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Charles On Tour

Four (semi) professional housemates looking for a story or two.
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Owen Lewis

Key Facts
Your Name: 
Owen Lewis
Qualifications: 
BSc Geography
Skills: 
I can route-plan like its nobody's business
Looking forward to: 
The crazy adventures we're going to get into
NOT Looking forward to: 
The smell inside our vehicle
Previous driving experience: 
I drive a very high performance 1.2 Vauxhall Agila called Agatha
Location: 
Place of birth: 

Speed Jesters

We want to take part as we are looking for an amazing adventure and to raise money for good charities
Chris Taylor Jack Taylor Martin McKay

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In Russia

Near Kazan in Russia

Ferenc Elekes

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Your Name: 
Ferenc Elekes
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Charlie Patrickson

Key Facts
Your Name: 
Charlie Patrickson
Skills: 
The Nose trumpet (with hope to master the harmonica before our travels), hopefully some ability to drive by the time we leave. I also have an exceptionally boney bottom.
Looking forward to: 
Hangovers. And drinking. Meeting strangers from all over the world!
NOT Looking forward to: 
Unexpected pregnancies.
Previous driving experience: 
Did a parallel park the other day, lessons are coming along swimmingly.
Location: 
College attended: 
Cranbrook Grammar School
Place of birth: 

A World of Yurt

A couple of years ago we made a pact that when we had all finished our degrees and were finally free of commitments, we would take part in the epic adventure that is the Mongol Rally. We wanted to do it right and make sure what we were doing actually helped people, which is why we chose to do it with Charity Rallies. Well time has flown by and here we are, signed up and everything.

You' d think that with two years to prepare for this we would be pretty much ready to go now. In fact we haven't got a clue where to begin! Never fear though, with enough support and many days of bashing our heads together, we will be on that start line with a generous sum of donations behind us.

Four young men from Kent with the shared goal of helping people and having fun along the way.

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Almaty forever

We headed off the next morning, blazing a trail for Almaty; we saw every saved day as one we could enjoy in Mongolia; numerous other teams from previous rallies had described this as their favourite location and we were very much looking forward to enjoying it free of time pressure. All too aware that there was still a border crossing begging to eat up yet another day, we hammered it down the tarmac roads, soaking up the last of the Kyrgyzstan scenery. We passed more snow capped mountains, the silvery glint from fresh water trickling down the mountainside only adding to the glorious backdrop as grassy meadows littered with yurts passed us by. We turned off the luxurious tarmac onto the road leading us directly to the border and after being welcomed became an all too familiar mix of corrugate and fridge sized pot holes we were thankful to be clear of a police outpost without even a hint of a bribe. It is a tragedy that, undoubtedly the straightest policeman in all of Kyrgyzstan, is posted on a tiny little fork in the road leading to the most remote border crossing in the entire country. An hour or so later we approached the final few hundred metres to the crossing and unsurprisingly the road deteriorated further, almost as if trying to deliver a warning that we should absolutely on no grounds consider leaving the country. Every country in central Asia seems to provide this deterrent, fortunately we threw caution to the wind and passed through one of the easiest crossings yet. We were there for all in all about an hour. Although it could have easily taken immeasurably longer as, perhaps unaware that this is not how it functions, Owen came perilously close to depositing the ambulance into the inspection pit.

The last of KyrgyzstanThe last of KyrgyzstanKazakhstan before usKazakhstan before us

 

 

 

 

Once inside Kazakhstan again it did not take long for grassy knolls to be replaced by a more arid landscape. Whilst the mountains persisted they were not nearly as large, and began to look more as if someone had draped a large table cloth over the peaks littering the landscape, with gulleys and valleys resembling creases on the great table of Kazakhstan. Although tempted we decided to press on, favouring a warm shower and bed in Almaty over a windy tent in the hills. With 100km to go, the traffic started to build and the small villages lining the outskirts of Almaty repeated endlessly; we seemed to no longer be accompanied by progress. As the centre (supposedly) drew closer, a lovely, relaxing new grinding sound began to reach us from the front left wheel. Determined to reach Almaty we continued on, despite its unmistakable deterioration. After hundreds of more suburban villages we finally arrived at the familiar hostel in which we had spent our last stay. Although the darkness prevented us from investigating that evening, it was clear that our brakes were the source of the grinding sound.

After an early start, warm shower and cup of coffee the next morning Tom removed the wheel to learn that it was indeed the brakes; the brake pads had worn down so much (due to mine and Toms unsupervised efforts before we departed from Leeds castle, ahem) that given another 50km it would've just been caliper directly on the brake disc. Fortunately our van is far from uncommon in central Asia and so it was a small task to find replacement pads and do a proper job of it. This left us with the afternoon to explore Almaty... once more. We headed outside of the city this time (allowing us to also test the brakes) for Shymbulak ski resort, suggested by the team we had met up with during our previous time in Almaty. Despite a lack of snow, the cable car provided gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside, although it continued to provide them for rather a long time allowing us to discuss in incredible depth a rather astounding number of potentially fatal or hilarious hypothetical scenarios that could befall our cable car. Having to evacuate our bladders out of the 6ft high window in the 8ft tall cable car was one such scenario. Once we had finally reached the top, we found a nice spot for a cool beer before steeling ourselves for the arduous trip back down. 

Once back in the hostel we concluded that the loud relaxing grind of the brakes had unfortunately left us, leaving fully functional brakes. A friend we'd made during our last stay informed us that his bike had unfortunately suffered irreparable damage and that this was going to be his last night. After the shambles of our last stay we had decided resolutely that we could not afford another night on the town.

It should be known that the utterance 'Well we'll never be here again' is all it takes to shatter our collective fortitudes absolutely.

Another seemingly early start at 3pm the next day and we were off for the Russian border, our, quite frankly ground breaking, dance moves from the night before just clinging on to the foggiest depths of our memories. The following two days to the border were uneventful, as were passed once again across the Kazakh steppe.

Craig

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Your Name: 
Craig
Location: 
Place of birth: 

TDB

TBD
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To the Tuul!

River spotters

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Merry Christmas

During this very generous festive period team members received the best gifts possible, lots of lovely donations from friends and family :) (and one pretty wicked festive jumper). We're now well on our way to are minimum target of £1000, but as with all charity fundraising we don't just want to meet this target, we want to exceed it. With the new year just around the corner I'm positive we'll achieve this and have a whale of a time doing it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Hann x

Simon

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Your Name: 
Simon
Location: 
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