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)

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.

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