Sunday, 19 August 2007

Update #31 - They made it

I just got a call with with no number, and after a few seconds of delay I heard Richard saying:

"We made it !"

The car looks like crap, but what the hell. They made it on their own, finishing ~30th. Whereas about 15-20 of the other teams got in on a truck, the Polo took the ride bravely and succeeded. We all congratulate you to this hell of a trip. It might be a little late for the party (3.00 am local time) but whatever. There's a whole lot going on in UB, so go and have some drinks boys, you earned it. And as the votes for the journey back are pretty balanced, I'd say we allow them to take the plane home on tuesday. Enjoy your free days boys... and get a shower.

They made it, this means, that my reporting most probably is over now (I'm pretty sure, that Martin and Richard will send you some notes and stories though). I wish to thank everybody, who helped me solving all the mysteries of international dialing codes, opening hours and locations of embassies and especially Katja for calling those embassies and arranging a smooth visa process. Without all of you I couldn't have helped them that much. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. So let me send out this final message:

Thank you !

Update #30 - There's some progress

Yo. I received quite some updates over the last few hours. Thus, I'll present them to you in chronological order.

2007/08/19 @ 0.35
600km to go to UB, however it looks like this will be a tough ride. The hood is already gone, as is the cooler (again !) and the gearbox is most likely to die anytime soon. The oil temperature is constantly high, forcing the boys to take it slow and fight for any single kilometer.
mileage counter shows 13.344 km

2007/08/19 @ 7.26
I wonder why I still keep answering phone calls at that time on a sunday... otherwise I couldn't give you more news... so I'll tell you what Richard told me. At least what I understood, because the phone line quality wasn't too good. It's only 430 km to go, but as there is no road, it'll still be a challenge to be in UB on time. They were near a city, starting with an 'A'. As I couldn't find any match on my map, I'll simply have to believe him. The convoy is getting smaller and smaller as more and more cars give up. Thus, luggage has to be distributed on other teams, forcing them to take a longer break. The Polo still seems to run, however no one knows for how much longer. Maybe they would have been better off with a Porsche Cayenne. Today the Rallye Transsyberia ends in UB, too. For them it was only a navigational challenge. I guess our boys had a much harder trip. I can't imagine though how the Porsche drivers could defend / keep their cars from the greedy border guards...

2007/08/19 @ 11.12
Wow. After this strange A-town, there actually is come kind of road again. This allows our heroes to go a lot faster. It's only 270 km to UB now. If they can keep up that pace...+ they are 6 hours ahead. I guess, they should at least have a few more hours until the party ends.

Anyone booked that flight to UB ?

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Driver Comments #10 + Problems

First of all, sorry that it is difficult to participate in the poll right now. Looks like destiny doesn't want you to vote for the crawl option, such that they get home faster. I'll see what I can do about that.

And here we go with the latest comments...
  • The Mongol Mugs
    Location Tsagaannurr(Mongolia) 08:44 on 18-08-2007
    Made it to mongolia! Mental! Spirits lifted after gettin thru border- car is fine, my stomach still isn't! Lost another car in the convoy yesterday- 19 ppl in 5 cars was a little cozy. Spk soon
  • Ice Cream Adventure
    Location Almaty(Kazakhstan) 05:28 on 18-08-2007
    north of almaty, met kazakh mafia - nice chaps. Gave us a good luck charm! Eating bread and jam on a beach. Towards semey today.
  • Team Sussex Best
    Location Arvaikheer(Mongolia) 04:45 on 18-08-2007
    took a massively wrong turn yesterday. Took all day to get back. Bumper returned by lorry that picked it up
  • Rustbucket Express
    Location Barnaul(Russia) 00:26 on 18-08-2007
    46 hours of straight driving has got us to Baurnal. Another 30 or so should get us to the finish - wait, whatcha mean the border's shut at weekends?
  • Rustbucket Express
    Location Unknown 15:15 on 17-08-2007
    passed the russian border, still goldteeth everywhere. Gords did a good job driving all day, todays lunch, same as yesterday, a can of pringles.
  • TB Mongolian Adventurers
    Location Tsagaannurr(Mongolia) 14:24 on 17-08-2007
    head gasket exploded in cloud of smoke in russia. Drove/towed just over the border,Sold car for $100 to border guard. Very underhand. At least it made it
  • Mongol Mystery Machine
    Location Tsagaannurr(Mongolia) 14:06 on 17-08-2007
    Long night drive with prolonged death of fiat so Jet entered Mongolia with 5 passengers and 11 peoples luggage Made it!
  • Two Loose Screws
    Location Unknown 13:17 on 17-08-2007
    had a little accident yesterday. Thankfully it was of the brown variety. Mum can you send more diareaze and some fabreze for the car seats...
  • We're Actuarially Going To Mongolia
    Location Altay(Mongolia) 08:58 on 17-08-2007
    after pushing cars out of lake and back up mountains following detour finally back on track! Exhaust on roof beside many flat tyres! Hope to make party.x
  • awhoohoo
    Location Unknown 11:39 on 16-08-2007
    app cnt sell car without incuring $1000s in import tax wil hav to pay $400+ to get it on a truk leavin us wiv $80 to get home, hitch thru rusia? Rob bank?
  • Rustbucket Express
    Location Unknown 11:03 on 16-08-2007
    Will drive by myself from Almaty, Gords has decided to quit the race and fly to Mongolia. Reasons unknown. Fuck
  • Horn OK Please
    Location Altay(Mongolia) 07:44 on 16-08-2007
    Went back in truck 2 where we abandoned car 2 find it broken into and stolen! By some miracle we recovered it & some of r stuff. Back in altay on truck.
  • The Goonies
    Location Khovd(Mongolia) 07:24 on 16-08-2007
    Crazy few days.forced onto southern route due to landslides in north mong.justin sold his car $625 and flew 2 UB.Our car wont start from various probs.
  • Goldenoeuf
    Location Tsagaannurr(Mongolia) 06:10 on 16-08-2007
    Mongolioliolia! After 23hrs of negotiating borders that closed every hour we made it in. Then promptly took a wrong turn?! just 3ish days to UB!
  • The Wartburg Tourists
    Location Khovd(Mongolia) 05:39 on 16-08-2007
    after an adventurous day of getting stuck,first in a river then in a canyon,we hopefully learned to choose our ways more wisely in the future.
  • Moon Unit Alpha
    Location Bayankhongor(Mongolia) 05:26 on 16-08-2007
    Exhaust fell off after Hovd. Near Altai we were rammed by a Porsche Cheyenne, wrecked the boot, the rear window and the roof rack. Car still going well

