“The Mongol Rally is dangerous!”........
....."is NOT an organised tour”....
….“you will receive no support”....
....“your short term and long term health and even your life at risk”....
……………….“you cannot underestimate the risks involved in undertaking this kind of adventure”.
Recieved by SMS at 27th August 2010 at 16:49
Recieved by SMS at 26th August 2010 at 12:37
Recieved by SMS at 26th August 2010 at 01:35
Recieved by SMS at 23rd August 2010 at 16:00
Recieved by SMS at 16th August 2010 at 16:18
Recieved by SMS at 9th August 2010 at 08:39
Recieved by SMS at 9th August 2010 at 08:33
Recieved by SMS at 8th August 2010 at 19:03
Friday 29th and onwards...
Posted by mike at 7th August 2010 at 16:40
Wake in l'viv quick drive through the town and head for lunch in rivne, stop for lunch next to a castle in a small town near rivne, seems the while town is getting married and wedding after wedding arrives through lunch to take pics in the grounds of the castle. At 2ish we hit the roads (surface now better) for Kiev.
Arrive in Kiev around 8pm to crazy rush hour traffic, the guide book advises there is 'no such thing as cheap hotel room in kiev' but it also mentions a couple of hostels that best fit our budget. An hour later and after consulting numours locals we find the street where are hostel should be, they're not there and the appearence of the buildings suggests they've been closed for many months. Now short of options we decide to make a new plan over pizza. Conclusion is escape kiev and at 22:30 we get back in the cars and battle our way south and out of the city. All the local drivers seem on a self destruct mission and my newly tinted rear window makes avoiding collisions all the more challenging. We make the motorway unscathed and at 12pm and some 80k south of kiev we call it a day at motel.
Leave of motel and breakfast at the next door petrol station. All across poland and west ukraine the petrol stations serve hotdogs in a toasted bun at the till. A round of hotdogs and snickers was enjoyed by all. In no time we cover the 350 odd km to odessa (only concern being ever increasing outside temperature heading towards 40) and by 2pm we're enjoying pancakes by the beach overlooking the black sea. Mash find us ammodation in shed come outside in a garden in suburban south odessa. Its like a turkish bath inside but is cheap and suits our needs. We unpack and head to a local restaurant.
Rest day, no driving. Jon and I tour odessa centre and later meet up with the mongol mash crew for a trip to the beach and dip in the black sea. While walking along the beach we notice some americans are filming with some serious looking cameras. we introduce ourselves and enquire as to the films name. 'Mail Order Bride' is the reponse and one glace a the cast of an elder american chap and 3 young blonde ukrainan triplets we make our own conclusions, ask no further questions and exit beach right to a local take away and then bed for the night.
Leave odessa at 9am. Say goodbye to jon dropping him at the classy londonskyia hotel on the way, we know he's in safe hands and will be happily air conditioned for the remainder of his stay while we battle on east in our 40+ degree sweatboxes. On leaving the city we find ourselves driving through huge flat countryside, sunflowers it the crop of choice.
A small detour south takes us (unawares) towards the crimea and we stop by the side of the road at a small market to pickup some melon and cold H2O. The stalls are manned y small families and we're encouraged to try a slip or two of their home made wine. Its not bad stuff and we leave the family with directions back the way we've come and a bottle of their finest red and another of white.
At 5ish we stop near melitopol for fuel and head to a local supermarket. Food there is on the short side but we do manage to pick up what appears to be sasuages and chicken hearts which we later plan to BBQ. Accomodation in town is also on the short side so we leave town and continue east. At 8ish with the sun going down we leave the main road heading down a dust track between 2 fields with hedging down the left. After 1km through a break in the hedging we find a empty field with sunflowers growing on 3 side. We decide the flowers will give us adequate cover from the main road and track and make camp for the night. The sausages turn out to be filled with water and chicken hearts on the chewy side of tender but needs must and the hearts are the teams main course of choice. Washed down with the antifreeze enhanced red wine from our crimean friends it makes for a pleasant evening. As we lose the sun we're immediately under attack from under all the airborne insects in ukriane, richard and I treat to our respestive tents while chris seeks refuse in his sleeping bag in the back of the van.
Wake to a beautiful sunrise across the fields. Feeling like adventures we breakfast on cheese and hard bread while packing camp before being discovered by the famer who is already ploughing a nearby field.
The travelling day continues as the pervious ended battling along 2 way single track roads, overtaking slower trucks where gaps in the oncoming traffic allows and sometimes when it doesn't. Unbelievably is getting hotter still, we estimate well above 40s and we start noticing small fires at the side of the road where the land is beginning to burn.
