The first days of Mongol Rally were very frustrating for us. Upon departure from Prague we have realized to have a major leaking in the cooling sytem so we had to refill the radiator in the early morning. Just few kilometers after leaving the city we spotted another team stopeed roadside with the bonnet of their car lifted up. We stopped to offer our moral support (since none of us has mechanical knowledge to offer actual help. It turned out that one of them was a mechanic by profession so we talked to him about our problem. He took a quick look at the car and promptly identified the issue: a pipe that was connected to a broken line. Needless to say, he ended up fixing our car by blocking the pipeline with a piece of wood and the leaking stopped. Cheers to our Austrian firend from team KhantStopUs!
On the afternoon of same day we had another undesirable trouble: we literally lost our exaust on the road. When we saw it lying on the side of the street about 50 meters behin us we were about to cry. So many unforseen problems on the very first day. But after all, what can be foreseen on a trip like this? Well, basically everything considering that we are traveling on a car taht we paid 300 euros. Anyway, we collected the exaust from the road and started looking around for a workshop. We stopped in four different places before we found someone who would/could help us. Our saviors were two young men that were finishing their working day in the city of Sukule, Slovakia. They laughed a lot when we told them where we were heading on that piece of car but they immediately started working on AstroPanda (the name we gave to our car) to put it back on the road a soon as possbile. Firstly, they took the whole exaust apart and then they welded it back together. In the end they didn’t even charged us for the work done so we gave them a couple of ScaccoMatto T-Shirts. Back on the road again!
After those issues we did not have any other unwanted mechanical surprise and our trip finally started to be way more enjoyable. We drove through Hungary and into Romania, driving along the Tranfagarsan highway which is considered to be one of the most beautiful roads to drive on. There we met another team, the Volkswakhan, traveling on a nice orangish beetle. We wild-camped with them that night and we shared a bit of drive on the next day as well, just before entering Bulgaria where our paths took different directions. We drove full speed (90km/h) and almost didn’t stop until we reached Turkey. There we slowed down a bit and took a day in Istanbul to visit the city. It was amazing to see the life in that huge metropolis and to experience some local food bought at the fish market. Turkish people are born merchants and they are extremely skilled in the art of selling any kind of stuff, from carpets to decorated pots, going through clothing, sweets, watches, phone covers and much more. The only thing we bought was food, and precisely a sandwich made of freshly fished fish to kill the hunger of our “tourist” day.
Another thing worth mentioning is that we went for 5 days without a shower and we are ow smelling like goats. The price to pay for having chosen to do the Mongol Rally in the real spirit of it: shit car, no luxury and wild camping. Heading now south to Cappadocia and desperately looking for a shower. Keep tuned!