Mongol Rally – Week One

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Allow me to introduce myself. I am Chase, I have spent the past three winters working at The Hotel Alyeska, and with my girlfriend Charla Hughes I am driving a 1.1-liter Fiat Panda from England to Mongolia to raise money for charity in the Mongol Rally. Alyeska Resort has been awesomely generous to help support this trip to raise money for the Lotus Children’s Centre in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Our adventure started Saturday the 13th at Bodiam Castle, in Bodiam, England. Bodiam Castle was built in 1385, and was the location of the start of the Mongol Rally. It was our first time meeting all of the teams, and in the slightly-organized chaos the reality seemed to hit everybody: Mongolia is a long way away, and a 1.1-liter Fiat Panda is quite small. Before long our worries washed away as everyone drove onto the stage one-by-one to start and then left the starting line. A quick ferry ride and we were off into Europe! France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany all flew and we found ourselves arriving at Klenová Castle in Klenová, Czech Republic. The organizers of the Rally have a thing for castles, and they had put together another gathering for us at Klenová that lasted until the following morning.

After a detour through Poland getting a very authentic Polish experience, we passed through Slovakia and Hungary into Romania. At the Romanian border, the Mongol Rally seemed to enter its second phase: in Oradea, the border city, we were thrust from western Europe into eastern Europe. No road lanes, large unsigned roundabouts, and gypsy horse carts passing through major intersections. We finally made it out of Oradea onto what was allegedly a major Romanian route; and if this was major, we certainly don’t want to see a minor road! The asphalt had potholes that could swallow the Panda, and the cows being herded down the road added an extra element to the driving experience. After driving the Transfăgărășan, the second-highest paved road in Romania and “the most beautiful road in the world” according to Jeremy Clarksson, we finally made it to Mamaia Nord on the Black Sea for a bit of relaxation.

From Romania we will be heading north into the Ukraine. You can check back here next week to see if we make it! In the meantime, check us out at www.TeamTurnagain.weebly.com or at www.facebook.com/TeamTurnagain!

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