Miles Travelled
1
1
7
3
7
Completed In 45 Days
Click to view the route we took

We FINISHED! in 11,373 miles & 45 days

So it began... the Mongol Rally 2012
Live Tracking is now available (click for more information)

Live: Track Our Progress

Click to view the route we took

We FINISHED! in 11,373 miles & 45 days

We are supporting Alzheimer's Research UK and the Lotus Children's Centre (click for more information)
Click to view the route we took

We FINISHED! in 11,373 miles & 45 days

Our Car (click for more information)

Our Car: 1.3 Litre Kia Rio (2004)

Live Tracking is now available (click for more information)

Live: Track Our Progress

Click to view the route we took

We FINISHED! in 11,373 miles & 45 days

So it began... the Mongol Rally 2012
We are supporting Alzheimer's Research UK and the Lotus Children's Centre (click for more information)
The Team (click for more information)

The Team: Sean, Simon & Scott

26 hours in a 'detention compound'...

As soon as Russia ended, so did the roads... after the 7th Russian checkpoint the asphalt abruptly stopped - being replaced with the crater filled dirt track of no-mans land... These type of ‘roads’ were all that spanned the 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from the border to Ulaanbaatar... No wonder 25% of the teams don't make it through...

At the end of the valley linking the two countries was the Mongolian border... the only structure visible as far as your eyes could see... Wondering around this no-mans land was a Mongolian man, who in broken English offered currency exchange at ‘good rates’, sure...

Inside the border everyone who didn’t personally know a random suit-wearing Mongolian had to pay $1 USD to ‘disinfect’ their wheels. The border guards themselves seemed agitated -  demanded that we unpack the entire car, while they occasionally pointing at items and aggressively asked “What?!?”... Good job they didn’t find our remaining smoke grenade...

'Detention Compound' 'Detention Compound'

Sean and Scott passed through Passport control, the other side of which they spotted 13 other Mongol Rally teams, parked in what can best be described as a detention compound... Once our car had finally got through their rigorous inspection, and Simon had been told to stand in the corner of Passport control - so as not to interfere with the border guards forehand as they played table tennis - we were also directed to the ‘compound’, where we were told about the interesting series of events...

'Detention Compound' It is common for Mongol Rally teams to spend a night at the border, as before the cars are imported into the country, the importing charity (Adventures for Development Mongolia, AFDM) must pay a $500 USD import tax per car. The speed at while these payments reach the border depend on banking hours, border opening times, electricity supplies, internet connections and numerous other factors... However the whole process doesn’t start until you pay your $7 USD import fee. 

'Detention Compound' A few of the teams had arrived that morning, and knowing they most likely had to spend the night, they decided to have a ‘casual’ drink... though a few of them inevitably got ludicrously drunk... and amongst other things: smashed a glass bottle on the floor, ate some of a glass bottle and managed to crack another teams windscreen by kicking around a rugby ball...

From what we understand, after the bottle had been smashed, an English speaking border guard approached this one team - with something like the following conversation apparently ensuing:

  • Border Guard: “How many people are in this vehicle?”
  • Drunk Guy: “28”
  • Border Guard: “I know thats not true...”
  • Drunk Guy: “Ah f**k them”
  • Border Guard: “Don't tell me to f**k them! as i’ll show you exactly how much I can f**k you!”

The border guards then proceeded to detain the drunk guy, and informed the rest of the teams that the border was now closed to them. After threats of deportation, the drunk guy was later seen bursting out of the border offices and sprinting towards the Mongolian border... By the time we had arrived (5:00pm) the situation had calmed down, and the drunk guy was sleeping off his hangover.

Most of the other teams were distancing themselves from the ‘troublesome’ team, Even though each car has the same official Mongol Rally stickers, no one wanting to be considered associated with them...

'Detention Compound' We chatted to the other teams, and swapped stories from our travels. We learnt that one team rolled their car while attempting to take a near 90 degree corner at 70 mph (~120 kph), another team’s front suspension had shot through the bonnet and shattered their front windscreen, while a third had to rebuild their engine after using low-quality fuel... There were numerous other stories involving punctures, electrical failures, cylinders misfiring, sump guards ripping off and a Vauxhall alternator being swapped with a BMW alternator as “there wasn’t a single alternator in Turkmenistan that would fit the car”...

Most teams had travelled the Southern route, and told stories of being charged ridiculous taxes in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, with crossings across the Caspian sea costing ~$600 USD per person - with car costing $80 USD per metre... There was also this one Romanian woman who was making a film about the Mongol Rally. Instead of taking part in with a car, she was hitchhike with other teams.

Yaks Head Once the border had closed (6pm) the locals descended... Men walked up and down the perimeter fence offering currency exchange and attempting to buy anything teams would sell. While children - many of which were wearing (fake?) ‘designer’ clothing - kept repeating “Hello!” and pestered teams for anything they could get, or selling anything they could find - such as a yaks head! Later, once it was sufficiently dark, a few locals jumped the perimeter fence and suspiciously wandered around the compound staring into peoples cars... They do say that border towns are always dodgy...

The Toilets We should also mention that there were no real facilities in this compound. With the ‘toilets’ being 4 horrendously smelling huts, each with two planks of wood that supported you above a ‘pool’ of feces.

The concrete floor coupled with the high altitude (~2500m) resulted in a horrendously cold nights sleep. Where Simon’s thin sleeping bag meant he had to wear 9 t-shirts and 2 jumpers...

The next morning the guards decided to reopen the border to us. So we paid our $7 USD import fee and waited the whole day, uncertain about whether we would be spending another night. Many teams had to reach Ulaanbaatar by Friday 24th (it was currently Monday 20th), so with the drive apparently taking (on a good day) 5 days - people were getting anxious.

Finally at 6:30pm (after the border had officially closed) we, and 3 other teams were given permission to leave. As we had arrived later than some of the teams who hadn’t been given permission, tension began to mount - with one team accusing us of some underhand dealings... Although in all honesty we had done nothing to ‘aid’ our release, and had spend the whole day reading or playing Yatzi...

Once we had passed another vehicle check and paid another $10 USD import fee, we were free to leave and drove towards the exit gate. However the gate guard had other ideas... He stood in the way of our car and told us that as it was past 6pm the border was now is closed...  Faced with the prospect of sleeping another night on the concrete floor, Simon went and stood motionless in front of the guard, staring at him... after 2 minutes of silence the guard relented and let us and the other 3 teams pass...

We were free!!! - well nearly... 10 metres outside the gate we were flagged down by another border guard, and made to pay another $53 USD for insurance and road tax... Then we were free - at 7:30pm!

We had spent over 26 hours at the border... Although the guards had been extremely pleasant to us, we are pretty sure a significant amount of time we spent there was a result of the troublesome team...