find a youth hostel, despite the help of a very friendly receptionist at the Vienna Hilton. Naturally the hostel was full, which meant a night in the bushes at a very busy service station between Vienna (actually called Wien) and the Hungarian border.

Just left Tescos(!) which have huge superstores all over Hungary, where we erroneously bought 27 litres of (foul) sparkling water. Still, we have to keep the fluid levels up. About to dump Rob (who for some bizarre reason has to get to Istanbul in under 72 hours) and head for Transylvania, and thence to Bulgaria and Turkey...

Sunday, 15 July 2007

London Calling

Yes. I am still in London.

First problem of the trip - the ABS braking system went kaput before Tom even left Leeds! He phoned me to assure me that "everything's OK", but I remain sceptial. Brakes seem fairly essential on a journey like this.

Current plan is to catch the 7am ferry tomorrow morning from Dover to France somewhere and then make for Basel in Switzerland where our friend Namoi is staying. We don't know where she lives, but I'm sure we'll overcome that trivial obstacle when we arrive. Six degrees of separation in practice.

For those who have been kindly inquiring about the visa situation, we now have all the visas we require except Turkmenistan. Our contact, David in Almaty, Kazakhstan, assures me that if we turn up at the Iran-Turkmenistan border at 11am on August 2nd, his man in the field will have passed on all the relevant documentation to the border guards. Hmmm.

The rest of the visas (Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and China) were obtained by me with no little hassle and stress in a miraculous 15 days, including obtaining "letters of invitation" from a variety of resources and standing around for interminable hours in numerous grim embassies around London. I estimate that I ran up at least £50 in London travel fares alone. The visas themselves cost over four hundred pounds due to the scandalous mark up for same day service or similar, not to mention the "visa support" required for some of these tinpot nations.

So, with that tedious administrative summary over, it just remains for me to bid you farewell until September. Tom has a flight from Ulan Bator back to Blighty scheduled for early September. I have the rather more tricky prospect of having to get to Hong Kong by September 7th where I have a cheap flight home booked. No doubt a nightmarish marathon Chinese 3rd class "hard sleeper" train journey beckons.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Car stuff

Whilst Olly has been chasing up visas i've been readying our chariot for her long journey. I changed lots of different oils, (engine, autobox, front and rear diffs) and the radiator coolant. Just finished fitting a new stereo which means we can take all the cheesy choons we need on a memory chip the size of a stamp! As for paperwork the carnet has been paid for and should arrive soon, insurance ditto and hopefully a green card too. Also been collecting a few other bits and pieces, jerry cans, shackles and a brand new msr stove. mmm! Brake pads tomorrow.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Our Route

About as far as we have got with route planning is deciding which countries to visit as we weave our way eastwards.

They're are 2 main routes to Mongolia. The simpliest goes Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The more interesting goes down through Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, then onto Iran and through a collection of previous Soviet satellite states known as the 'stans'. Although the simplest ideas are often the best we chose to go for the second more interesting option. The empty marshy wastelands of southern Russia would no doubt be fascinating but we don't think it can compete with the 'treasures' offered by the Silk Road routes through the middle east. Another factor was the need to visit Iran and find out what really goes on in the place we hear so much about.

The downside with this fantastic route is the need fo many more visas. Many of these require a Letter of Invitation from the country concerned before a visa application can be lodged. It will be a struggle to sort all these before we leave. Luckily Olly has gone to London to start the process off.

We have a car!

Some lucky bidding on ebay means we are now proud owners of a Subaru Legacy. Yes £450 buys a lot of car... Lets hope its well made.

PS For those that care its got a 2 litre flat four petrol engine, automatic gearbox and permanent four wheel drive.