Friday, 17 August 2007

Update #29 - Part III

Thanks Claudia for correcting me... they have to arrive in UB on Sunday the latest. So we're pretty sure they'll make it ... if the car won't break down. We'll all pray for you.

But there is one important thing I need to know from you. If you in some case enjoyed the blog and the news here, will you please vote in the new poll.

I need to know the results soon, so I can forward the information.

Thanks for your support.

Update #29 Part II - Let's fly to UB

Hello boyz and girlz,
how about we fly to Ulanbaatar and welcome the boys when they reach the finishing line... I just found a nice flight for us. Flight leaves tomorrow and we'll be back within a week. Who joins me ?

Update #29 - Getting closer

2007/08/17 @ 6.45
Pit stop in Altai, around 1000km to go...

Cheerio. The boyz are getting closer and closer. And the streets claim their tribute. On their way they encounter more demolished and broken rally cars, which are being transported on trucks rather than cars that drive on their own. The tarmac - or whatever is left of it - is so spikey that the boys loose one tyre after the other and furthermore, they also lost a damper. On their map it says, exactly 1000 km to UB. Let's hope the navigational skills are still present, such that they will make it to UB on time. As far as I can remember, the famous party is supposed to happen tonight, isn't it ? If they won't make it to that party on time they brought their tuxedos to no avail.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Driver Comments #9

Here we go again, sorry for the long delay... however the beach here (plus the beach girls) are very tempting...
  • Team Touchy
    Location Almaty(Kazakhstan) 09:24 on 15-08-2007
    Steve crossed kyrgyzstan is 7 hours. 2 borders, 3 countries in one day, Huge! Team together again. Stacy well but lost rear left brake cylinder. Meh!
  • Rustbucket Express
    Location Samarkand(Uzbekistan) 09:10 on 15-08-2007
    turkmen border was mental, uzbek border went smooth. kids riding donkeys talking on their mobiles. And smoking on the street is allowed.
  • awhoohoo
    Location Unknown 08:37 on 15-08-2007
    duck tape chewin gum and a crutch the petrol tank (jery can) is now on my lap only 1000 miles left big thanks to the kiwis
  • The Kilmorie Gentlemen
    Location Ulaanbaatar(Mongolia) 07:43 on 15-08-2007
    Actually in UB! Unbelievable i know. The truck dropped us just short and we actually drove in, fantastic! 27th finisher, & voted least likely to finish!
  • The 3 Mongoliers
    Location Almaty(Kazakhstan) 06:43 on 15-08-2007
    Hailarious club in Almaty w/ gokarts & strippers & stayed in yurt last nite 4 C's bday.Worchester sauce best present ever! Charlie gone home 4 bros stag do, big hole in team, 2/3 Mongoleers not quite the same. Speeding 2 Russia. We miss u Stan!
  • The Crimson Monkeys
    Location Ulaanbaatar(Mongolia) 05:49 on 15-08-2007
    arrived safely in ub at 9pm! Can't believe we made it with only a wheel falling off! Just shows what you can do with a £120 car from ebay!
  • Team Fido
    Location Ulaanbaatar(Mongolia) 05:29 on 15-08-2007
    made it at 12.15 last night after fixing collapsed suspension 50km from ub. We've only gone and done it. 6884 miles and the trip of a lifetime.
  • Horn OK Please
    Location Altay(Mongolia) 02:30 on 15-08-2007
    its game over. Back wheel all but fallen off. Car not driveable. Have abandoned car 100 miles east of khovd, in altai searching for a truck to get us 2 UB
  • Team Bird
    Location Almaty(Kazakhstan) 19:48 on 14-08-2007
    Settled down in kazakhstan. Laundry & tennis tomorrow...
  • Rustbucket Express
    Location Turkmenabat(Turkmenistan) 18:14 on 14-08-2007
    Another day, another Embassy. Now in very dodgy hotel in Turkmenbat after stunning drive through desert. Early start tomorrow and off to Almaty!
  • Bugs Meany
    Location Unknown 15:20 on 14-08-2007
    chkpt cop asked if we had porn in vehicle via obscene hand gestures. Chicken attacked our car in Guliston. Car won. Hair in denwoods salami. Fun
  • Minor Velocity
    Location Biskek(Kyrgystan) 10:07 on 14-08-2007
    uzbek great.we have just entered kyrgyz. Border no probs.Best scenery so far.Last night with family.Police interrogation at midnight!Escorted to border!
  • Team Extreme
    Location Barnaul(Russia) 13:14 on 13-08-2007
    When the day ends over the sunflower fields, the countess follows red and silver beyond the sand of the east to the temple where the cold ones wait.

