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Mongolia Adventure

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Andrew Thompson Andrew Thompson | 15:19 UK time, Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Hello, it is Andrew here, and today I'm going to talk about an ambulance, driving a long way, and Mongolia! The story is that I have been working in the BBC a long time - so long that I get something called 'long service leave' - more time off. I'm taking my longer holiday at the end of this month, and I have decided to have a small adventure. I am joining something called the 'Mongol Rally'. It is an event that is now organised every year. A group of people drive all the way from Britain to Mongolia. It is about 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometres). This year around 400 cars will be doing it, leaving from Goodwood in southern England, but also from Barcelona in Spain, and Milan in Italy. Why? Well for fun, and also to raise money for various charities. The idea is also to try and donate something useful for Mongolia, a developing country. In my case I've decided to donate an ambulance - the one I'm sitting in the picture!

I've heard that there aren't many ambulances in the country, and I found a small private ambulance company that donated one for me to deliver. All I have had to do is spend some money making sure it is roadworthy. You can read about the Mongol Rally here


I will be driving with my friend Mike - here's a picture of both of us. We will either have a wonderful time or get very irritated with each other - we expect to sit in the same ambulance 12 or 14 hours a day, so he had better like my driving! I'm not sure if I should tell him I like to sing very loudly when I drive! Seriously, though, we are planning a route that should take us through the Czech Republic (there is a party in a castle there which we MUST attend), Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia, and perhaps a few other countries too. If you live in one of those countries, tell me what places we must visit! We're also thinking that if there is time perhaps we could try and meet some of the readers of this blog and offer you a free English language conversation class. We'd like to talk to you in your language, but the only other languages we know are Spanish, French, and Portuguese - not very useful on a trip to Mongolia.

You can see details of our plans on our Brighton to Baatar website. We've called our team that because we both used to live in Brighton. I still do but Mike has moved to another nearby town in southern England called Newhaven.

Do let me know if you have any suggestions for the trip. I will take pictures and hope to publish some blogs as we travel. I have to admit I don't know too much about mechanics, so I might have to ask your advice on how to fix any engine problems we may have. We also have a FaceBook group you might like to look at. We set out on July 24th. Wish us luck!




  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Andrew,
    This is a phantastic project! I was just going to say, "what good can it possibly do to the people of Mongolia if some lun--er-- adventurous Europeans (or Americans) simply take a break off their jobs and wives, living an adolescent dream of freedom on the road?" - but taking an ambulance there sounds like a reasonable idea! Seriously, I wish you lots of luck, lots of helpful mechanics whenever you may need them, lots of friendly encounters. If, by any chance, you should decide to make a detour across the east of Austria - well, I would unhesitatingly turn my place into a free B&B for you, but please, don't speak Spanish or Portuguese with us. I'm afraid there would be no help from my part with regard to engine problems. I could just show you the way to the nearest garage, but I would volunteer as an interpreter for German (or Austrian dialects, as the case may be)...
    The timing might be a problem though. Anyway, I'll keep track of you.
    All the best,
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 2.

    Hello Andrew
    I think it is a good idea. I live in Samara city in Russia. I guess your way will lay southward of Samara but if you want to change a course you are welcome. There are most picturesque sights of Volga and Zhiguli national park.
    Actually must useful language in your voyage could be Russian. All countries from Czech Republic to Mongolia were a russian-speaking zone in Soviet period.
    The trouble is that the roads in Russia, Kazakhstan and I suppose in Mongolia are in bad condition. You should drive a car carefully and got repair parts if you want to reach a goal. I’m afraid that the car would cry for a repair after you’ll get Ulaanbaatar.
    I hope you’ll meet a lot of kindly and helpful people in your way and see plenty of interesting places.
    Good luck

  • Comment number 3.

    Hello Andrew! Amazing! This has totaly changed my view on the head of the BBC LE. As Catherine descibed it two years back you look not just relaxed but are pretty Adwenturous too. What I´ll envy you that are unendles planes with horses in Mongolia you´ll have seen at the end, than maybe Samarkand and other walues places there which I´ve never seen, Kaukasus maybe with the most hospitable people you may meet... and so on. However, I´ll be a bit cautious about the appearance of that wehicle ralated to your abbilities to mend the engine. I´ll watch the webb for information. Anyway, GOOD LUCK at driving, hope for unbroken friendship with Mike at the end and SUCCESS to the charity action! All the best, m

  • Comment number 4.

    Dear Andrew,

    How are you? Long time no see.

    Seeing your photo brought back nice memories for me. I cannot believe it has been two years since I had the opportunity to meet you in the BBC LE office. Reading your entry a vision of meeting with you again spring to mind immediately... it is my turn now. I am ready for an English language conversation class and I do not want it for free. I can offer you accommodations in our house. How nice it would be to have dinner with you (I would cook some typical Hungarian or Slovak dishes – chicken paprika or “bryndzové halušky” and bake cocoa snails, of course). I am sure that Slovakia is one of the countries that you should go through so this is a warm welcome to my country and my house.

