One cold evening in London, myself and my then-boyfriend (now husband) lucky enough to watch a programme on ITV2 called ‘Jack Osbourne’s Adrenaline Junkies’ where Jack took a bunch of down-on-their-luck British kids around the world to overcome their biggest fears and experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. They got to bungee jump, skydive and trek in some amazing places that didn’t even seem like tourist destinations and then at the end of the series, Jack and his friends took a couple of the kids on a wild ride driving from London to Mongolia in The Mongol Rally.
The rules of the rally, as we noted from the show, were that you had to embark on your journey in a car that had an engine of 1 litre or under and raise money to charity. That was it. There would be no back-up team following you and you were encouraged not to take a map. The idea was that you would have more fun making it the 10,000 miles without the usual comforts that modern-day travel afforded us in the West.
We watched this wide-eyed. Driving to Mongolia? Mongolia?
This was a country that was just on an atlas. It had no meaning for us as a place we’d ever like to visit and we had spoken quite a lot about the places that we would like to travel to, having been together several years. This adventure seems so exotic, so far away and really inspired the feeling that if someone could drive to Mongolia in a clapped out Fiat, then you could do anything.
We had a trip planned to Australia (which we had already visited on a holiday to see a friend) where we were planning to stay a year and hopefully longer. So the thought of the Mongol Rally had to be parked until we knew what the future held for us. Little did we know that by the time we had returned from our travels how confident we would be about backpacking and visiting new countries, so by the time that we signed up we were pretty confident with travelling. The bug for travel has never stopped since we clapped our eyes on the site of the Gobi Desert and it’s from then on in our little flat in Crouch End, north London that we knew that there was much more to the world that we knew and we couldn’t wait to see as much of it as possible.