Would You Let Your Child Do This?

No - not stand on a car......

My son intends to take part in The Mongol Rally in July 2009. [He's the one in the middle]
Basically, a group of two or more post-adolescent nutcases buy a clapped-out motor car, of 1200cc or less, [well, they wouldn't want to make it too easy would they?] in this case, two cars! and head off over the plains of Eastern Europe and try and keep the car going for as long as possible across terrain where they don't have proper roads, a chain of Marriott Hotels or even petrol stations. In fact civilisation there is, well let's put it this way - still evolving!!!

It's a 10,000 mile trip which, once they get past Germany and Poland, they travel through Slovakia, Hungary and Romania to Turkey and across to the scary-sounding-but-apparently-actually-quite-friendly-and-unmissable Iran.[Not my description] After that, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Krygystan, Kazakhstan, possibly a few more 'stans' somewhere around southern Russia and on for a couple of thousand desolate miles into Mongolia. The journey will take between three and six weeks - depending on how much trouble they get into!

'It'll be a bit of fun, Mum,' he says blithely.

Because the import tax is crippling on even second hand, almost scrapyard quality vehicles, the rally entrants pledge to give the car to the charity at the end. I haven't asked too many questions yet, but I took a look at the website and my maternal antennae immediately flashed to this....


These adventures are genuinely dangerous things to do. The website is written in a light-hearted fashion but you cannot underestimate the risks involved in undertaking this kind of adventure. Your chance of dying can be very high, some past teams have been seriously injured. These adventures are not a glorified holiday. They are an adventure and so by their very nature extremely risky. You really are on your own. If it all goes wrong, that's it, tough. Anyone sensible would advise you to stay at home and arrange your pants in colour order.

And in the FAQ under, What tropical diseases could I contract?

This is NOT a comprehensive list so for real information contact your local travel clinic who can also tell what to do about minimising the risk, but here's a guide:

* Hepititis
* Cholera
* Diptheria
* Meningacoccal meningitis
* The plague
* Rabies
* Typhoid

I don't want to see the comprehensive list!!!

Although this isn't the point of this blog - The expedition is seeking sponsorship for the Christina Noble Children's Foundation, an organisation dedicated to serving children in need of emergency and long-term medical care, nutritional rehabilitation, educational opportunities, vocational training, job placement and the protection of children at risk of economic and sexual exploitation.

Collectively, the goal is to fund the annual running costs of the Blue Skies Ger Village in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. They have also recently introduced the Sponsorship Project, encouraging teams and their supporters to sponsor a child in Mongolia.

The cars can be logoed up if anyone is seriously intersted and the trip is quite famous and is filmed and streamed all over the world. It's apparently a really big deal. Apparently there is a specific time you sign on and the 180 places were snapped up in three and a half minutes!

These particular three madmen have set up their own website called The Unprofessionals to track their progress from the preparation of the cars to the trip itself. Apparently they have to strip out the back seats for supplies and get in whisky and cigarettes for bribing border guards and local police!

Why couldn't he just sit in a bath of baked beans for the weekend or something????
Or join the army - at least he would have protective clothing. Oh hang on, apparently not!


Jane Beckenham said…
Heck yeah, i'd be in for it! Mind you we're vintage car nuts and we just missed out going on the Beijing to Paris rally - drats.
Life is for adventure!
I would love to do this - I'd be scared witless, but what an adventure. Afterall, if Ewan MacGregor and Charlie Boorman can do it (with very expensive sponsors) on motorbikes, a car would be easy!!!

Wish them goodluck from me.
Lucky buggers!
Anonymous said…
Um. Welll.... my son is 23 and he would probably want to do this. If I were you, I would buy a pair of handcuffs and a gun. If he tries to leave the house, handcuff him. If he succeeds, find him and shoot him. He may wish someone would put him out of his misery before the first 500 miles.
Eilidh said…
Would I allow this? Absolutely! This is a one time opprtunity to do something extraordinary.

Dangers? Well, nowadays, we are all at risk to thousands of diseases given the way we travel.