    Anyway, I love so much the idea of this charity event. Great!

    Hope everyone is fine at the office. Please give my best wishes to everyone. Could you do me a favour – can I leave a message to Carrie? Thanks in advance. Dear Carrie, even though, I have not been a regular commentator on your blog lately I have been reading all your interesting entries. I have still been one of the BBC LE faithfuls but I have been up to ears with work both in our office and at home. I will try to do my best down the track, promise.

    Well Andrew, the best of luck with your ambulance, driving a long way and Mongolia! I am looking forward to hearing from you and meeting you as well. In the meantime, take care!

    Anita from Slovakia

  • Comment number 5.

    Dear Andrew
    You and mike are going to face a huge challenge.I'm going to follow you by readig your reports. I attache here the translated text of the "Traveller's Prayer".In my religion - Judaism- we have this pray in my old languge Hebrew.I'll pray for you and Mike to accomplish this adverture safely:
    " May it be Your will, LORD, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead them toward peace, guide their footsteps toward peace, and make them reach their desired destination for life, gladness, and peace. May You rescue them from the hand of every foe, ambush along the way, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to earth. May You send blessing in their handiwork, and grant them grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see them. May You hear the sound of their humble request because You are God Who hears prayer requests. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who hears prayer."
    Take care
    Danny (Israel)

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Andrew , I wish the best for your Mongolia rally .It 's too excitting ! I saw your web page too but I can't signed up ,any way ...
    I will follow youand your friend , sure . It 's too nice that you have such a long holiday and it 's nicer that you use the best of it ! Good Job ! I hope you rise more money for your charity work .
    all the best
    Pary from Iran

  • Comment number 7.

    It 's the socond bit of the cherry
    By the way I really liked your travel prayer Danny good Job Did you translate it yourself to English ?
    Pary from Iran

  • Comment number 8.

    Dear Pary
    I am very glad to read your comment,thanks.I didn't traslate it. I have it translated.
    Keep in touch

  • Comment number 9.

    Hello, it is Andrew again, responding to your really encouraging and inspiring comments. Elisabeth, you are right of course, it IS an adolescent dream, but I think it is advisable to have a few at my age (!) and if it can help other people, even better! Victor, Samara sounds really attractive. My mother was a Russian speaker, so I've always loved the sound of your language. Anita - wonderful to hear from you, we'll be in touch! Danny, that is a great prayer, we are going to feel specially protected. Pary, I like your second bite of the cherry. Meanwhile, Mike and I have five days to go before we set out and we are making lists, lists, lists. Camera? Yes. Sun tan lotion? Yes. Maps? Have a big map of Europe but I need to get road maps of Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan..... I'll let you all know how it goes!

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Andrew,

    Your trip is very interesting and adventurous. Although my country Vietnam is not on your route, I want to give you a wish "Have a good trip". In the one hand, such an event is meaningful and significant because it is not only an adventure, but charity by donating money and other useful things to those in need in Mongolia. In the other hand, it is clear that while most people in developed countries have met basis needs, a lot of those living in developing and under-development nations are struggling to survive because they are lack of supplies. Therefore, it is needed to encourage more people to take part events like this or donate to charities to help many more in poor countries. I can argue that life will be better if we are sharing and caring.



  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Andrew,
    I wish you luck! It will be classy and unforgettable (in nice meaning) adventures, I'm sure! I've read almost all entries in your and Jamie Mac's websites about 'Mongol Rally'. But it's very vague yet for me what are the sities you are going to visit in the Central Russia during the Rally. For example, will you do stay a few time in Moscow, or, may be even in Ivanovo? I live in Ivanovo, it's not far from Moscow, I have two empting living rooms and I live alone, please I invite with pleasure you and your team also, to be my guests.
    And it would be very nice if you can to visit my Mother/Fatherland on shore Aral Sea - the small town Aralsk (Kazakhstan), I was born in this town, it's my great love, Aral Sea is always in my mind. I would be very happy to show you the Aral Sea which is luckily for us gradually comes to life. If you want I will be going to go to Aralsk within one week. Yes.
    Have a Good journey, Andrew!

  • Comment number 12.

    Hello Andrew!

    I wish I was living in among those countries. The cause you are heading for is great and what I believe is that these deeds work in two ways, one is it brings smile to sad faces and the other way it brings satisfaction to heart. I wish you all good.


