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.
When in Rome-mania...
Posted by Nick at 22nd August 2010 at 06:53
All was going well until the convoy pulled up for a pit stop. I was feeling pretty parched by that point due to the 40 degree heat, so the boys filled me up with thirst quenching unleaded, but suddenly we found ourselves alone. The rest of the convoy had motored ahead leaving us behind and without the aid of a CB Radio we were unable to contact them…
We decided to head to Tolsea as that’s where the convoy had earlier agreed to pitch up for the evening. However after driving about 50 miles we received a text from the convoy saying that they were still in Constanta as one member had had their bag stolen, had lost her passport and another member had smashed his windscreen climbing down from his roof. A succession of shit, I’m sure you’ll agree. So it was back to Constanta for us.
We arrived in Constanta about an hour later and began the arduous task of attempting to locate the Hotel Maria while trying to decipher a strangely cryptic text from the rest of the group. Suffice to say we ended up parked in the middle of a cross roads engaging in some what of a heated debate about the direction we should be heading. But suddenly those glorious mounted headlights aboard the blue transit van, now sporting a brand new smashed windscreen, appeared on the horizon. With haste we made chase.
Before long we had found the illusive Hotel Maria, checked in and it was straight back out on the town. We hailed two taxi’s and not knowing the city asked them to take us somewhere fun. Within about 10 minutes we had pulled up at a shady looking brothel. Something had been lost in translation. We very quickly explained that we were not looking for that sort of fun and were then taken to a beachside bar. An argument then proceeded with the taxi driver who attempted to charge us three times the amount quoted which I’m glad to say we won. Our senses were to be tested again that night when we bought a round of vodka mixers containing coke and …water. Luckily our wits were in tacked and on this occasion we weren’t to be caught out.
The next day we decided to have a little look around. The first stop was the harbour for a spot of lunching. Our dinning neighbour at lunch was a middle aged American gentleman courting two much younger looking Romanian ladies. Noticing that the harbour was dripping in opulence we guessed they weren’t his daughters and wondered where he had parked his yacht After a helping of frog legs, pizza and fish the 40 degree heat started to take its toll so next on the menu was the beach.
With a belly full of food, the relenting heat had not yet let up, said for the short taxi ride offering some welcome relief in the form of a pleasant breeze through the window as we breezed through town. I needed a nap so parked myself of a beach side sofa while Nick and Marc went to find beer. Hearing their, no doubt, stimulating conversation at the bar, two young ladies named Abi and Ana wondered over to introduce themselves. Now, I was half unconscious at the time, but I was to learn later that they were both from London and were here on holiday as Ana had grown up in Romania…A fact that became very useful. I eventually pulled myself together and with the help of a beer or two I joined the group. After a dip in the black sea and a little sunbathing the girls filled us in about the places to go out. Not knowing the area whatsoever the girls very kindly agreed to meet us all for dinner. The girls had suggested ‘The Irish Pub’ for dinner. Not very Romanian, but good nonetheless. Having taking a fondness to him, we invited Big Nick from The Lost Convoy along, so again donning our boat shoes, we headed out on the town.
Even though it consisted pretty much all of meat, dinner was good, but desert was yet to come… and come it did with reckless abandon in the form of a strange little French man. I’ll backtrack slightly…When we arrived at the pub there wasn’t enough chairs at our table. I noticed a small man wearing a slick shirt and glasses (the Frenchman), reading a book at the neighbouring table. It appeared he had no one with him so I asked if we could steal one of his chairs. He obliged, we had a quick chat and I wished him a good night. However, he had other ideas. OK so moving forward again to desert. We had just ordered another drink when the Frenchman wondered over and confidently asked if he could join us. We of course agreed and he sat down. A few drinks later we had pretty much all learned his life story and it was time to say goodbye as we were off clubbing…The Frenchman, however, had other ideas. With the immortal words, “so where are we off to next”, he had cemented himself in our night and it was off to disco. Following a few more drinks and a lot more of the Frenchman’s anecdotes at a local speakeasy it was time for some dancing. Knowing the area well the girls took us to an outdoor bar complete with podium dancers and a very inviting stage…what could be better? We spent the rest of the night cutting some shapes and Abi ended up choreographing us a dance which we later performed on the stage to a then empty club. After one final rendition of the choreographed dance in the town square to music provided by Nick’s IPhone, we said our goodbye’s and headed back to the Maria for some kip.
