Saturday, September 17, 2005

Like the splitting of the Red Sea...

...The Brothers Wrongolia have parted ways. Some might say this warrants the end of something great. But like the Holy Roman Empire, it's just the beginning of something new.
So we left Ulaan Bataar armed with a relaxed grin and a brand new Chinese visa. However, the Mongolians at the border were keen to know why we now had no car and why we had no paperwork explaining what had happened to it. They refused to let us out, sent us to the local army base, told us to get paperwork and then kicked us out onto the dusty street. After great pains we did manage to get our paperwork but in the meantime they'd promoted the duty-free girl to passport control. And so when we tryed to get out again, they checked nothing, we made a run for the Chinese side and were eating fried noodles and Sezchuan chicken by sun-set.
Anyhow, I have just been at the Beijing Central train station, seeing Ian off on his way to some Taoist mountain in the Shandong province. He's got a little trip planned before heading back to Blighty when the money runs out. All fifty-eight quid of it.
And as for me, well I've been offered a job here in Beijing. So this might mean a short foray into Chinese living. Spent today looking at a bulletin board wondering who was trying to sell washing machines and who was advertising appartements. There's really not that much to differentiate when your Mandarin is halting at best.
So fear not.
The Waggon still rolls.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The End Of The Road

And so to the final rally tales from Team Wrongolia.
With the petrol tank as our new cabin mate, and salvation in the form of Team Doug and Geoff's 4WD Suzuki, we rode on into the Mongol plains. The exhaust constantly dropping off, tyre blow-outs two to a penny and the chasis twisted beyond recognition, opening up gorges in the car's body and striking a jaunty new Fiesta pose.
The Suzuki pulled us out of many a stream and ditch, and helped negotiate the most sublime river crossing in the history of three inch ground clearances.
But all good things must come to an end, and so we found ourselves at the back of Doug and Geoff's tow rope for a bouncy 200 mile stint across the Gobi. The drive shaft welded back together, it took a leisurely 200 metre jaunt to snap it once again and spray ball bearings all across the charred earth.
And so with 1000km to go, we ditched the car and jumped onto our Halfords bikes.
Freezing Gobi nights and concerns over our fertillity raging, we were blessed with a truck full of root vegetables and livestock headed for Ulaan Bataar. We jumped aboard for two days and nights huddled under a giant tarp to protect from the dessert storms.
120km to go and we got back on the bikes and cycled to celebrity and glory in this city of Mongol greatness. Enter vodka, hip-hop and high-jinx that is Saturday night in Ulaan Bataar.
We're now weighing up our options on how to get home. Stranded in Eastern Asia.
And so they may cry, "What went Wrongolia?"
Well, absolutely everything, but by the same token nothing at all.
Huge love to one and all.
Wrongolia on the Mongol Rally and out.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Done and Dusted

That's right, the Wrongolia Waggon has finally rolled into Ulaan Bataar in a blaze of glory.

More to come once the haze from our victory night has cleared.

Los Hombres Wrongolia.
Well and truely in Mongolia.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

London to Mongolia. Check. Done. Finito. Unfortunatelly its a whole new ball game geting to the finish line 1200km away across the most sparse, desolate and unforgiving terrain imaginable.

....First a quick shout out for the Stans (Turkmen,Uzbek,Krygz and Kazakh) and a definate big up for the one, the only, Turkmenbashi - the leader of Turkmen who not only changed his own name for the post, but has renamed a month after his mother. Bless....

A quick blast across Russia and now to Mongolia. Let the fun begin. 10km past the border and already the fuel tank had sprung a leak, the exhaust pipe had fallen off, a chasm is appearing in a wheel arch and we have blown a tire. Splendid. Thankfully we had enough fuel to carry us 50km into the middle of the mountians. Night fell, the track gave way to an accomodating swamp\rockery effect and we found ourselves lost, cold and bemused. Perfect.

A new sun signals a change of fortune. On arriving at the first village en route, 100km in, we have been taken in by a family. Father fixes the machine, mother fixes the food and the kids create a comical chaos. With body and spirit replenished its time to crack on.

The wondering minsterals.
Finally in Mongolia.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Roughing it in Iran

And so the time has come to say a fond fair well to Iran, and to the countless people who have welcomed us into their homes and their culture. Unfortunately, a combination of indulgence and our inability to resist the legendary Persian hospitality, we find ourselves some way behind the rest of the pack and unable to see or walk as a result of the impressive quantities of food consumed. And the Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned that Iran was dangerous.

