Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dave and Deb's Amazing Adventure! : The Mongol Rally.

I can't help blogging for Dave and Deb from Planet D who are off on the Mongol Rally, an adventure I have long had bookmarked ever since I heard about it when friends from my first EHRA project started off on the Plymouth- Timbuktu, Mali Rally in 2009. Which incidentally they didn't complete because of troubles in Mauritania.

"Exclusive The Plymouth to Dakar Challenge - a charity drive across the Sahara using highly unsuitable cars - has been forced into a last minute cancellation because of warnings of al-Qaeda snatch squads targeting drivers on the route."  Read here- plymouthbanjul_cancelled/

I was really interested in that rally as a pair of my boots were heading along with Edwin, making sure his feet were warm and dry. Tough that my boots couldn't complete the trip. I'd often felt I should be tramping through the dusty streets of Timbuktu! My boots that went on walking.

While reading up on that challenge I came across the Mongol Rally and thought what a great adventure!? We have long wanted to return to Mongolia, and also explore the countries that border it to the North in the Russian Federation- Tuva and Altai Republic, or even Buryatia. Similar cultures to Mongolia - nomadic herders, a history of Ghenghis Khan, throatsinging and gers or yurts. And dried cheeses that disprove the saying - as different as chalk and cheese.

Dave and Deb start shortly. And they refused to take me, even though I offered to ride on the roof rack. They even had someone steal the roof rack so they could politely refuse me! Thankfully a kind supporter has helped replace that, so I have been waiting for the word.... Hey Dave, yoohooo....

What's so exciting about Mongolia? What lures me back? What stirs my dreams?
 Well I can tell you now that everyday in my workshop I enjoy the luxury of being able to play music all day long - the music I have collected from our travels. The CDs I have purchased off all those street performers in Prague, Mascato Children's Choir from Swakopmund, Cape Town's Waterfront groups, Shiba from Swaziland's Mbabane main street, Gypsy music from Hungary and Romania, Sufi From Turkey ...lots of stuff from all over. But the most enjoyable has to be the music and singing from Mongolia  or Tuva!

Extremely melodic, hauntingly evocative of the vast steppes and a horse dependant people, and strangely addictive once you really begin to listen. Much easier on our Western ears than any other Asian style of music, possibly because of the long association and at times domination of Russia, and the crossover of their great classical composer traditions.

So I really had liked the idea of blatting along the Kazakhstan roads that head straight for 100's of kilometres, ( if you can call them roads ) and the dirt tracks of rural Mongolia gurgling and gargling away sounding off my best Mongolian throatsinging style just to keep Dave and Deb from falling asleep at the wheel from boredom.

If anyone has seen the Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman doco of their Long Way Round motorcycle trek from London to Mongolia to Alaska and finishing in New York, you may recall the first part where they were sorting out motorcycles. Well, when Kay and I saw that episode, and the huge motorway cruiser bikes they chose, we fell about the floor laughing at their choice! They were not going to have an easy time with those huge, heavy, and so hard to lift up out of the mud machines we said to each other.
 You see, we have driven Mongolian main highways and knew what those roads looked like. And we had driven on their better roads. Charley and Ewan would be further West where roads are almost non-existent, or boggy in the Spring thaw. So we were glued to the screen for their Mongolian adventure, where one bike clapped out and their companion had to buy a cheap Russian made, very basic, chunky but oh so light bike, and wizzed past those two as they lifted their bikes out of the bog once again.

Someone didn't do their homework on that one.

This is what Mongolian roads look like- the better ones! And this is dry season.

 So having all this vast experience of driving in Mongolia I'm surprised they didn't want me along as chief navigator and chef! I can cook pretty well too, just ask Fred on our Botswana Safari. And if I can survive a 4WD safari through Botswana, Mongolia would be a breeze.

OK, just ranting because I'm jealous as hell. They are going to have a whale of a time. Keep up with their adventures here -

Meantime these are some favourite Youtube clips for Mongolian music. Dave and Deb will be heard tootling over the vast grassy steppes, gurgling away in their best throatsinging impressions...while looking for that road that should be there somewhere.

 Enjoy these-
This for Kazakhstan. Cool dance entrancer! Turn that volume way up!
More correctly Chinese Xinjiang Kazakhs but what the heck. Love it.

And for Mongolia try this- beautiful-

And try this also - The Tuvan Huun Huur Tu boys will rock your socks off for you across the vast steppes!



Stephanie - The Travel Chica said...

The movie Long Way Round introduced me to that part of the world (and made me want to be best friends with those 2). I am excited to read about Dave and Deb's adventures on the Mongol Rally too.

Jeremy Branham said...

I met Sherry at TBEX along with Anil and Jenny who are doing this with Rick and Deb and Dave. Should be an awesome adventure and will be fun to follow along!

Grace said...

Jim, I love love love A Long Way Round. It's because of that show that I want to travel to Mongolia and stay in a yurt. So envious that you had been there! As for the Mongol Rally my coworker actually did it last year and had the craziest adventure. Dave and Deb are in for some fun.

Norbert said...

Jim, I would have fought for that roof rack space too! lol I follow Dave & Deb's blog and I'm really excited for the adventure they have ahead. Thanks for sharing those youtube videos of Mongolian music. I had never heard their music style. Totally different from what I had imagined.

Jim said...

Yeah Norbert, I thought I donated enough to secure a spot on that roof rack! Hey those Kazakh throatsingers are incredibler at a party.. a few drinks...well lots actually, turn the volume up and just groove away. Crazy sound.
Great dance trance music.

Grace, Mongolia I would go back to in an instant. I just loved the people, the culture, the music, the food ( well umm not the foof... it was OK ) and the vast open vistas. Loved it.
You will too. Hard place to travel around in. You may need to mix a tour in with some independant travel.

Hi Jeremy, yes, I had heard there were others doing it but haven't hooked in with them. I think Dave and Deb did fantastic marketing for their adventure!

Hi Stephanie, welcome! Yes a great intro to Mongolia, and there are several films around that anyone going to Mongolia could watch to give them a flavour for the place, - TStory of the Weeping Camel, Cave of the Yellow Dog, and Paul Pena's "Ghengis Blues" especially if you want to sink into real throatsinging!