The next morning it was time to head for the Moldovan border. The lost convoy were getting interviewed by a local paper so they went ahead, while we stocked up on supplies. We had heard horror stories about this border crossing so were prepared for the worst. Leaving the city, Garrie was not feeling to great. It was the first real sign of any car trouble, but assuming she was just tired we cracked on. However after getting back on the motorway we noticed that she still wasn’t feeling quite right and only managing to top out at about 60mph (100kmph if you will). Assuming we had just been eating to many crisps and too much ice cream, as well as having just done a big shop, we put the poor performance down to added weight. We arrived at the border some hours later to be greeted by the Lost Convoy who had arrived but moments before. It was all going well until it was time to buy insurance…I think it is safe to say this was the most ridiculous, inefficient, observed, contrived and purposely complicated system I have ever encountered. To explain this you need to know of several locations; A) the Passport office B) the ‘bank’ C) the insurance office up the hill D) Customs.
OK so this is how it went… First we handed over our passports (A) and were told we need to purchase a green card (car insurance) and tax to drive the 100m through Moldova to the Ukrainian border. However, the only place you could buy a green card was in Moldova with Moldovan money (smallest currency I have ever seen), which we didn’t have. So we were escorted into a huge empty room (B) with a little window at one end with a lady sat behind it who would change our money and buy your tax. To save queuing up again I asked to buy my tax then and there to which I was told no, you need your passport which I had previously handed to passport control. I then went back to the passport office (A) to retrieve my passport where I was told in order to get my passport back I needed a green card which you can only get after the Moldovan border crossing, which we couldn’t drive to as we didn’t have a green card or tax. Therefore I had to take my newly exchanged currency, cross the border into Moldova and traipse up a hill…without my passport mind you,…to a local pub no less where a portly woman sat at a rickety old table issuing green cards (C). Having only planned to be in Moldova for an hour or so, I asked to get the shortest possible policy. Turns out the shortest policy is 2 weeks, go figure. So anyway armed with my new 2 week insurance policy to drive 100 meters down the road to the Ukraine taking about 2 minutes, I walked back down the hill to purchase my tax. I was then instructed to present my green card to the passport office to get my passport back in order to buy the tax (A). After I got my passport back I was then told to go to customs (D). Ahead of me I saw a large industrial looking building in the direction the border guard had pointed, so headed for it. Before I had taken 3 steps past the passport office, a tiny wooden sliding door suddenly snapped open to the rear of the building with a lady behind it shouting “CUSTOMS?!” (D). I presented her with my passport and green card to which she issued me with a small piece of white paper, telling me to walk the 5 meters back to the ‘bank’ (B) and hand over the white paper to get my tax. Arriving back at the bank (B) I handed over the paper. The bank clerk then made a phone call to the women in the tiny customs room (D) (baring in mind this is less than a 4 second walk away) confirming that this paper is mine and that she can issue me with tax. I then handed over the exchanged money that she had issued me in the first place and she gave me another bit of white paper that was apparently our tax and told me to take it back to the woman in the little customs room (D). This, thank god, was the final act in this sick play and we were then free to drive the 100 metres to the Ukrainian border armed with our newly acquired tax and 2 weeks Moldovan driving insurance.
A + B + A + C + A + D + B + D + D = BOLLOCKS
Thankfully the Ukrainian Border was pretty simple. The border guards handed us transit VISA papers and customs forms. We were instructed to note down all our valuable possessions and exactly how much money we all had. However before we had even managed to write yellow sponge football (one of our most treasured possessions) the border guard had ripped it out of our hands and ask me, “Big or Small”. About 5 minutes earlier, Big Nick (from the Lost Convoy) had warned me that I will be asked, “big or small control”…Big control meaning they will completely turn your car inside out and Small meaning they will leave you alone for a bribe of $20...well I say bribe, this seems more like blackmail, but hey whatever. Handing over $20 we decided that small control was the way to go and we were on our way.
All roads lead to Rome-mania...