Indeed, Iran has not passed without a hitch. Even our Romanian training had not prepared us for the roads. Looking for an adrenalin fix, think you’ve got lightening reactions, nerves of marble and the luck of the lepricorns – we’ve found your sport. The rules are simple: points are awarded for getting ahead, staying ahead and surviving, oh, and a smile must be worn at all times. Ready…steady... best of luck. I’ve never tipped my hat with respect so frequently. Similar to Formula One, cars follow a simple ‘overlap’ rule. If half of your car is in front of your opponents you can behave like they don’t exist. Interestingly, no sign of any accidents….with chaos comes order.

It is with some pride (and perhaps a slither of embarrassment) that I must inform you of our first car accident. If I was less of a man I would blame the poor light, the torrential rain or the very rare sabre tooth mountain yak that I was bravely tackling during the otherwise simple manoeuvre….. In short, I wasn’t looking, I pulled a Uey and fell down a large concrete drainage ditch and broke our car. Sorry Phil.

So Onwards into Asia we go. The Iranian chapter closes and a new one begins. But nothing can come close to the welcome we have received. Our friends here ask us what the British think of Iran. With sadness we answer. We now know the conception is a long way from reality. How unfortunate that the western media prevents others from the joys of the Persian experience.

Huda Hafis, to the country who’s beauty is matched only by her heart.
Next stop Turkmenistan.
Much love.
The wrongolia waggon, that just keeps on rolling.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A few time zones later

Against all odds the Iranains let us in. Which is not to say it was easy going. It took us a good few hours pleading at various embassies in Ankara and a good bit of dollar at the border.

We had to get the Iranians to let the car in without the right papers, and the Turkmens to change the visa so that we could enter from Iran and not Azerbaijan. Fortunately, the Turkmen Consular was nothing but amicable, even when Ian sent a huge wedge of papers in his office flying. But Iran weren't playing ball, so we thought we'd chance it on the border.

It was 24 hours driving to the border. Endless kebabs on route kept the juices flowing with crazy mountain roads offering blind potholes the whole way.

Unfortunately the cops in Turkey had booked us for speeding a few day before. They even had some video evidence of the Fiesta doing 106 km in a 100 zone. After a few smiles, snaps and handshakes we thought we had got away scott free. But customs pulled us and forced us to cough up the 70 bones.

Then onto the Iranain side the fun and games really began. Fortunatley for us there was one shifty looking boy loitering around the checkpoint muttering about documents and carnets. For a mere 120 greenbacks he took us under his wing and sorted us with the right stuff. And so we danced a jig all the way to the nearest petrol station where we filled the tank for the princely sum of two squid.


And so to Iran, which is a constant mosaic of smiles, horn-blowing, hand-waving and salaam alaykum. We've got some time to kill as the Turkmens aren't gonna let us in till the 13th. So we're slowly heading to the Caspian Sea for a short break. Stopped off in a small town last night and now chilling with our boys, Saber and Yusef.
Until next time.

Love and hugs.
Los hombres wrongolia.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Prauge to Istanbul ın 3 days = ......

Happy croozin through the rolling hills of the Slovak Republıc and Hungry. Crossıng into Serbia we fınd ourselves presented wıth a 120 Euro bill for their Grun Karte (a specıal car insurance for tourists wıth absolutely no function). To the suprise of Serbian boarder control we pull a Uey, wave to our friends on the Hungerian side of the fence and head for Romania in search of better fortune. Our gamble pays off and our wedge ıs saved.

Into Romania we notice a correlatıon between the heat and the locals exurbarance behind the wheel. The combination of dodgy roads and a universally mavrick drivıng style demands a sense of humour and total concentration. Observing the over-taking ritual on these unsealed single lanes we fınd that a mutal congratulatory flash is good practice to signal success in avoiding near death. But a complımentray two-hour servıcıng from some boys ın a dusty garage restored our faıth ın the Romanaın natıon.
The road leaving Romania becomes increasingly exciting. Wanting to prove my independence i stupidly decline a police escort to the road for Bulgeria. The extent of the mistake becomes obvious when the good road, which seconds as a train track, becomes a combination of debris the size of dumper trucks and car size crators. To my delight, after overcomming these, the path is blocked by an enourmous mountain of rock. A quick Uey and back to the relative saftey of the train track. Brilliant. Within an hour the road clears. A futher 30 minutes and we find ourselves facing arrest or substatial fines for speeding. I expres my doubt to the police, arguing that the 50cc scooter that was overtaking me at the time i was apparently speeding was more deserving of this penalty. Predictably this fails so I resort to lying through my teeth and assure them I will thank them on British national television for theır understandıng.


Bulgeria and the Balkan Penninsular pass wıthout hitch and our first kebab in Turkey comes as a well earned treat. Must crack on, its hot in the Turkish desert and Iran calls.

On a road that only gets dustıer.

Wrongolia and the beeb...A symbiotic relationship.

Here's a blatent self-aggrandisement:

Its our BBC web diary.

Check it out.

The lads.