Update #28 - Updates are coming

Hey there. I got some more updates for you to tell. And I don't wanna cause 'Honey's heart attack though I suffered from a severe earthquake (thanks Kerstin for telling me;) )

2007/08/13 @ 8.54
They are trying to pass the Mongolian border on the next morning while driving in a huge group. I was told the Russian border was terrible (whatever that means... terribly expensive ???) maybe that's the reason why they went shopping in the last supermarket (get some vodka for the poor Russian border guards)

2007/08/15 @ 7.11
Mongolia seems to be incredibly in all terms: incredibly beautiful in scenery and incredibly brutal to the cars. Still it seems like most of our work was still worth it, as the Polo still holds together similar to the Millenium Falcon in A New Hope (for the film geeks). However, the Polo of Team Ruhrpott seems to act like a TIE, always loosing parts. That forced our heroes to improvise a new gas tank out of a water tank, some plastic pipes and wire straps. And it actually works. Now they are officially promoted to Heroes 1st class. Sleeping got a little cold, as they have to set up their tent in the mountains at 2.600 m above sea level. But I'm sure Martin 'Tim Taylor' S. and Richard 'Al Borland' S. will build something to fix this.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Update #27

Spanish internet sucks. A storm seems to have caused major havocs, that's why I'll keep this short. The boys have reached the Russian border and have to wait for ever. At least they are not alone. About 15 teams are waiting along with them, all celebrating a small border party. Maybe they'll get a group discount (in the bribing I mean)...

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Update #26 - Delay

So far I couldn't get any updates from our boys. They're still heading towards Russia and let's just hope that the car keeps running fine. I'm kinda wondering though, when I started the first poll, that within 1 week, there were 38 replies, now when it comes to girl pictures... I'm getting 34 replies within 3 days... and the message is pretty clear. I could manage to talk 'Honey into sending me a pictures. BUT, don't be too excited. She was still trying to keep her anonymity. Thus, this picture will make it difficult to compete with classy George Washington. What dou you think ?

Well, I know 'Honey can do better ;) Just leave me a few comments. By the way, in a few minutes I'll be off for my own vacation, so updates my take a little longer, until they appear on screen. Don't be worried, I'll still keep ya informed.


Friday, 10 August 2007

Update #25 - Where the hell are they ?

Richard got me up to date. More or less. At least, I know know that they are heading towards a lake. I can only guess, which one they mean. So probably, they are close to 46°14"09' N 78°24"39' E looking for a camping ground. I checked Panoramio, to find a picture of that area... the only thing I got is this. Maybe not the best place for a Polo to drive through...

