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)

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!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a brilliant gig - nice work fellas!
Hope my photo tips came in handy Olly ;)
Look forward to seeing your shots
Alex from Cuba