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05 Aug, 2009

Ukrainian Border Ordeal: Part One

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Here’s where the fun begins.

So we completed our one mile tour of Moldova and entered the Ukrainian border check point. To our surprise we see not one but three other rally cars waiting there. As there is a line about ten cars deep I go over and talk to the guy in the nearest rally vehicle. Their teams were from the UK and he sad that they had been there almost six and a half hours, as one of the three cars in their convoy had some vehicle registration papers that didn’t seem to match the numbers on the car. Oops! Each one of them had had their car’s contents inspected and had been fined for numerous offenses, including having money stowed in the vehicle ($15US fine). He was just waiting on the final paperwork to be finished before they could head off.

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05 Aug, 2009

Europe Part Seven: Romania & Moldova

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Things are getting a bit tougher.

First off, the good part: Romania. After driving all night we entered the country a bit before sunrise. I was lucky enough to watch the sunrise over the hills while driving towards the east. This was the first stretch of land where you really felt like you weren’t ‘in Kansas anymore’. A very agrarian society to this day, we were traveling through villages where people were leading their cows to pasture, and horse-drawn carts were sharing the road with cars. We had origially planned to travel to the capital, Bucharest, but as we were already a bit behind schedule we decided to sick to the northern part of the country and push on towards Moldova.

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04 Aug, 2009

Europe Part Six: Budapest

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

It was a long drive, but we made it from Kutna Hora to Budapest in about eight hours. We checked into a very basic, no-frills hotel, and did a bit of sightseeing on foot around the city. The next day, we visited the castle overlooking the Danube River, much as we had done in Prague, and ended up doing quite the circuit around the city. It had gotten much warmer outside during the previous day or so (up to 36C-39C), and we were sweltering the entire time the sun was up. We headed back to the hotel, took a shower (one nice thing about having communal showers is that you can use it after check-out if need be), and headed out around 9:00PM on the longest stretch of driving yet–a grueling 24 hour stretch from Budapest through Romania and Moldova and on into Odessa, Ukraine. We had decided to leave at night to save us from having to spend money on another room for the night and because it would be much cooler outside.

Leaving the city at dusk and traveling down two lane ‘highways’ (the proper highway ended at Budapest), we were treated to the sight of prostitutes at almost every intersection, dressed in bright clothing (apparently so that they would stand out in the dark and you wouldn’t hit them with your car…which we almost did a couple times), often standing in the middle of nowhere.

Pictures have been posted in the gallery.

03 Aug, 2009

Europe Part Five: Kutna Hora

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

It was a leisurely ninety-minute drive to Kutna Hora. This town situated east of Prague was famous for its silver production and craftsmanship along with its churches. The church we came to visit, the Sedlec Ossuary (a.k.a. the Church of Bones), was closed by the time we got there, so we went over to a local campground and stayed there for the night.

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02 Aug, 2009

Europe Part Four: Prague

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Kristi, Jarrett, Collin, and I drove a couple hours to the city of Prague and checked into a hotel room there. When I parked to check into the hotel I noticed tat the other roof mount on our roof rack had also been cleaved in half. I had no more rope, so I took some duct tape and patched it together. ow that we wouldn’t be carrying any extra passengers we would at least be able to take some of the weight off of the roof rack–that should help.

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01 Aug, 2009

Europe Part Three: Czech-Out Party

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The next day was driving from Munich to Klenova Castle, the site of the Czech-Out Party (also known as the Official Mongol Rally Launch Party). How we managed to fit all of our gear plus another two people and their bag into our car I’ll never know, but we managed it. After taking the ‘Scenic Route’ through eastern Germany and the Czech Republic (thanks Google Maps!), we ended up at the camp site for the party in mid-afternoon. Along the way we had out first car-related problem when we stopped at a gas station and noticed that the roof rack had partially collapsed. The metal support bar had cleaved the foam roof mount in hal and all of the weight on that section was scraping against the roof. I got out some rope and duct tape and fixed it as best as I could.

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31 Jul, 2009

Europe Part Two: Germany

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

It was a long drive, but driving through Germany was quite the scenic experience. Tons of small towns, perfectly arranged, with old churches and castles everywhere. We had plans to meet up with some friends of mine whom I met a couple years earlier in Austin. Jarrett had just finished his PhD in Astrophysics and had moved with his new wife, Kristi, to do a post-doctorate in Munich. They had gladly offered us a place to stay for the night, and in return we offered them a drive to the Czech-Out party the next day, to be held in a castle south of Prague, Czech Republic.

