The Road to Istanbul
Leaving Sophia I headed south east along what was at first a good road but it soon became the same old two lane potholed strip of melting Tarmac. Looking to the near distance it looked like a silvered mirror that melted into the sky. Heat haze as I have never seen before. It is over 40 C here and I’m about to melt along with the Tarmac. My sat nav has decided that what ever road I take is...
On the road to Sophia
Bulgaria is a wonderful country with what look like large planes of fertile ground surrounded by distant mountains. The people are also wonderfully friendly and hospitable. I passed mile after mile of sun flowers all looking to the east, my direction of travel. Bulgaria has few dual carriage ways and the roads such as they are have surfaces that range from the good to the dangerous. Apart from...
The drive into Serbia proved interesting. Motorways with a silky smooth surface would with very little warning turn to a normal two way road full of potholes and wavy surfaces that made it feel more like being at sea in a small boat rather than in a car on a major highway. The trick to dealing with the sudden transition is to get back in you seat as quickly as possible and take the tiller in a...
Budapest take two
Budapest was as ever charming in a slightly shabby way and there is a serious glut of glamours looking women with small dogs walking around town. Audrey Hepburn would have felt very much at home here. When I arrived I had no local currency so headed to the nearest cash point and withdrew far to much. Three hundred and fifty HUF to the £ means I now have a serious looking wad of cash which...
Setting off for Istanbul from Sofia shortly. I’ll have a quick look around Sofia first. Internet access has been difficult to find or too costly so I have been unable to keep the blog updated. This is probably my fault as I have seen many McDonalds but have found it more or less impossible to make myself stop. Will update shortly.
In Budapest for a spot of lunch and a quick look around.
To the Moon and beyond
Now this may sound fantastical and indeed it is but, while breakfasting on chicken soup, I’m reading “How Apollo got to the Moon”, courtesy of David Stevenson, in preparation for my next adventure. All adventures have to be impractical to a degree and flying to the moon is certainly that. Join the Adventurists space mission to find out more. Laugh you may but dreams are made...
Finely made it to Bratislava and a hotel so that I can take a shower and improve my general odour. Bratislava looks beautiful at night with a huge cream coloured castle lit up in the dark over looking the old city centre. Sorry Austria and in particular Vienna I have not forgotten your charms and I felt a pull to your fantastic cream cakes as I passed you by but I have a bigger cake to slice,...
Some how I managed to end up in the wrong country, nice to see Germany again but I was aiming for Austria. All good now and on my way to Vienna. The Czech Republic is beautiful and the rain was good enough to stop for the Czechout party. As countries go the Czech Republic is almost perfect, it just requires a coastline.
Great party, great people. Feeling pretty bad now. No more to say apart from the inevitable never again, at least not right now.
So I’m now in the Czech Republic. Germany, west of Frankfurt you were damp, no you were bloody wet, however to the east you put on one of the best displays of clouds and cloud types I have ever seen, multi-hued and set in a blue sky and best of all you gave me sunshine. Good work Germany I hope the rest of Europe can equal your meteorology. The Czech Republic is so far incredibly beautiful but...
Launched and on the way
Saturday’s Mongol Rally launch went well, I got to meet several of the teams despite the wonderfully large amount of rain and picked up my carnet de passage which I need to allow me to drive through Iran. Along the way some interesting facts came to light, it turns out Goodwood is the only race course in the world suited to racing fish. I also learned that the number one sport in Mongolia...
On The Road
I’ve been running around doing last minute shopping and packing preparing to set off tomorrow to start the Mongol Rally. So excited I could not sleep last night, the last time I felt like this I was 13 on Christmas Eve. Time slowed down for me during the last few days which have really dragged by. No doubt it will speed up again and I’ll be back home before I’ve got used to...
Track a Yak
During the Mongol rally I will have with me a spot tracker. This should allow friends and family or you to see my current location, more accurately, where I have been for the last seven days. The tracker relies on batteries and a clear view of the appropriate GPS and messaging satellites, given these it should work. Click on the following link to see my location. Track My Spot ...
In the ancient heart of the Pamir there is an even more ancient secret, a hidden valley, the location of which was forgotten long before its recall, such is its mystery. Those who inhabit this valley are said to be blessed with eternal life and happiness, never have they known fear or want. We have all heard stories of this secret place, the Greeks called it Atlantis, in the Bible it is Eden...
Legends of the Pamir
I came across this on the internet while researching the Pamir. It is a very common legend that I have heard several times and each time it has been about a different country. I have even used it myself to refer to my home county of Cumbria. All the same I like it and who knows it may have originated in the Pamir. When God created the world, he asked all the people to form a line so that...
Six weeks to the Mongol rally launch. The last couple of days have been spent preparing the car, so much yet to do, I’m starting to worry that there is not going to be enough time. Still have visas to get, insurance, international driving licence, carnet de passage, yet more jabs and much more. I am hoping, like a stage production, that these things all come good in the end.
It's a Charity Thing.
Please help the children of Mongolia and those suffering from dementia around the world by making a donation. Click on the image bellow to find out more..
In anticipation of my up coming transit of Iran I have been reading a history of Persia. It turns out that Iranian history reads very much like those denser parts of Lord of The Rings where wreaths of genealogical information are listed and lots of biblical style begating goes on. This may be just my problem but I find it almost impossible to remember or be interested in such texts. I should try...
Charm, a scheme to disguise your true intentions from strangers.
The Mongol Rally
The Mongol Rally is a charitable rally run by The Adventurists. The whole purpose of the rally is to raise as much money as possible for charity while taking part in a genuinely difficult adventure, there is no support. The rules are both strict and relaxed at the same time. It is not a race and you can choose your own route. The route to some extent dictates how difficult the rally will be for...