By 12ish we arrive at the russian border somewhere north of Mariupol and carry with us a modicum of foreboding with of difficulties of the ukraine border fresh in our minds. We leave 2 hours later we a renewed faith in the human spirit after the mash team befriended a young english speaking russian customs official who kindly helped us complete the numerous required forms much to the delight of his comically frustrated non english speaking superiors. The cost to us? 1 bottle of Bruce Willis vodka (purchased in poland), 6 cans of beer and 20 camel cigarettes. Welcome to russia!!!
Having made it all the way through Ukraine without being stopped by the police (many other teams were stopped and fined for various 'offenses' sometimes more than once) we don't make it 30mins in to russia without a run in with the law. At a police checkpoint (something we'll later learn is a common obsitcal to long distance travel in the country ) are cars are searched and we're made to pay a fine ($50 per car) for carrying CBs radios.
We drive on into russia and at midnight stop at a motel near Rostov-na-Donu.
Drive on to volgograd. Unending farm land, roads are melting and theres more fires. Meet the rally team in the discovery while on the road. They're in good spirts (no doubt aided by their A/c) we briefly relay stories then hit the road again. Im fined 10 dollars for missing a stop sign. Arrive volg (the historic city is now highly industrial and under a layer of somg) at 9ish local time and locate a hotel, mash are fined 50 for a u-turn on the main road. Dinner in a local air conditioned shisha house is a well come break from the heat.
Rest day. Breakfast in the hotel. Meet the other rally teams the long and short of it, the two mongoleers and the 2 remaining bounders. We discuss kaz and route in the hotel reception before they head off south at 11ish to astrakhan.
Lunch in a cafe and a short walk along the river (doing anything significant in the heat is seriously hard going).
Return to the hotel around 17:30 to find the NW4 Badgers are parking up having driven almost non stop across ukraine and russia, they were turned back from the ukraine border by customs and had to fly home to get a replacement V5 form.
Later another team, the mongol mainiacs, arrive. Having been stuck in frankfurt for a week with dengy fever they had driven almost nonstop from germany to volg to make up lost time, a fine effort. We all head down to the shisha house for dinner and further liquid refeshment.
Wake late, decent russian style breakfast (more rice and veg than I'm used to at this early hour) at the hotel. Mash and I tint all windows on the cars in an attempt to hide from the sun. While doing so various english speaking folk approach us to ask about the rally all are very interested and all surprised at our choice of vehicles.
In ther afternoon we go in search of the measum, we lose heart after a time and jump in a cab to the mother russia statue. We find an impressive series of sizeable stautes at the monument and after a series of steps running up the side of volgs largest hill a huge tomblike room in memory the fallen russians, this all leads ultimately a humongous statue of mother russia. Photos to follow or check out wikipeadia....worth a look, larger than anything NY has to offer.
All the teams at the hotel head out to dinner and talk is of kaz and the route head.
Tv news reports the morning say this is now the most hardcore heatwave on record in russia. Much of the countryside is on fire, towns are being destroyed, Moscow is covered in a thick fog, other countries are sending teams to help. Its still above 40 across much of the country and is showing no signs of cooling. Mash and NW4 left early this morning for Astrakahn and mash are crossing the border tonight into kaz. Its 19:49 on sat night, jon has just arrived with phil, im glad for their company!
From London to now the rally has been awesome, great people and interesting places, but its kaz and the desert where its starts getting serious, i believe this part and mongolia beyond that most ralliers signed up for. The prelude over and with the cars having served us proud so far, im hesitantly confident and excited about the unknown road ahead.
News reports on police corruption on the tv, weird, first ive heard of it.
Days 3 to
Posted by mike at 7th August 2010 at 15:03
Breakfast at Colditz with Mongol Mash and Two Green Men. The three teams leave at 9ish in convoy heading for czech border. After a few kms along some winding and fun country roads we hit a dual carriageway.
Having travelled nearly 900 miles without serious incident one team in our convoy (who shall remain nameless) lose a wheel from their roof rack while doing 75mph. The wheel makes several passes back and forth across the 2 lanes before coming to rest on the hard shoulder. No cars are damaged and no one is hurt. The germans however are not amused. We speed on towards pilsen.
Shortly before the border and back on the country roads we make a stop near a guesthouse. Outfront is a 10 foot talking and ice cream dispensing bear. We make friends with the bear and dance to his tunefull beat, will have to share the video with you at a later date.
Once over the almost non-exsitent border we lunch at a log cabin truckstop. As we enter the cabin the x-files theme tune is playing and the only other customer is a man, perhaps in his 50s in shirt and shorts with long silver hair. The man is alone, hasnt touched his beer and is staring into space. Anyone who has seen Twin Peaks would reconise him instantly as the character called Bob. We decide to eat outside.
