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Our documentary of the 2008 Mongol Rally

March 13th, 2009 · 1 Comment

We, Team Desertaxi, drive in the 2008 Mongol Rally, starting July 19th finishing August 26th. This is our story.


Team Desert Taxi – Mongol Rally 2008 on Vimeo.

Check out the rest ouf our Team Desertaxi 2008 Mongol Rally videos on YouTube

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We Made It!

August 30th, 2008 · 7 Comments

TDT is in Ulaanbaatar and still alive!

We arrived Tuesday at 5am after driving virtually non stop for 17hours. Of course, something went wrong but we persevered. The last 120 miles of road, because of the terrible potholes every 4 feet,  are considered dangerous during the day and deadly at night. At 2am, with Max at the wheel, the windshield wipers started to slow and the headlights dim. Max immediately identified the problem. Our new, used generator which charges the battery had started to fail. Max turned off all electrics including the headlights. Should we go on or stop andspend the night in the freezing cold inside the car?
The unanimous vote was to push on.. Max quickly pulled behind a passing minivan filled with passengers and began to follow. Occasionally he would flip on the lights to say we were there. Then we got stuck and the minivan pulled us out. Then the minivan got stuck andwe pulled it out.
And so it went for 3 hours until we saw the lights of Ulaanbaatar. TDT had ducked another bullet which is not an overstatement.
Ed and Max deserve maximum congratulations as they met all challenges head on and with great humor.
We have been trying to sleep off the trip in between Ed and Max’s visit to the Chinese Embassy visa office which requires proof you have $100. to spend each day in country and a hotel reservation for each city. I will skip how they met the rules but you would be proud of their cleverness.
I, James Walker, have bought my plane ticket home for Sunday.
This has been an extraordinary experience, meeting wonderful, caring people from the Rally teams and equally wonderful people along the way.
I am so fortunate to have done this with Ed and Max. They carried us through with great enthusiasm and they welcomed each car problem with equal cheer and a crafty solution. Imagine being part of that!
And most important, thank you for your support! Your generosity and comments were inspiring.

→ 7 CommentsTags: General News

Mongolian roads finally take their toll.

August 25th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Having run into Team Pop to Mongolia in their Suzuki Jimny we decided to make headway late Sunday night, driving until sunset. With the Suzuki leading our convoy we turned off our finely honed navigational noses and relaxed, only to be led up the garden path 25 miles in the wrong direction. With the quick 50 mile detour under our belts we finally set up camp on the right road just as the sun was setting over the Gobi. The beautiful sunset turned into a terrific sandstorm tearing our absurdly large tent into shreds, snapping our carbon fibre poles in several places. Team Pop 2 Mongolia gallantly cooked for us in the back of their car before piling into the only available shelter (the back of the taxi) for a dinner of horse penis pasta and cherry tomatoes.

After a geometrically constrained night’s sleep the old girl coughed into life at 0550. After much gripping of the dashboard we bumped back onto the road and straight down the wrong one for 10 miles. After that piece of Monckton navigation was rectified we careered after a minivan heading for Bayankhongor for about half a mile until our beautifully modified exhaust pipe fell off. Unfortunately we had attached it far too well underneath and it took one hell of a battering with a hammer before it came loose and stopped dragging. The remaining exhaust pipe on the roof is merely ornamental. The exhaust now blasts straight out of the side of the engine, making a fantastic rally growl but pumps carbon monoxide straight through the passenger footwell.

Two hours later we found ourselves in the unusual position of knowing where we were. Unfortunately that was slap bang in the middle of the Gobi in the midday heat with 40 mile an hour wind conjuring up a sandstorm. We had strayed way off the road and were in the arse end of nowhere with only enough fuel to go in one direction. After much umming, ahhing, taking of the Lord’s name in vane, compass perusal and a modicum of despair we saw a dust cloud on the horizon that gradually grew into a truck carrying a Mongolian family with their ger (yurt) packed up on the back. They were heading to Bayankhongor and pointed us in the right direction. We followed them until we came across a raging torrent that rather surprisingly bisects the Gobi, leading to a lake about 180km south west of Bayankhongor. There was a lorry that had been swept downstream and was now up to the driver’s cab in water. We bided our time, waiting to follow the locals example and finally headed upstream for a half a mile behind another truck with a nomadic family relocating. It was a bit touch and go when water covered our wheel arches but the old girl struggled through, slipping and sliding on the shale riverbed.

