Heres where you'll find our latest updates on how we're doing and where we've got to. 'Cos we're nice and all we'll be sending out emails to those of you who give us your email addresses. Find out more about our mailing list on our updates page
We got into Istanbul last night at 6 pm last night… got to the hotel we were meant to meet other ralliers at at about half 8. The traffic and the drivers here are insane! Beautiful country though.
Having a great time so far. We set off last Saturday and have covered over 1800 miles already. Its been hard work and there have been a few all nighters that we’ve had to pull, swapping drivers and letting the other team mates sleep.
We’re convoying with a couple of other teams who are really cool people. They are “The Mongolian Taxi Company” and “Team Paddy Roo”. We’re heading off towards Iran tomorrow with them and a load of other teams who’d made it to Istanbul. It should be about 3 days and 1000 miles across Turkey so it’ll be hard going but we’re confident.
No major car troubles so far. We’ll send another email when we next get to a big city.
So we’ve made it to Uzbekistan. There are so many stories to tell!
Since our last update we’ve driven through Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan and part of Uzbekistan. We’ve been having a great time. Turkey and Iran had some of the most amazing landscapes I’ve seen.
We took 5 hours to get through the Iranian border from Turkey. There was lots of paperwork to be processed and it wasn’t helped by the searing heat. Finally we got through the border and down to the local town without passports or the carnet de passage we needed to get through Iran. A very kind gentleman who had “helped” us though our previous 5 hours took a member of each team into a restaurant to “finalise” the payment side of the process. We manage to haggle him down from 98 dollars per car to 30 dollars. Bargain!
We then had to drive from the border to Tabriz where we’d planned to stay. When we got to Tabriz we realised the hotel we were aiming for was going to be a little harder to find since the town wasn’t quite as small as we thought it might be! We followed signs to the airport in hope of finding hotels nearby. We got there at about midnight and didn’t find any hotels, instead we found hundreds of families picnicking by the side of the road on every bit of grass going! This is apparently a favourite past time for the Iranians, they will picnic anywhere!
We approached a family to ask for directions to a hotel. While we were talking to them quite a large crowd appeared to look at our cars and ask us what we were doing. The family that we’d approached then packed up their picnic and jumped into their car yelling at us to follow them and they’d take us to a hotel. All the hotels we went to were unfortunately fully booked so they took us to a campsite full of yet more Iranian picnickers! We were up til gone 3 am talking to all the locals on this campsite who were very interested in what we were doing and were very keen to practice their English. The next morning the family came back and gave us breakfast and paid for all five cars camping bill!
There are many more stories of the fantastic Iranian hospitality but not enough time to tell them all. Lets just say it is incredibly humbling to see an entire nation of people who would bend over backwards to accommodate complete strangers. Some teams were taken into family homes, fed and given beds for the night while the family moved out into the garden to camp!
After our amazing Iranian experience we pushed on into Turkmenistan, the country that we’d been most warned about. Arriving at the border at 4:50pm we were pushing our luck to make it through before the 5pm closing time, but the customs officials raced through the first piece of paperwork urging us to drive quickly to passport control. Passport control was closed, and being halfway through the exit procedure for Iran we didn’t want to confuse the issue by leaving the border, we were also dangerously low on fuel with at least 40km to the nearest petrol station on the Iranian side.
The only sensible option seemed to be camping in the car park with all of the truckers, so that’s what we did. It also gave us an opportunity to tidy the car which produced a large sack of rubbish from the back seat.
The border crossing was much more efficient the next morning and we were through in less than 3 hours. Ashgabat was as far as we intended to make it that day and we all relaxed by the pool at the Grand Turkmen hotel and kicked back with some beers in the evening.
Saturday morning was a lazy one and the convoy wasn’t ready to leave until 3pm at which point we decided to take a tour of the city for an hour. Ashgabat is a very clean city with all public buildings covered in white marble tiles of exactly the same size, it’s an oddly efficient idea.
The next 48 hours were spent crossing the desert towards Uzbekistan. On the way we saw camels and even got to taste camel milk, it was very sour, we wouldn’t recommend it.
