For this episode of 1001 Travel Tales, Shobha and I spoke with Alice Nettleingham of Teacake Travels, mostly about the Mongol Rally. (We were at the World Travel Market in London, which is why you hear lots of crowd noise behind us.)
You can listen here on iTunes, or click on the image below to listen on SoundCloud.
The Mongol Rally
We spoke about the Mongol Rally because it was still fresh in Alice’s mind. She’d only been home a few weeks. After our interview, I looked it up. It’s nuts!
The rules are simple:
- The car has to be small and have an engine of 1 liter or less. To quote the Mongol Rally website, it has to be “small & sh*t.” You can also choose to take a motorbike up to 125cc.
- You’ll have no support from the organizers. Your car breaks down? Figure it out yourself!
- Raise a minimum of ₤1000 for charity, ₤500 of which goes to the rally’s official charity: Cool Earth, which “works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction.”
So how far is the Mongol Rally?
I just checked on Google Maps, and if you went straight (which the organizers frown on) you would travel 8,528 kilometers (5300 miles). You would pass through England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus and Russia, to the end point in Ulan-Ude.
However, it’s called the Mongol Rally for a reason. It used to end in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. The organizers frown on (or outright mock) anyone taking the direct route and bypassing Mongolia. Teams are expected to include Mongolia in their itinerary, then cut up to the end point on the last day.
So in that case, you’d have to go from Poland into the Ukraine, then through a piece of Russia, Kazakhstan (which is huge, by the way!), China and Mongolia, then into Russia again.
Alice Nettleingham and the #WeLive team went even further south, through Germany into Austria, then through the countries of the former Yugoslavia, then Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, a handful of “stans” (i.e. former Soviet republics), Mongolia, and then to the finish in Ulan-Ude. This would end up well over 10,000 kilometers (6200 miles)! And they did it in “49-ish” days.
The word “epic” is overused, but I think it might apply in this case.
Would I go on the Mongol Rally?
Yes, I think I would if I could. It sounds like you spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car, but the scenery must be stunning. I would insist, though, on taking along a high-quality, thick mattress for the nights we’d camp. And I’d want to stay in hotels whenever possible!
Here’s my fantasy: I’d like to do the Mongol Rally with my family: my husband, my daughter and my son. That would be the best! And at least one of us would take a basic car repair course first.
You can read all about the Mongol Rally here.
Alice Nettleingham and Teacake Travels
Alice wrote about her experience in the Mongol Rally on her blog, Teacake Travels, which she dubs a “feminist, forthright, fear fighting travel blog.”
And that’s what it is: Alice takes a no-holds-barred approach to whatever she writes about, whether it’s the highs or the lows of travel, her love life, teaching abroad, or anything. She doesn’t hold back. I highly recommend it!
If you’d like to read the transcript of this podcast, Shobha has posted it here on her blog, Just Go Places.
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Would you like to do the Mongol Rally? Add your thoughts below!