Just past the river we came across a team consisting of an Englishman and a Frenchman who had helped us in Taxistan, the 77ers. They had their bonnet up with a dead alternator. We got down our rope and did our best to tow them at 20 miles an hour over the sand dunes. About 10 miles in, whether through the vibrations or the chassis contorting from the towing, our steel front bumper sheared off on the right hand side and dragged under our left wheel, ripping the upper suspension arm clean off. It took twenty minutes of English and French muscle to free the bumper. The third item of taxi steel left in the Gobi.

We continued to tow them until our fuel tank sprung a leak again. Pissing fuel all over the place, we didn’t have enough to tow them to Bayankhongor, we got them on the main road where they assured us they would find a truck to tow them. Reluctantly, limping and leaking like a colander we left them 35km short of Bayankhongor which we arrived at an hour later at 2030. We quickly found a mechanic who welded our suspension back together for the princely sum of a fiver and checked into a hotel preparing for the final big push to UB just 630 km away.

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TDT stalled by vodka but sobriety does wonders

August 23rd, 2008 · 1 Comment

TDT returns at 10 am filled with blind hope and a determination to get the taxi out of the graveyard. We bypassed the fuel injectors with a wire and got the car going upon the advice of a taxi mechanic in London, but the alternator wasn’t fixed. We asked the mechanic’s son why it took him six hours to get nowhere yesterday but half an hour to fix it today. It turns out that his erratic behaviour and pyromania yesterday was to be explained by a surfeit of VODKA.

While the mechanic struggled with the alternator with his newfound clarity in sobriety, TDT headed back to the hotel to watch the Mongolian light flyweight boxer win silver in Beijing over a plate of horse gulash. At, 1430 our Mongolian mobile rang. It was good news. The taxi was fixed with a new alernator installed. Now the battery will charge. The mechanic declared there would be no problem getting to UB. Another mild eccentricity has now been added to the old girl. In order to pump fuel into the engine, one must cross two bare wires on the dashboard.

With fingers and wires crossed we setout on the 10 hour drive to Bayanhhongor. We only have 600 miles to go.

→ 1 CommentTags: Field Post · Taxi

The devil reveals himself

August 23rd, 2008 · No Comments

At 10am, after a pretty good omlette breakfast at an Altai restaurant, we arrive at the garage which we discover is a graveyard for Mongol Rally cars. There are 8 of them.

 A Mongolian who works at Air Mongolia during the week,  but moonlights on Saturdays as a mechanic,  says our alternator which charges the battery is dead. The real mechanic then arrives, removes it, tests it and declares it’s "kaput," the only word that he knows. Jimmy, meanwhile, is talking to a Mongolian friend in Ulaanbaator who is acting as translator with the mechanics.

Max is not so positive so they take it apart, study it and after 2 hours, put it back in. Then comes the major bad news. Our engine will not start.It turns over but the fuel is not getting to the cylinders,. .Max and Ed are now highly suspicious thinking the mechanic may just want to get his hands on the taxi.. It is now 1630 (4:30) in the afternoon. A representative from the Rally calls a friend in UB who tells us all we have to do is fill out a document, leave the car and take a bus to the capital. The mechanic keeps on telling us that we must take a bus and leave the taxi with him. First he claims the timing belt is broken, but instead of giving up we take off the butterfly housing and prove to him that it is not. Secondly he said that our fuel injection has been broken, but then there begged the question, how did we drive to your garage. He smiled and shrugged.

At 1930 (7:30pm) we leave for a quick meal, return to the garage where the mechanic is pouring diesel into the top of the engine and igniting it with a blowtorch. The fire spread to our air intake and panic ensued among the mechanics until the mother of the mechanic beat it out with her handbag.

 The rather eventful day ends with the mechanic promising to return at 10AM to try to find a solution. This man is as crooked as his 24 carat smile.

→ No CommentsTags: Field Post · Taxi

Khovd to Altai: Careering across the Gobi

August 22nd, 2008 · No Comments

August 22 and TDT faces a major challenge, driving 260 miles across some of the worst roads in Mongolia from Khovd to Altai.  We depart at 0930 with Max at the wheel. Rocks were bouncing off the undercarriage, the sump guard, an aluminum shield to protect our oil sump, gearbox and engine, is scraping the hardened dirt and rocks. There is no way to avoid them. At 1130 we stopped to photograph a herd of Bactrian camels which never cease to amaze us.

