On the 19th of July, James and I set off from Cheltenham in a 1 litre 1992 Nissan Micra K10, bound for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, armed with a woefully inappropriate car for overlanding, a distinct lack of foreign language skills and James still missing one of the VISAs for our planned route. But we had enthusiasm in spades. For those who aren’t aware, the Mongol Rally is an event organised by the organisation The Adventurists. They currently offer a plethora of adventures and trips for those who wish to kick health and safety in the teeth and give the finger to comfortable normality, however the rally is their original adventure. It all started when a bunch of friends decided to see how far they could get in an old Fiat 126. They didn’t make it to Mongolia, but the Mongol Rally was born. There is no set route and the challenge is just to get to Mongolia in a woefully unsuitable vehicle, ideally with an engine no greater than 1 litre. And if you’re really feeling like you have a pair of ball-bearings between your legs then you’re also welcome to do it by motorbike, where the limit is translated into no larger than a 125cc.
I had heard about the rally from a friend at school, and with the end of my time at university looming, the time after university and before starting a job seemed the perfect opportunity to make the world a little less boring. The planning started the previous year, and over the course of the next year ensued much VISA paperwork, route planning, packing, unpacking, repacking, jabs, reading, printing maps, photocopying passports, contacting potential sponsors etc. On the topic of sponsorship, the arrangement you make on entering the rally is that in addition to the fee you pay The Adventurists for organising parties, start-lines, finish-lines, you also agree to raise at least £1000 for either Cool Earth, the chosen charity of The Adventurists, or split with a charity of your choosing. How you raise the money is then left to you. We chose to split our fundraising between Cool Earth and Médecins Sans Frontières.
We also had to come up with a witty and original name for our team. Due to both being from the west-country, Yurt Lush was decided upon. Given the international nature of our escapade, it was somewhat of an in-joke that would need explaining to most people the world over. For those not from Brizzle, “gurt lush” is a phrase meaning something is very good. I’d also like to point out that we have no connection to the restaurant in Bristol by the same name. You know what they say, “great minds think alike”… also that “fools seldom differ”, but we’ll ignore that one at least for now.
So with a suitably pimped out Nissan Micra we set off for London and the launch. This blog is an account of the antics and adventure that unfolded along the way as we set off to travel 10,000 miles in a car more commonly seen meandering along a B-road on the way to get the weekly shop.