It's been quite a while since our last update from the My Left Tyre team and we're glad to say they completed the Mongol Rally some time ago. Not content with driving 10,000 kilometers across eastern Europe in a totally unsuitable car the guys decided to forge on to Japan! Here's the last installment from the rally and the team's exploits beyond!
Tell us about your trip from Uzbekistan.
Well Uzbekistan itself was simply stunning and I think we can all agree we loved it apart from the appalling road conditions!
The architecture here cannot be captured on camera but we tried our best. Into the countryside and you can tell money is not abundant, however sprites in the local people are always joyful.
So we again had engine trouble in Uzbekistan and figured it was something to do with ignition and the bumpy roads and traveling late one night and sick of pulling over trying to resolve the problem we tried duck-taping our ignition cables and it somehow worked!
Potholes or craters?
Some first class gaffer-taping there!
From here we headed into Tajikistan. We found a Toyota garage just over the boarder and luckily they discovered our ignition problem was a loose cable in a connector. With that resolved we were ready to tackle the climb up the Pamir Highway.
Even the police here let Sean have a go at stopping a truck.
Little Starlet in 4x4 territory
This was one of our hardest climbs of the trip. That zig zag sandy road is at about 3500 meters and Barbara was down on power due to lack of oxygen. This made for bogging down quite often in soft sand which made for a lot of difficult pushing up hill in high altitude but in the end teamwork prevailed.
Covered in dust from digging and pushing!!
And so after the most difficult part of the Pamir we met an oncoming Mongal Rally car with a Brazilian team whom could not enter Kyrgyzstan due to visa issues. They asked us could we drive their car into Kyrgyzstan for them and they will fly in and meet us there with valid Visas, and in true mongal rally spirit we agreed :) So with now two cars to take care of we set off to the summit of the Highway.
Finally, some downhill!
We crossed into Kyrgyzstan no problems and progressed and found roads deemed somewhat good in our eyes now.
From here we hand back over the car to our Brazilian friends and carry on into Kazakhstan. Almost immediately we are pulled over by police demanding bribes. This can be a tiring and stressful situation but we stood our ground and would not give in to several police stops demands. Barbara was still comfortable enough to sleep in :)
Chasing the sunset.
Even without Police corruption everywhere Kazakhstan didn’t have much to offer in regards to scenery or road conditions. We just made headway for the next border and only had to spend three days in Kazakhstan. Our next border was Russia and upon entering Russia we were glad of the smooth roads it had to offer and a pretty amazing sunset to top it off.
We met some other team in the city of Barnaul and had a night out in the city. From here we progressed across to the border of Mongolia and reached the border very late at night where we set up camp in the hope to get across early the next day.
We rise early to get ready because at 08:00 clock the border opens its doors. After about four hours of waiting and numerous attempts of Kazakhs trying to cut the queue and squeeze between us and the other teams, we get the Russian exit stamp and continue on the Mongolian side of the border. It takes a total of 9 hours to enter Mongolia but it was worth it.
We ended up getting stuck in this river and again pushing had to resolve the problem
The carpets needed a wash anyway..
After the border we headed across the northern route but soon decided to head down south and experience some of the Gobi Desert. Finding places to camp in Mongolia was easy and beautiful
Mongolia's attempt at building a bridge!
And after 6 days camping straight through Mongolia's with no shower or home comforts we made it to the finish line. Here's the Genghis Khan statue Ulaanbaatar Mongolia.
We didn’t have to look far for some Guinness to celebrate - and it was here where two members Sean and Leo decided they, nor Barbara had enough and pushed their own finish line further East .. To Tokyo!
Back up north a few hours into Russia where we met some teams and celebrated. Sandra and Han flew home from here and Sean and Leo progressed across Siberia Russia
Leo, Sean and a collection of Siberian bugs on the front of Barbara.
In order to reach our ferry in far east Russia (3500km away) we had to drive long hours. One day we drove 1100km! On another day we came in a little too hot as you might put it into a police checkpoint. The Police checked documents and once realizing where we had come from all they wanted was a picture with us and the car and sent us on our way.