Unfortunately our sump guard does not extend to our fuel tank. When we stopped for the camels, Ed noticed a tiny leak which Max tries to plug it with gum and on we go only to stop again 30 miles later. This time Ed applies another wad of gum and takes over the driving. We have a long, long way to go. The inside of the taxi is now covered with clouds of Gobi dust which coats our hair, faces, hands and all the equipment. At 1230 we stop to check again. The tank is still leaking so Ed tries some "Quick Steel," that magical sealant that fixed our earlier radiator leak. While it dries, we heat up some water and dine on semi-edible bowels of dried noddles mixed with hot water with the gas stove given to us by another Mongol Rally team.

30 minutes later,  the Quick Steel had hardened and the leak stopped. Max says, "keep your fingers crossed.!" The Quick Seal costs 8 pounds or $16. a stick. We had 1 stick and Max says, "we should have bought stacks of it." We drive on at 40mph which seems from the back seat like 70. At 1305 the odometer and speedometer fail. Then, miles later,  we smell  fumes from the exhaust so we stop to check.. The left front fender has slipped backwards cutting a hole in the exhaust.

We open the roof window to breath and more dust pours in. Max says, "the car has taken a terrific pounding." But there is little we can do if we want to make Atai before dark. We can’t camp out because we’ve got problems. At 1830, our engine suddenly stops. Max checks and one of the  battery cables has separated, the two wires now exposed. He uses two plastic ties and gaffer tape to put them back together and we drive on. arriving in Khovd at 2030 (8:30pm). We spot a Mongol Rally mechanic sign and think our problems are over. We spend the night in a filthy hotel with no water and a thumping Mongolian night club next door, that seemed to be adorned with swastikas. A tad surreal.

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Rocks and Ruin?

August 21st, 2008 · No Comments

Our task for today was to make it the 160 miles to the next "major" town, a distance that would normally take us under three hours on decent roads.The journey ended up taking 8 hours, at an average speed of 20 mph! The roads were unbelievably bad,  sometimes we had to go less 5 mph to prevent damaging the car. The sump guard saw a lot of action, every few seconds rocks the size of footballs were turned to rubble as we smashed them with the underside of the car. Ruts were so deep that they would cause the taxi to become completely beached if we did not drive on top of them.

Our first major obstacle came only 30 miles into our trip when we were greeted by a sign warning us that a bridge we had to cross had been closed. It was for good reason.

At the far end, this gaping hole made crossing impossbile. So TDT was forced to ford its first river. Fortunately it turned out to be quite shallow and with just the right amount of momentum, from Ed, we were able to get back on the road.

50 miles later we had to do it again but this time the river was deep (how deep we could not tell) and much wider.

Again we made it across with no problems.

So on we went, stopping whenever we could find a Mongolian herder to ask directions to Khovd. That amounted to one of us saying repeatedly while pointing in vairous directions, "Khovd?"  "Khovd?" "Khovd?" North? South? East, which way? The Mongolian would point and off we would go.

After about six hours, we came across one of the classic sights of Mongolian. Several Bactrian (2 humped) camels blocked our road. It was a spectacular sight.

Tonight we are staying at the finest and worst hotel in Khovd. Tomorrow we will drive 260 miles, across similar roads to the city of Altai. One other item. We have a tiny oil leak where the engine block joins the transmission. Max says repairing is not an option; just pour in more oil. So we will check tomorrow morning and take with us 2 or 3 extra cans.

Wish us well.

→ No CommentsTags: Field Post · Taxi

Tsaaganur and Olgii

August 21st, 2008 · No Comments

With team "Top Gun’s" Fiat Uno in tow, the convoy rolled into Tsaaganur, the first town after the border. We had planned to drive straight through, however when we discovered that the road towards the next town had had a concrete wall built across it we decided that it was best to ask a local. We found a chap on the side of the road and asked him for directions and for a mechanic to fix the hole in the Fiat’s fuel tank. Five minutes later we were drinking tea and eating assorted Mongolian delicacies with his family. Mongolian tea turned out to be thoroughly undrinkable, it is customary to supplement your tea with butter which melts and sinks to the bottom of the cup, making the last few sips quite unpleasant. The nibbles were equally disgusting: stale bread and a form of goat’s cheese that was so hard it could cut diamonds. Nevertheless we all did our best not to offend our hosts by consuming everything that was on offer.