The Hindu Kush
More than 50 years ago Eric Newby walked through the Hindu Kush with Hugh Carless. He recorded their adventure in the book “A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush” which I first read at least 30 years ago. I have just reread it. The book is a travel writing classic. It is both informative and very funny. They never do make their goal of climbing a mountain but it is a glorious failure. ...
I want to say thank you to the greatest fools I know. Cheers to Adestra as a company and many thanks for the job but most of all many thanks to Henry, Steve and Tom for their support. Hell where else could you work and be allowed to do this. You is wicked mans. May your yaks milk for many years. Note: Look up yak before you thank me for the blessing.
Inside Central Asia
There are some curious formula to be found in the book ‘Inside Central Asia’ by Dilip Hiro. In the introduction he populates the region with Europeans, Mongolians and Iranians and then creates most of the other peoples thus. European + Mongol = Turk or Tartar (earlier this would have been Hun) Iranian + Mongol = Tajik Turk + Mongol = Kazakh or Kyrgyz Turk + Iranian = Uzbeki There...
In 1931 the Soviet military started to build a supply route, now part of the M41, running from Osh to Khorog. Known as the Pamir Hwy this road crosses the high Pamir plateau or as the locals call it, the roof of the world. The Pamir is not a single range of mountains but a complex mix of ranges with deep valleys and deep blue lakes and many tributaries which feed the Vakhsh and Pyanj rivers....
Thought of the day.
Parsnips are not a fruit. If you want to know why read this.
A Tribute to W. C. Fields
Things the great man said that may have little or no relevance to participants of the Mongol Rally. Some liberties have been taken but god damn it’s better than living in Philadelphia. “A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.” “Camels are like women, I love to look at them but I would not want to marry one.” ...
Thought of the day, crapola by any other name.
Genius is often found in foolish ideas. The sober have to struggle to keep up. If you are now feeling sad read this.
It's a Charity Thing.
The Mongol Rally is all about raising money for charity and in particular for the cheeky young chaps pictured above. Team Dances with Yaks along with Adestra Ltd aim is to raise as much as possible for our chosen charities. Everything including the car that we drive to Mongolia is donated to charity. The costs of travel, petrol, visas and accommodation are paid from our own pockets....
Tajikistan in it’s present form is a relatively young country but it has roots that go back to 6th century BC and beyond. It was home to the ancient Sogdian and Bactrian peoples and was a sort of cross road for ancient civilisations. The Sogdians, centred around Samarkand, occupied Northern Tajikistan, Eastern Uzbekistan and North Eastern Turkmenistan and though never united were a powerful...
Thought of the day
Boredom is natures true vacuum, I abhor boredom. Come adventure, come life, come and set my imagination alight. Is hell a place on earth? Read this.
Testing the iPhone app.
I’m not 100% sure how I can keep this blog updated while I am on the road. One option is to use the tumblr iPhone app. So here is a test blog entry. To make this a worthwhile post here is some information. I have now applied and paid for all the required visas to get me to Ulan Bator. This leaves the return journey to sort out, but hey that’s just a detail. Also I very much...
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This poem by A. E. Housman is supposed to be a comment on socialist governance. If so surely the bear must be Russia and the child it’s peoples and vassal states. The Grizzly Bear is huge and wild; He has devoured the infant child. The infant child is not aware He has been eaten by a bear. “Infant Innocence” - A.E. Housman
All a bit previous.
I have been getting ahead of myself here, I’m writing a travel journal before the journey has begun and what is worse I have sort of started in the middle. The best justification I can make is that I’m excited about doing the Mongol Rally and I’m thinking of all the places I could visit along the way. So I’ve been doing a little bit of armchair touring. This rather...
Odessa or Odessus
The ancient Tartar port of Hadji-bey was not up to much. It offered poor anchorage and it’s exposed location resulted in the bay freezing solid in winter. It did however boast a small Ottoman fortification which also happened to be the largest to be found in the north west of the Black Sea. The port was captured for Russia in 1789 by one of John Paul Jones’s protégées. It was...
The Battleship Potemkin
In 1925 Sergei Eisenstein directed what has been called the greatest film ever made and certainly it can be viewed as a great piece of political propaganda. The film depicts the 1905 rebellion by the crew of the Battleship Potemkin while in dock at Odessa. Francis Bacon among many others have cited the film as being very influential in their own work. The Potemkin was part of the Imperial...
The division between Europe and Asia is entirely fictional. The Romans drew the line between east and west along the Rhine, later it was the Carpathian mountains and then the Volga. Some gave up and pushed on into Siberia then America, making east west and west east. If you had to draw a line between such coenjoined continents then in this case there is no better choice than the Volga river....
The Mystery of the Irish Elk
Coming soon, the complete and true story of one of natures giants and how the Marmot brought about its downfall.
The Black Sea
The Black Sea and its shores are one of the strangest and most fascinating places in the world. At one time it was a huge 2000m deep fresh water lake but when the Mediterranean sea broke in via the Bosphorus dense salt water started to flow in and sink to the bottom of the lake. The result is a peculiar two current system, fresh water flows from the top of the Black Sea out into the...
The Mongol Rally
The Mongol rally is a 10,000 mile journey through the wild east of the European psyche. Here lay the Mongol hordes, the Huns, Goths and Sarmatian knights. Here is the source of the black death, cholera and bird flu. The wind from the east carries nothing short of death and pestilence. All that history has taught us would have us put a great sign on the road east that reads “Abandon all...
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