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, 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"


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