Traveling across Siberia by day was a pleasant experience with smooth roads and beautiful scenery. However, camping by night temperature’s dropped drastically and we both had to put many layers of clothing on before getting into our sleeping bags. Very cold temperatures and in woods that are known to house Black Bears. But always positive and of course always time for a beer
People kept calling us crazy for doing this.. do we look crazy?
Sunrise in far east Russia
We finally reached our port city of Vladivostok in far east Russia and had to load the car onto the ferry two days prior to its departure. This gave us a chance to relax in our hostel and plan for Japan.
We finally set sail and stopping off in the port town of Donghae in South Korea before making our final ferry journey to Japan. Upon arriving in Japan there was a lot of paper work to organize, translating our License, getting our car paper work checked over and over, car insurance then customs clearance, customs checks and another customs clearance. After several hours we were making headway for Okayama where we meet a friend of Sean’s who will travel to Tokyo with us.
At Okayama we experience gearbox trouble, the gearbox would have a loud grind when the foot is off the throttle but on throttle it was okay. At first we were sure it would not make it to Tokyo but decided to chance it as even though Japan is the home of Toyota even this model is rare in Japan so finding a replacement would be difficult.
We visited a Toyota ae86 festival which is a car the Sean obsesses about at Okayama International race circuit. It was here where we met the Irish People from JDM auction watch whom import cars to Ireland. We had already spoken with them in regard to shipping the car home from Tokyo and they had agreed to help.
Barbara getting checked out by top race team at the festival in the pits of Okayama Circuit
From here we slowly made our way north through Japan, Stopping in Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, the Toyota Museum and finally Tokyo.
Us on the Toyota Museum website
Coming into Tokyo City
We made it .. and somehow so did the gearbox!!
I suppose the question on everyone’s mind is how did the team get along?
Great actually, we really did work as a team, each fell into a designated task and It worked well. It really took team effort especially driver and navigator in the big cities and when the car was stuck in sand or a river. But even small tasks like setting up camp, handling currency, shopping etc were done efficiently and without trouble. We were also able to have a lot of fun on the way which was a massive bonus.
How was the car Barbara overall?
Honestly we cannot fault her. For such an old car and only 1 litre to be lugging that weight and taking on that terrain and make it to Japan is quite phenomenal! It really is a true testament to Toyota and of course the parts that MicksGarage supplied were outstanding ;) The tyres that TC Tyres supplied were also unbelievable as we did not have one puncture! We heard of some teams having up to 12 punctures!
What was the most enjoyable part of the trip?
I think for all of us it has got to be the Pamir. It was simply stunning, we simply could not fit in a picture how amazing it was.
And the least enjoyable?
Corrupt cops, Mosquitoes, terrible roads and bland scenery, in short - Kazakhstan!
How much did Team My Left tyre Raise?
We raised over €5000 for Irish Autism Action and over €3000 for Salzburg children.
Would you recommend this trip to everyone?
For sure this trip is not for everyone. It’s an adventure more than a road trip and can be quite stressful and challenging not to mention dangerous but we met all sorts of people taking part and its definitely something that you get out what you put in. We put in hours of preparation and came out with the best experience of our lives. We highly recommend any fundraiser where you can also truly love the experience and raise some much needed money for charity.
Team My Left Tyre would like to send our sincere gratitude to all our sponsors this adventure honestly could not have been without you
for all the parts and accessories supplied to us . As we said above they all survived the ultimate test.
Again as we said above not one puncture! Thanks for suppling six of these van tyres regardless if we needed the spares or not.
for help with Petrol and also the massive help with getting this stunning car back to Ireland
Twister Film Production
And to the readers if you would like to donate please follow the links below
For Autism Ireland http://www.mycharity.ie/event/my_left_tyre/
For Salzburg Children’s Care http://www.kinderkrebshilfe.com/