””

I gazed out of the tent into barren plains of Mongolia. Nothing moved except the icy fog of my breath against the first rays of dawn. I wiped away the layer of frost that had settled on my face. (Ok, just a tad overly dramatic but it was one of the coldest nights of my life.) We were only a couple days from the end of our road trip from London to Ulaanbaatar Mongolia, driving 1/3 the planet.
A Backpackers Tale: Adventure Travel Blog - Mongol Rally
For the most part, I enjoyed the comforting peace of the endlessness of the still mornings away from the never-ending grind of western society. However when you are lost on the Mongol Rally  in the middle of nowhere, in a country that doesn’t even have proper roads, that peace is often replaced with intimidation.

Ash turned on the GPS. It couldn’t give routes or even tell us where in the world we actually were, but we used it to see where our path immediately led and any mountains in the distance.

Those became the only tools of navigation for us modern day Mulligans.

After getting our bearings, we pack up camp, my team, the cads and I push started our clutchless car, and proceeded to bump down our “best guess” out of the dozens of dirt roads. Within an hour of driving, we noticed a cloud of dust growing larger behind us and within minutes we saw another Mongol Rally team in our rear view mirror. We were saved!
 Adventure Travel Blog
After a brief conversation, we decided to tag along with the other team to look for a Mongolian man who was rumored to let visitors hold his Golden Eagles. However, after an hour of making our own roads trying to find him, and getting stuck in creeks and sand dunes at least a half a dozen times, this idea was quickly abandoned. We decided it was time to go back to the main dirt road.

After a brief conversation, we decided to tag along with the other team to look for a Mongolian man who was rumored to let visitors hold his Golden Eagles. However, after an hour of making our own roads trying to find him, and getting stuck in creeks and sand dunes at least a half a dozen times, this idea was quickly abandoned. We decided it was time to go back to the main dirt road.

In the next town, we stayed the night and waited for the rest of our convoy, who had backtracked to look for us, to catch up. Our convoy consisted of The Village Idiots, a member of the Snappy Break Kids, (Kevin’s girlfriend who had backtracked to finish the rally with him after their car unluckily blew up just a couple hundred kilometers before the finish line), and The Need for Speedos, a group of guys who wore speedos and nothing else throughout almost the entire rally. Ash, George, Kevin, and myself quickly stocked up on supplies, and we headed out. Tonight we were planning on crossing the line and finish this quest. The only problem was that while we stocked up on supplies, I decided to eat a mystery noddle dish, covered in mystery meat, smothered with a mystery sauce.
 

One Mongol Rally Tip -DON’T do this!

I quickly learned that my stomach is not a fan of mystery foods. Within an hour, I was hunched over in pain, belly churning, forehead sweating, and filled with nausea. I knew I was in for the most intense food poisoning of my life. I struggled to keep my composer whenever the car hit a bump. Gulp! I knew right away that the mystery food saw each bump as an opportunity to escape.

“Pull Over,” I shouted.

Ash, who was driving, shouted, “What?”.

George, sitting in the back with me, glanced at my face and instantly saw what was happening and started shouting with panic in his voice, “He wants you to pull over. Pull over”.

The car came to a halt. I kicked opened the door and without even taking the time to unbuckle my seatbelt, stuck my head outside the car, and began to throw up.

Now when you are in such close quarters with people for an extended amount of time, you become extremely comfortable with them, and things that aren’t considered normal, somehow become normal. So when I looked and saw through my watery eyes, while clutching my stomach, that George had jumped out of the car, ran around to my side, and started filming the whole thing as Ash and Kevin chuckled in the front seat, I didn’t really think anything of it.

As we kept driving, pulling over to the side of the road became the theme for the day and my mood turned sour. This wasn’t because of battling extreme food poisoning, but because after so many days, weeks, and months of working, driving and having fun, I was going to cross the finish line sick.

Around one in the morning, fate intervened. The Village Idiots got a flat (I think it was their 12th flat in two days) and had no way to repair it. We would have to drive back to the past town, wait until morning to get tires, and finish the next day. The remaining hours of that day became a blurry, yellow haze but luckily I survived. The next day came and after basically sleeping on the bathroom floor in a dirty Mongolian hotel, I was feeling much better. It was time to finish the Rally.

It was time to finish the Mongol Rally.

Within hours, we could see the outline of the city and excitement filled the car. However, it was soon followed by a wave of reality that this journey was almost at an end. A deep melancholy unexpectedly crept upon us.

 

Mongol Rally

You would think after 52 days of driving, 7,000 miles without a clutch in our car, given funny looks,being hassled at borders, camping in the wilderness, haggling with locals, getting in the backseat of Russian cop cars, experiencing , battling food poisoning, and being stranded, we would feel relieved to see the goal in sight. Well, yes, in a way, we all were.

However we were also torn.

Mongol Rally - Adventure Travel

We had these epic adventures and dangerous moments and finally had arrived at this point, but through it all, we had laughed, pouted, stewed, and bickered together. We had gone through hell and back to get here and along the way we had become brothers as we shared experiences that only a handful of people, people that have done the rally, could truly understand.

Now that the end was right in front of us, I was sure without a doubt, that all of us would have turned around and completed the whole trip back to London if the funds and visas were available.

Mongol Rally 2013

We entered the heavy traffic of the city; fighting motorbikes, cars, and pedestrians to the finish line. It was exciting, loud, and victorious but, it was also the end. We spent the next couple days getting finishing line pictures, partying together, and saying sad goodbyes.

“This was my Mongol Rally 2013 experience. Through two teams, I crossed the world in one of the greatest adventure travel experiences of my life. We laughed, we cried, and we came together to form a ragtag family of explorers. We finished the race. We LIVED.” 

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