The last few miles from Tashkent went pretty smooth. Passing the border seemed to take for hours, but an English team showed them a VIP booth. That's only meant for diplomats, but who cares. Martin and Richard showed them their German passports and the were waved through the border. That was easy. Then however, the car broke down. It didn't wanna start again, looks like the engine doesn't get any gas. So they removed some pipes and tubes and since then the car seems to run pretty fine. Unfortunately, they were distracted from other problems... like getting some more money. Luckily, they found an ATM in Taraz, where they spent the night in the most shabby hotel ever. At least, that's what they say. By the way... shame on you Italians.. driving way too fast so that our boys can't follow. But that's no surprise when driving a '95 Twingo with AC ;)

2007/08/10 14.01

Somewhere after Almaty, driving close to the Chinese border, mc shows: 9608 km

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Driver Comments #8

well... now I'm pretty curious that happened to the other teams, too. As I just got an sms from Richard that teams were robbed... let's see:
  • Bottom Gear
    Location London(United Kingdom) 18:10 on 08-08-2007
    we're back in the UK. we just got off the plane at heathrow and we're waiting for a coach up to the midlands.
  • Bottom Gear
    Location Ulaanbaatar(Mongolia) 18:09 on 08-08-2007
    we're here! We arrived in ub on monday at 8pm. 17 days of travelling and we're ready for some beer at Dave's and a long lye in tomorrow :-D
  • Green Team 2cv
    Location Unknown 17:22 on 08-08-2007
    have come aross canadian oil drillers. Chassiss welded and fixed. Thank you canada. Artic transport. Mongolia here we come greenteam reborn.
  • Green Team 2cv
    Location Unknown 17:20 on 08-08-2007
    the 2cv broke in two. Chassis fell apart while driving kaz roads. Potholes the size of houses. No steering giving up. With other guys though.
  • Team Tom
    Location Almaty(Kazakhstan) 16:49 on 08-08-2007
    We're in a hotel which our new friend the policeman sorted out for us n now having a meal next door. hugo is surrounded by hookers. Nice.
  • Wrong Way Wound
    Location Bukhara(Uzbekistan) 16:48 on 08-08-2007
    Appeared on Turkmen news last night and as we crossed Uzbek border were recognised! Dirtiest TV stars ever. In Bukhara now, with air con room-luxury!
  • The Dolly Mixtures
    Location Turkmenabat(Turkmenistan) 15:24 on 08-08-2007
    Why are there no roadsigns in this country? Still, petrol is 1p/ltr except at the last one when they refused to take any money. Nice people.
  • Le Mongs 24
    Location Unknown 15:05 on 08-08-2007
    Rally is over for us :-( Jeep made it to Odessa but that was as far as it was going without a 3rd Engine. Dylan is home and Chris is skipping the Wreck :-)
    Location Tsagaannurr(Mongolia) 14:31 on 08-08-2007
    YYaaaaa!!! En Mongolia.100km de pais,pura pista,alucinante.5 grados por la noche y las strellas muy cerca.MMuuaaa!
  • Team Touchy
    Location Unknown 13:23 on 08-08-2007
    lat59.0 lng43.8 arrived at Aral Sea. Stacy took a beating on road from Uzbek border. Now no blinkers, left brake or right headlight and making funny noises
  • Team Touchy
    Location Unknown 13:00 on 08-08-2007
    lng45.5 lat55.0 Serious 4x4 for last few days. Met 3 teams and rally camera crew in middle of nowhere. Saved micra by towing 40k's thru sand. Stacy lovin it
  • Berrow Fellows
    Location Unknown 09:11 on 08-08-2007
    just arrived in kyrgystan - quickest border crossing for ages - border guard gave us 5 som then we give him 5 dollars - guess who s best off!
  • Rogue Telepath
    Location Ashgabad(Turkmenistan) 08:24 on 08-08-2007
    made it to turkmen. Ashgabat looks great. Just seeing girls again after 5days of ghosts is Fantittytastic. The dreaded border guards waved me through in 5mins and gave me beer. While Andy got full treatment and fleeced $140 Drink!!!!
  • Team Driving Miss Daisy
    Location Unknown 16:09 on 07-08-2007
    National catastrophe narrowly avoided, when under imminent threat of deportation, prison &/or large fine, Brit Emb came thru @5pm w. unheard of exit visas!
  • The Kilmorie Gentlemen
    Location Barnaul(Russia) 12:47 on 07-08-2007
    ... Windscreen mostly gaffa tape now: bump=glass rain hey ho!
  • Norfolkin'chance
    Location Unknown 11:35 on 07-08-2007
    whichever team just left aktau in a black fiat panda and drove past us, you are a disgrace to the rally and yourselves. Does it look like we're havin 250 a barbecue with a tow rope on the front and our hazard lights on in the middle of the desert?
  • Norfolkin'chance
    Location Unknown 10:55 on 07-08-2007
    near aktau. Rear axel broken. Crawled 150k back to civilization but now alternator broken also. The time has come to sever the rotten limb for good!
  • Green Pea
    Location Unknown 09:56 on 07-08-2007
    car died. Fuel pump gone then engine fire. Sold to local. Hitching ride with some extremly nice americans. At nukus uzbek. Love to all, spirits still high!
    Location Tashkent(Uzbekistan) 05:04 on 07-08-2007
    seguimos sin permisos para abandonar pais. Coche definitiv. parado. Esperamos salir hoy noche a cualquier pais europa, aunque burocracia y mordida ....
  • The Dolly Mixtures
    Location Ashgabad(Turkmenistan) 18:42 on 06-08-2007
    Handbrake snapped off today. Starter motor screams now. Staying in crap Commie hotel. Still, this country has beer.

