Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Central Route

Booked the visas today! Couldn't be bothered with the headache of coordinating everything from Australia with such limited time frames. Therefore I have asked the lovely company "The Visa Machine" to organise it for Jess and I.



As I was going through the process I decided to treat ourselves to some additional visas... so Jess and I will not only be going to Kazakstan, Russia and Mongolia... but now also Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan!

Uzbekistan Flag
Kyrgystan Flag

So anyone know what fun things there are to do in Kyrgyzstan!?


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Black Tie at Dover Castle?


We just got an email from the Adventurists stating that this year is the 10th Mongol Rally and so they have been on the lookout for something a bit more special to mark the occasion.

Ladies and Gentlemen it gives me great pleasure to present to you Dover Castle!



This humble pile of bricks in the front garden of England has been central in the defence of the Realm since the 12th Century; it has hosted William the Conqueror, Henry VIII, Winston Churchill and now us!



The Adventurists seem to have pulled a few strings and blackmailed someone very senior in English Heritage to give us the keys to this most prestigious landmark. This will be the first time in over 5 years they've agreed to open their ruddy gigantic doors to a private event and they are doing it all for you. Who needs an old race track when you've got the biggest castle in England?



Not only is this a fine looking location with more history than your average 50 state superpower but we will also be seen off by a thundering volley of cannonfire; as well as all that, you are just 1.6 miles from the Ferry terminal.

Black-tie pre-launch party

The Adventurists thought it would be ridiculous to borrow a castle for a weekend without having an almighty party so that's what is going to happen. Saturday evening there will be a shin-dig in the officers mess that will be so raucous we will have to duck out of the country for a few weeks. 


We think it only fitting for such a noble location to dress for the occasion, so we're going to make this a black tie event more decedant than any Mongol Rally party ever before. We're not just giving you a gigantic Medieval fortification we're also throwing in a party of Brobdingnagian proportions.

Timetable

So there have been some changes to the timetable as I understood it but its not a big deal, it is now as follows:

  • Reception  - Saturday July 13th Afternoon
  • Party   -  Saturday July 13th - Evening
  • Launch   -  Sunday July 14th - Lunch

Lets get those visas booked so we can get started!!


Monday, 25 March 2013

Russian Visa Madness



So we need a Mongolia visa before we can apply for the Kazakhstan visa, and we need a Mongol and Kazakhstan visa before we can apply for the Russian visa.

We can't apply for a Mongolian visa until 3 months before we are meant to arrive, otherwise the visa expires.

Also, the Russian visa requires a Tourist Voucher or Tourist Confirmation document from a hotel we are staying at... only problem is we aren't staying in a hotel.

I tried to call up the consulate in Sydney to ask how we can logistically work this out and some scary man picked up the phone and in a thick Ruski accent "Call back at 3pm". I pleaded that I was calling about a visa, and the website said to call between 9 and 12.

The only response "Call back at 3pm".

This is going to be tricky!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Flights: Round One




Flights to the UK - Officially booked!!!


Jess will get into the UK on the 3rd of June 2013
Mike will get into the UK on the 6th July 2013
The Mongol Rally starts on 13th July 2013


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Cities & Things To See


I thought it would be good to show you some of the major cities and places that we will be going through while on the trip (and also a glimpse for us and what to expect!)

First up, France (but only for a couple of hours).  We will be getting the EuroStar over to Calais then making our way up to Dunkirk before hitting Belgium.  Our aim on day one is to get to Frankfurt.


Depending on how much time we have hopefully we will be able to stop off in Brussels for a little bit as it looks too beautiful to miss.
Next up is Frankfurt which will be our pit stop for the first day and I am so so excited.  Mike and I left Frankfurt five years ago and although he has been back since, I haven't and I cannot wait to see my old home again.
No doubt we will park up, drop our things off and go down to Sachsenhausen (the old part of Frankfurt) for a night of drinking and catching up with everyone.


