Were not quite sure where time has gone however the 16th July is rapidly approaching, for anyone that is following us and thinking about participating in a future rally one piece of advice. GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER EARLY DOORS!
With a month to go we managed to get our Mongolian visa, which was an odd day partly due to one of us finishing a stag do weekend going into a 10 hour night shift (with enough time to sober up i might add hastily) and then staying awake for the rest of the day to go through the application process and partly because the application process was not what we were expecting at all.
Before heading down we had to get the application form filled out, pre pay for the advanced service so we collect the visa the same day, take proof of travel insurance with us and if all that wasn't enough we had to show that we had booked accommodation in Mongolia.
To apply for a Mongolian visa there is a 2 hour window in which you can lodge your application 10-12 incase you were wondering and a 30 minute window for collecting 4.00-4.30. We entered a small basement stood in line, waited and posted the application and was told to come back at to collect it. This was literally our application, no review as to why we wanted to go to Mongolia, no fingerprints taken.
Due to certain politics that I'm pretty sure have been forgotten, every country has there own application process for every other country and this process was vastly different than the others we've done. As neither of us has applied for this visa before we didn't know quite what to expect certainly not a quick and pain free service almost as if we doing a click and collect but that was what it sort of was so happy days.
We have news that our Turkmenistan LOI should be here by the end of the Month at the same time as out authorisation code from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran but its out of our hands so we will wait and see. The ferry from Ukraine to Georgia fits with our schedule so are on the way sorting that out.
Hopefully our to-do list shrinks quickly
Finally positivity!! We start this blog with news that our dearly beloved car has finally passed an MOT which has been a long time coming but at least now we can start putting some miles on her to see if any issues crop up before we depart which is less than 50 days now!
The summer seemed to have ended as of Friday, so we've spent the past two days getting slightly moist cowering under umbrellas, attaching LED spot lamps to the roof rack and threading a pesky wiring harness through various cubby holes in the car chassis in order to hide the wires in an attempt to look "Professional". Lights are now on and the switch in place (pictures below) and neither os us got electrocuted in the rain also bonus!!
Today has also seen us dodge frequent precipitation so we can finally attach the stickers we were given a while ago to the outside of the car. We have to say even for our standard the car is starting to look quite good. we also discovered a bobblehead from a popular video game which has taken place on our dashboard, yet to be seen if this is lucky or not? only time will tell.
The end of the day saw a culmination of effort from the past two months which has been getting this car to a state of drivability and potentially fit for trans continant rallying. This left us with only one thing left to do.
Bassically It all ended in calamity when we got the car stuck in a muddy sink hole, and then almost got the rescue car stuck trying to get to it however all is well both cars are now in respective places with slightly muddied underbodys and bumpers. In our defense we did try and drive down a farm lane where tractors frequently churn up mud, however still not looking good if we get stuck outside of any civilisation fingers crossed this won't happen on our trip.
Just incase anyones keeping uptodate with foreign politics Irans just elected the same same president they had last year so such help our Iran visa, soon we go down to London to apply for our Mongolian visa. Will keep you updated with both
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Firstly Thanks all to the donations we've received so far your slowly helping us raise the required benchmark of £1000 required!
Due to the fact you'd struggle to find space to store a bottle of beer in our car we need a roof rack to carry the extra shit were taking, such as, wheels, fuel cans, water etc. Last week my mother told me that sat in our garage was 2 old ones that used to fit her old Volvo 240, which is slightly wider than a VW Lupo it turns out, anyway this weekend i popped them both in the car headed to Joes where we spent a very stressful afternoon trying to get one of these to fit. (Pictures to follow)
We set about by stripping it and cleaning it as it has been sat in the garage for more than 25 years. What seemed like a simple task of shortening the bars and securing them; dragged out way through the day and into early evening. Issues started early into the fitting as where there should be four rubber feet to keep it packed snuggly to the car, some had got lost somewhere between my garage and Wakefield sadly only 2 seemed to appear. With a quick trip to Asda, sheets of multicoloured craft foam purchased for £1 and a keen eye with a pair of scissors quickly resulted in a "replacement" rubber feet being made and fitted we had triumphed!!!. Yes!!! our roof rack carrying potentially 40L of fuel, 3 wheels, extra water and anything else we can't fit in the car is currently secured for our 10,000 mile drive with "rainbow foam" but we have a roof rack fitted!!!
What started as jubilation quickly turned into disaster as going to start the car provided nothing but the clicking of a dead battery! (at this point it is 7.30pm at night we were both tired from previous shift work) unhappy is the biggest understatment ever!!. A quick phone call to Joes mechanic friend ended up with us dashing to Halfords 30 mins before its shut to buy jumper cables. My car is a Citroen DS3 which has a small universe of plastic around the battery leading to more swearing and youtubing to find out where the negative terminal on the battery is to jump start the dead battery on our Lupo, short answer it doesn't have one! I promise we looked for it and found nothing!! Joes car does however and we were quickly met by the joyous sound of our gigantic 1.0L engine. Hopefully this issue will not plague us for our trip as there may be some parts of it where we are on our own!! fingers crossed all these gremlins are showing themselves know before we leave!!
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For those who have spoken to either of us will know what a shocking state the car was sold to us and how much work is required just to get it into a position where it can pass an MOT let alone drive to Mongolia, luckily for us Joe knows a 'Bloke" who has basically saved our bacon and agreed to turn our bag of shit on wheels to a showroom fresh car.
