How are you navigating?
We made a trip to Stanfords before we left and bought a set of 1:1000000 or so maps (they al contradict each other). We also bought a Garmin Geko 201 GPS just before we left, and this has proved to be invaluable: 1) The compass is badly off due to the car 2) Outside Europe, cities generally have no signs. Just passing through a city to go onto the next major town can involve going round in circles. The GPS tells us when this happens! 3) When we get back we can use Google Earth to fly back to some of the wacky places we have visited.
Our favoured navigation method on reaching a town is to stick our head out of the window, wave, smile, ask the name of the next town and wait for everyone to point in the same direction.
How do you keep in touch?
We have 2 mobile phones with us that we can use to send and receive calls (very expensive) and texts. Reception is surprisingly good. Most towns have mobile coverage. For example in Turkmenistan we had mobile coverage at the port (Turkmenbashi), Balkanabat, Ashgabat, Mary and Turkmenabat. Most hotels let you receive calls from abroad. We expect very little coverage in Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
What records are you keeping?
We are both keeping Diaries, although Will is doing much better than Stephen at keeping it up to date. We at least have the black and white facts, we will be able to fill in the 'colour' at a later date.
How are you shooting photos?
Will has a manual SLR. Stephen has bought lots of his Nikon kit. Mainly a D70 (digital), with F80 and FG film bodies in case the digital gear all dies. Lenses include 18-70DX 12-24f4DX, 80-200f2.8, 70-210f4-5.6, and a couple of primes. We also have a tiny Canon Ixus digital that we use when travelling light or shooting videos. Data is stored on an Epson P2000 with backup to a Freecom FHD-XS when possible in Internet Cafes. Photos on the D70 are shot in RAW+JPEG to allow easy updates of the websites and to keep a high quality file for use when we get back.
How are you updating the site?
We do have a laptop with us, but it is a very, very ancient 486 and is only of use for grabbing the Tracks from the GPS and a little typing. It will be left with the car if we have to abandon the vehicle. Many places have internet connections, although the speed is often very slow (everyone sharing dial-up) and the language is often set using various Crylic alphabets!
The photos are grabbed from the Epson P2000 and resized for FTP upload (and an automatic script that Stephen wrote in Georgia whilst recovering from his bug). Otherwise the site has to be updated manually at the moment.
How does the Text Messaging system work?
Stephen designed the Mongol Rally site with Tom and persuaded a few old friends to help with coding the text messages system. We send a text to a UK number that by some clever trickery appears on the rally site.