Driving 11,000 miles from London to Mongolia seemed far too boring and easy, so the organizers of the Mongol Rally decided to build in some added challenges to make it more fun and memorable. Chief among them was the stipulation that participants "can take any car, as long as it’s crap and with an engine of 1 liter or less." If you were nice to them, they'd even allow vehicles up to 1.2 liters (for comparison's sake, my Toyota Prius has a 1.8L engine), but bring anything larger than that and you'd have to pay a fine.
"With a small car, you're more likely to break down, so you're more likely to interact with the locals," they said, which seemed to make sense. Plus, it caused you to travel at a slower pace rather than zooming across Central Asia, which would defy the whole point of embarking on this trip in the first place.
But theory is one thing, and reality can be quite another. Going to mechanics in Turkey and Bulgaria was an interesting experience, and overheating in the Iranian desert was memorable for sure, but now we'd sprung a leak in our radiator in a remote park of eastern Turkmenistan, forcing our friends to tow us several hours to the closest town, where we went searching for yet another repair garage. And things this time seemed worse than they'd ever been. Car problems were starting to seem like less of an adventure and more like a drag. And we had yet to find someone who could properly diagnose and fix the ongoing issues we'd been having.
Having tried everything else, we'd pulled our best MacGyver move and put an egg in our radiator, a trick we heard about that's supposed to temporarily seal up small leaks. But not only didn't that help, but it probably ended up causing more harm than good.
Thankfully, a mechanic we met named Nuri diligently repaired our damaged radiator fins to seal up the leak. Then he flushed out our radiator to remove all the hard-boiled egg that was clogging it up!
Watch this video following our latest car drama:
Then listen to my latest episode.
In case you missed it, since I sent out my last email, I've also released a short, bonus episode, featuring more conversations I had with other rally teams at the Door to Hell. I'm thinking of putting out more short episodes like this in the future, and I probably won't send an email notification each time, so if you want to make sure you hear them as soon as they're released and you never miss a thing, please subscribe to my podcast if you haven't already by following the instructions I've posted on my website.
Finally, in other news, I was also interviewed recently on my friend Nick and Amy's travel podcast called "What the Pho," which you can listen to here.
Thanks for listening!
Photos by Drew Gurian