Posted by Nick at 22nd August 2010 at 06:42
Right, Garrie can be a bit cryptic sometimes. We never really know what she is thinking. But from what we can gather from what she has told us is that her poem is about the first part of our time in Romania: On approaching the Romania boarder we bumped into the ‘Lost Convoy’ consisting of ‘The Great Canadian Beavers,’ ‘Cakeordeath,’ ‘Mad Hatters,’ ‘Team Fudge’ and the big blue van… After a few words with this lovely bunch we established that they were also on their way to the ‘Top Gear Road’ so we decided to join their convoy and find a suitable place to set up camp for the first time on our trip.
Romania is a beautiful country and it was quite a novelty to see that outside almost every house along the main road into Transylvania was a strategically positioned bench where the old folk would sit and while away their day. We felt like royalty with the warm and friendly attention that we were given as we processed through their towns, every wave from us was returned and even surpassed with enthusiasm and friendless. Just before night fell we found our way to a place to set up camp. This was more that we could have ever expected for our first night of camping - next to a river in a valley on the outskirts of Draculas Kingdom. Being particularly unprepared, Nick from ‘The Great Canadian Beavers’ offered us a bottle of Rum and we settled in round the camp fire to get to know our new comrades.
In the morning we set off to find the Top Gear Road (Transfagarian Highway,) Arriving a little later than expected and with ominous rain clouds over head, we decided to give it a shot… On our assent, the clouds began to part and although it was not perfect conditions, we believed the mountain was on our side. The Road was everything and more than we had expected, The views were spectacular, although Garrie was continuing to play up (probably because she wanted to spend more time with Max.) Due to our late arrival when we eventually got to the summit of the road, darkness was looming and we agreed that it would be a good idea to set up camp. We could not of asked for a better site to pitch our tents, hard to believe that we could out do our first night of camping, this was very special. Next to a mountain stream with views of the valley below, I could not believe I could actually enjoy camping outside of a festival context. That night the clouds parted and we were honoured with a precession from the stars. In the morning we gritted our teeth and plunged into the mountain stream to wash amidst the hill tops - refreshed - we where ready to continue on to Constansa…
Almaty Province, Kazakhstan
Recieved by SMS at 20th August 2010 at 11:23
Recieved by SMS at 18th August 2010 at 11:30
Recieved by SMS at 18th August 2010 at 11:30
Recieved by SMS at 18th August 2010 at 11:30
Recieved by SMS at 18th August 2010 at 10:40
Recieved by SMS at 18th August 2010 at 00:07
Recieved by SMS at 18th August 2010 at 00:07
“That’s Jokes“…. “Like“… “you know what I mean“… “INIT“…!!!
Posted by Nick at 15th August 2010 at 12:46
Garrie is missing her love Max and so wanted to write a little poem about our time in Romania before she was tragically parted from him… Isn’t she sweet!
Arriving at the boarder,
I saw his iridescence in my wing mirror,
His big red butt did shine,
But will his beaver ever be mine?
The boys stopped to greet their comrades,
Now my eternal loneliness subside,
To my happiness I did proclaim,
Revving my engine again and again,
The Locals came to sit outside,
To see this game of chase arrive,
First he took me from the rear,
And my happiness did appear,
The beauty of the landscape did show
Our warm and lustful glow,
Warn and weary from the days travel
We stopped to unwind and unravel,
The boys set up camp,
The river flowing, the stars shining
The valley and medow,
Please don’t let any bears show…
They sat around the camp fire,
A bottle of rum and stories followed,
While we were left to gaze,
Our body worked, his body work...
Washing in the wilderness,
The boys ready to find
This long and winding road,
Oh Max now I am behind.
Horse and cart, horse and cart,
Please never let us part,
I followed in toe but nobody saw my woe,
When the rain began to flow,
The heavens darks clouds opened,
Danger lurked around the corner,
Poseidon close your banks,
Zepher blow away this danger,
Wow this road, went through my heart
“Draped like ribbon” on a mountain top…
Views as far as the eye could see,
Beauty like none I’d ever been,
Under the stars we slept that night
With my love by my side,
What a night was it for him and me,
I could have stayed for all eternity…