Friday, May 25, 2012

Visa to Mongolia!

I just got a message from London that my application for a visa to Mongolia has been granted. Being the last one in the team to get this visa granted, this now means that all paperwork that is absolutely essential for our journey is done. There are still more visas and other paperwork that needs to be done, but nothing of that could derail the entire journey if it fails. This is how you spell relief!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vehicle Registration

Important news!

Our ambulance (Thomas insists we call her the HMS Dreadnought) is now properly registered with The Adventurists, approved by them to stay in Mongolia and they've confirmed that they've received the deposit we've paid to guarantee that we won't abandon it as scrap metal somewhere along the road if things would go really bad.

My good friend Fabian Wildenauer got us in touch with car mechanic Franz Lötscher (see previous blog post, Progress!) who did a careful examination of the ambulance, made a repair of a steering link (on his own expense, for the good cause! let that inspire you, too, to donate money) and wrote an assessment of the vehicle condition for the paperwork.

This means that we now are official participants in The Mongol Rally and that the most important piece of bureaucracy, that must be done before start, is done. One step closer!

To celebrate, we've ordered more pith helmets.

My brother and nephew in Sweden, admiring the ambulance.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


A few minutes ago, I got a text message telling me that my Mongolian visa got issued. This means I have my Uzbek, Tajik, Kyrgyz, and Mongolian visa, as well as Turkmen and Russian invites. I still need to get my visa for Azerbaijan and China, and, depending on how our plans in China turn out, for Kazakhstan and Russia.

I also got approval for two months of unpaid leave (a while ago, actually).

The last weeks were filled with rather unspectacular activities. We spent our time filling in visa forms, negotiating, and researching. We experienced a few setbacks: as we registered our ambulance with the organizers, we realized that by the rules, it is too old. And, after sending pictures as proof of it's good condition, the organizers asserted that it's not only too old, but also too rusty. We still think it's the best ambulance we can get, and even though we found another one that is in accordance with the rules, we believe our ambulance is superior and we will try very hard to make it work. Because none of us has the necessary skills, we set out to find a trustworthy mechanic. This mechanic needs to have the right adventurous attitude and the willingness to solve unusual problems. Finding this mechanic turned out to be more difficult than anticipated, but after some rather disheartening conversations ("I don't think we can do that"), we found Franz Lötscher from He also thinks we're insane, but he will help us with our ambulance.

And then there is China. Driving through China is complicated (we expected that). We have a few offers from Chinese agencies to get the required permits, but right now we're stuck waiting for the other pieces of the puzzle to fall into place: we need to know our exact route including dates, and provide proof of hotel bookings and return flights. Right now, we still don't know whether we will be able to use the Altai border crossing, and we're still negotiating trying to avoid fixed dates.