With soar heads and saying our fond farewells to Frankfurt we meander our way back into France driving through Lyon and then onto Marseille, Cannes and a sneaky stop in Monaco (hopefully trying to catch some south of France sunshine too)



After a quick sunning session we make our way into our fourth country which I like to call my second mother land, Italy.  Driving along the coast before making our way up to Milano.  I have a feeling this will be one of the last countries where we will eat our own body weight in carbs to store away for nights of camping in the middle of nowhere.

Then we will whizz onto Treviso where my Nonno's side of the family are from before stopping off in Venice.  I am so excited to be seeing Treviso & Venice and have wanted to go ever since I was little.


Next we hop n' skip over to Slovenia.



....followed by a fleeting visit through Northern Croatia then Budapest, Hungary.



Once we have driven through Hungary, this is where the countries start to get bigger and the driving get's longer.  We are now avoiding Moldova due to various stories we have heard, it's best to give it a wide birth.
We will then make our way on up to the Ukraine. From google street viewing some of the main cities do not look like the most appealing of places, but Kiev is suppose to be nice so maybe we will go through there....and have chicken kiev of course!


We will then make our way over the boarder into Russia, driving through Saratov before hitting the boarder for Kazakhstan.  We wanted to avoid Russia as much as possible as we have heard how the police can pester you and constantly stop you.
Also foil wrapped tea & biscuits is suppose to be a good bribe for them.  Dually noted!


Kazakhstan will be our biggest country to drive across, with bad roads and not much else.  Astana is the capitol of Kazakhstan as from the looks of it below, it's like it tried to be grand with it's massive and not to mention odd buildings (almost wanting to look a bit like Dubai) but failing miserably.
I'm quite intrigued to see this place.



Once we have seen Kazakhstan we will then have to nip back into Russia (this is where our double entry visa comes into place) and then we are almost there.  We hit the Mongolian boarder.
I'm sure at this point a whole wave of emotions will kick in.
We will still need to head across just over half of Mongolia before we reach the finish line in Ulaanbaatar.


All in all it's fair to say I am pretty darn excited not to mention some awesome countries & cites we will be going through and seeing.

Let's just hope our little automobile can make it all the way...

Fingers crossed!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Hooters in China


Well if ever there was an excuse to drive through China:


Spicy chicken feet doesn't sound as good as wings though

Would you let this man into your country?


As you can see I just got my new passport back this morning! Now I get to book flights and start sorting out visas! Exciting!



Don't worry, I crudely blurred out the important numbers on the passport!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Country Climates for The Trip


In order to best plan what to take with us it would be good to know what the weather averages were in July or August for some of the countries that we go through.


FranceCroatia


RomaniaUkraine


TurkeyRussia


KazakhstanMongolia



So there you go, I think the warmest part will be South of France and Turkey, and the coldest part is going to be the final stretch between Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia.

We really are going to need to pack both warm and cold clothes!

Oh and we got the statistics from here - www.holiday-weather.com/

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Food Essentials


Food to take


We will be on the road for about four weeks so knowing what to pack food wise is important.  
Driving through countries in Europe our eating habits won't vary too much as we will still be able to visit supermarkets, eat at restaurants etc but when we get into Kazakhstan, some parts of Russia and especially Mongolia this is where we will depend of our non perishables and our trusty camping stove to keep us going.

Foods such as tinned soups, eggs, vegetables/fruit, bread and pasta will come in handy....not to mention a sneaky stash of chocolate and lollies as little pick me ups a long the way!!

Too add to this I also have a pesky nut allergy which has and can be a massive hinderance so I'll have to be extra careful when ordering food in other countries. 


Friday, 15 March 2013

It's Official


So, I got this email today:




Guess there is no turning back now!


The Equipment Check List




While Mike has been busy planning the route we will be taking, visa's and all things car related I have been working on a huge check list of things we will need for this mighty adventure (our poor car will hate us by the end of it).