That night the 11 of us shared a room in our hosts house. Despite it being freezing cold outside the house was warm, if not slightly cramped.

 

The next day Team Top Gun’s woes were not over so being the good sports that we are we left them to fix their prop shaft suspension arm and spring and headed off to Ulgii, the aimag’s capital. A 1 in 4 hill was supposed to be our first challenge of Mongolia. Luckily the old girl pulled through and hauled us up in a cloud of thick smoke. We had picked up an octogenarian herder’s wife who was on her way to Ulgii and needed a lift, as it turned out we couldn’t have done without her directions to cope with the hopeless Mongolian signposting and roadbuilding or lack thereof.

Olgii despite being the region’s capital is a desolate outpost which boasts one building with hot water and a medium sized statue of Lenin.We stayed in a ger camp which cost us 6$ for the night. The rest of the convoy caught up with us that evening and we all went out for dinner at a turkish restaurant, apparently the only restaurant in town which serves edible food. The remainder of the evening was spent drinking and playing card games.

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TDT Enters Land of Genghis Khan!

August 21st, 2008 · No Comments

Despite our fears of retribution from the big bad Russians for our behaviour in Taxistan, we were let out of Russia after only an hour of bureaucracy and minus a full cavity search. Exactly 10km into the 20km of no man’s land, the perfectly smooth Russian road disappeared into a rutted dirt track. A sign of things to come…

The Mongolian border control decided that they would rather have a four hour lunch break than process the 20 cars waiting to enter, only opening the gates to let cattle in, herded by heavily armed Mongolian soldiers. There seemed to be a competition between the various stages of border control as to who could get you to change the most money.

Finally after a month of bumps, toils, imprisonment, blood, sweat and tears the gate swung open and Team Desertaxi made into Mongolia. 500m in, Ed instigated a drag race with the 4 other cars in the convoy. 25 yards into the race, Team Top Gun punctured their fuel tank and so we pulled over for some last minute repairs. This left us at the mercy of two dozen mischievous Mongolian children who tied a Fiat Panda to the back of the taxi and tried to encourage Ed to drive off. While the tank was drained we tried to fend off the children but with no avail. Obviously trained wrestlers from birth they tried their damndest to bring Max and Ed to the ground while Jimmy sought the relative safety of the taxi.

With the fuel tank drained we hitched Team Top Gun’s F 14Tomcat (Fiat Uno) to the back of the old girl and hauled them across riverbeds, rocks and ruts the 20km to Tsaganuur.

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Our last night in civilization

August 18th, 2008 · 3 Comments

After a good nights sleep, we departed Barnaul for the ten hour drive to the Mongolian border. 5 hours later, while stopped to repair the bonnet which was being held down by gravity alone, we joined a convoy of four other Rally cars. It was fun to be driving with company. The bonnet problem was solved by a length of electrical wire tired over the bonnet and anchored to the two wing mirrors.

At 9:30pm we arrived at the border, where we setup camp in the field in front of the border which was occupied by cows and a wild dog. We all dined on pasta with some non-descript meat (probably horse).

It’s now 11:20pm, our sleeping bags await and tomorrow we hope to conquer the border.

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The Breakup of Taxistan

August 18th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Our last precious minutes in Taxistan were spent getting the much coveted Mankini shots for our sponsors, with great success. Reluctantly we struck camp and took down the stars and stripes and the union jack from the flagpole and joined the queue. The guard who had initially refused our requests for a doctor on the second day was on duty at the first gate. As we got to the front after an hour in line, he inspected our passports and told us flatly we still had two hours until midnight and had to go back, just at the moment of despair and disbelief, a wicked grin spread across his face and he opened the barrier. After several hours of form filling and ferrying floppy disks with our car details between offices we finally broke out of no man’s land and into Russia at 0130.

