I could of kept a diary on the road, but every night, I was just busy with taking care of loose ends on the car, researching routes, and booking accommodations. So keeping a diary on top of that would have been too exhausting.
Additionally, I didn’t think writing about the cities and the highways we drove on wouldn’t be of any interest unless you were reading with a map in-hand.
With that said, I’m going to take a different approach to writing about the Mongol Rally.
This last weekend I attended my cousin’s wedding where a lot of my family members were present. They asked a lot of questions about the Mongol Rally, so I think a good starting point is answering all their frequently asked questions.
How long did the drive take?
We left on July 20 and Arrived in to the finish line in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on August 20th. So if my math is right, 32 days on the road.
Did we break down?
Oh man, did we ever! We have one day in Kazakhstan where we had three flat tires in one day and we were only carrying 2 spare tires. Two of the flat tires were caused by broken glass and the other was caused by bad roads.
In Mongolia, the rear axle broke, which is a major breakdown anywhere in the civilized roads, but even more disastrous when you’re out in the middle of no where.
How many miles did we drive?
We drove about 10,800 miles. After reconciling all the petrol budget, we consumed about 348 gallons of gasoline.
What was the most interesting place we visited?
Probably Khiva, Uzbekistan or Uzbekistan in general because it’s country that probably doesn’t receive a lot of tourist. The Western part of the country is practically no mans land with it’s long stretches of roads through the desert. The lack of petrol station in the western part of the country had me at unease of whether we would find a petrol station before we ran out!
How many people did I travel with?
I traveled with 2 other people. It was originally supposed to be 3, but one girl backed out after paying all the registration fees, her share of the car. She was originally planning to go to India before hand, but that visa process got delayed, which lead to subsequent delays on her visa for the Mongol Rally. This killed any hopes of her getting the necessary visas for the Mongol Rally. Her best case would have been to travel all the way to Tblisi, Georgia, which would have been for the first two weeks of the drive.
How did I know them?
I met Lauren at TBEX in Toronto a year ago. We kept in touch about doing the Mongol Rally. When event registration came up. I signed up letting her know. She also had a friend, Erin that was interested and it turned out she was from NJ not to far from where I grew up. I spent some time getting to know Erin whenever I was in NJ. We found a fourth person via the Facebook groups of individuals looking to join a team.
Would I ever do it again?
Yes and no. The drive and prep work took nearly two months. On top of that, the out of pocket expenses of everything associated with the drive and car.
The experience of meeting people that you would never meet outside the tourist circuit of a country is amazing. If I were to do it again, I would go a different route so I’m not repeating what I saw and experienced. Next year’s Mongol Rally is not finishing in Mongolia, but just over the border in Russia, Ulan-Ude to be exact. Presumably, the Mongolian government doesn’t want to deal with the organizers or it’s participants.
To keep the Mongol Rally going, the organizers have put the finish line in Russia. It doesn’t make sense why the Mongolia Government wants to stop the Mongol Rally. Local Mongolians would be hurt by the loss of the Mongol Rally as some local businesses in the rural parts of the country thrive on the influx of repairs from the Mongol Rally cars.
The shop pictured above got $70 and two packs of Marlboro red cigarettes for replacing two springs. Yeah, we had American cigarettes because we were told that they work well for bribes. Given that we were unlikely to get pulled over and we weren’t going to smoke them so we offered them as part of the payment.
What happened with the car once we reach Mongolia?
The car is getting shipped back to the EU and getting scrapped. Our car barely made and I think we were really fortunate to have finished. In fact, when our car pulled into it’s final parking spot at the finish line, I went to close all the windows, but the car wouldn’t start because of the dead battery. I think it’s safe to say it was perfect timing.