On a Wheel and a Prayer...
On the 24th July 2010 three young men will set off from Goodwood Race track in West Sussex with 1500 or so
other adventurers on a 10,000 mile journey to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. Why you ask? To raise money for
The rules are simple…Taking absolutely any route imaginable, teams must drive from Goodwood Racetrack to
Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, where they will donate their vehicle and at LEAST £1000 to designated charities in
Mongolia. The only thing is...the vehicle must have an engine size of 1000 cc or less i.e completely
A number of charities will benefit from the rally. The charities in question are chosen by the organizers and set
out to help the people of Mongolia by, amongst other things, supporting families, teaching residents vital skills
and protecting children. In 2007 the rally raised over £200,000 for the people of Mongolia. Check out this
website for detail of these fantastic charities.
If you would like to donate please visit our Just Giving Page at:
Mongol Rally On a Wheel and a Prayer
Thank's in advance for your time and support.
Miles, Nick and Marc (a.k.a) Team: On a Wheel and a Prayer.
Recieved by SMS at 8th September 2010 at 17:22
Recieved by SMS at 8th September 2010 at 12:21
Recieved by SMS at 8th September 2010 at 12:21
Recieved by SMS at 2nd September 2010 at 09:36
Recieved by SMS at 29th August 2010 at 09:21
Just crossed the western boarder, Mongolia
Recieved by SMS at 25th August 2010 at 13:07
Recieved by SMS at 24th August 2010 at 09:52
Recieved by SMS at 22nd August 2010 at 15:46
Mother 'Fucking' Russia
Posted by Nick at 22nd August 2010 at 07:02
The boys made it to Russia with little difficulty, the boarder was not as bad as they were worried about, there was a little shouting from one guard when Miles decided to go for wonder, however, this particular guard was only to return greeting the weary travellers with a warm glow and subsequently requesting a $20 “Mongolia Tax” I.E. “Mongol Rally Tax” ‘happy’ to oblige they moved on to a very thorough search by means of flicking the Jerry Can and asking if they possessed any contraband and/or Clashnicoffs luckily the boys had hidden there Clashnicoff well within my body work, however I do always worry that I am going to be strip searched and violated at one of these boarders at some stage if the boys don’t take them a little more seriously…
We continued in convoy with the Dirt Track Destroyers from the Russian boarder stopping at the first Motel we could find after night fall. On arrival we were greeted by a very excited and forceful Russian named Sergay. With the language barrier very much in place we worked out that firstly he wanted to smoke a cigarettes from England and secondly he wanted to get us extremely inebriated, we could tell this by the frequency he was flicking his neck (Russian for: “lets get trolleed” shown to us by the Russian dudes in Odessa) . Feeling a little freaked out by the Motel which looked like it could have come straight out of a Steven King novel, and by this odd Russian man’s persistency, we tried to unpack our bags from the Car, at one point Sergay even tried to pull me into his Motel room for “Shnaps” leading me to quickly release myself and move behind miles for protection. Once settled and Sergay had let us be, we made our way to the Café to see if they could russle us up some grub… meat and smash … yum !!! Adorned with 1 litre cans of beer, which make you feel a little bit like a Hobbit, We settled in round the table to get to know our new Convoying buddy’s (“The Dirt Track Destroyers”). Learning that these guys had been on a nuttey one since they left Goodwood, getting the Tunnel and driving to Amsterdam, enjoying ALL the pleasures that the Dam has to offer and staying in the Hilton nonetheless. Then after making their way to the Czech Out they had zigzagged across Europe, from Poland to Island hopping in Croatia clocking up 15 countries and almost 6000 miles. All this and one of their team members called Mike; a Head Chef by trade, in his mid twenties, had never left the country before… After we had less than satisfied our appetites Miles hit the sheets because he was dew to drive in the morning and Me, Marc and the boys, in true Russian fashion, cracked into a couple of bottles of Vodka… In the morning, feeling a little worse for ware, we had a wake up call from the “Dirt Track Destroyers” who had been having car trouble, had to go to the nearest town and find a mechanic. We pressed onto Volgograd…
Volgograd is the armpit of the world; don’t go there! That being said after a little bit of driving in circles we finally found a Hotel, but they had no rooms… so a very helpful young lady with a perfect ‘personality’ directed us to a hotel that could accommodate us better. Donning our boat shoes we headed out for dinner, a bottle of Vodka and a few beers and some of the best food we had had all trip later we were ready to see what the night had to offer. After a bit of confusion with the taxi driver we found our way to the strip where all the cool kids were hanging out… It was a bit disconcerting to find this strip of corrugated iron shacks / clubs emblazoned with about 30 fair ground punch bag machines, we could see the glint in Miles eye… Finding our way into what looked like the most happening of these places, we grabbed a couple of beers and took a seat, only to be continually moved from table to table until we found one that wasn’t taken… you see: in this particular establishment the DJ plays a few up beat tunes consisting of old school classics and Euro trash, however every few tunes he would play a little slow number - the couples pair up and the singles sit down… very strange… on sitting down we were greeted by a very sweet blond of Turkmenistan dissent, who had clearly seen our jaws drop dew to her evocative moves on the dance floor, she played the set like a Pro and with her limited English she entered into the game… I got a little cheek rubbing, Miles got the eye’s and Marc got a slow dance, the first he had had since primary school, he later told us. All this attention had ruffled the feathers of the three guys she was with - one especially - who looked a little like Jaws the Bond villain, but instead of having metal teeth, he had a couple missing, and similarly to Jaws the bit of good in him could only be seen in how hopelessly in love he was with this pretty young dame. Moving onto the next club with our new ‘friends’, Jaws perked up, finally he could reassert his manliness after being destroyed on the dance floor by Miles’ ’move’… He challenged Miles to a dual: a go on the Punch Machines… Miles ‘reluctantly’ obliged… beating him by over a hundred points in one punch! It was sad but very funny to see this Neanderthal endlessly feeding notes into the machine to beat Miles’ score and win back his woman… Unable to redeem his masculinity, Jaws spent the rest of the night with his head in his hands sat at a table in the back of the club, at one point I think I even saw a tear… awww … leaving us to dance the night away.
