2006 Mongol Rally "The Start"

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July 21st 2006



current location: Settle Down Inn, London, UK
price of gas: 97P per litre ($7.60 per gallon)
temperature: Jen says it supposed to be better than yesterday, the man on the BBC says 31 C in the big city.
Let's just say that it's hot here, temperature wise and even more so politically. Jen and I walked by two fairly aggressive protests, one pro Palestine and one pro Israel. The bobbies were well represented at both which was appropriate considering the back and forth with the spectators was fairly heated. A few blocks up the road, we encountered another raised voice conversation taking place around a news stand. Honestly, this is as tense as I have seen it in Europe, it's a tension you can actually feel. As my good friend Ernie likes to quote from Lily Tomlin, "Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse." More to come, I am sure.

Vaughn and Dominic rolled up on the hotel around 8 pm or so and all bowed in awe. I was so overcome with joy that I may have started crying, it's tough to tell. Its really difficult to convene in words how crap these cars are. The SEAT made me breakdown in a massive fit of laughter. I mean, one person could pick up the engine in their hands. The lads found out the SEAT is actually 843 CC. As the Brits would say that's bloody small.

Being proper rally participants, we conducted our first meeting on foreign soil at the pub. Real monumental stuff was worked, you know wiffle ball rules and the ins and outs of the video diary portion of the trip. Then we drank the beer, then we joined a flock of Aussie ladies and headed to the "club". I feel safe saying that some dancing occurred. Upon our triumphant return to the hotel, Jen and I went on a mission to locate mayonnaise for our room service. There was one weird dude from Cairo occupying the lobby. There was a lot of babbling from both sides of the conversation. He was quite the name dropper, you know the type, Bin Laden this, Bin Laden that.

It's morning, the team is packed into our shoebox in eager anticipation of our interview for Mongol Rally "The Movie".

Here's some notes from the morning.
It's been said that the rally is "very organized, very safe", I have my doubts. Vaughn and Dom seemed to have learned quite a bit up North, great stuff like cake apparently is good for flesh wounds and "leave no trace" which in rally terms means firebomb your car if you must leave it behind. Jen's still reading the book of liar. Just capital.

The rally was hot, not hot like Paris would but hot like sweltering. Our hotel room is small and it gets exponentially smaller when you squeeze six people with a camera and a mic boom in. We had to turn off the fans for the interview which created a sauna like experience. There were some memorable moments from the interview. Jen got to explain the poop shovel, Vaughn had some really classic lines, and I sounded like an idiot. You will have to wait for movie to learn the rest.
Later in the day, it was concluded that we should make coffee. By concluded I mean I thought was a bright idea and no one complain loud enough to stop me. We are not just talking the ole coffee maker, we are talking combustible gases, lighters, minor explosions and singed arms. Yup camping on Oxford Street.

So I am sitting at the bar right now in the midst of the send off party. The reality of this whole deal is starting to set in. We are awaiting the MOT for the fiesta, basically this means we do not have an inspection for the car and this may affect our entry.

Seth's bag of poo
Subject: Seth's bag of poo
From my bag -
1 broken camera
1 non functioning camp stove
1 sporadic minidisc player
1 stolen lighter
1 broken coffee mug
and we haven't even hit the road.

Hurry up and wait

We are sitting in Hyde Park waiting for the Mongolian Car passport stamp. There are some dark clouds on the horizons but spirits are high with the many participants. We are definitely lagging behind in the sponsor department. Just about every team has their car covered with stickers from their various sponsors. We started scribbling with paint sticks to try to fit in. We definitely have some of the worst cars here. That's reassuring. The MOT arrived for the fiesta and the Mongolian entry deposit is settled. We continue to wait, I will write again once we hit the ferry. Nathaniel on location in London.

The crowd cheered as we drove off into traffic. They cheered again when we came around again having been foiled by a roundabout.

Out of London
We have successfully navigated our way out of London. Vaughn has started breathing again. The send off was pretty cool, a lot of spectators, everyone was very friendly and excited to see some Americans out for the trip. We met up with the team from MIT, The Technomads. They were some great guys and very funny. The guy from Afghanistan did a phenomenal impression of George Bush. Jen got it on camera. Classic. We did another interview with Simon and Jon from Harbinger for the documentary. I sounded like crap. Whilst waiting Dom and I took a few swings with the ole wiffle ball bat. I broke my flip flop. Finally all the documentation was in order and we were off. The crowd cheered as we drove off into traffic. They cheered again when we came around again having been foiled by a roundabout. There were some tense moments and strange looks but eventually we made it out successfully. We have a 6:45 pm ferry to catch from Dover to Calais, then onto France, Belgium, Germany, finally ending up in Prague for a party tomorrow evening.