Car at home – Final thoughts

Having driven the Mongol Rally, we simply couldn’t stop there, so Simon & Oliver (his mate who didn’t get to go on the Rally, but fancied a bit of the return leg) picked up the car in Paldiski, Estonia and drove it in snow ice and God knows what else back to London…


Final Thoughts

We are very proud to have completed the Rally, when we started we knew it would be difficult, sometimes challenging and we stuck together through the thick and thin for something quite unique.

Now looking back some 3-4 months and having driven the car from Estonia again I really must say I totally enjoyed my time and must send my heart felt thanks to Shaun who as co-driver in this escapade made it all the more enjoyable. It truly was a pleasure being with him on the rally, and no doubt we might be doing something similar very soon…   As for Peter, sigh, the youngest official photographer on the Rally I’m sure, and being my nephew it was particularly special in being able to take him on such an adventure, and also see how much he grew into it, especially once we had left the European countries.

We all immersed ourselves into the challenge, and met some absolutely wonderful human beings along the way, and I mean truly wonderful people who would drop whatever they were doing and take you to the nearest mechanic, call up their friends to all chip in and help, it was a fantastic feeling to know that there were all these ‘Guardian Angels’ taking care of us along our route, in countries we knew little about and certainly have grown fonder of since.

We managed to achieve our main goal, that of delivering the kindly donated Arsenal shirts to Christina Noble’s Children’s Foundation Ger Village in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.   All 35 shirts were delivered and the kids seemed very happy and hardly believed they were official Arsenal shirts, for which we had to confirm they really are!

So overall it was a splendid 2017 for me at least, the Mongol Rally being the highlight and something I will remember for the rest of my days, as well as bringing home the little car that helped us achieve so much.   Thanks to everyone involved and it was a true pleasure to share it with so many people.


Mincing about in Switzerland… and oh no, don’t drink THAT water Peter!

Just a reminder, as some people seem to have got the impression this was some kind of ‘holiday’ or ‘jolly’, I advise you to read the below from the Adventurists, and remember during the rally there is NO SUPPORT from anyone officially involved in it’s organisation.


You may have guessed, but these are genuinely dangerous things to do.

The website is written in a light-hearted fashion but you cannot overestimate the risks involved in taking part in these adventures.

Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of taking part are high. Individuals who have taken part in the past have been permanently disfigured, seriously disabled or lost their life.

These are not holidays. These are adventures and so by their very nature extremely risky.

You really are putting both your health and life at risk.

That’s the whole point.


We finished the Mongol Rally on 4th September 2017.   Peter had to return just a couple of days earlier to be in time for his University.

Here we are at the finish line….

Many thanks for all those who supported us – you can still Donate especially now as we have completed the Rally and delivered the Arsenal shirts to the children in Christina Noble’s wonderful Gers Village.


From Inner Mongolia into Mongolia

We’ve had a brilliant time in China, seeing some sites and experience culture far beyond what we expected. Unfortunately we did have a few delays when entering the country, but our guides – Benny and Sophie, helped out a lot by improvising around our delays to make sure we had the best time we possibly could in China.

In particular I very much enjoyed the food while Simon & Shaun seem to have rather suffered the consequences from eating it…the smelly (fermented) tofu was perhaps a step too far even for me though.

More than anything, this has been an incredible cultural experience which gives a nice contrast to the Middle Eastern and European cultures we had earlier experienced.

Kazakhstan to Xingjang

So, it has again been a while since an update. However, having now set up a VPN should help with that, and the internet here is at last a bit more accessible.


We spent yesterday crossing the border from Kazakhstan to Xingjang, and today crossing a huge portion of land. A huge portion of land which is only a tiny fraction when compared with the vast size of China. However, with the help of our current guide, Benny, we’ve now sorted out all the paperwork for travelling through China. We even have our own Chinese license plate now, something to take home as a momentous! While there is a lot of travelling to be done, it is across an incredible landscapes, and just today we have seen some beautiful sights in the highlands of this province.


It’s also worth having a mention of how good an impression we had of Kazakhstan too, it really was a nice surprise. The people were generous and the landscapes wild. A really pleasant combination. And when I say the people were generous, I’d personally go as far as to say it was perhaps the friendliest country we’ve been through so far, with no end of free gifts – free peaches, free ice cream, and even a free flag! Everyone seemed to want to welcome us and leave us with a good impression of their homeland.


(Unfortunately having problems at the moment uploading photos to the website – working on a solution to that, but I didn’t want to neglect to give an update on our situation just because of that.)

