In 2010 after looking at pictures of the Mongol Rally and yearning to have a travel adventure I decided I was going try and get involved despite not knowing how to drive.
Rather than thinking about what I couldn't do I focused on what I could do..... I am a massage therapist by trade and was thinking that the Rally participants spending many hours a day driving must suffer from back and shoulder tension.... perhaps I could be of use.
I emailed Rob from the Adventurists and proposed my Idea that I'd like to hitchhike to Mongolia in exchange for Massage with the 2010 teams writing "I know this seems very random but I thought it was worth a try at least. what do you think?" Rob emailed back "I think it's a great idea".... and that's where the adventure began and the one woman "Mongol Rally Massage" was born in the name of fun, adventure and charity.
Between February and June I attended all the Adventurist's parties, festivals and team nights out making sure as many teams as possible knew who I was and what I was doing.
Before I'd left I'd already organised my first lift with a team from Scotland to Goodwood race track where the Rally was being launched from.
Along the way to Ulaanbaatar I hitched lifts with 10 amazing teams 1/3 of the way round the globe through England, France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
We traveled through hundreds of Sunflower fields in the full bloom, camped on beaches all down the Adriatic coast and fell asleep in the "Four season's" piano bar after partying in Istanbul. Later we drove along the North coast of Turkey and crossed the Black Sea which took almost a week due to getting held in no mans land while they filled the ferry. During this time more and more teams arrived and we camped on the tarmac, passed beer through the wire fence and swimming in the oily port.
We camped in the Altai National Park, washed in the river Volga, experienced the most incredible meteor shower in the Gobi desert, and drank lots of cheap vodka with long distance lorry drivers on the long quiet roads and truck stops of Kazakhstan. We met guys on route who were Burkitshi hunters with their life long hunting partners the Golden Eagles. We shared laughter and stories over alcoholic horse milk. People were so kind and welcoming inviting us into their yurts for food and company.
There were times when the cars got stuck continuously in the powdery sand of the dried up Aral sea, almost burning themselves out struggling while we tried for hours and hours to dig them out or waiting for a passer by to tow us out. At those times I thought "what the hell am I doing?" not having showered for days and days and running out of water in 48'c desert heat. But that soon turned a quick shimmery corner as any good adventure does help arriving in the form of a Soviet UAZ-452 Van filled with wedding guests who helped drag us out of the sand then along to the party!
Sometimes wanting to enjoy a city or town I liked for longer I'd ask a team to leave me there wishing them luck on their travels while I played tourist and enjoyed a couple of days of hot showers and city sights hoping a team would come through town and pick me up. Sometimes this took longer than other times and I'd start to think "Am I just going to be left here?" But I was always lucky!
This was a rough, tough, dirty and sandy adventure but I have never laughed so much, shared so many brilliant moments and stories on the long roads with the greatest people.
That year at the end of Rally party in UB I proudly won the "craziest bitch award!" and received a bottle of Mongolian "champagne" Thanks guys for all the lifts and fun!
There are still places on the 2015 Mongol Rally, you can save £50 if you sign up by January 6th