Update #24 - New Visa - new poll

Yo. I just got word that Martin and Richard managed to bribe themselves to a visa (costs 15 $ US). Thus, they plan to enter Kazakhstan tomorrow. They have to hurry a little bit, as they have to drive around 580 km / day to be in Ulanbaatar in time.

That is, they can neither afford the car breaking down nor being kept at the border for long. With the car, I can't help them. With the border... maybe. 'Honey' offered to send in some pictures of her, because she thought they would be more persuading than George Washington. So, here's a new poll: Should 'Honey' indeed send in some pictures ? You'll find the poll on the sidebar to your left.

Happy Voting !

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Update #23

So, again I had the luxury of an extremly expensive wakeup call, as Richard again forgot about the time difference and woke me up way too early. However, I don't want to keep the news to myself. They made it to the embassy today. Hooray. To bypass the long queue, they simply bribed some guard. May 'honey' would have been of use too, but unfortunately ... she didn't join them yet. What's wrong, honey ? :)
As they simply kept bribing on - this time the man behind the counter - they made sure, that they would get their 5-day transit visa through Kazakhstan by tomorrow (late afternoon). Thus, allowing them to leave the country on Thursday. Hopefully, the car will hold for at least the Mongolian border, because I dunno what happens when their visa runs out and them still being in K-stan.

Come on... be a good Polo...

P.S. I added a link to the picture gallery of the start in London Hyde Park

Monday, 6 August 2007

Driver Comments #7

The poll is over. You wanted it. You get it. Here we go with some more comments, while our boys are sweating under the Uzbekian sun at 38°C.
  • Ice Cream Adventure
    Location Bukhara(Uzbekistan) 17:13 on 06-08-2007
    driving blind down Uzbekistan 'motorway'. Uzbek border £0 and no hassle! Thermometer topped out at 55C, then exploded. Immodium supplies running low...
  • Muswell Mongols
    Location Bukhara(Uzbekistan) 15:05 on 06-08-2007
    just given a lift to 2 Uzbek border guards into town. They bought us breakfast, petrol and cleared road blocks for us.
  • Two Loose Screws
    Location Aktau(Kazakhstan) 11:21 on 06-08-2007
    spent 9 hours in customs getting stamps from various officials including a vet. Didnt give the ok until she reached the back of our teeth. Daka
  • Perseverance
    Location Aktau(Kazakhstan) 07:31 on 06-08-2007
    finally met back up! Typically i arrived first despite azeri's concerns. Met a girl at the airport and stayed at hers last night. Dropped at port this morning. Last 5 hours waiting for car in customs... Should be on the road in 30. Finally!
  • Muswell Mongols
    Location Turkmenabat(Turkmenistan) 06:40 on 06-08-2007
    Reached the Uzbek border at 7 am after driving all night...after getting several bits of paper stamped several times we are free at 11.30. Only the British railway is less efficient!
  • Land of Down
    Location Ulaanbaatar(Mongolia) 04:36 on 06-08-2007
    We made it! Second car here, first car from London. Welcomed by a cheering crowd at Dave's Place. 15 days on the road just to hop on train to Beijing!
  • Rustbucket Express
    Location Mashhad(Iran) 15:53 on 05-08-2007
    Denied entry to Turkmen as it was last day of visa. In Mashhad trying to figure out what the flip to do. Afghanistan maybe?
  • The Crimson Monkeys
    Location Orenburg(Russia) 14:42 on 05-08-2007
    heading on towards ufa tonight.Keep getting stopped by police but we have a magic bit of paper which tells them we are doing it for charity which works!
    Location Aktobe(Kazakhstan) 13:45 on 05-08-2007
    reached kazak. had a vodka drinking contest with the mafia the other nite and had all loose change nicked by a coin collecting border guard. Bizzare
  • Muswell Mongols
    Location Ashgabad(Turkmenistan) 13:15 on 05-08-2007
    crossed into Turkmenistan. 12 bits of paper, 47 official stamps. First drink for a week. 5* hotel, bugged rooms, watchers following you. All good but hungover
  • The Payne Train
    Location Unknown 13:14 on 05-08-2007
    just got through border everyone very friendly guards gave us apples and small money just got cake from wedding party as well!
  • Bottom Gear
    Location Unknown 13:06 on 05-08-2007
    it's 10 o'clock at night and we've just arrived at the border with Mongolia which opens at 9am. 11 hours to go.
  • Perseverance
    Location Baku(Azerbaijan) 19:58 on 04-08-2007
    f*@#ing s*#t bollocks. Stuck in baku. No car. No teammate. No rally peoply. No nothing. Mistake by kazakh embassy and azeri border guards won't let me get there an hour early. Thank god i packed my brown underpants.
  • Team Crazy Fools
    Location Baku(Azerbaijan) 18:39 on 04-08-2007
    and we're off! Finally leaving this god-forsaken bribe-infested place. Bring on Boratland!
  • Team Crazy Fools
    Location Baku(Azerbaijan) 17:10 on 04-08-2007
    finally on board ferry to kazakhstan despite visas having EXPIRED. 1st real bribe is get out of jail free card. When we actually leave is anyones guess.
  • Team Bad Idea
    Location Rovaniemi(Finland) 14:23 on 04-08-2007
    finally escaped sweden and now reindeer sandwiches
  • Horn OK Please
    Location Bukhara(Uzbekistan) 09:42 on 04-08-2007
    Absolute result! We bumped into a german polo convoy in bukhara and they gave us their spare rad! All we have 2 do now is replace our broken suspension!
  • Ice Cream Adventure
    Location Turkmenbashi(Turkmenistan) 03:16 on 04-08-2007
    2g hours trying to get into turkmenistan. 2 hours sleep as usual, now three days to get the hell out. Turkmen border police offered us heroin!
  • Team Bad Idea
    Location Sundsvall(Sweden) 18:14 on 03-08-2007
    rescued from disaster by swedish mechanics at last!
  • French Touch
    Location Unknown 16:17 on 03-08-2007
    Georgie. Pluie diluvienne. Nous prenons l'eau, 1cm dans la voiture. En route pour l'azerbaijan. 27 h de route dont 6h de sommeil depuis ankara.
  • Le Mongs 24
    Location Lviv(Ukraine) 16:04 on 03-08-2007
    left lviv this morning heading for odessa. Jeep smoking and drinking more than deliquent teenager...
  • Starsky and Clutch
    Location Unknown 14:11 on 03-08-2007
    ps how is christina doing?

