For those of you who have e-mailed asking how Mike is doing on The Mongol Rally - Here are a few excerpts from his blog. I think the roads must be bumpy or his internet time is restricted as his spelling is awful! Oh hang on - it always was-and this is a boy with two degrees!
Turkmenistan proved to be a shock. We had been warned of bandits, people who hate you, high prices and shitty roads. Apart from the roads ........ Turkmenistan was amazing. We met a young guy at the border who spoke perfect english and laughed at all the tales we had been told…it seems the place has moved far in the last few years. Ashgabat is insane; the president is basically playing Sim City with all the cheats on, building everything and making the place stunning but ignoring the fact he has nobody to live there and it’s to expensive. They have an Olypmic Stadium (labelled as such) which the locals say has never been used by anyone, ever….
In Turkmenbat on the border and stayed in the worst ex soviet hostel known to man, but it did the job. The landlady slept on a camp bed on the front steps, and inside was virtually derelect, but the hospitality was good and we got a nights sleep. Also turned out the gas story is true - gas is free but you pay for matches so they leave it burning 24hrs a day. When we offered the landlady a box of matches you would think we had just bought her a Ferrari…
The Uzbek border was another time consuming one -from here we drove to Bukhara and then Samarkand, both of which were incredible .....Our last night was at a family restaurant by the highway outside Tashkent, where an old lady made us chai and fried fish simply to die for.
Crossed into Kazakhstan and set up camp-three locals turned up with the standard gold teeth and laughed at our attempts to create fire before inviting us back to theirs. We discussed it for some time but didn’t get bad vibes, and as always on this trip all turned out to be well - they fed us, provided plenty of beer and vodka, and we spent a night passing my Russian phrase book around trying to understand each other. A true experience!
However, we also heard some terrible news on the Londoners, who wrote off their Kangoo in Uzbekistan. Galli, one of the girls, broke her leg and is being treated in Tashkent; the girls are probably headed home and the guys want to continue, but our thoughts go out to them. Proof you don’t want to relax too much on this trip.
That’s all for now, .......the tough desert bit starts shortly….on target to hit Ulaan Baatararound the 22nd-25th! Love to all