After lunch we reach Pilsen and visit its beer measum. We learn nothing and while making the most of the free beer token were recieved on entry realise the car's parking tickets have expired. We double time it back the cars with fears of being clamped. All is ok however and we convoy to kevlona and the castle there, the venue for the nights party.
100s of other rally team have already arrived when we pitch up at 5ish. Many more will continue to arrive through the night and early morning. We set our first camp of the trip, manage to flatten the car battery and realise there's no way to fix a mossy net to the inside of a tent.
The party provides us with some decent food, a dance tent, band, shisha room, fire dancers and most importantly free G&T. Finally get to bed (roll mat in tent) around 2:30am.
We're up and moving by 9. The toilets are rancid in the stanard festival style. Convoy with usual suspects towards prague. Near prague Two Green Men aim south for budapest and the transfargarent highway. We head to the city centre to check out the sights. Beautiful weather and a fantastic city, and credit to the cleaning staff at the macdonalds by the big muesum where the toilets were like new (until we arrived) and after the breifest of 'sink style' showers we get back in the cars and hit the road for the polish border. We cross yet another non-existent border (since leaving goodwood we have only had to show our passports once and that was at dover to check the booking) at 4.45 into poland.
A short time later we meet our hosts for the night Peter and his mother, family friends of Mongol Mash. We follow them to a local supermarket where we find 4 rows of shelves devoted purely to vodka, we purchase several bottles, one of which is endorsed by bruce willis.
Once back at the flat our hosts put on a great traditonal polish dinner of meat and potato.
We give peter 2 of the bottles of vodka as a gift and expect we'll enjoy them after the meal, that was until peter brings out a 3 litre bottle of smirnoff (so large it cant be poured and instead has a pump on top) which makes our gifts look a little childish. An education in vodka drinking later... by midnight thrasher (of mongol mash fame) was well and trully thrashed and by 2 we all set down on the sofa beds and roll mats for a night of voka fueled dreams....
7am, woken by a team of people cutting the grass verge about 250m from our towerblock with strimers, felt like they were striming into my head (no doubt the vodka had something to do with that)
Our great hosts out do themselves again with breakfast, scrambled egg, ham and other cold meats.
by 9ish we're back in the cars and following peter to a local garage where the yak mobile has a new battery fitted. Post fitting we notice the battery was made by "Yak", must be fate.
Mash has some work done to their sump guard and the gear box oil changed (I'm not a mechanic yet but at this rate should be one by uzbekistan).
Us Yaks use the time to finally fix the flat tyre on the BMX. 2 more inner tubes later (we punchered the 1st at goodwood) the source of the punturing was located and fixed and we were soon screaming up and down the country lanes on our new pink tyres. The total lack of brakes was a problem that would have to wait as by 12 we were back in the cars and hitting the dual carridgeway to Ukraine.
We stop briefly for mash to pick up a new spare wheel at a breakers for $15, then a another breakers for us to pick up two steels for $10.
The good roads die out 150k from the border and once down to single track and suffering constant traffic jams we call it a day around 7pm. After two nights on the drink and with a consideration for the constant and heavy rain we decide against camping and book into a modest hotel for the night.
Thursday 29thhaving had no exercise since leaving london i head out for a run at 7am (well 10% running time and 90% catching my breath time) to check out the local town. buildings aside it looks and feels just like cornwall.
World class breakfast in the hotel counters all the good work done on the run and by 9:30 were in the cars and passing south of krakow.
Hit the ukraine border at about 4 and as soon as we arrive the fun and games with the border guards start. This is our first non EU boarder and maybe the guards can sense our lack of experience as they make us move back and forth between lanes, various windows for stamping docs and at one point i have to cross the border into ukraine without the car to buy insurance and then come back again. Meet a very helpfull ukainain chap whos been living in west london for 14 years, hes driving his to sons back to ukraine to spend the summer with their family. Hes a massive help and with his assitance we now think we now have all required docs in hand and return to the officals to present what we hope will be enough paperwork to get through. It isnt, we wait, are ignored, shouted at and after 5 hours and $50 we finally get through.
The area immeaditely after the boarder is the land that time forgot. The roads are terrible with huge holes, the people are riding bikes from the 1920s and old ladies are carrying unbelievable loads on their backs walking down the 'highway' for what must be many miles as theres no towns on the map or houses we can see.
A mini we met at the border joins our convoy for the hour journey to l'viv. The time is 10, its dark and with the very dangerous roads and general sense of forboding at what ukrine will be like considering what we're seen so far, this particular part of the trip is not something i'll forget in a hurry.
Eventually we make l'viv, find a suitable hotel and locate the bar for pizza and beer at midnight.