On the large list of things the car failed its MOT, the power steering unit and more specifically the main pipe that runs from the steering rack to the pump itself was the biggest problem. Ours had a lovely hole in the main reason for the failure. Joe managed to get in contact with Pirtek a company that said our pipe would be fixed for a measly price of £50, to shorten the story it got fixed incorrectly and is now less than useless. Evenings since then have spent trawling websites looking for one with prices starting at around £60 we decided to hit the local salvage yards and although one in doncaster seemed to have a VW polo with the correct pipe it wasn't untill after the third trip to the yard and removal of the pipe, that in true nomad style it wasn't compatible apparently theres a sensor on the Lupo model thats isn't on the Polo model another complete waste of time, phone calls and swear words.
All seemed hopeless to the point of we were contemplating looking for a new car until Gumtree provided a ray of hope in the form of a person in Rotherham with 2 Lupos he is currently breaking for parts, with some emails sent and £20 exchanged the pipe was duly collected (Picture below) who knew one pipe could cause so much problems. As it stands now the pipe is in and works and we are currently in the process now of servicing some parts such as spark plugs air filters and so on with the aim of having the car on the road very shortly.
All in all the car is getting sorted hence the reason we've not had an update in a while. In other news we've sent off the Uzbekistan visa application and should hear back if its accepted soon or not
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At last it feels like were making progress! This week saw our Russian visas (pictures below) and passports arrive which was a huge relief bearing in mind one of us almost missed out on a ski holiday due to their poor forward planning on when he would actually need his passport. The Tajikistan visa with GBAO permit for the Pamir highway has also arrived.
As it stands we only have Uzbekistan, Iran and Mongolia left to apply for fingers crossed again for all these. Iran could potentially be slightly tricky as the country is holding an presidential election in may of this year so potentially could effect which nationalities they allow into the country, we have it on good authority that UK citizens shouldn't be effected by this however we wait and see.
As promised this post is significantly sorter than the last!
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The weekend just gone offered a rare opportunity with both of us off from work and days ticking away to launch date it was high time we sorted some visas out as without these documents our trip is going nowhere beyond Armenia which is slightly short of the finish line. Through our research and route we've chosen we require 6 visas; Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russian (Double entry visa) and Mongolia. We starting applied for these with some apprehension as these travel documents can be notoriously difficult to acquire.
First of the mark was Turkmenistan, as we are part of the Mongol rally all we need to enter this country is something called a Letter Of Invitation. In short the Turkmenistan Government has a bit of a agreement set up for the Mongol Rally where participants basically have to apply for this LOI through a company called The Visa Machine and upon entry of the country, exchange this for an entry visa proving that have proper authority to be in the country. We've paid the £50 fee submitted the info for all of this and shall await for our official form but bottom line one less Visa to worry about.
Googling the phrase ‘Pamir Highway’ will show why we chose to visit Tajikistan and lucky or not so lucky for us their application is something called an eVisa, basically everything gets entered online, you upload a grainy mug shot and various passport pages then pay the fee in our case it is $70 as we need something called a GBAO permit to get to the Pamirs. What started as something relatively pain free ended quite quickly when we discovered a problem with the payment issue on the website, emails have been sent to numerous people at the embassy and we await to find out what the next step is.
Russia is the single biggest country we will visit and requires a double entry visa, We started the application for this sometime ago as you need to enter information including GCSEs, purpose for visiting Russia, where you plan to go, weather or not you’ve been part of a political coup (promise I am not joking on that) if you have experience with nuclear equipment (also not joking) and various other personal details. As citizens from the UK we need a invitation from a travel company saying who we are and where we intent to stay once in Russia. We found one online and quickly paid £40 got the relevant certificate and headed for the nearest visa application centre in Manchester as this visa has to be applied for in person.
Im not quite sure what we were expecting from the approaching it from the outside it certainly didn't seem like it was a visa application for one of the largest countries in the world, we timed our arrival with the end of their lunch break. We waited outside patiently unsure as to what to do until an english pilot came and said "is there some sort of issue this time" turns out you just walk in plonk yourself down in a tiny room and wait to start proceedings. 20 minutes later Passportless and £120 out of pocket each we had finally send of for the process.
To end a lengthy post we still have no actual visas however the process has begun for a lot of them so far the only actual piece of paperwork we can put our hands on is our International driving permit which is a booket in lots of different languages saying that somewhere someone has decided we are capable of driving a car, this cost us £5.50 and we got from the post office. If you've read this far we salute you and will keep them shorter in the future
So here we are things are starting to fall into place for us, what started as a half hearted idea of "how hard can it be to take a car and drive it almost half way round the world" has gained momentum and in a shocking realisation of its not long until we actually leave on this adventure both of us are left thinking we should probably get our act together. The Launch of our social media platforms sees us also get a crucial box ticked on the ever expanding list of things to get done. This box was the actual car itself, we acquired this last week in Oldham after some disappointing searches for similar cars, one of which was a car we turned up to view that after talking to several dealers in the same street didn't exist. We decided after a quick test drive the VW Lupo was the motor for us, setting us back a reasonable £650 with a odometer reading of 70,000 miles it certainly sits in the category of vehicle suggested for the Mongol Rally fingers crossed it survives.
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