The Uzbek border was almost impossible to find and we only managed with the help of friendly locals, Turkmenistan doesn’t appear to have heard of the road sign yet! The crossing took 3 hours, one of which was spent trying to convince the guards to let Dominic in with the car because Pat and Vicki couldn’t go anywhere on their own. It took some excellent acting on Vicki’s part to convince them, tears get you anywhere!
We’ve spent today exploring the city of Bukhara, one of the region’s oldest cities dating back to the 5th century BC. Tomorrow we push on to Tashkent, the furthest an Allegro has ever been!
We’re in Semey in Kazakhstan at the moment. A fair amount has happened since our last update so read on.
We spent rather longer in Uzbekistan than we planned since we decided to miss out Tajikistan. This meant that our visa dates we a little bit off but we got to recuperate in Tashkent for a while and we didn’t put the car through the bad roads and massive mountains in Tajikistan.
We are now no longer in a convoy as the other teams we were with (Gobi Ambulance and The Mongolian Taxi Company) decided to push on through to Kazakhstan rather than put their cars through the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. We parted ways with them and headed into the hills. It was definitely worth it! The border was hilarious, we got given a water melon by the guards and rather than give them a customary pack of cigarettes they gave us one then asked for a different one in return! The roads were excellent which gave us all an opportunity to take in the stunning scenery. That night we camped under the stars in the Kyrgyz mountains in a beautiful little valley.
The next day we went to Bishkek to a little cafe where we’d been informed by the lonely planet we could get a full English. Although not entirely accurate it was a good approximation and definitely hit the spot! We wandered around a market later on in the afternoon in out continual search for meths. (Its not got that desperate yet but we do need some for our stove. We’re using kerosene at the moment and its a bit… lively!) We tried our luck at the border into Kazakhstan since our Visas didn’t start til the next day but were turned away so we headed back down the road to camp. It had just got dark when we were joined by a member of the local Military Police. He shouted a lot at us in Russian and we got the gist that we should pack up and leave. He then made us follow his car back to the Police Station where we stood outside while one of his colleagues came to unlock the door. We explained what we were doing and where we were going using the little Russian we know and lots of hand signals. I let slip that I work with computers and once inside was presented with a computer and a printer and asked to get it to work. All the time drinking the cup of tea that I’d made where we were camping! Later on we were brought beer and bread and shown bootleg films in Russian. We were allowed to stay in the Police station and one of the Officers came and let us out in the morning!
In Kazakhstan now, there’re lots of long tiring roads here. All very straight, littered with potholes and very little to look at as far as the scenery goes. One of the highlights of today was seeing some trees after about 2 hours of flat golden fields!
We’ve been stopped for speeding 3 times already since they set ridiculously low limits for the roads. 40km/h (25mph) on roads where you can see for at least a quarter of a mile down the road and there are no buildings in site! Luckily we’ve not had to pay any fines as the police seem to be quite pleased to see the car. We’ve had a couple of stern finger waggings and one Policeman even signed the car!
We’re staying in Semey tonight and trying our luck getting into Russia a day early tomorrow as we have the same problem with our Visas. We think the Russian Border Guards might be a little more welcoming of some dollars so we may be able to bribe our way through!
After this it will be a quick stint in Russia before starting the week long push through Mongolia. We may be without Internet until we reach Ulaanbator so don’t worry if you don’t hear from us.
We’ve finally made it to the finish line! We rocked into Ulaanbaatar a couple of days ago, said goodbye to the car and started booking flights home!
A quick (or not so quick!) run down of the trials thrown at us over the last week:
Day 1 in Mongolia:
This was quite a short day, we drove from the border and conquered the massive hill before Ogily then camped just outside the town have waited for Team Hyding2Nothing to get a sump guard fitted.
Car problems - 0
Pressed on from Ogily to Khovd through some beautiful mountain ranges and more river crossings than you could shake stick at! Vicki proved to be an natural at the river crossings, getting through them with no trouble at all leaving hardened blokes in other teams in awe of her skills! This was only slightly marred by us loosing our exhaust for the first time just down the “road”! We stayed late in Khovd getting our exhaust reattached by a very friendly mechanic. We also realised that the rough roads and river crossings may have taken a toll on our alternator as our battery had run flat so needed to bump start the car. In keeping the revs up to charge the battery we managed to boil off all of our water!
