Blog: Do the Mongol Rally

Sofia Vyas considers taking an epic road trip from the UK to Russia that’s not all about reaching your destination, but how badly you can botch the journey…

The Knowledge

I want to do The Mongol Rally. If you’ve never heard of it, I’ll summarise: Find the worst car you possibly can – really, the absolute worst. The most banged up banger of a vehicle that exists, and one with – and this is essential – an engine of just one litre or less. Bonus points if you can find one with crucial parts missing, such as doors or a bumper.

Soup up said car (with assorted ridiculousness like fluff and glitter, perhaps strap an old sofa to the roof) and drive said car from the UK to Ulan Ude in Russia. There’s no back-up and no support vehicles, just you, your car, and the open roads (if you can call them that) of Eurasia. As their website states, ‘If nothing goes wrong, everything has gone wrong.’

I don’t want to brag, but if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s royally messing up adventurous trips. During university I enthusiastically signed up to a charity hitchhike from Leeds to Morocco. From start to finish the event was a disaster. We left two days late, napped on the ferry instead of securing an all-important lift, wasted another day trying to find somewhere selling tents and spent the next seven desperately trying to make our way south, but frustratingly only managing to head east. With T-minus five days to our non-refundable Ryanair flight out of Marrakech and more than 2,000km still to cover, we started to panic.

An overnight train, a ten-hour bus ride, an unfortunate encounter with a homeless stowaway and the last of our funds later, we sat bleary-eyed in the ferry terminal at Algeçiras amid that chaos characteristic of large families travelling together who don’t share the British love of queuing.

Link Community Development, the charity behind the annual event, give you more help than you could possibly need. They send you a handy pack of letters translated into French and Spanish explaining exactly what you’re doing, and their meticulous safety measures ensure they are able to keep track of you at all times. On one occasion I was less than 30 minutes late sending the daily ‘we haven’t been kidnapped’ update and two members of my family had already been promptly contacted.

If so much went wrong with so much help, I can only come to the conclusion that entering a rally in which disaster is more or less the aim of the game would be nothing short of perfect. Over 8,000km, through at least one of the ’stans and with a car that will most likely break down or worse (one recently exploded), what could go right? If all goes to plan, absolutely nothing.

Sofia Vyas is our features editor. We won’t be asking her for help planning our next road trip…

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