If We Were Crows
This summer two friends are travelling from the small town of Warrenpoint, Co. Down, Northern Ireland across 1/3 of the world’s surface to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (in one piece). We are doing this to raise money for the Southern Area Hospice and Go Help, two great charities click here, to find out more. Taking part in this charity endurance drive is Rónan Collins and James Chamberlain. Each with a different outlook on what is going to happen when they start their engine.
Rónan and James will be raising funds for both charities before the trip begins. They are driving to Mongolia for 2 main reasons
- BSN Medical; have supplied wound-care that is to be brought to Mongolia. This is to supply their hospitals and ambulances with much needed equipment!
- Donating their jeep; when they arrive in Mongolia the Mitsubishi Shogun Jeep they drove will be auctioned off. The money raised goes directly to help street children and other child protection projects going on all over Mongolia. The Jeep itself well be used as an ambulance, mobile library and transport vehicle.
In Mongolia the boys have been offered a place in a local school, Santis Language School, teaching English. They are very much looking forward to what is ahead of them when they reach Mongolia!
Along the way we will be updating our progress here with photos and details of our adventure here on this website, so feel free to comment/message and contact us at any time. This is a great cause and no amount is too little or large for this great charity! Your donations also let you be part of something exciting our charity drive to MONGOLIA 16,000 km away. See how you can help! Get on board today! Follow @Wpoint2Mongolia
So our first night in Uzbekistan was spent in the walled city Khiva. It was stunning and we got our first sight of the large coloured tiled buildings that made up the closed in acient city. What we did not expect came the next morning as we left, James found out his visa ran out on 2nd Aug, it was the first. We decided to drive to the next city Bukhra and look for a place to get it extended, along the way however was the worst road we have both ever been on with 150km taking us over 4 hours. Arrving late that evening we had to wait until the morning to find out more information on James' visa...and find some desiel as fuel stations did not stock it.Ronan and James now had to split up. This is how they both got on:
With James leaving for the airport I went in search of some fuel with our new friend, jerry can in hand. It took us about 2 hours and 3 markets later but we finally found a truck driver who would charge me over the odds for just 20L. I had no choice, i bought it. Next James came back to explain his new situation, in the end when he left again I went back to our friends house and loaded up on beer and food, I actually felt bad James was no with us to share this experience with him. As the morning sun rose I was on the road making great time for making Taskent (capital city) with a stop off in Samakhan for lunch and to strech my legs. This 300km drive had drained the jeep 46L empty as I entered my lunch stop chugging and stopping behind a very familiar 4x4. It was an Aussie lad named Sam, who we had met in Baku. It sounds selfish, but thankfuly he had the same fuel drought as me so I left him a note for when he returned and went to see some sights making the most of another amazing acient tiled city. When I met up with Sam he had told me about his search all day to find desiel but with no luck. In his hotel all staff had their phones out ringing every and anyone for some place that we could fill up in, while this was going on I walked over to a wedding photographer and talked to him (needless to say, the bride was not to happy) and within 5 minutes a taxi had pulled alone side me knowning the directions to our fuel utopia. The deal was Sam would follow in his jeep with 3 jerry cans and I would lead in the taxi. What came next was a drive through the dodgest areas I have ever seen in the dark of the night dodging roads littered with rubble and dogs, Sam was given strict instructions not to directly follow the taxi but sit behind... Oh. In the end we pulled between two trucks and straight away a couple of banged out cars joined us with 5 men and countless jerry cans stumbled out of. For the next couple of minutes they seemed to decant the fuel from one to another then into Sam's jeep and into my jerry cans. We both paid over the odds for 70L (even for the UK) but we had to and the saying beggers cannot be choosers came to mind. By the end of the night I was covered in fuel as filling up my jeep was not straight foward either. THat night in Sam's hotel we had a pizza and a beer, then to the jeep I went to sleep once again. The next morning I left 7 on the button with my aim being getting threw most of Kazakhstan to Almaty, but that would be too easy. Hitting the boarder the request for souveniers hit a high point and as I had talked my way out of a $110 speeding fine I thought why not and handed over an old France soccer jesery between the 4 guards. Only to find out their lunch time was 12-1 and it was 12:20, I must wait. At 1 I passed to the next level of stamps and paper work, taking an extra hour although I made a guard laugh as he asked did I have any weapons, to while i replied, "Yes, two guns" showing him my arms. Classic! I passed on to level 3 at 2pm only to find out this high tech scanning machine does not work when the electricity is down, and it was down. Another hour wait with the truck drivers and their tea. Eventually 4 and a half hours later I was on Kazak soil, and with a couple of complementary bags or graps later just 600km from Almaty and James. I got 400km before i called it a night sleeping in the car with my bat very close to hand. My final leg started like all others in the early hours of the morning, and ended in the late ones this was due to many dozen police raod block speed camera and pot holes. When I arrived in Almaty it took 3 hours to find James hotel that he stayed in the night before, so making friends with others who where on business I agreed to let them put me up in their hotel for the night and search for James in the morning. I woke at 11, a great sleep, shower and ready to walk to our agreed meeting point with a quick stop at the jeep to get some water... But sure the jeeps side back window had been smashed that night, brillent. I found James though.