Camping


Equipment
Got?
Tent
Yes
Sleeping Bags
Yes
Pillows
No
Towels
1
Cutlery/plates/mugs/saucepans
No
Torches/lantern
No
Matches
No
Backpacks
1
Light Clothing for summer weather in Europe
Yes
Warmer Clothing for the cooler climate in Russia/Mongolia
No





Food & Drink

Equipment
Got?
Tea/Coffe
No
Water
No
Eggs
No
Vegetables
No
Fruit
No
Chocolate (of course!)
No
Pasta
No
Rice
No
Noodles
No
Soups
No

Food to take

We will have to expand on this more and more as we get closer to the date!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Going Dutch? - The Necessities and Total Cost

We could live off rations of baked beans and Haribo Fizzy Worms we found down the back of the sofa, or we could eat at the poshest restaurants we can find in every town we pass through. However, we will obviously try to eat as much local cuisine as possible. Granted, there is a reason why some of the cuisine we'll encounter along the way doesn't line the fancier streets of London but its cheap and everyone should know what gonads taste like.

Goats’ Gonads in Limoncello

Food we estimate to cost anywhere between £100 to £1000 each.

Even if we're real skin-flints and sleep in our tent every night we are likely to spend at least one night in a hostel if only in Ulaanbaatar at the finish line. We want to try to kip in the great outdoors for most of the way making it super cheap, ie. free.

Accommodation we estimate to cost us anywhere between £50-£300 each

Paperwork

Vehicle Insurance

From £100

Travel Insurance

From £80 per person

Visas

We have already done a post on visa costs and requirements, so take a look at this post [here].

TOTAL

Food £1500
Accommodation: £300 max
Vehicle Insurance: £100
Travel Insurance: £160
From Previous Posts
Russian Visas: £185.20
Car costs: £4200 - £1000 refunded at the end

TOTAL: £6609.20 - AU$9,545.23

This doesn't include flights. I guess that should be next!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Modern Mongolian Folk Find

So I was at a bar last night and I got speaking to our friend Lisa's Dad who is visiting her for her wedding and it turns out he is a bit of a world music buff who has his own MixCloud channel called ClubGlobal where he goes by the name DJ Skunk (link here).

We got talking about this plan to drive to Mongolia and he told us we had to check out these Mongolian bands, not expecting much more than throat singing it turns out they are pretty amazing, and thought you'd appreciate them too.

Hanggai - Drinking Song


Anda Union - Galloping Horses


A fantastic find by DJ Skunk.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Going Dutch? - Vehicle Costs




We can't head into this crazy adventure without knowing how much this is going to cost us. I've done some research online and spoken to a few people and it can cost anywhere between £1500 each to £10,000 each depending on our requirements.

Here are what some other people have said it cost them:
  • Aruna, 'Canuk the Dots' (Can): $6,000 each 
  • Jordan, 'Five Crew Canoe' (Can): I'd say close to $6000 each 
  • Marcus, 'Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies' (Aus): £1500 each 
  • Rel, 'Big Man Little Car' (US): Probably close to $10,000 when it was all said and done. 
  • Mike, ,'Arkansas Chuggabugs' (US): Anywhere between $3000-4000 per person
  • Amy, 'Lemur Attack Force' (NZ): $12,218 per person 

So with such a large difference between the lowest estimate and highest estimate it isn't really that helpful. We will need to start to look at the details.

Entry Fee

The entry fee for the Adventurist's Mongol Rally is £980.

Vehicles, Fuels and Tools

The Car!

There are strict requirements around the type of car that we can use (less than 10 years old, but less than 1.2ltr engine. This should mean that it shouldn't eat up a lot of money. That said we do need to get something that can get us to the finishing line.

We have a hard limit of £1500 but would prefer if we could find some charitable person who wants to sell us it for closer to £1000.

Fuel

The price of unleaded ranges from around £1.34/US$2.14 per litre in the UK to a little over £0.34/US$0.55 per litre in Russia (at the time of writing).

