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Visit this page frequently to see news and updates on our preperation and (or lack of) progress with the 2005 Mongol Rally.

*** Latest Live SMS updates available from the Mongol Rally website ***

Latest News
Back to reality 22nd September 2005
The smell of the steppe 6th September 2005
We're in Almaty... 21st August 2005
Onwards into Kyrgystan 17th August 2005
More Pics 16th August 2005
Samarkand 15th August 2005
Pesky Potholes 8th August 2005
Live from the street 5th August 2005
   
Archives
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
November 2004

  We're in Almaty... 21st August 2005  

We've made it through Kyrgyzstan and back into Kazakhstan. Border crossing was relativly quick and painless, although there was the usual attempt by the officials to extract dollars from us.

No attempt was as amusing as that of a Kyrg Policeman yesterday. First he claimed that we had no seat belts on, then he tried to fine us for not stopping when the president was being driven down the road the other way with Police escort. How were we supposed to know that a police car followed by a Land Cruiser was a sign to pull over and stop and salute the president? Especially when the local in front didn't stop either. Thankfully the Black Box Rocks boys argued the point (in French) and we walked away without paying.

Kyrgyzstan is amazing. We covered two 3500 meter passes (the Panda assisted up the first giving us a little push). We spent yesterday morning on a beach of Issy Kol lake looking over the snow capped Tian Shan mountains. What was really surprising was the tourism here. Definately a hot spot for the affluent Kyrgs, Russians and Kazakhs.

We didn't get to appreciate all this on our first day as we had some major ingition problems. The car started mis-firing wildly under heavy load once hot. A local traced the problem to the points, but with these replaced and gapped, the problem re-occured about 5km later. Checked HT circuits, played with timing, sometimes getting the car running, only for the problem to re-occur.

The Black Box Rocks Panda towed us some 20km back into town, with us thinking the worst, where a local mechnic found the coil HT lead not making good contact. This got us going again, but the following morning the problem came back...

Thankfully, Jon spotted a loose wire that went into the coil. We reconnected this, and since the car has been running fine. So simple, but such a pain. Especially losing a day to the problem.

This was soon forgotten in the amazing scenery of the Tian Shan mountains with the nomadic locals living in Yurts in full view.

We continue to generate loads of interest with the locals. We get smiles, waves and crowds of people with questions every time we stop. Quite fun, but can be tiring, and extremely annoying if the locals are blind drunk on Vodka. Still, its all part of the experience.

We've now got plod on through the Steppe of Kazakhstan, pass through Russia and then get through Mongolia... Judging by the text updates from those ahead of us, this will not be easy.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  Onwards into Kyrgystan 17th August 2005  

A day faffing and driving 300k between 4 different Uzbekistan/Kyrgystan border crossings. It seems all but the Osh border (in the Fergana valley) are closed to Westerners.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  More Pics 16th August 2005  

The "road"

In these parts, it pays to know your Bactrian from your run of the mill Dromedary

Unscheduled Mini stop #371

More suspension problems

Flat tyres a plenty. Thanks again to Mania4Minis for the wheels.

Road to somewhere.

Mini to the rescue. What's the call out charge?

Mini Pandamonium

I shall call it "mini Mini" (nice beard too!)

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  Samarkand 15th August 2005  

Apologies... Its been while since our last update. Lack of mobile coverage, nevermind internet cafe's has made this pretty difficult.

Since our last update we have passed through Russia, Kazakstan and we are now in Uzbekistan.

I'm being pressured to free up this computer so I will have to be breif: We've had bad roads, terrible roads and no roads. Punctures, Exhuast problems for ourselves, My Black Box Rocks and The Rolling JohnStones. Hilarious Police encounters and long tedious border crossings. We even had to tow a local back onto the road after he had drifted out onto the sand. Too many stories and too little time...

I'll try to update more when I can.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  Pesky Potholes 8th August 2005  

Approaching the Russia/Ukraine border, we managed to find a pothole at 40mph accompanied by some worrying noises and the left rear suspension collapsing to the ground.

Further investigation revealed that the adjustable bolt had snapped. Time to don our cowboy hats and bodge a repair.

We managed to fashion a replacement part from some copper tube and a jack handle, while the locals gathered around and tried to offer us assistance.