Update #22 - Calling again ? + Promotion

Dear readers, again I can offer you some more news. Richard called in again (I don't wanna see his cell phone bill) to ask me to ask you a favour: The list with all the postal addresses got lost in the endless desert. And unless you don't want them to turn around and go looking for it, they ask you to send them an email (see address on the sidebar) with your postal address in case you want them to send you a postcard. That sentence looks weird... did you get what I mean ?

Furthermore, he could explain to me, why everybody is taking pictures of their car. The '7' is not the reason, though it's said to be some kind of a mystical digit in the Koran, but it's because for them a 20 year old VW Polo is something similiar to a Porsche 911 here. They are driving Daihatsu Cuores and Opel (Vauxhall) Kadetts, which are being built in license. So for them, the Polo is like a brand new sportscar and everybody checks the tachometer to check the top speed. Lot's of cheers for the Polo, long live the Polo :)

An hour later, I get emails with lots of pictures and a blog report from Team Ruhrpott. Looks like I promoted to the official representative of the majority of the German teams. I will show you some pictures, the rest is being forwarded to German television (WDR), so hopefully you'll see them there soon. I was given two contacts there, but after calling the WDR, no one has ever heard of them... I wonder where I am sending the pictures to ?...

Update #21 - Being late suckz...

Well, I suppose there was not a lot going on yesterday, as I only got a short sms, saying the boys reached Tashkent and are relaxing in a hotel, trying to get a visa on the next day. Now, I just got the phone call, explaining the sad truth... they reached the embassy on 12.01 and the embassy closes at 12. And it won't open again until tomorrow. Bad luck. But that gives them time to do some other things like, getting money. Which is obviously an adventure of its own, as the first bank refuses to accept a VISA card (though it says so on the entrance) , sending them to another bank, which refuses as well, but finally the third bank really gave them money. So they were horrified of the amount of money, they were asking for: 650 $, thats 50 times a monthly salary there. Now, the bank is bankrupt ;) Travelling back to the hotel with a taxi seems to be difficult. You can't spot them as they look like regular cars, so you just have whistle on the street and hope a taxi hears you. I guess they kept whisteling at the wrong cars far too long as both of them suffer from a sunstroke. So, in the meanwhile they have been in an internet café (15min / 30ct), checking all the visa forms online (so they have a translation German / Cyrillic) and waiting for the Team Ruhrpott to return with new cooling units for their cars. Hopefully George Washington can quicken the visa process tomorrow, such that the boys can get back on route soon.

Keep your fingers crossed !

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Update #20 - Anyone familiar with russian numerology ?