The morning commenced with a visit to Mother Russia, a 50meter statue over looking an extremely patriotic war memorial. We then proceeded on to towards the boarder, however, dew to our extreme lack of preparation, this boarder did not exist, luckily the Dirt track Destroyers, were similarly unorganised and we bumped into them en route. They had decided that to get to the next boarder we should take a short cut, glad to forget about navigating for a while and trusting that they would live up to their name, we followed them up a dirt track. Now this was the first time that any of us had been up a dirt track and yes it was tight, dirty and no surprise to Miles‘ theory, they even had sweet corn. As night began to settle we started to think that this had been a very bad idea and on approaching a desolate farm, images of the human centipede began to become embedded in our immediate consciousness. Nearing the farm we saw the silhouette of a man with a cowboy hat propped up against the bonnet of his Lada, for an instant I swear I saw him clutching a shot gun, but confident in the knowledge that Miles would make a far better meal than me we proceeded to ask him for directions. Fortunately we were not about to become one mass digestive system and this very kind gentleman offered to show us the way out of this hell hole, leading us straight back to the road we had come from over two hours ago.
We drove until we found the slightest glimmer of the safety of civilisation, which came in the form of a petrol station covered with the insects of the night. Miles and Marc debilitated by the fear and frustration of the days drive and unable to be enamoured with the idea of unpacking the roof box, settled in for a sleep in the car. Craving horizontal unconsciousness, I set up the tent, avoiding the ants nests… I would be lying if I said it was a peaceful nights sleep, feral dogs and strange Russians encompassing the immediate space around my temporary home, prompted me to acquire the steering wheel lock (which I believe to be designed in such a way as to present itself as an extremely ergonomic truncheon) from the car, enabling me to rest easy! At day break we were awaken by the proprietor of this fine establishment, upset his fine petrol station had been turned in to a camp site, told us in no fewer words, to get lost…
We headed for the next boarder on the map with an element of confusion. The Dirt Track Destroyers had presented us with the map and happy to relax from the pressures of navigation, asked us to take the lead. Eventually with some help from the locals we found our way to the boarder crossing on our less than adequate map, only to find that we would not be allowed to cross… After struggling with the language barrier for a little while, we were greeted by a young John Travolta figure, who explained, I quote: “this is a bilateral crossing” I,E only Kazakh’s and Russians can cross at this point… After some deliberation and the idea of offering them a pretty hefty bribe… we were told not to worry and the very helpful boarder guards directed us to a boarder crossing: only 750 km up the road… Feeling a little bit useless we headed for the city which seemed to be around about the half way point between this boarder and the boarder that we could actually cross, all stifled by the Alanis Moriset irony, that the only nice boarder guards we had come across were the guards at the border that we could not cross.
Arriving in Capatob we were greeted with a cold shoulder, after trying various establishments without success and feeling like we would never get a place to stay, we put our fate in the hands of a taxi driver and asked him to take us to a cheep Motel… travelling outside the city we eventually found our way to what we thought seemed more of a brothel than a guest house, finally somewhere to rest our eyes… In the morning we took the lead and directed our convoy to the boarder - our first boarder without corruption! No big or small control, just a light but very formal search and we where through to no mans land, similarly, the Kazakhstan boarder was a pleasure, just a bunch of very bored guards who sat in our car and proceeded to fiddle through the compartments of our little baby with an unconfrontational and childlike fascination.