With no-one speaking a common language, this proved more of a hinderance than a help, but we still appreciated the support.

6 hours later, we were finally on our way again and cruised up to the Ukraine exit border. We were pleasantly surprised to find the guards giving us no grief whatsoever. A few checks under the bonnet and around the car, a quick sit in, some more photos and we were into Russia.

Getting into Russia was a slightly different matter. The guards at the first crossing wanted $10 to fill in some form, but we weren't having any of it.

At the second stop, they wanted more cash claiming that our visas were incorrect. Knowing full well, they are fine, we refused to pay anything and so they are keeping us waiting to see if they can wear us down in a battle of attrition.

Having been up for around 21 hours, we're looking forward to some sleep once we get through this checkpoint.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  Live from the street 5th August 2005  

The Mongol Mini is parked up with My Black Box Rocks trying to get some food in Kharkov, Ukraine, when a chap pulled up in a new Mini Cooper S. The only one I've seen east of Germany. He proceded to load our web page on his phone, and then produced a laptop for us to post on the forum and read the latest updates. Sheer madness!

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  And Into the Ukraine 4th August 2005  

Crossed the Poland/Ukraine border yesterday evening. Many thanks to "Team Lost in Asia" for their advice on taking the left hand lane at the Madyka border crossing, saved us a load of time. Hoping to make Kiev by lunchtime tomorrow.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  V5 has Arrived! 3rd August 2005  

Our elusive V5 arrived in Krakow today, allowing us to get moving once again. Now motoring onwards down some fairly bumpy Polish roads towards the Ukraine border, which we're hoping to reach tonight.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  Krakow, Poland 2nd August 2005  

After enjoying the sites, sounds and some liquid refreshment in Prague, we've made it to Krakow in Poland along with My Black Box Rocks.

We've been in contact with the DVLA and are hoping to collect a freshly DHL'd V5 (thanks Mum!).

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  Prague... 1st August 2005  

We made it... eventually.

Having got off the ferry we waited around a bit as Mark (Robin Reliant) was having alternator trouble. A good start for him then.

While waiting I managed to wire in a cigarette lighter so that we can charge all of our electrical toys. All well and good, but the invertor we have has blown up my mobile charger, leaving me phoneless (Keep an eye on the text updates page for progress as we'll be contributing once I get this fixed).

Our speedo is playing up again. The speed reads correctly, however it seems to think that we have only covered about 180 miles since leaving Hyde Park. It works occasionally, but more often than not sits stationary.

We convoyed with Richie and Andy of Team Plane Broke on Saturday night through France and Belgium. We just made it to Germany (via France and Belgium) and crashed the night in the car, but not before Jon managed to get the car stuck in the mud by taking one wheel off road... Doesn't bode too well for further east.

Sunday was relatively incident free. We carried on in convoy with Richy and Andy, meeting up with the Pink Fairies (modern Nissan Micra) and the Flymo boys at different points on route.

Huge traffic jams on one of the autobahns caused us considerable delay and saw us taking a more scenic route. A pleasant change to the monotany of the motorways.

We had a bit of a scare later on, as the Czeck Border control wanted to see our vehicle registration document (still waiting on the DVLA for that). We threw every bit of paperwork we had at them and that seemed to do the trick. Once on the other side it seems that we were the only people to have been asked about the v5 registration doc. Typical.

What seemed like a short final leg from Nurnberg to Prague seemed to drag on forever. Along with a half built motorway, two laps of Prague and the local Police having to open a closed road to let us through we found the checkpoint bar at midnight. It was closed.

Given the time and our mental state, we took the easy option and left Prague in search of a good camping spot. A nearby forest served beautifully. Both asleep in a mater of seconds.

We are currently back in Prague, enjoying great beer and dirt cheap prices awaiting news from the DVLA regarding the V5 registration document. It seems as the delay was due to typo at the DVLA office in Stanmore. Not much we can do about it now, but possibly we can have the doc printed and fedex'd to us by Wednesday.

That leaves us stuck in Prague. Not much else to do but sit back and enjoy. Under normal cirumstances this wouldn't be a problem, but I'm itching to get back on the road and make some more progress. Time is ticking, and we've only covered 10 percent of the distance.

Anyway, if you've had the patience to read this far, check out some pics taken by the Pink Fairies.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 

www.whereisandy.net