Visa Crisis!! 'The Break-up' Bukhara to Almaty 9:00- Woke up feeling a little jaded after a few too many beers the night before with a Mongol Rally team from England (very nice people...stopped the day before and fixed our car battery.) 9:30- We had Chi tea and biscuits for breakfast from the hostel owner, who then directed me as best he could in Russian on where to go to sort out my visa. (The hostel owner won a medal at the 1979 Olympics in Moscow) How cool is that? 11:00- Rang the British Embassy in Tashkent from a hotel, found out I couldn't renew my visa. 12:00- Had to decide how to get into Tashkent and through the border to Kazakhstan within the next 12 hours or face being arrested and fined $1500, neither of which appealed to me! 13:00- Had dinner(Ronan calls it lunch!) at a restaurant with Shamil (Russian guy who we met in Bukhara, very helpful) 13:30- Walked around Bukhara taking many photographs of the marvellous buildings. (Shamil turned out to be a fantastic photographer) 14:00- Receive an SMS from Drift Kings (DK- are a rather annoying Mongolia Charity Rally Team who we spent too many nights together with in Baku, only joking! They're really sound guys) imforming us to go to Chinaz as the Tashkent border is closed. 15:30- Left Ronan to catch a plane to Tashkent, I find out there isn't any seats left. Go to the Trainstation no luck there either! 18:00- Meet up with Ronan, discuss what I should do. We decide I should get a Taxi to Chinaz. I SMS DK and ask will you wait for me at the border? They kindly agree. 19:00- Said good bye to Ronan for a 2nd time, and got a taxi to a carpark where there were around 5 cars, all taxies who apparently drive from Bukhara to Tashkent for around $100-$150 per journey. 20.30- After over an hour haggling with a man who speaks no English! I got the price down by $20. We set off for Tashkent. I got chatting to the two lads in the back of the taxi, it turned out they were both policemen. I offered them some of my Pepsis and Pringles and it seemed to break the ice. 21:30- Beer-o'clock, we pulled in at a newsagents and one of the policemen got out; he returned 5 minutes later with beers and some local snack, which tasted like cheese. 22:30- We sipped the cold beer and I told them about the charity drive. They were very intrigued by the rally and even more so as to what I did as a profession. Initially they thought I was a professional footballer for Wigan Athletic, until I set them straight. 00:00- Midnight came and went. The taxi stopped and I thought it must be Tashkent, it turned out to be Semakan. Every road police block from there on; I closed my eyes as we past through, and hoped the police didn't stop us and ask to see my passport. 03.30- We pulled over near Chinaz after I got the one of the policemen to speak to the taxi driver. We flagged a car down, and they agreed to take me to the border for 5000 Uzbekistan Sums. I arrived at the border and after bribing the border guard with popcorn I got past the 1st post. At the 2nd post I filled in a form and got through unscathed, onto the 3rd post the dreaded stamp (would he notice me visa had run out 4 hours ago and it was now the 3rd??) 04:30- NO! I got through the Uzbekistan border and breezed into Kazakhstan. (HUGE RELIEF!) After around 20 minutes of walking, nearly being eaten by several large dogs, I finally arrived at the Drift Kings' Ford Transit Van. I shook hands with the lads and told them of my ordeal. 07:00- It was soon time to set off for Almaty, I lay in the back of the van and fell asleep. We stopped only twice for food (kebab skewers) 01:00- After a long day driving (750 km), we pulled over in a carpark for some sleep. (250 km outside of Almaty) 13:30/22:30- We arrived in Almaty and checked into hotel Kazzhol. After using the sauna and pool, we went up to the room and drank beer while we watched the olympics. 22:30- We tried to find the night clubs but failed miserably, got another beer from the supermarket and headed back to the hotel room. 00:30- I fell asleep and missed Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah win gold medals for Team GB. 17:00- After a large all you can eat buffet breakfast, a trip to the supermarket it was time to say good bye to the Drift Kings. I checked into hotel Saulet, and went in search for some food. 23:30- After watching Andy Murray beat Rodger Federer for an Olympic gold, I nodded off. 08:00 After a great nights sleep and a cracking breakfast, I decided to sort out my migration card. 12:00- I waited patiently outside hotel Kazzhol for Ronan to show up. 14:00 FINALLY..After 4 days apart, he finally did. (Boo, Now I'd have to pay him all the money I owed him!)
A local man names Roman shared our broken window problem many times himself as a result of leaving stuff in his jeep, and agreed to help us replace it. This brings us to today, a day that showed us people can really just want to help as Roman lead us out of the city to his friend who bought and fitted out new window for free. We were/are so greatful for his help and thank him for everything. As the window takes a full day to set we have delayed setting off into the country until tomorrow before seeing what else Kazakhstan has to offer us!!