Go for it!
Anonymous said…
From Carol Harvey via e-mail

Hi Anita,

I'm with you - except I'd make that a double dose of Valium and anything else they can give me! Are you people insane????? LOL Did you read the list? Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Hepatitis, Meningacoccal  Meningitis, Rabies oh, and lets not forget my favourite - the Plague!!!! Then there's the disclaimer - by the way if you die you're on your own!

Mind you, I also know from experience, there's not a thing you can do to stop them if they want to do something and we did bring them up to be free-thinking and independent - that doesn't mean we have to like it. I'm destroying this email so my two boys don't find it - it would be right up their alley.LOL

BTW loved the blog with hubby about Crit Groups. LOL
Warm regards,

Lisa Yarde said…
OMG! I had to see what all the buzz was about but I didn't expect this. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you and Mike, but not sure who I'm more concerned about just yet.
Anonymous said…
Sent via e-mail from Sandy Frykholm

Here, Anita, I'll help you start your prayer list:

1. Lord, may the border guards in the first few countries not require so much whiskey and cigarettes that there are none left for the last few countries...
2. I thank you Lord that not all cases of plague are fatal...
3. Lord, strengthen the friendships of my son's team so that they would be willing to swim rivers for each other, just in case...

You're right, Anita, at that age, we have nothing to say about it--like when my so-called adult daughter took up boxing. Boxing, for crying out loud! I was none too excited about that, but a couple of years later she was violently assaulted, and her boxing skills likely saved her life, so you never know. You just never know.
Maryann Miller said…
Anita, I agree that as a mother this is incredibly difficult to contemplate. If only we could always treat them like two-year-olds and keep them in the backyard. Unfortunately, even when they are adults and sometimes act like two-year-olds we have to step aside and let them be.

As for this race, contest, whatever it is, it is just another example of a society gone mad. Everything is fun, adventure, sex, money, with no thought of ramifications. We are plagued with a "Survivor" mentality.
Anonymous said…
From Julie Connor via e-mail

Wow...I'd be worried, too, but...if you look at the credentials he has: international travel, two degrees and common sense, you can breathe deeply and try and reason logically. (I said try, as I would be reaching for the hair dye to cover up my shock and worry!)
Two degrees =patience and determination. He won't give up when/if things get tough. Even if the degrees are in basket weaving and crossword puzzles, it takes skill to do both.
Common sense=you don't go where you're not supposed to and you get all your shots before you set one toe on the airplane. If it were me, I'd have computer printouts on every type of information available on the Internet from gas stations to markets to hospitals that were on my route. Take candy, chocolate and TEA to trade and simply to give to children and people who live there. Befriend the local people who are genuinely nice and will want to show off their country in the best light possible. They won't send your son into the terrorist's lairs. There are preventive shots for meningitis, and doesn't penicillin kill the plague? Research what else can be given as a shot to prevent any unpleasantness. Can they take prescriptions and cold meds with them just in case? Does someone speak Arabic? Get a book, get a tape and listen, be prepared!
International travel=a wealth of experience. I slept in a leaky, lean-to shed when I was backpacking around Loch Tay in Scotland. Yes, I'm a princess who loves her feather bed, but I collapsed in exhaustion and slept. he'll make do. That's what travel is all about. Vive la difference!
Lastly, life happens. Years from now, he'll have the memories, experiences and pictures that you just don't get from sitting on a couch watching tv. What if he gets a debilitating disease later in life and can't have an adventure? At least he had this experience. Marriage and kids zap your freedom to travel, too. Yes, it's scary. Yes it sucks for the mom left behind. I recommend Zanax instead of Valium. Lovely hazy drug! And, get involved with his preparation by doing research about gas stations, markets, hospitals on his route. Act excited! I'd be a nervous wreck, but I'd try and act cool (so difficult for me!).
i wish you luck. Please keep us updated! At least he's not an American! We're not that popular in those areas :-)
Anonymous said…
From Kelli via E-Mail

That doesn't sound at all fun. :-) I'm not a parent, but if I were, that would frighten me to death. I'd start stocking up on Valume too.

