Most of the team beat Phineas Fog’s time of eighty days. The final teammate crossed into America a few days ago and has touched down at SEA 87 days after flying east towards Iceland and parts beyond.
Team Gobi or Go Home would like to thank the generosity of our donors and sponsors for believing that three people with limited mechanical ability and no wrenches could drive a Fiat to Mongolia.
Above all, dear reader, thank you for following along on our journey. Whether you read to experience our adventure with us or read with a morbid curiosity of seeing if we ever truly broke down, thank you for spending some time perusing Shane’s cynicism and wit or Hans’ enthusiastic descriptions of the strange situations we got into.
Waking up in a hammock is perhaps the best way to wake up. You feel wrapped and coddled, ready to wander out and take on whatever the world has to throw at you.
This morning, for example, I awoke deep into a jungle road in Vietnam. 130 kilometers of wild twisties cutting through the densely forested highlands awaited.
“There’s some construction on route 49. It is neat to see, but it might slow you down a little bit.”
Australians are masters of understatements. That was Deano’s assessment of the route from Hue to the windy Ho Chi Minh highway. Technically, he was absolutely correct in his statement. Assuming, that by “some” you are to understand “mind-numbing stretches” and by “slow you down a little” he was insinuating “bring your bike to a similar pace as a baby before it learns to crawl”.
“I like it here, and I’m never leaving.”
Shane and Roberta heard that phrase often on the rally. Almost as often as “I know exactly where we are!” and “What could go wrong?” I meant it in London and Edinburgh and Istanbul. But I really meant it about Hoi An.
Note: one third of the Gobis remain abroad. Hans, nit having enough driving on the Mongol Rally has flown to Vietnam and acquired a Honda Win. Currently, he is halfway up the country.
I am incapable of sitting still for more than twelve hours. This is one thing I learned about myself on the Mongol rally. (Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be a self-reflective male version of Eat, Pray, Love.) One thing I have also learned is to attempt to be more spontaneous.
Tasks expand to fill the time allotted. Consider writing a letter. A businesswoman, with five minutes for the task, may quickly write out a letter. Her grandpa might, on the other hand, spend the better part of a day writing a letter. Finding glasses, getting the paper, and fussing with the fountain pen all take time.
I wish I could write a letter in a day. Time expands while traveling to such great extents that it takes several days to write a letter.
“I’m off on a bike ride, see you in four weeks.” Some say that my emails to my mother are on the brief side.
“Bring back the post rally slump. Bring back the post rally slump.”
That’s what crossed my mind as I was piloted through the streets by Pham, my young AirBnB host. I attempted to look calm and composed on the back of the scooter as we pulled into multiple lanes of oncoming traffic.
I would like to apologize for the spelling and grammar in some of my previous posts. In a rush to get them up, I didn’t proofread them. Later, reading them back to Shane and Roberta, I hung my head in shame.
The Android autocorrect is an interesting beast. It has a limited vocabulary, not recognizing dirty words. ‘Piss’ and ‘pee’ are out of its dictionary. However, it corrects ‘damn’ into ‘damnable’. This amuses me to no end, and may influence how I use the term. ‘Damnable’ does sound cooler.
Teams had been rolling into UB for the past several weeks. Mr. Rob, founder of the rally, looked weary of the hotel lobby that he had spent so much time in, listening to the same slow jam versions of already slow rock songs that used to (perhaps still does) plague the office workers at G5. Few people listen to ‘Imagine’ and think, “You know what this song needs? To be slowed down by a large factor and played just on a piano without vocals.” Few think it, but the ones who act on that thought should be shot.
Anyway, music notwithstanding, the lobby of the four-star Chinggis Khan hotel was packed with excitement. Dirt bag adventurers rolled in from the steppe, parking their cars in the VIP slots (which, actually, were reserved for rally cars). Just a few steps away, Mongolian wedding parties, shuffled in and out of the hotel. The backgrounds of their wedding photos will likely be cluttered with broken down Fiat Puntos, piles of used camping gear, and unwashed ralliers.