Our trip to Jimmy in Barnaul was slightly more eventful than anticipated – no surprise there – we had decided to stop for a coffee at what looked like an all night cafe 5 km into Russia. We went inside to discover flashing lights loud music and underdressed waitresses who laughed at the idea of us wanting coffee and turned down our dollars. We ventured next door to what looked like a hotel to try and change some dollars. All we found were rows of numbered bedrooms and a Madame grumpily examining our quite filthy forms. The first building we entered in Russia, was in fact a brothel. We speedily made a retreat to the taxi only to be swamped by the clients who were fascinated to find two Englishmen so hopelessly lost. They insisted that we gave them our autograph’s on 10 rouble notes. The requests turned to demands when vodka was produced. Half a pint was poured and thrust through the driver’s window to Ed for the road. Ed’s protestations were ignored but he managed to transfer the obligation to Max who promptly fell asleep. Ed drove into Rubsovsk and quickly found himself half a mile down a one way street. A bewildered military police Lada gave chase and pulled us over, after initially pushing his AK-47 at the driver’s window he soon assessed the situation (sossled as he was) and asked for a photograph with us before sending us on our way. 250 km from Barnaul Max had sobered up and took the wheel. Two hours later we were low on fuel and had to fill up. Unfortunately, having no local currency and Ed (the resident linguist) asleep, Max had to use his best charades to convince the locals to exchange dollars for rubles. Fortunately a Russian drunk enough to accept "americanski dollar" was not hard to find and TDT were soon on there way again. We eventually arrived in Barnaul 5 hours late where we met up with a much improved Jimmy.

→ 1 CommentTags: Field Post · General News · Taxi

Ed and Max arrive Barnaul

August 17th, 2008 · 4 Comments

My God they looked disgusting. After all they had not showered in 4 days and survived 30c temperature during the day with virtually no shade. Though exhausted from the ordeal they seemed in good spirits.

While Ed remained asleep in the taxi, Max came to my room for an 18 minute shower, then announced he should have stayed in longer. He truly looked like a different person.

Then it was back to the taxi, down the street and into their hotel. They have been asleep for about 5 hours.

They arrived here 4 hours late but I will let them share the details – the headline goes something like this: Russian Bear fiddles while brothel customers revel.

We plan now….flexibility reigns here….to depart for the Mongolian border at 0700 tomorrow.

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Onward?

August 16th, 2008 · 1 Comment

This is James Walker, coming to you from Barnaul in Western Siberia, where I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of TDT sometime around 0600 Sunday.

When I last talked to Max, yesterday afternoon, they were well except for some sun burn. There is virtually no shade.

At this Saturday hour, 6pm here, 4pm in London ? and 11am in NY, your team should be breaking down its tent, lowering the Union Jack hub cap and removing passport control desk which would otherwise block their exit.

At the stroke of midnight, your team will hopefully glide past Russian customs, drive some 400k here to Barnaul and take a long shower.
For our onward trip, I have bought 6, 5 litre bottles of water, 15 different kinds of Korean (just add hot water) meals, 4 Twix bars (they love ‘em), 8 bananas, a bag of very small apples, 4 peaches, a shovel to help us dig out in the Gobi and a bottle of Russian vodka as a gesture of appreciation to the first Mongolians we meet….ie. the border guards.

If anything goes as planned we should be in Mongolia on Wednesday (18th) and in UB on August 24th or 25 or 26th or….

Again, we thank you for your continued support.

→ 1 CommentTags: Field Post

Kyrgyz cricketers struggle with the LBW rule

August 16th, 2008 · No Comments

The Russians seem to be more and more concerned with Taxistan’s welfare. We now receive daily visits from a doctor, who has thus far managed to treat our only ailment, several hundred mosquito bites a piece. Shortly after the doctor left we received a visit from our Kazakh counterparts, who invited us to dinner that evening. In return for their hospitality they expected either our Taxi or our tent as a present. When we explained that we could give them neither, they left, rather forlorn.

A bus load of passing Kyrgyz tourists, rather perplexed by the Taxistan morning ritual of cricket in boxer shorts to the accompaniment of The Great Escape, formed a less than orderly queue at passport control waiting to be admitted. Once within the relative safety of Taxistan’s borders we explained to them the intricacies of the LBW rule and initiated them into international Test cricket. Disappointed by Taxistan’s under representation in the Olympics we set about creating the inaugural and final Barbed Wire cup contested by the nations of Kyrgyzstan and Taxistan.