Hey Richard is calling in again, this time with his own mobile number ;) In case some of you (especially the families of Richard and Martin) are worried... don't be. Looks like whenever they run into a police blockade, they are being allowed to continue as soon as they say they were German. The police even greets in German ("Guten Tag... auf Wiedersehen"). Almost everybody speaks a little German. Cool. The only thing they couldn't figure out yet, is why so many people keep taking pictures (with their mobile phones !!!, looks like everybody got one) of their licence plate. They were told, that was because of the digit '7' that appears several times on their plate. I already asked some Russians, but no one could explain that to me. If you know something about it, please leave me a comment. So, to sum up the progress:

2007/08/04 16.50
Samarkant (Uzbekistan), mileage counter shows 8330 km, now heading towards Tashkent

Update #19 - Backrally Boys are back

It's Friday afternoon and I get a strange call from a number I have never seen before (+173 2555 1212) has anyone of you ? Well I answered the phone and had Richard on the line. Yeah. They're still alive. However, the phone line was a bit crappy, so I'm not too sure I got everything right. So don't blame me. After their endless trip through the desert, they finally reached the border between Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan. Leaving the country was pretty easy as they were allowed to bypass the queue and just leave. However entering Uzbekistan wasn't as easy. So it took them 9 hours. Waiting in all the heat is not that comfy, and I guess that's why Martin experienced some circulation problems (he is fine again). After passing the border, the convoy of 4 cars was extended by a local women and her Belgian husband, both driving a Mercedes C-Class (I guess I wouldn't dare to do that in that country). Those were the best guides you could imagine. As you would have to take lots of precautions in that area. You would drive for hours without any village / gas station / people in between, so it's vital to have enough water and gas for the trip. Then the cars showed their first weaknesses, Martin and Richard had 2 blown tires and Team Ruhrpott lost their exhaust pipe. The tires were changed easily: Richard "Schwarzenegger" Süselbeck and Martin "Stallone" Saternus just lifted the car by hand and the super-mechanic from the english team switched the tires in formula 1 fashion. Unfortunately Martin then also lost the engine cooler, so they could only proceed slowly (they also ran into some other guys from the rally Prague-Samarkant (how many rallys are running in parallel ???), but they were already on their way back (2-way rally ?????)) . Luckily they made the hard trip, just to run into the next police blockade. The woman from the Mercedes however, was very very convincing and arranged a nice spot to rest and get some sleep for the drivers: all could sleep at the exact point they were, surrounded by lots of police cars, guarding them :) Ain't that everybody's dream ? Then finally, the convoy arrived in Chiwa (may as well be called Khiva). Richard approached the woman at the counter: "Do you speak english" while she replied, "Sure I do !". How could he think otherwise... Well, as they were all dirty, tired, broken as hell they were more than happy to find a nice spot to stay and recover.

On the next day, they enjoyed a huge breakfast, did some sightseeing in the lovely city center, took out everything from the car - being astouned where all the stuff they were looking for now re-appeared again - neatly packed all the stuff again and then head off - destination Bukhara. As we are talking on the phone they were 100 km before Bukhara (probably somewhere close to 40°15'43 N, 63°17'47 E). If anyone wants to join them on their tour. I just found nice flights from Frankurt-Tashkent, run by Uzbekistan Airways. Wouldn't it be cool to say hi ? ;)

Friday, 3 August 2007

... meanwhile in Mongolia

the first team made it to Mongolia and crossed the finish line ! Congratz go out to:

Vienna Calling
Location Ulaanbaatar(Mongolia) 10:37 on 03-08-2007
YESSS! WE DID IT!!!!! 12 Tage, 9250 km, 580 Liter Sprit. Special Thanks to our panda racing machine!!! YESS!