  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Andrew,
    I'm trying to catch up with all the blogs.
    I admire you for taking the decision to donate an ambulance and to drive from Britain to Mongolia!!! 16.000 kilometres..............WOW!!! I can't imagine how it may feel but I wish you the best of the times. Hope you have a fantastic journey and that you meet nice people.
    Have a good time. Enjoy yourself.
    Take care,
    Cristina (from BA- Argentina)

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Andrew! What an adventure!
    What a pity I don´t live in any of these countries, but I´m glad to know you´ve met our friend Anita in Slovakia.
    Good luck and have a great time,
    Ana Paula, Brazil.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hello Andrew! A good thing about traveling is that there is a time to observe and for pondering too. Thanks for sharing this matter with us. You honoured a journalist in yourself and have done it well! Steinbeck, however, traveled acros the country which conditions and his life history were well connected. Maybe Tolstoy or new Hemingway would have choosen the subject but you got the point too... This is a comment to your "Musings on the Road to Constanta"; it´s too difficult to log in there for me.. All the best there!

  • Comment number 16.

    Hello Andrew,

    I think you’re right on the way to Mongolia now with your ambulance. Thanks for the link page, Andrew. It’s nice to learn detail about 'Mongol Rally' there. It’s great that this is such an event organized not only for fun but also with the view to collect money for charity.

    I wish if I were in one of the countries you’ll visit in this rally. How lucky our friend Anita is! I think you’ve already met her and enjoyed the special menus she mentioned.

    Thanks a lot, Anita. It’s because you’re representing all of us, the BBCLE learners. I don’t know what about the invitation from Emat, Kazakstan. Share the update please.

    I think Mike is enjoying with you.

    I’d like to share an important issue here, as I can say nothing about driving. You know, I come from Bangladesh, a developing country. It’s a small country with 140 million people, where most of the population come from poor class or live below poverty line. In addition, it’s well-known to the world as a disaster prone country, which is steadily becoming more vulnerable due to climate change issues. As you’re engaged in charity work, I request you to think about our country, about its mass people.

    Have a safe journey, Andrew.

    Ashish, Bangladesh.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hello Andrew,

    I was browsing the BBCLE website and I found your blog. I had no idea you were off on a rally to Mongolia. How very exciting! I hope you have a wonderful time. I can't wait to see the pictures.



  • Comment number 18.

    Hi!I´ve just read a new masterpiece of journalism. Never read Sholokhow " The Quiet Don"? Ever you are plannig to drive in new EU member´ countries you need an actual road map!That was surely heroic to go through such real life conditions experience. Hope for better ones!m

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Andrew,Wish your travel will be successful and you will collect much money for the charity.It's very exciting adventure.Mongolia is next to our country China.If you have the chance to China,I will try my best to help you.And looking forwarder to your update blog about your adventure. In fact,your spirit,kind action and courage is inspired me.Bodhisattva will bless you.take care of yourself and your friend.my best wishes to you and your friend.


  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Ashish,
    above you asked about my invitation, I was corresponding with Andrew by sms, but his route and the convoy passed so far from my town, alas. There's no way I could have managed to meet him. But, main thing is the rally goes without any serious incident. And it's great! I'm reading everyday Mongol Rally website, it's very interesting and in places it's very funny written. (It seems Andrew neglected this blog here...but, just in case, hello Andrew :)
    Best wishes,

  • Comment number 21.

    Dear Andrew!

    Hope you and Mike are doing well. I have been following your blog with interest for a few weeks now and I love it.

    Thank you so much for accepting my invitation, for coming and staying with me and my family in our home. Thank you for the wonderful evening once again. I was honoured to meet you and have you here.

    Dear Ashish from Bangladesh! Your words are really heart-warming.

    Dear Emat from Kazakhstan! I am really sorry to hear that you could not manage the meeting.

    Take care,


  • Comment number 22.

    Dear Anita: I do feel it from core of my heart. Thanks a lot again. I really do envy you and your family having the nice evening with Andrew and Mike.

    Dear Emat: I'm sorry to hear that you missed Andrew as the route is far away from yours. But, strongly do I believe that you're far away only physically but not mentally. So, be with them. Keep in touch.

    Take care.


  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Dear Andrew,
    Congratulations to your triumphant and glorious entry into Ulaan Baatar! So now, no longer will you be called Andrew; your name will be Andrew Khan :)
    Good luck!

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Andrew! It seems to me that you look like complete another man at the end of rally than at the beginning. Congratulation! Folowing the story had been fascinating and the main topic for talks with my father at afternoon´ beer-hour this summer. All the best! m

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi Andrew and congratulation for finishing your adventure great ! I follow your web page eagerly and I really like it . I didn't think it must be so difficult ... . You must be proud of your Job ! well done ! By the way , wasn't it difficult to drive on the left ? Hope to read your updated Blog here in BBC .
    see you around
    Pary fro mIran

  • Comment number 26.

    well, I would like to use this oppertunity to express my opinion. Most of the comments were most relevant. I would appreciate if I read something innovative and scope of learning. Ofcourse one opinion is about certain thing. But all comments against the innovative aspect and request you "to avoid" reperetion and monotonous.
    best regards
    Raghuram Boddeda
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]India.


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