Team Quarter Life Crisis

2 chaps, 5 weeks, 1 jeep, 8,500 miles, 1/3 of the world on a shoestring...



1. Why, oh why do you want to travel to these places?!

The challenge, the charities and for the chance to go on an adventure in the truest meaning of the word. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see some the most untouched, remote areas of the world.


2. When are you off?

We leave from London Hyde park on 21st July 2007.


3. How Long will it take?

Hmm…good question. The record (for a crap car) is about 17 days and that involved a whole lot of Russia. We're spicing things up a bit by entering Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, (past a few land mined borders) into Kyrgyzstan, then re-entering Kazakhstan, then re-entering Russia, before undertaking the final fling across Mongolia. We hope to reach Ulaanbaatar in 30 days and then catch a 37 hour cattle-class train to Beijing where we'll be meeting Daniel Griffiths, a BBC correspondent. So all in, about 5 weeks.


4. Just how far is it to Ulaanbaatar?

Have look at our Google map. For perspective it's the equivalent of Land's End to John O'Groats 9.5 times, except there's no nice motorways just hard-pack tracks, scorching desert and mountain passes.


5. Is it Safe?

No, of course it's not safe. We're travelling through some of the most corrupt 'democracies', through disputed territories, through extremely remote places without support and with very little ability to speak the local languages, all in a wholly unsuitable vehicle that, flat out, can just about hit 50mph (unlaiden)


Then there are the diseases and other assorted nasties. To surmise:


Hepatitis A & B

Black widow spiders


Tick-borne encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis



6. Why are you an 'unofficial Mongol Rally entrant'?

The Mongol Rally sold out in less than 20 seconds at each of the signups. The first round the organisers' server burnt out from all the connection attempts. The second round we got into the sign up area. Richard accidentally hit refresh and lost the place and Ali filled in the team name field before being dumped out of the website. The third round went by ballot. We lost that too.


We have also subsequently discovered that the Official Mongol Rally is now run by a limited company (The League of Adventurists International Ltd. Reg. 05995303). For the £387 entry fee the entrants get some nice stickers, 2 t-shirts, an import tax agreement in Mongolia, a webpage, a simplified visa service and…that's about it. In the true spirit of adventure, with a little hard work and numerous emails, we've managed to secure nearly all this for ourselves.


To top it off, the rally organisers have invited everyone who didn't get a place along for the weekend drive to Prague. Unlike most 'weekenders' well just keep on driving…

7. Why Save the Children?

Save the Children is the UK's largest international children's charity, helping children in need by creating lasting change to end child poverty around the world. They are a charity with real power to help rewrite the future.


8. Has anyone ever tried this before?

Oh yes. Take a look at the wikipedia entry for the rally.


In 2004 43 cars left London... 27 reached Mongolia...14 reached the finish in Ulaanbaatar. What else happened?

2 teams were robbed at knife point.

1 car snapped in half.
3 engines fell completely out of the cars.
1 team were held for 5 days in no-mans land.
1 team cycled 200km to get to the finish when their car gave in.
100's of tyres were blown.
1 team got engaged.
1 team found a 10ft deep pot hole.
1 team found a 25 tonne crane rolled by a pot hole.
3 teams attended weddings
1 team had to reverse up a mountain after losing all bar one forward gear
1 person spent 24 hours in a Kazakh jail charged with 5 crimes against the state.
1 person was stoned by a mongolian nomad (who he then shot at with a gun).
1 team were rammed off the road after an arguement over water melons.
1 person spent a day in a Turkish hospital.
3 people were banned from Turkmenistan for a year.
As a result of an incident with a cow 1 person was detained by police in Azerbaijan and threatened with a beating from a dwarf.
2 cars flipped over in Mongolia.
3 teams were chased by armed bandits.
0 teams died

9. What happens if you don't make it to Ulaanbaatar?

We fully expect to suffer numerous break downs and set backs. However, we have every intention of making it the final destination. Should we have to pull out it will have to be for a very good reason and there are numerous airports along the route, which through a series of flight connections can get us back to Europe.


10. How much will all this cost?

It all depends on the generosity of our sponsors. The costs for both of us calculated so far:

£500 approx on car including tax and MOT servicing and spares for trip
£700 visas & Letters of Invitation

£180 travel and car insurance (assuming it's cancelled after 3 months)
£300 camping equipment, bits and bobs for the trip
£150 ferry (Dover to Calais)
£350 vaccinations and 14 days antimalarial tablets (malarone)

£400 petrol

£100 maps and guide books

£710 Flights from Beijing to London Heathrow

£300 food and water 

£100 Train from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing

£??? Bribes for corrupt officials


The grand total will probably weigh in near to £4000


11. What happens to the car when you get to Ulaanbaatar?

We are attempting to use a standard procedure used by non-profit making organisations, charities, and non-governmental organisations in Mongolia that provides exemption from the most significant taxes of 1000USD or 2000USD levied on older vehicles. This is currently in the process of being arranged. The car will be given to a charity which will then sell it to raise further funds.


12. Will you be making a record of the trip? 

Of course! We'll be keeping in touch through the blog whenever we can find an internet connection and through SMS text messaging to HQ. Richard's also a keen photographer and using a compact digital, Canon DSLR and Canon MVX3i video camera we intend to capture lots of the trip. If any sponsors want a picture of us with one of their product in some far flung place or any promotional pictures please let us know and it can be arranged.


13. Sounds great, what can I do to help out?

We've set our sights on raising at least £1000 for Save the Children. You can even think of it as 10p per mile! Just follow the instruction on our Just Giving page. It's very secure and all UK taxpayers get a 28% increase in whatever they donate thanks to a new government scheme. An adventure of this kind also requires quite a lot of equipment to make it possible. If you can help us out in any way please get in touch or have a look at our wish list section.


For companies wishing to sponsor us, this is by no means just involves giving money or products away to a good cause. There is real and extensive marketing and advertising potential in this adventure. In 2006 both the Guardian and Independent ran features on the rally and this years Mongol Rally is reportedly being covered by ITV, quite possibly because Jack Osbourne (Ozzy's son) is reported to have got a place. Consequently, corporate sponsorship has really stepped up in comparison to other years. We intend to get features in local news papers very soon and hopefully upon our return. We're also meeting a BBC correspondent in Beijing with a view to getting a small section of coverage on the World Service.


14. What about the charity sponsorship if you don't make it?

We intend to donate all the raised funds to the charities all the same – unless we are specifically instructed otherwise. The trip is not about the end but the means.


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