Driver Comments #6

Here we go with some new exciting events & comments:
  • Muswell Mongols
    Location Tehran(Iran) 09:05 on 03-08-2007
    driving in Iran is survival of the biggest. Road markings and direction are irrelevant. Petrol 3p per litre. Water 5p per litre. Hottest day in the world ever!
    Location Tashkent(Uzbekistan) 02:51 on 03-08-2007
    llegamos a tashkent despues dia solucion problemas mecanicos, avance ruta, otro mas segmento pegado(coche consume 1l aceite 100km...
  • Land of Down
    Location Unknown 17:27 on 02-08-2007
    in @ss end of nowhere on way to irkutsk. Coping with roads, trains, trucks and not insignificant hangover. Kids do not try this at home!
  • Team Mongu Mongu
    Location Irkutsk(Russia) 15:58 on 02-08-2007
    Been driving solidly since july on only bread, water and kebab. Currently playing dodge the cow on the road to Baku.
  • Team Crazy Fools
    Location Baku(Azerbaijan) 09:36 on 02-08-2007
    headline on p7 of baku Post: Xtina Aguilera ill with the flu!
  • The Dolly Mixtures
    Location Unknown 07:02 on 02-08-2007
    No mans land 4 teas and 2 pepsi's for 70p! We're also 2.7 million Iran dollars richer.
  • Team Jackal
    Location Samarkand(Uzbekistan) 05:45 on 02-08-2007
    salimos hacia Toshkent. Otra frontera. Seguimos sin encontrar internet...
  • hobo logistics
    Location Baku(Azerbaijan) 19:35 on 01-08-2007
    just had bottle of vodka and meal bought for us by locals. Amazing how far a smile and hello gets you in the world
  • teamGoZzilla
    Location Mashhad(Iran) 16:11 on 01-08-2007
    still here, forgot about rally while doing studies of locals and sorroundig waiting the turkmn visas, maybe saturday
  • The Goonies
    Location Unknown 14:54 on 01-08-2007
    Upon reflection, 'wind washing' just makes you dirtier.
  • The Goonies
    Location Unknown 14:53 on 01-08-2007
    We're out of wet wipes.I cant describe how big a blow this is! We have resorted to 'wind washing' which involves sticking various body parts out the window.
  • Mr. Dinosaur
    Location Astrahan(Russia) 13:58 on 01-08-2007
    outside of volgograd trying to avoid cops who tend to just laugh at us anyway...
    Starsky and Clutch
    Location Unknown 09:34 on 01-08-2007
    almost in Baku. Just saw a Larda hit a horse hard and the horse just got up and walked off. We love it
    Location Istanbul(Turkey) 09:12 on 01-08-2007
    made it to istanbul. Big fat turquish man washes me in hammam. Guys from genghis kar have worms.
  • The Goonies
    Location Unknown 06:40 on 01-08-2007
    woken by about a hundred wild horses going through our camp in the middle of the night.had to bribe some police this morning who wouldnt give documents back
  • The Great Sandbadgers of the East
    Location Volgograd(Russia) 20:06 on 31-07-2007
    Mongol rally not welcome in volgograd. Avoid. Remove stickers. Head north. DO NOT STOP FOR POLICE
    Location Luhansk(Ukraine) 19:11 on 31-07-2007
    just about 2 cross in2 russia. 46 degrees here
  • The Kilmorie Gentlemen
    Location Turkmenbashi(Turkmenistan) 17:46 on 31-07-2007
    Yawn. 26 hours & counting. Hate the ferry. Hate Azerbaijan. Will murder the next person that asks for money. I hate Azerbaijan. I hate Azerbaijan. X Dom
  • Rustbucket Express
    Location Tabriz(Iran) 17:18 on 31-07-2007
    Royally shafted at iran border - 70 dollars to get carnets back, really sure these guys were real. They were not.
    Location Volgograd(Russia) 16:39 on 31-07-2007
    40°C on the road today. Have finally made it to volgograd with no money and having spent a night drinking vodka with a russian family. Great fun!
  • We're Actuarially Going To Mongolia
    Location Atyrau(Kazakhstan) 15:32 on 31-07-2007
    after waitin 6 hrs on ferry to kazakh last night we finally experienced off roading, Me with b'day hangover! Jinst out tonight lookin for borat's sister!
  • The Penelope Pitstops
    Location Volgograd(Russia) 14:47 on 31-07-2007
    Industrial hellhole, largest gas plant ever, never come here in your life...
  • AKA Busters
    Location Unknown 14:00 on 31-07-2007
    correction. The border is closed for the night so we're stuck in no mans land till 8am!
  • The Kilmorie Gentlemen
    Location Turkmenbashi(Turkmenistan) 13:38 on 31-07-2007
    Hour 22 of the ferry crossing... We've been at the port for 9 hours but the boat wont go to dock. Theyve conned us (7 teams) out of around $400. Fuckers
  • Two Loose Screws
    Location Unknown 12:26 on 31-07-2007
    ed has ball rash. Ollie is going into arse labour. Can someone send us out some savlon & some immodium. Address is Renault 5, daka avenue, Baku

Keep on rollin'

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Update #18 - Guess what happened...

they actually made it to Uzbekistan. Next question: will they make it out of it again ?

To get from where ever it was to Uzbekistan, our boys have driven all night through the desert and the land of bandits. They think they've mastered the most dangerous part of the rally. I don't think so. I guess getting the visa to Kazakhstan again will still pose a time consuming and maybe dangerous challenge: bribing officers or trying to illegally enter the country ? That is the question here. Let's see how they'll decide ;)

2007/08/02 7.29
Reaching Uzbekistan, mileage counter shows 7305 km

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Update #17 - No news = good news ?

Hey there. I just got an SMS from Richard with an update and I'd like to quote Sean Connery in Indiana Jones III :"Our situation has not improved". They are still in the southern part of Kazakhstan. It took them 16 hours to pass the last 120 km. Fortunately they are not alone. A lot of sand is accompanying them. Along with 3 other teams, which is quite good. 'cause it seems that everyone gets stuck once in a (short) while. I was told that one time, they needed a digger to help them out. The desert is showing it's rough side, but our boys + company are still in a good mood.

Let's hope it stays that way