Car Problems - 3
We woke up with the feeling that there was no point trying to push on to the next town with a dodgy alternator so nipped back into Khovd to get it fixed. Before doing so we had to fill the water back up that we’d boiled off the previous night, an unnamed team member managed to overtighten a plastic bung on the top of the car and snaped it, super glue prevailed! We got some help from some guys who took it apart and fixed the coil that had broken with some nail polish! We then set off to Altay. Boiled our water off twice more, lost the back section of our exhaust again and jammed the drivers door shut!
Car Problems - 4
Having camped with a load of new people and lost the Hyding2Nothing boys we set off at a slower pace in order to preserve the life of the car and keep the convoy. This didn’t stop our rear right brake failing (kindly fixed by Team Paddy Waggon), our rear wheels rubbing on the wheel arches and our boot no longer locking. Good news though because our drivers door mirraculously became un-jammed!
Car Problems - 2
Taking it very easy today we set off from our camp in the Gobi desert towards Bayankhonger we only covered a couple of hundred kilometers. No car problems though!!
Car Problems - 0
Pushed on ahead with Team Paddy Waggon and managed to get within 200Km of Ulaanbaatar thanks to some tarmac. This didn’t stop us loosing our exhaust again once the tarmac ran out! We also developed a very nasty knocking sound from the rear suspension because our bump stops had disintergrated. Being our last night camping in Mongolia we made a feast of all the food we had left and burned all the things we no longer needed.
Car Problems - 2
We got up fairly late and limped our car into UB tired and relived at finally making it we settled down with a couple of beers proud that we’d got the first Allergo not only to Mongolia but across it! The roads did take their toll on the car however with us losing out CB ariel from the roof, the unit itself from its mountings and our glove box disitergrated! We also managed to beach ourselves on a massive rut in the road!
Car Problems - 4
Tonight is the finishers party so it’ll a great opportunity to catch up with other ralliers and exhange horror stories!
Lots has happened since we last updated the website. We've got Barney back from the Rally Preparation Services guys and have been running the new engine in. We've been up to Birmingham, Nottingham, Bristol and even Wales. We've also had a bit of trouble with the car and had to replace the head gasket last weekend! Preparations are going well though and its now only 26 days until we set off!!
We went on an off road weekend in Wales which was a real treat! Got to meet up with a load of people who we'd met before and some that we'd not. I think everyone had a good night and it was really good to see everyones cars.
The car's been at Rally Preparation Services with Simon for the past few weeks, and the transformation is amazing. There's a new engine, gearbox and exhaust, there's a whole load of stiffening inside the car to stop the famous Allegro body wobble and there's now a much greater chance that our little Barney will make it to Mongolia!
Just added photos of our trip down to Kent to buy spare parts and also our trip out to Oxfordshire to see Barney and drop off the spare parts at the garage.
Its been a while since we've updated the site but here's the latest. The car is now at the Rally Preparation Services garage in Oxfordshire. Dominic and a friend limped it over there with a broken clutch but it gave out on the Oxford ring road just around the corner from the Garage and made the rest of the journey courtesy of the AA. We'll be doing an engine transplant next weekend. Photos and videos to follow.
Tried taking the car to a friends to work on the water leak and it broke down!! The throttle jammed open!! Its fixed now tho and running like a beauty. The water leak has been held at bay by bits of rubber gloves! To make things worse Pats Golf 'John' has pissed oil everywhere!
We have a car!! Bought on ebay the other day and Dom picked it up today! Has a slight leak in one of the hoses to the radiator but apart from that its great! Click here to take a look.
The map feature has been added, looks pretty good even if I do say so myself! With this you'll be able to track our progress in almost real time as we drive to Mongolia. Click here to take a look at our planned route. B
The first car viewing- Dom, Vicki and a friend Andy went to view a car. It looks like its the one for us. Hopefully we'll get it!
Website launched. Its a bit basic at the moment but hopefully you'll be able to see where we're trying to go with it.