The Tourists started well when Monckton fell clean bowled to Aziz in the opening over. Although there is some contention as to whether the bowling action was legal. Aziz was let off due to inexperience. Firman came into bat and started walloping the ball over the place, even fitting in a KP special reverse sweep. It nearly ended in tears when a Firman cover drive soared over the barriers, out of Taxistan and into Russia. DAFT, armed with some wire cutters set about the rescue mission, demolishing a Ruski barbed wire fence in their bid to allow the Kyrgyz to have their innings. Upon the retrieval of the ball, Firman was given out by the rather overweight and confused Kazakh umpire for hitting the ball too hard. The Kygyz innings started badly, tailed off in the middle order and the least said about the end the better. The end result was a resounding, (if slightly unfair) victory for Taxistan.

After match tea, the Council of Guardians of Taxistan, started trying to wash some of the filth off themselves in preparation for the excitement of the first state visit for the Taxistanis. Borscht and potato broth washed down with 11% beer was a welcome change from the cold spaghetti hoops and stale bread that has become the staple diet of Taxistan. The image of the Kazakhs as perfect hosts (seemingly oblivious to the rather enormous language barrier) was only slightly damaged when the time came to leave. Requests to use the loo were flatly refused and directions given to a nearby field.

After a full scale invasion by 25 sheep in the early hours of this morning, border defences have been strengthened with a rudimentary steel stinger, liberated from an abandoned checkpoint in no man’s land.

Taxistanis are making finally preparations for the day of liberation, now only hours away. Efforts are being made to leave Taxistan in an infintitely better state than it was found.

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Taxistan in the London Evening Standard

August 15th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Team Desertaxi and the great micronation of Taxistan has been spotted, and written up in the London Evening Standard….  Read…

Team Desertaxi and Taxistan in the London Evening Standard

Team Desertaxi and Taxistan in the London Evening Standard

→ 3 CommentsTags: General News · Taxi

Russian Shellfish and Selfish Russians

August 15th, 2008 · 2 Comments

As ties strengthen with Kazakhstan, they are souring with the Russians who are less and less willing to provide us with water. Not surprising considering the spontaneous bouts of nudity and almost continuous ABBA that we are subjecting them to. Rascal 1 and Rascal 2 came through last night, only to be cut up in the queue by a piece of Ruski queuing tactics. Taxistan forces made an excursion into no man’s land to see justice done, sitting on the bumper of the offending van until our compatriots had passed through, much to the displeasure of the shaven headed man mountain inside and the implausibly blonde ex-commie bureaucrat at the barrier. Still the Democratic Armed Forces of Taxistan (DAFT) have notched up their first battle honour.

The long awaited arrival of aid from our Australian allies arrived just before sunset last night, bringing three other teams with them. They were issued with visas and an impromptu drinks party followed after the discovery of a bottle of South African red and some spirits miniatures. Not quite enough to drown our sorrows. Perhaps mildly dampen them for a while. We sent them on their way into Russia just after 10, but not before DAFT notched up another battle honour against an all to ubiquitous gleaming white Land Cruiser. Taxistan 2 – Russians 0.

Shortly after our second victory, our Kazakh allies approached, once again respecting our borders, they laughed and handed over the rope 8 freshly cooked (and still twitching) langoustine. Washed down with flat Sprite, they were a perfect if slightly surreal celebration for the end of our third day of independence.

.

→ 2 CommentsTags: General News

Republic of Taxistan

August 14th, 2008 · 4 Comments

→ 4 CommentsTags: General News

Riling the Russians

August 13th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Day 3 started as all days in Taxistan do, with God Save the Queen played at full volume while the Union Jack Hubcaps are placed on the flagpole. Then the theme tune to the Great Escape is played at full volume on repeat until the dozy Russian border guard comes out of his hut waving his baton and blowing his whistle. We ignore his requests to turn the music off until he is just about to call reinforcements. Judging and testing the limits of the Russian sanity is an artform we are perfecting. A spot of pre breakfast cricket in our boxer shorts continued the morale high. The flagpole doubles as a rudimentary wicket and we’ve cleared and (sort of) leveled enough land for a decent run up.