Kelli- w/a Abbey MacInnis
As a mother of a 19 yr old and and 22 yr old, my first reaction (after passing out) would be to try my hardest to talk them out of it. Then I'd remember all the time I tried to talk them out of things and I'd remember that I was just wasting my breath. They are going to do what they want, unfortunately. Both of mine are girls, and I used to have a little control and sayso in the matter. Not anymore. Sure, I'm always right when I feel that they should do something because it's wrong (and believe me, I point it out to them when the time comes that if they had only listened to their mother...). Point is...do you believe in God? This is the perfect time to PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

Boys will be boys, but as long as these boys aren't troublemakers and don't get in trouble with the law, then I think you'll be all right. Make sure they take their vitamins, too! LOL

Ginger Simpson said…
I see from the comments how differently people view this. That's a clue that you and I aren't on the bandwagon for potential death trips. The most dangerous thing I would welcome is sitting on a beach, sipping a Mai Tai, but unfortunately we bore children cut from a different cloth. Headline...June Cleaver gives birth to Tarzan!

I totally understand your fear. My youngest son would definitely involve himself in something like this, for the thrill and daring. Valium has played a major part in my daily diet because of him. He thought it was fun to cliff drive into a lake or try to four-wheel the steepest mountains. Death has never been a fear for him, although I've lived most of my life staring at a telephone I feared would ring and alert me to his demise.

All we can do is pray for their safety, unless of course you intend to ride 'shotgun' for him. *smile*. You have to do what I did years ago...pretend he's like your alcohol addiction and turn him over to God. It takes someone with much more authority than we have to handle these children. *lol* I'm surprised I still have hair that isn't snow white and teeth that haven't been ground to stubs. I could write a book about this kid...maybe I will someday.
Hey, Anita. Just thought of something else...take the engine or transmission out of those cars. That'll stop them. ROFL!!!

Margaret Tanner said…
Hi Anita,
I certainly feel for you. Boys, don't they drive you crazy/into an early grave. I have 3 grown up sons, and believe you me, I know where you are coming from. I suppose it is good that they are adventuresome and show no fear, but you would think they would show some consideration for ther poor old mum, who worries herself sick over their mad escapades. I am sure they won't take any notice of you if you beg, cry, threaten, beseech.(I've done it all, but not for a car rally). I think you'll have to keep some Valium and a stiff whisky handy.
Wendy said…
Anonymous said…
By E-Mai from Anne Gilbert


There are vaccines you can get for plague and cholera. Rabies too, I think. And hepatitis. Most of those countries aren't that bad(Iran comes to mind here, just because the people are often helpful and friendly to foreigners, as long as they're, well, harmless, and these kids obviously are). The "stans" though, are kind of unstable, but hopefully. . . . .In any case, as you said yourself, you can't really stop someone of a certain age, if s/he wants to do something, very badly. And it's not worth trying. It would have been something my daughter would have loved to try, at a certain age, though this sort of thing seems to be more common among boys than girls, fwiw.
Anne G
Anonymous said…
From Kim Smith via E-Mail

I know it is far from similar but, my son, when he was a freshman in college, decided to go out to texas and go door to door selling educational materials. i swear to you it nearly undid me. but he managed. and he learned something about himself, that i could never teach him. that thing is, no matter how much you believe your decision is the right one, you will ultimately have to live with it, good or bad. hugs, anita i know you are chewing your nails off
Ciara Gold said…
Ah, the follies of youth. I feel your pain in that none of us parents wish to see our children in harms way and yes, I would have serious reservations. On the other hand, this is what dreams are made of. It speaks to his generous and adventurous soul. Glad I don't live where you do. I can sooo see my 18-yr-old son signing on along with them.
Matt Whitby said…
It's not only for young, but also the young at heart. I'm 36 (well, 37 come July 18th 2009) and i'll be doing it this year too.

It'll be fine.

No one has ever died doing it.
Marianne said…
My son, Grant, plans on doing this trip also with 2 of his friends..he seems serious and even has a website up and runny. I'm considering sitting on him so that he can't get on the plane to fly to Spain this summer. ~ Marianne
Marianne said…
Oh, dear...I meant to write "up and running." Is your son still planning on doing this trip?

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