So with most of the driving being done in Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia we wouldn't be spending as much on gas as in the early part of the trip.

We estimate we will spend around $700 (£470) on petrol which seems close to what others have estimated.

Vehicle Repairs, Tools and Spares

£0-£500 per team

I thought this was interesting from the Mongol Rally website. "Almost every team, every year says the same thing when they get to the other end. "I wish I didn't bring so much stuff" heed this warning. Not only is it cheaper in the first place but a lot of teams literally throw away half the kit they spent months thinking about and buying. If it doesn't fit in a small day rucksack you probably don't need it.
The more you carry the more likely your car is to go break when the roads get shit. It's your call though of course. The less you bring the more room you have to win the largest non-functional item award. Very prestigious."

That said, people usually need some repair work along the way, but if we go slow and steady we should be within the average above.

Vehicle Deposit

Between £0 and £1000 per team

Shortly before the beginning of the Rally we need to pay a vehicle deposit. This is a pain in the arse but essential because when we enter Mongolia a huge amount of import tax gets paid on our vehicle. Then once its sold, all the profit is given to charity. To get our deposit back all we have to do is get the car to the finish line once in Mongolia or drop it off at one of our official drop off points spread across the country.

But don’t worry, almost all the teams get it all back. And those that dont have done something sneaky or illegal that could mean a charity loses money. In short don’t be a dick about it and all will be well.

Total

Entry - £980
Car - £1500
Fuel - £470
Repairs - £250 maybe
Vehicle Deposit - £1000 refundable
TOTAL - £4200 - £1000 refunded at the end

Well that's a lot of information, I'll do another post on Food, Accommodation and the paperwork stuffs soon.



Thursday, 7 March 2013

Key Dates!


We have just over 4 months until the start date so we need to start getting our arses into gear if we want to make this a reality. Taken straight from the official website these here are the main dates and deadlines for the Mongol Rally 2013, although they are subject to change.

  • April 3 - Purchase Flights, Travel Insurance and Submit Visa Applications
  • May 5 - Officially Enter the Mongol Rally and pay Vehicle Registration
  • June 5 - Pay vehicle deposit
  • July 1-10 - Jess and I fly back to the UK to prepare for the trip.
  • July 12 - UK Pre-launch Camping
  • July 13 - Festival of Slow UK - Mongol Rally UK Launch
  • July 14 - Mongol Rally Euro Pre-launch gathering and camping
  • July 15 - Festival of Slow Europe - Mongol Rally Euro Launch, Czech Republic
  • July 15 - The Czechout Party
  • August 09 - Week 4 Finish Line Party, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • August 16 - Week 5 Finish Line Party, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • August 23 - Week 6 Finish Line Party, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Jess and myself will have to fly back to the UK from Australia between July 1st and July 10th in order to be ready for the Pre-Launch camping.

Whether or not we'll be going to any of the launch parties other than the Start and Finish ones is probably unlikely, due to our fancy route across the top of Mediterranean.

These dates are not yet confirmed:
  • Vehicle registration deadline - (May)
  • Vehicle deposit deadline - (June)
  • Deposit returns commence (September)
  • Charity payment deadline (October)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Site update


Updated the "How can you help" and "Mike and Jess" pages listed at the top of the site.

Now we can get some assistance haha. Mike


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Something to Expect!



I was reading reddit the yesterday and saw someone had posted an album about their adventures on the Mongol Rally last year. I think you'll agree that the pictures are wonderful and really make you want to get on the road and give it a go.

Enjoy - http://imgur.com/a/vgXXO

If you wanted to message the owner his Reddit profile name is JacquesHebert and you can message him here: http://www.reddit.com/user/JacquesHebert


Monday, 4 March 2013

Hasta La Visa, Baby


Sorry for the shit title, I'm tired. To make up for that here is a picture of us so you know we are real people.