A Test of Endurance

We haven’t spoken much about the difficult side to all of this, but it has been catching up with us. Exhaustion and an array of problems caused us to hold up in Samarkand for a while, but we’re now on our way. Now, we’re determined to do this. As impressive as it is, we’ve seen enough of the Silk Road. Time to push on to Kazakhstan.

New Heights in Uzbekistan

Despite a few issues with money withdrawal back at the Iran-Turkmenistan border, we were able to cross without any serious problems and have since gone across the desert all the way to Turkmenistan. While there we encountered many other teams along the way, and want to give a shoutout thank you to the Kiwis who helped us find a hostel to stay at while our car was almost on it’s last legs. After a couple of nights in a border town hostel we crossed into Uzbekistan. While on the Uzbek side of the border we had some help raising our car up to a new height as we had not anticipated that it would be so difficult to traverse these desert roads which are littered with potholes.

Of course it didn’t end there and we had further problems with the car, but were helped out by some very kind people, who offered to accomodate us in their own home during one of most difficult times. Honestly their kindness was beyond belief, and we want to send our thanks to:
ДЖумамурадова Олтиной , Мирзахмедов Жамшид, Розимова Асал, Розимов Хамдам, Мирзахмедов Зафар and Сийтимов Бахтияр
Hope I got all those right, Cyrillic isn’t the easiest thing for me to follow!

We’d also like to thank the neighbour of the house who saved us on the first day of our breakdown and took us to his house.

Trying so many homemade foods, going fishing together (without catching anything of course) and playing board games. Even being generously greeted with some vodka. It was probably the most interesting cultural experience of the whole trip for us so far and we really are so thankful to our hosts, and hope they see this!

Since then we’ve made on our way and travelled through the ancient cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, following the Silk Road along our way towards China.


The Path Through Persia

Continuing on our way through Iran we’ve had the time to meet many more locals by visiting traditional workshops and handicraft stands. We’re doing a good job of blending in apparently. Having bought some Zoroastrian goods, Simon was invited to tea by some Iranian cloth workers simply because he wore “the symbol of their old civilisation”. It seems I have been continuing with my theme of being mistaken for being Middle Eastern too, not quite how I’d hoped though as people have been thinking that I’m an Arab…I don’t think the scarf helps.

Shaun and Simon have also both earned a new nickname from our guide – topul, a descriptive term in Farsi regarding a person’s belly size. Our guide Hamid does not deny that he’s not in much of a position to judge though, as he continues to sample every food he possibly can.

In Iran

It has been a while since we’ve done a blog post, and that is because for the last few days it has been a whirlwind while constantly on the move. For complicated reasons we were stuck at the Turkish-Iranian border for 2 days, but have since been traveling down south to the deserts of Iran. Currently, we are in fact closer to the Persian Gulf than to Turkmenistan, which is our next destination.

Although delayed for quite some time, we have managed to find the time to enjoy the parts of Iran we truly wanted to see. Meeting up with our guide Hamid at the border, we rushed south as fast as possible once the delay was sorted so that we could reach the heart of Persia itself. Having gone through Esfahan and Shiraz, two great and ancient cities, today we explored the ruins of Persepolis, once the centre of the mighty Persian Empire. For me personally this has been a height of the whole journey, to see the great tomb memorials and palaces of power built by one of the mightiest empires in human history. Simon thought it was a nice pile of rocks.

During our travels we have also encountered an array of interesting people, as we always do. Our guide, Hamid, has done a good job making up for lost time here and ensuring we can see as much of the country as possible, as well as as much Iranian cuisine as he can stomach, which apparently is an endless amount. We have also had help from two other Iranians who have helped us make this journey, Taraj and Pegah, and we’d like to send our thanks to them.

We have met people from many different parts of the Islamic world, including nomads, Afghans and Azerbaijanis. Having now met fellow nomads along their own journey, we now must travel north to reach our destination.


Through Turkish Mountain Passes

We’re continuing as fast as possible eastward through a very mountainous region of Turkey. The mechanics back in Istanbul must have done a good job because the car seems to be handling this all very smoothly. The further east we get the more language barriers seem to become a problem, but we are managing okay, we were even kindly treated to a cup of tea while stopping at a petrol station, by someone who was very interested in the journey we were making while he was on the opposite route, to sell goods in Ankara. For the most part though we’ve has little time to stop today as we intend to reach Iran tomorrow, and have had to just appreciate the nature of this place while keeping on the move.

We’ve stopped for the evening, but are expecting to reach Iran tomorrow morning.

Across Anatolia

Now well on our way towards Iran on schedule we have been traveling across the dry plateaus and mountain ranges of Turkey’s mainland. On the way we have encountered some incredible sights, including a huge and dramatic salt lake spread across miles, and even a tornado in the sand. We now have truly left Europe, and a very different landscape has begun to emerge.