We ended up in Munich a bit behind schedule as our vehicle couldn’t keep up with the 130KPH speed limit on the freeways. At around 10:00PM we met up with my friends and had a bite to eat at a local Italian Restaurant while catching up with each other.

Pictures have been posted in the gallery.

30 Jul, 2009

Europe Part One: France & Belgium

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

We arrived in Dunkirk, France approximately two hours later and decided to get moving towards our destination for the night: Brussels, Belgium. It wasn’t very far away, but we had a slight problem: we were supposed to travel with Rubiks Cube to their friend’s place in Brussels to stay the night. Rubiks Cube had no phone, so we couldn’t contact them. As I had the address and directions printed out, we decided to head out and hopefully meet up in Brussels.

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29 Jul, 2009

Launch Day

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The next morning we got up around 9:00AM, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed off to the Goodwood Motor Speedway. There we joined all of the other teams for a bit of pre-launch comradery, Mongolian music and wrestling performances, and assorted speeches. We met the Rally organizer, Tom, and also had a chat with some of the representatives of Mercy Corps, which we are raising donations for. We had a slight snafu when the organizers said that they hadn’t received our vehicle deposit yet–apparently the bank transfer two weeks earlier hadn’t gone through. I promised to check into it and re-send the money whenever possible and they kindly let us receive our entry packet.

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28 Jul, 2009

Prologue

Posted by: Scott In: Pre-Rally

Collin arrived in the UK on the morning of July 15th without much incident (other than him losing his directions to a cleaning lady on the subway and having to find a library in London where he could check his e-mail and print them out again). He was pretty jet-lagged and ended up sleeping most of the day. We went out in the evening for a few rounds with a friend, Fran, from Ireland, that lives in Australia and I met because of Japan and was now in London on a one day stopover before flying to China.

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22 Jul, 2009

Update One: Launch

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Contrary to certain reports, we are indeed still alive!

In Prague right now. We hit the pre-launch campground at about 10PM to see dozens of other teams out drinking and BBQ throughout the nite. One team, Jersey Boys, had already gotten into an accident and had to be towed to a garage the next morning. Got a few hours of sleep and then got up to attend the launch at Goodwood Motor Circuit.

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19 Jul, 2009

Festival of Slow Launch Video Posted

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The Adventurists, organizers of the Mongol Rally, have posted an overview of the Festival of Slow, at the Goodwood Race Track, that we just took part in as a part of the official UK launch. We didn’t have the best weather, but it could have been worse. Most of the time we were trying to finish up paperwork, deck our vehicle out with rally stickers, and formulate some sort of plan to cross the English Channel. I watched the entire thing and it looks like we weren’t captured on film at all…oh well!

 

18 Jul, 2009

Launch Day!

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Adventure is a path. Real adventure—self-determined, self-motivated, often risky—forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind—and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both.

 
This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.

 

Mark Jenkins
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16 Jul, 2009

Around London & Birmingham

Posted by: Scott In: Pre-Rally

Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace, London

I’ve had a great few weeks in the UK, and have been to London, Birmingham, and a few other towns along the way. As this is the official first (non-U.S.) leg of the journey, I have uploaded some pictures of my recent travels (including a few from the Rotary International 100th Annual Convention that I attended).

It’s not the most amazing thing you’ll see on here, but they are technically part of the journey! View them in our gallery.

15 Jul, 2009

We’re Famous! WJR’s Warren Pierce

Posted by: Scott In: Press|Pre-Rally

We were recently interviewed on WJR 760 Radio’s Warren Pierce Show. Warren, born and raised in Detroit, hosts a morning talk show every Saturday from 6:00AM to 9:00AM. Thanks to both Warren and producer Rachel Nevada for having us on the show.

14 Jul, 2009

The Other Mongol Rally

Posted by: Scott In: Pre-Rally

Mongolia Charity Rally 2009

Believe it or not, there are actually two Mongol Rallies: the proper one, and a copycat one unimaginatively named the Mongolia Charity Rally. It’s a long story, but this additional rally was formed by former Mongol Rally affiliates that were unhappy with the way the original rally was being handled. The Mongolia Charity Rally‘s entry fee is less than half of the official Mongol Rally, and there are no age or engine restrictions for the vehicles involved (which leads to some teams going all-out in custom Land Rovers…a bit too prudent for my taste!).

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