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

Ger-to-Ger... to Ger, to China

Having only just made it, it was time to repack our bags - as we were off again, to live with Mongolian nomads for 8 days...  

Ox Car We "decided" to leave the packing to the morning of the 1st day. Managing this, we set off to the bus stop to catch the 11am bus to Terelj National Park. We arrived 40 minutes early (as instructed) and met a German family-of-4 and an Austrian girl also heading to Terelj. We waited, and waited... Finally after 2 hours of waiting, the organising company - Ger-to-Ger (a Ecotourism agency organising nomadic travel routes, rural cultural home-stay programs, festivals and events) - told us that the 11am bus no longer existed! So in compensation they 'organised' us a minibus for 2pm (to keep us sweet). Of course this minibus didn't materialise, as apparently there "is only one minibus available in Ulaanbaatar (population 1.2 million), and it's busy...". Instead we had to wait until 4pm for the daily bus.

After a 3 hour journey we made it to Terelj village and were collected by the first of the families by ox-cart.

River Crossing After loading our baggage we set off, quickly encountering a rather large and deep river... One of the oxen obviously realised this and decided to stop in the middle of the river, stubbornly refusing to move, regardless of how much it was whipped.... We definitely now understand the expression "as stubborn as an ox". Eventually, after the carts passengers had been evacuated by horseback, we were on our way. Our first nomadic family invited us into their Ger, and served us dinner. Ger-to-Ger had supplied us with about 100 stock Mongolian phrases, so to the great amusement of our hosts (mainly because of our pronunciation) we made small talk with phrases such as: "Are you having a good summer?", "I hope your goats are fattening nicely" and Scott's favourite... "How old is your daughter?".

Horses After a solid 10 hours sleep (a luxury we didn't have during the rally) and a breakfast of bread and fresh butter, we departed on horseback for our first day of riding. In Mongolia, there is a 13:1 ratio of horses to humans... Apparently Mongolian horses only respond to the word "Go", although ours didn't even respond to that... Like the oxen, they were pretty stubborn, and had to be coaxed into moving by using tree branches and by shouting "Chu". We quickly got the hang of riding, and within no time were galloping through Terelj. Obviously impressed by our 'natural' riding abilities, our guide let us go off on our own for 2 hours - while he stopped to scythe his field... We stopped at another Ger for a local lunch, which (as we discovered over the next week) always consists of some kind of carbs (potato or pasta) with meat and vegetables. We use 'meat' as a general term, as we're not sure what kind of meats they were... maybe horse?

Second Nomadic Family Our next Ger was a 5-hour ox-cart ride away, where we spent the day playing with their two young children. Our hostess was a renowned seamstress, and showed us how she made traditional Mongolian clothing on a push-peddle sewing machine. Impressed by her skill, we - and the two Americans also staying with them - purchased custom-made mobile phone covers and laptop cases, along with a traditional Mongolian vest for Scott.

Traditional Mongolian Clothing Our next stop was an overnight horse-trek to the "Princess Temple" (or “Gunj” - as our new guide Mr Zorig called it), though unfortunately torrential rain prevented this. Instead we spent the day at Mr Zorig's Ger, a professional herder and former national tractor champion (although we weren't sure what exactly a tractor champion entails...).

Mr Zorig's English was limited to "cow", "horse", "good" and "no good" (only the essentials), as his wife speaks English fluently (although she wasn't there). As he usually guides the overnight horse-trek, he doesn't usually host tourists at his Ger. Through hand gestures, sounds, and his list of stock English phrases from Ger-to-Ger, we discovered that his wife was in Ulaanbaatar and that tomorrow we would trek to the Gunj - statements he repeated numerous times. At a loss of what to do with us he kept cooking us food until we refused through fullness, then he gestured for us to help him saw wood, and shovel horse/cow manure.

Shovelling horse/cow manure Mr Zorig was 54, and a funny man... Often while we were sitting in his Ger eating, he would suddenly stand up, run outside and start shouting... after which you would hear the sound of horses galloping... On one of these occasions we peered outside to see horses galloping passed - being chased by Mr Zorig in full sprint, waving his hands and shouting "Hooo! Hooooooooo!".

