Soooo, as plans are heating up for this year’s Mongol Rally, i.e. the Trip of Disaster to End All Disasters (omg! omg! I’m on a plane in just 133 days! and we have done literally nothing by way of anything involving planning!), we are faced with a dilemma. The organizers, who’re scarcely more into organizing than your fearless narrator here, provide no route nor guidance to getting from the start in London to the finish line in Mongolia. Which suits me just fine.However…
While there are nearly innumerable ways to get to Mongolia from London, there are rather fewer that combine the following qualities: simple / visa-free / entertaining / not likely to kill our dear Prudence le Citroen with nausea-inducingly high mountain ranges / not involved in international / civil unrest. ‘Cause yeah, the world’s at war, same same, what else is new. And while I’ve really no qualifications to spew my opinions of the various ass-hats currently terrorizing their own and others’ peoples, I certainly can do the next best thing to Stopping All Wars / Dropping Donald Trump on a Land Mine and… solicit y’all’s opinion on our route! We’ve a number of choices, and we’ve a number of preferences, as clearly I’m never without an opinion, but in the spirit of crowd-sourcing and whatnot, let’s just have everyone else’s as well. Particularly my dearest friend, of the everylasting “Don’t go to war countries, you fucking retard” fame. Totes still the most entertaining advice I’ve ever received, dear 🙂
So the plan is to leave from London, immediately ditch everyone else’s route, and head to Champagne. ‘Cause like, CHAMPAGNE. And then after having drunk allllll the champagne, basically book ass across Europe as fast as Prudence le Citroen can do. Oh, and stop in Liechtenstein. ‘Cause like, when the fuck else am I gonna knock Liechtenstein off the list?? Then there’s a bunch of parties, blah blah, and at some point we’ll roll into Contstanţa, Romania, ’cause, Beach Party.
At the other end, we’ve basically sorted the whole ‘Stans-Mongolia-Russia itinerary. By which I mean, clearly, we’ve sorted nothing at all, as I’m fairly convinced there’s literally no point even thinking about it, as we will clearly have broken the shit outta Prudence le Citroen, been kidnapped by Bulgarian pirates, drowned on a Caspian Sea ferry, or at the very least somehow otherwise royally fucked up our timeline by then. Whatevs.
So that leaves us with The Shit In The Middle, and my original dilemma. We’ve narrowed the routes a bit, discarding options such as:
Russian Option: Romania-Moldova-Ukraine-(Crimea)-Russia
which would clearly involve like 94,087 days driving across Siberia and fuck that shit. We also managed to eliminate the following (and yes, No War Countries lady, these were actually my call, as the Adorable Husband still thinks it’d be like “totally fine”):
‘Stany-Irany Option: Romania-Turkey-Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan-rest of ‘Stans
Dude. Just no. I’m not hiring a Pakistani army official as my guard, ’cause just No.
Kurdish Option: Romania-Turkey-Iran-Kurdistan-etc
Now this was tempting, and one day I’ll go, but methinks not just this year…
Which left us firmly settled on a Romania to Turkmenistan route. Somehow. So here’s your (remaining) voting options:
Option 1: Romania-Moldova-Ukraine-(Crimea)-Black Sea ferry-Georgia-(Armenia)-Azerbaijan-Caspian Sea ferry-Turkmenistan
- Easier visas, as apparently the ex-Ruskies heart Yankees and we Americans can go basically anywhere ex-USSR for free? Zero comprehension of that one, so I’m just gonna say thanks and move on;
- Omg has anyone ever even been to Moldova / Transnistria? Can I just win my fav game, Who’s Got the Weirdest Passport Stamp, right now??;
- 2 ferries (I love ferries!!);
- 5 new countries!
- 2 ferries (ferries in this part o’ the word, apparently, are not the easiest or timeliest of beasts…);
- Literally the only interesting touristic / any information I can find about traveling in Moldova is this: “Moldova has a long local wines tradition. Especially the reds are popular throughout the country. Most Moldovan villagers grow their own grapes and press their own wine.” On the other hand, WINE.
- War Zones: 2, possibly 3? All totally avoidable, we’ll just (prob’ly) skip Armenia if things are still lookin’ sketchy (not that that’s a war, thx Wikipedia), not tack on Chechnya if the same, and assume that nobody’s killed anybody (kinda) in Odessa in like, at least a year 🙂
Option 2: Romania-Black Sea ferry-Georgia-(Armenia)-Azerbaijan-Caspian Sea ferry-Turkmenistan
- Probably the quickest route? Leaving time to debase myself in the ‘Stans on Russian vodka, as well as extra days prob’ly needed to push our lovely Prudence le Citroen over the Pamir Highway. Yeah, let’s not talk about that…;
- Probably the most boring route? I mean, I do like the ferries, but I don’t reaaaaaaaly need to stare at the inside of a Soviet and Soviet-era tanker for 7 whole days…
- Only 3 new countries 😦
- War Zones: Probably just the 1 (see Armeni / Azeri issue above)? Wait, that doesn’t sound right. This route’s starting to seem uber-pansy-ish…
Option 3: Romania-Bulgaria-Turkey-Georgia-(Armenia)-Azerbaijan-Caspian Sea ferry-Turkmenistann
- Get to drink raki in Istanbul with my Turks (I love you, Caner!)!!
- Bulgarian feta is literally THE BEST;
- However, I bloody fucking goddam hate Bulgaria. I don’t think it’s even rational at this point, so don’t bother asking why;
- Have to drive through Istanbul traffic. Vomit;
- Won’t actually have time to see anything in Turkey, as this route is waaaaaaaaay more driving;
- Wtf Turks, you’re basically Middle Eastern, does your petrol really have to be that pricey??;
- Also only 3 new countries 😦
- War Zones: 1, possibly 2? Oh, what’s really even considered a war nowadays anyway… We’ll just assume the Armeni’s / Azeri’s will’ve calmed their shit down, and Turkey will stay pissy enough with ISIS to keep them the fuck away from that pretty Black Sea highway 🙂
Option 4: Romania-Bulgaria-Turkey-Iran-Turkmenistan
- As for Turkey above.
- Also could see Mt Ararat? Not sure I care…
- Ooo but I’ll tell y’all what I do care about. Wine! And you know what’s in Iran? Oh that’s right, the city of Shiraz. Like, from where we get the wine of shiraz. Like CHAMPAGNE and SHIRAZ in 1 trip?? ‘Nuf said.
- Also, and I know this is odd for a non-religious Yankee who fucking HATES morning, but I really like the call to mosque, in like, an artistic aesthetic way, and I’ve never heard the Iranian version.
- Finally, I work with like, a billion Iranians, who’re all lovely, but who I really need to stop babbling about how much I’d love their homeland, and I think actually seeing it would probs shut them up the quickest 🙂
- Won’t be able to drink shiraz IN Shiraz unless we befriend a local who’s willing to give me some, what with it being the illegal devil’s drink and all;
- Sadly, I’ve never actually managed to figure out how to keep a head-scarf on, let alone a proper hijab, although surely I would do? If forced by law??
- 1 new country??? Fuck that;
- Magic though I am, I probs won’t be an Aussie citizen in time to get a passport in time to get visas in time to go to Iran (and don’t y’all even get me started whinging on the visa process for visiting 20+ countries, some of them ‘Stans, in 1 trip… Not that we’ve started said process or anything). As there’s literally no chance in fuck I’m going to Iran on a U.S. passport, this option is kinda already vetoed 😦
- 0 ferries. Boo.
- War Zones: Oh, who the fuck even knows at this point. Potentially 2???
Ok, y’all’re up, now go!