Anyway, it goes without saying that if we want to get to Mongolia, we have to go through a number of different countries.

Now that we have the route we intend to take we are able to start planning how we go about getting visas for these countries. Most of which we've never been to before, or even thought about going through, and certainly haven't had to deal with their embassies and consulates.

Having never dealt with this type of process it is going to make it easier for me to understand if I write down what is needed from me to obtain a visa for each of these countries. And who knows, someone else might find it useful too.

So here is the list of places we expect to go through, with a little abbreviating in the middle to compensate for Europe. Both Jess and myself are British Citizens so we don't need visas for any country in the European Union.

CountryVisaLength of stay possible
EnglandNoN/a
FranceNoN/a
BelgiumNoN/a
GermanyNoN/a
FranceNoN/a
ItalyNoN/a
SloveniaNoN/a
CroatiaNo90 days
HungaryNo90 days
RomaniaNo90 days
MoldovaNo90 days
UkraineNo90 days
RussiaYes30 days
KazakhstanYes30 days
RussiaYes30 days (double entry visa)
MongoliaYes30 days

So, of our chosen those destination, we only need 3.5 visas, if you count the Russian Double Entry visa, (which sounds more like a sex move than a visa) as a one and a half.

These countries are Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Lets get a little bit more information on those visas.

Russia

CriteriaDetails
Visa NameDouble-5 Working days
Length of Stay30 days split between the two entries
Cost£65
WebsiteRussian Embassy Visa Website
Process Time7 Calendar Days
Process Cost£27.60
Passport RequirementsCurrent passport which should be valid for a minimum of six months after visa's expiration date and has at least 2 blank pages which do not need to be consecutive
Postage of Passport Required?No
passport photos1
OtherA 'Tourist voucher' and a 'Tourist confirmation' document stamped and signed by authorized person. They can be obtained through your hotel or an approved travel agent who deals with trips to Russia, and should be valid for the entire duration of your trip. The stamp and all details should be clearly readable.
Applicants going for auto tourism should enclose the Registration Certificate of the vehicle they intend to travel by and covering letter mentioning the details of the journey, itinerary and names of the accompanying travellers.
Total Cost for two visas£185.20

Action point: Find out what the fuck a Tourist Voucher is and how I can get one (hell do I still need one) if I'm driving through?!?

Kazakhstan

CriteriaDetails
Visa NameTourist visa
Length of Stay30 days
Cost£35
WebsiteEmbassy of Kazakhstan
Process Time5 working days
Process Cost£7 for postage back
Passport RequirementsA valid passport (a photocopy will not be accepted) which should have at least one blank page for a visa. Your passport must be valid for at least six months longer than the validity of the requested visa.
Postage of Passport Required?Yes, a Photocopy will not be acceptable
Passport Photos1
OtherA letter with a request to issue a visa addressed to the Consular Section of the Embassy of Kazakhstan.
Please, indicate the purpose of your trip, your contact in Kazakhstan, the dates of your planned trip, and places to be visited. Letter should be typed on computer, printed out and signed/stamped (if applicable)
Hotel booking should be provided in a printed form.
Total Cost for two visas£84

Action Points:
Get a letting with a request to issue a visa made!

Mongolia

CriteriaDetails
Visa NameTourist visa
Length of Stay30 days
Cost£40
WebsiteEmbassy of Mongolia
Process Time2-3 Days
Process CostN/a
Passport RequirementsPassport with a validity date at least six months beyond the end of the applications intended period of stay in Mongolia
Postage of Passport Required?YES
passport photos1
OtherTravel itinerary, hotel reservation and insurance are preferable
Total Cost for two visas£80

Action Points: Get the visa sorted!!

I guess thats the total gist of it all. Visas for these countries aren't the easiest things to get hold of. Some ask for letters of invitation and some want to actually see my passport.

However, its a necessary thing. As soon as I hand in my notice at work I'll have to get the ball rolling so there are no hold ups.