After lunch the next day, we started our horse-trek to the 'infamous' Gunj (Princess Temple). As we had spent the previous day shovelling manure, we had to 'ride' the 80km journey in one day... Although it would be more accurate to say that we were in fact 'herded' the 80km... Unlike the previous horses, these did not obey. Living up to his profession, Mr Zorig actually herded us. He rode behind us with a stick shouting "Hooo Hoooo!".  We're no experts, but we're sure this wasn't the best technique... The horses, obviously frightened of him, would run forward scared - trying to avoid being whipped. This caused Sean to be thrown from his horse, which galloping blind and scared had lost it footing. The other major disadvantage of this herding was that the horse pretty much constantly trotted for the entire 8 hours... which wasn't exactly comfortable...

Fourth Nomadic Family Although we were relieved to arrive at the Gunj, we were thoroughly unimpressed by it... It was just an overgrown compound, which unless someone told you otherwise - you would have just dismissed as a luxurious stable... After 10 minutes of looking around, we sat down with Mr Zorig and waited for the horses to graze. During a stock phrase conversation, in which he asked if we were all engaged or married, he suddenly went silent and touched his front tooth and went "Ohhhhhhh"... His front tooth was ludicrously wobbly, and in imminent danger of falling out! While Sean attempted to stifle a laugh, Mr Zorig grabbed his wobbly tooth and went to rip it out!! Faced with the situation of watching a man pull out his own teeth, Simon reached for his camera... With Sean still trying not to laugh, Mr Zorig made a sudden jerking movement and pulled out his tooth!! Well so we thought... We realised it was all just a gag when he started laughing and pointing at our faces...

Horse-trek to the Gunj Simon's horse had a tendency to stop abruptly mid trot/gallop to graze. Much to the amusement of Mr Zorig and Scott (who were riding ahead), they turned to see Simon (who had been thrown off during an abrupt graze-stop) attempting to corner his horse in an open field... As we were attempting a two-day journey in one day, the last two hours of the trek was at night! With no moonlight to guide us, we just hoped that the horses could see as they trotted/galloped through the national park...

Sheep's Head We arrived back at 10pm to find his wife, all our previous hostesses and the entire Ger-to-Ger staff (also all women) there for a monthly meeting. With so many guests staying (and being the only men), we and Mr Zorig slept in the 'supply' Ger - complete with sheep’s heads... The next day while shovelling more manure, Mr Zorig casually walked passed (and in the cover of a Ger) "pssst"-ed and beckoned us over, where he pulled out three cans of beer that he'd 'smuggled' out from the Ger-to-Ger meeting...

'Horse-Archer' Scott Our next two days and two nomadic families were not as interesting as our time at Mr Zorig's. In the late afternoon at the first family, a random man (unrelated to the host family) comes into the Ger with a bow and 3 arrows. He 'demonstrated' how to shoot one arrow, gave us the bow, and then simply disappeared... We also met an annoying Australian guy, whose response to Simon's question about where he was from was "you'll never guess...". Later that evening he proceeded to give us "life advice" - being younger than Sean at 30... Idiot... At the second family - the hostess of which was a nomadic shaman - we were given time to 'explore the area', so climbed the nearest mountain - spending a good hour taking photos at the summit. 

In our opinion it was a great 8 days, and an awesome experience to live with nomadic families and stay in their Gers. We would thoroughly recommend a Ger-to-Ger trip to anyone.

Trans-Mongolian Train  Simon eating a Scorpion

After returning to Ulaanbaatar. we caught the 32 hour Trans-Mongolian train to Beijing. We shared our cabin with an 18 year old Mongolian called Tuk, whose mum told him to move to China to learn Chinese (he currently spoke none at all). Once in Beijing, we caught the 186mph (300kph) bullet train to Shanghai (where Sean and Scott's parents currently live). Simon stayed in Beijing for a few days to be a tourist, and whilst there he ate a scorpion...

And so ends our penultimate blog post! In a few days we will be flying home (sad times), but before we do we'll write a 'conclusion' post.

Simon, Scott & Sean