02 Nov, 2009
Mongol Rally Guys Statistics
Posted by: Scott In: Post-Rally
Here are some interesting statistics from our 2009 Mongol Rally adventure:
Duration: Scott spent 34 days in the U.K. prior to the rally (sightseeing, trip prep, and the Rotary International Conference), 52 days traveling to Mongolia, and 14 days in the country once he arrived, and an additional three days of traveling along with a stopover in the U.K. again. That makes for a grand total of 103 days.
Collin’s trip was a bit shorter, with 2 days in the U.K. prior to the rally, 48 days doing the rally, and 2 additional days in the U.K. at the end of the trip for a total of 52 days.
Countries Visited: 18 (Including the U.S., U.K., France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan again, Russia again, and Mongolia.)
Favorite Spots: Driving through Bavaria, Germany; seeing the Romanian countryside; the beaches of Odessa, Ukraine; the old city section of Bukhara, Uzbekistan; the beautiful mountains of Tajikistan; the friendly people in Khorog, Tajikistan; the people and scenery of Bishkek and the rest of Kyrgyzstan; and the wide open expanses of Mongolia.
Least Favorite Spots: Ukraine in general. It was hard as hell to get into the country and we even had to bribe our way out. The countryside is rather unremarkable and the police there are as corrupt as you’ll ever find. Also, Samarkand was a big let down–I was expecting more there, but the entire city was under construction in order to make it beautiful for its upcoming 2,750th(?) birthday in mid-August. We saw the few major sights within a single afternoon.
Visas Needed: Five prior to trip (Double-Entry Russia, Double-Entry Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan–U.S. residents don’t need a tourist visa for Mongolia.), along with one extension while in Tajikistan, an additional one-entry visa from Kyrgyzstan back into Kazakhstan to catch our flights, and an additional Russian transit visa for myself so that I could fly to Novosibirsk and catch the Trans-Siberian Express to Mongolia (our one-month Russian visa still had an additional entry on it but had expired by that time).
Money Spent On Visas: It was expensive. I will list the visas I obtained in detail below (keep in mind these are for a U.S. citizen and that I went through a very competent agency called Passport Visa Express in Washington D.C. to procure the first five–ask for Sapto.)
Double-Entry Russia: $131 Consular Fee + $30 Processing Fee + $30 Letter of Invitation Support
Double-Entry Kazakhstan: $60 Consular Fee + $30 Processing Fee + $140 Letter of Invitation (Required only for Double-Entry Visas)
Uzbekistan: $131 Consular Fee + $30 Processing Fee
Tajikistan 14-Day Visa: $80 Consular Fee + $30 Processing Fee
Kyrgyzstan: $110 Consular Fee + $30 Processing Fee
Tajikistan 5-Day Visa Extension (in Khorog): $25 + 30 Som
Additional Kazakhstan Visa (in Bishkek): $30 + $70 Letter Of Invitation (Obtained in Almaty from Daphne Travel prior to leaving by taxi for Bishkek.)
Russian Transit Visa w/Rush Processing (in Almaty): $265 (Ouch!)
Bribe Money We Planned For: $200 (As recommended by The Adventurists web site.)
Bribe Money Demanded: $185 ($100 from an off-duty policeman who stopped us for speeding at 2:00AM in Ukraine, $15 from a young border guard stationed at the Ukraine/Russia border, $50 from the English-speaking Russia/Kazakhstan border guard [see below], and $20 for not having a front license plate at a checkpoint outside of Khorog, Tajikistan.)
Bribe Money Paid Out: $43 (We gave $15 in singles to a young border guard at the Ukraine/Russia border who then stuffed it in his pocket. I also *techincally* broke a law when I drove my car into Kazakhstan without getting a form stamped and a border guard with impeccable English blackmailed me out of $28.)
Taxis That Totally Scammed Us: 3 (All at or around airports–Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and Novosibirsk, Russia)
Did We Ever Feel Our Lives Were In Danger? No. In general some people just want to scam rich westerners out of money and won’t become violent unless strongly provoked.
Miles Traveled: Approximately 6,000 by car; the rest of the way to Mongolia was via taxis, planes, and trains.
Tires Blown: 0. Thank you beautiful (and expensive) Michelin tires!
Favorite Food(s): We both grew to love plov–the Central Asian version of friend rice with mutton and vegetables in it. We would always get it in every city we stopped in. The best was probably at the Aga Khan’s Serena Hotel in Khorog, Tajikistan (a bit expensive though). The laghman (spicy noodles) in Kyrgyzstan were also very good.
Least favorite Food(s): This would probably have to be the traditional Mongolian foods. Although I don’t mind things such as dumplings (buuz), most of the food just tasted of greasy mutton and had few to no vegetables besides the occasional root (potatoes, carrots, etc.).
Times We Got Sick: 1. Collin was incapacitated for a day while in Bukhara but was back to normal again after a day of sitting in bed. The both of us had some occasional stomach bugs throughout the trip, but nothing horrible.
Money Spent on Gas: Unknown, but it was expensive in Europe and then fell to about .50-.75 cents US per liter throughout most of Central Asia. We were able to just charge gas on our credit cards up until Romania/Ukraine, then it was cash all the way.
Deaths: 2 (Birds–never hit a bird with a car before but we managed to clip two of them while in Kazakhstan! One actually hit our windshield and got its foot stuck in the wiper blade–we had to drag it with us for hours until we refueled.)
New Friends Made: Innumerable
Favorite Memory: Spending the evening stranded in the no-man’s-land between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, sharing dinner and vodka with group of truckers who then let us use their bus to sleep in while they slept outside.
Total Money Raised For Charity: Almost $9,000!
Total Money Spent Out-Of-Pocket: We lost count. We definitely spent a bit more than many teams as we 1.) had a piece of crap car that need tons of repairs, 2.) spent a fortune [$1,400!] shipping the car via container from New York to the U.K., 3.) took our time along the entire route, stopping for days in some places, and 4.) actually ponied up the money for decent places to sleep and take a shower along the way–not to say that we ever stayed anywhere glamorous. The bill easily ran to about $6,000/person if you factor in flights (the flight back from Mongolia to London was almost $1,000 alone!).