Half way through South Oftaxia’s second innings 2 representatives from Kazakhstan with ridiculously oversized caps in hand entered Taxistan. Vaguely perplexed by our Passport control post they respected our territorial integrity and passed us tomatoes, bread and Ukrainian sausage for breakfast. Marina Kim has friends in high places.

Team Road to Ruin have presented their papers and are now enjoying Marmite sandwiches and tea in Taxistan while they wait for the Russians to have their lunch and reopen the border.

→ 3 CommentsTags: General News

Diplomacy and Dysentry

August 13th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Things took a turn for the worse yesterday afternoon, when Jimmy succumbed to a cold and his temperature shot through the roof. It took us an hour before the one border guard with nothing to do let us through to try and find a doctor. The doctor was to be found having a cigarette round the back of the customs building and could hardly be said to resemble a land mammal. Once he had waddled into Taxistan he ummed and ahhed and then called an ambulance from Kazakhstan (The Russians don’t have to have anything to do with us and the Kazakhs seem to obey orders from the Russians.) The Kazakh ambulance arrived and it soon became clear that language was going to be a real problem. Taxistan called their Kazakh counterpart in London, HE Marina Kim to translate for us. Marina proceeded to give the doctor a tongue lashing for forcing us to live in such conditions, and then went to work trying to free us…

Within the hour TDT had received calls from The British Embassy in Astana, the Secretary of State for Europe in the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mayor of Semeipalatinsk, who had been awoken in the middle of the night in order to come and meet us at the border. Unfortunately the volley of diplomacy on behalf of Taxistan was not enough to bring down the Russian wall of bureaucracy. However the Kazakhs have now agreed to let us use their loo and bring us food and water. Our situation is now greatly improved.

During these negotiations, Jimmy was being looked after by a Spanish medical student from a passing Mongol Rally team. (The Russian had waddled into the distance) Jimmy’s visa became valid at midnight on Wednesday night and so the decision was taken, despite Jimmy’s best stoic protestations, to evacuate him to Russia in an Austin Allegra and try and find some decent medical attention. He was taken to Barnaul hospital last night and has now been discharged and is staying in the Hotel Siberia on Sovietska in Barnaul. He is expected to make a full recovery in time for the lesser part of TDT’s border crossing in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Taxistan’s population is now down to 2 , however spirits remain high as we are refusing to show weakness in the face of the enemy. Taxistan owes a debt of gratitude to all passing Mongol Rally teams whose donations of food, water, medicine and most importantly a cricket bat have helped to keep us alive and sane. We are particularly grateful to Pat and Dom in the Austin Allegro for rescuing Jimmy last night, and to Marina, for causing such a firestorm, who we thank from the bottom of our heart; and we shall endeavour to thank the Russians from the heart of our bottom.

TDT

→ 2 CommentsTags: General News

Nation building

August 13th, 2008 · 1 Comment

TDT and the People’s Autocratic Republic of Taxistan (PART) are facing many of the hardships of any new nation. Despite no loo, shower, electricity, running water or shade from the 120F heat spirits remain high at the end of day 1 of 5. Efforts at nation building kept morale high during the heat of the day. PART has established it’s border (with a rope) in response to Russian violations of it’s sovereignty. A new passport control office has been erected from various parts liberated from an abandoned van. A flagpole was sunk into the ground using a shovel borrowed from a passing Kazakh and a fallen telegraph pole. Our hubcaps now fly as our colours.

The new government divided the nation is into two semi autonomous administrative regions, demarcated by the line of the old girl. They are North Oftaxia and South Oftaxia.

Reflecting the geographical and political situation of Taxistan, a new time zone has been created half way between Russia and Kazakhstan. Taxistan time is GMT + 5 1/2

Cleanup operations began in earnest today after an environmental study uncovered thousands of cigarette ends, broken glass and rusted barbed wire, the operations were suspended when razor blades and used sanitary apparatus were discovered in North Oftaxia. This area has been cordoned off.

Diplomatic relations were established with Australia today. An aid shipment of fruit and drinking water is arriving tonight with Team Emu Draught. This should hopefully vary our diet which thus far has consisted of pasta and tomato concentrate, with the odd hunk of bread. Negotiations with New Zealand last night yielded enough alcohol to get 1/3 of the population rip roaringly drunk. This has been placed in emergency reserve.

Max is now preparing the nation a wholesome meal of pasta and tomato concentrate.

→ 1 CommentTags: General News

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