www . Drive to Mongolia . org

Diary

We are currently working on a chronology and diary for this page, but for the moment here are some highlights from the trip.

Drive to Mongolia with the Mongolia Rally!

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Highlights so far

Georgian Hospitality thanks to Iraqli and his extended family.

Seeing the gold Turkmenbashi Statue (the President of Turkmenistan, self proclaimed "Leader of the Turkmen") on top of the ridiculous arch of neutrality. The statue rotates to always face the sun!

Turkmenistan petrol prices. 26000MONAT to the US dollar. 400MONAT per litre. It cost us less than a dollar to fill the tank!

We have not paid a single bribe so far, apart from a few cigarettes to help things along.

Turkmen hospitality. The people were amazing and we have frequently been given escorts to the edge of town to get on the right road. On our way to the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border, one guy drove about 15km to get us through the checkpoints and to the border (we would never have found it otherwise)

The new Motorway leaving Ashgabat, Turkmenistan for Mary. This was a wonderful new road and as we accelerated through the sign posts to Mary we approached a no entry sign and the road stopped. No road, just desert. We turned around and spent another hour trying to leave the city!

The very amusing customs officers at the Uzbekistan border. Bored and curious, there was one guy who spoke excellent English and we had a lot of fun as they sort-of checked our car for porn and, well, porn! They were fascinated by Will's fishing gear, bemused by our car, and completely floored by the fact that we were 25 & 26 and not married. At the end of the 'search', the English speaking officer wrote on the back of our car "You are good boys but you must marry".

Low points so far

Austrian car mechanics who break the car and then shrug and walk away.

Boring European autobahns.

Romanian driving. With their crazy overtaking, worn out ex-Soviet cars and the seven car accidents we passed during our drive through the country.

The 17 year old conscripted Police in Turkmenistan. Dressed like Hitler youth, and acting like Hitler youth, we would be stopped at least every 50km, often every few km. We would then have to show at the very least our passports. Often we would have to be 'registered' which would involve the very slow and inaccurate filling out of our details into a book. Sometimes our passports would be held until we paid money. A war of attrition would then start and eventually they would relent and return the passports.

Turkmenistan bureacracy. 5 hours to get off the ferry and into the country. No queues, just very slow form filling and many forms. Just when we thought everything was done, we got in the car and the port gate remained closed. We had to pay a 10USD port fee. This involved: 1) Going to the port office to get an invoice (stamped). 2) Take the invoice to the cash office (another building). 3) The cash office produce 2 complete sets of receipts. Each receipt involves a triplicate book (each page stamped twice) and another receipt. 2USD processing fee had to be paid. We also had to wait for them to write another receipt which we took to the port office where the port office filled in another form that was then stamped. The gate, then opened!

Five - the number of unique stamps from different individuals required on one set of forms for the car on entry to Turkmenistan.

184USD - the total cost of taking the car through Turkmenistan (this includes a petrol compensation tax).

Turkmenistan.






©2005 Stephen Edwards & Will Dodsworth