Carbonation throughout the nation, itís insane in the Ukraine
Posted by Nick at 22nd August 2010 at 06:55
Got over the boarder into the Ukraine but the border crossing took quite some time and darkness had very much set in so to avoid driving about like exhaustless Ladas we drove into an old petrol station and kipped there for the night.. Waking up in a car, is not an experience that I would wish on anyone and we had obviously not learnt much from doing it in Lens or perhaps the Ukraine morning heat was making it that much worse. Either way it seemed like I’d have to get used to it if I was going to be too lazy to pitch my tent. Having risen from our back aching nap we discovered an addition to our convoy in the form of a couple of Brits and a German, one of whom seemed to remind Miles of Adam Sandler, I couldn’t see it myself.
The road into Ukraine and beyond annoyingly like the previous nights boarder crossing has Moldovan ownership for 10 yards which brings with it a heap load of unnecessary hassle. Having been overly smug about avoiding being over charged for the car insurance at the last boarder control we got hit with 35 Euros for Russian road insurance, even though we were no where near Russia. But when one boarder closes another opens and we met yet another rally team, The Dirt Track Destroyers, and group who like us had eyes on going to Kazantip for some R & R. They steamed ahead after numbers were exchanged to meet up again on the peninsula at the north end of the black sea.
Winding down our windows and heading off with the lost convoy we all made tracks for Odesa on the west coast of the Black sea and the next logical city we could hit before needing some shut eye. Getting there we found a ‘hotel’ which had a two bedroom box that seemed to be one of only two left in the whole city, we grabbed it, The Canadian Beavers took the other. Our room was small and dingy and for what it was I’d say greatly over priced, I can’t remember how much we paid for it, but I’ll tell you now it was too much. Having said all that it was a damn sight better than sleeping in Garrie, and the smell was probably slightly better too. We had to share our bathroom with two Russian chaps who I wasn’t planning to get to know but I soon realised that Russians have a way of getting you to sit down and drink with them if you want to or not.
Odesa also brings up a new stage in our trip the first place were English is of no help at all, and quickly we all implemented years of Christmas party games and mimed a million mimes in trying desperately to get some much needed grub in the local café, all seemed to be going well but the onslaught of ralliers onto this tiny shack caused the waitress to give up, there are only so many chicken impersonations one woman can stand. We got there in the end sharing Shashlik and a bowl of crisps (we had yet worked out a good enough mime for chips).
Nick stayed out drinking with a rabble of racist Russians doing shots of vodka between sips of fruit juice as the drinks were sunk the Nazi salutes to judo president Putin were raised. Nicked didn’t stick about for too long and ducked away to the ‘comfort’ of our room.
On my way to an early night I bumped into our Russian next door neighbours carrying with them a bag full of beers, vodka and cigarettes. I was soon in their room drinking and sharing a common ground that when all else fails is an easy get out of jail free card, football. After a beer the conversation flowed a little easier and Nick popped up from having Swazstika shots and we discussed going to Moscow and meeting up with them there. Tops blokes who unfortunately due to the fires in Russia we are unlikely to see again. ‘you crazy boyz’.
Odesa is rumoured to have some famous steps on which the sequence in Battleship Potemkin was filmed. We were eager to head off early to Kazantip but I wanted to stay with the convoy for one last journey to the steps, 2 hours of driving in circles later and no steps in sight we left the convoy and headed to the land of a thousand wonders the month long dance festival where ahead of us lay destroyed dirt tracks, sun and the beach holiday we all craved.
We made it as far as the peninsula but decided to check into a Motel in a town called something not too far removed from Euphoria. Here we met a couple of friendly Belarusians who like the Moscowians before them were kind enough to share out their beers with us over some good old fashioned broken English. They were familiar with the festival we were headed to but for some reason had no idea of it’s whereabouts. Nice chaps but not so hot on their geography having warn us it was 300km away, the fifteen minute car journey in the morning proved otherwise.
Describing Kazantip is a bit of a waste of time, it‘s odd, it’s potentially very messy and it’s a bloody good festival, it is also a health and safety nightmare which I guess that is a large part of its appeal, it would never happen in England and I want to go back. But apart from that I would say go and see for yourself but please god don’t go for the whole month. I’d also be lying if I said I could remember too many of the finite details.
We had met The Destroyers in the festival for a boogie under the stars and fireworks but went our separate ways the next morning heading for the Russian boarder driving until Miles could no longer ignore his hunger and darkness once again fell we stopped off by a road side restaurant this time approaching the ordering process using trial and error, get a menu and point to four dishes and see what turns up. Blaydon didn’t get the rub of the laminated menu as the first three dishes were heavy on fish and mushroom, having another couple of stabs in the dark finally up pop a steak and Nick and I could breathe easy that hunger wouldn’t manifest itself into anger. I’d like to point out that this is not a cost effective method of ordering food and a phrase book or dictionary is an important purchase for any budding traveller to the Soviet.
Pulling into the nearest motel fate had brought us back together with The Dirt Track Destroyers and all was well with us.
A few omitted facts about our Ukraine journey; most expensive litre bottle of vodka we found £3.30, Petrol averaged 60p per Litre, Water bloody expensive and more often than not, carbonated… We all hate carbonated water.