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Show me the way to Ulaan Bataar...

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Really, really important update!

If you'd like to help our cause but can't spare any actual money, here's how you can help.  Go to Tim Worstall's site and download Firefox.  Yes, even if you already have it.  It'll take 30 seconds and 50% of the commission raised will go to Send a Cow.  The other 50% will go straight to Ethiopiaid and the Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa.  Go now!

Some time ago I had a bit of a drinking session with my older brother, a friend of his and his brother, Rick.  It started around midday with a 'quiet pint', and ended about 12 hours later with a bottle of sloe gin mixed with vodka. 

Early on in the festivities Rick proposed that sometime next year we go on a bit of a short road trip for a laugh.  The trip in question is called the Mongol Rally, and it runs from London in the UK to Ulaan Bataar, the capital of Mongolia.  OK, it's not so much a road trip as it is an extreme trek across 8-10,000 miles of the most dangerous, bandit-ridden, pot-holed and just plain terrifying roads in the world.  And France.  All in all, the rally crosses 16 countries, 5 mountain ranges and 2 deserts.  It's been described as the world's most extreme car challenge.  Oh, and you can only use cars that have an engine capacity of 1 litre or less.  Yes, that's 1000cc. I've used shopping trolleys with more grunt than that.


The many route options of the rally

Of course, there's a serious aspect to the rally.  The idea is that each team raises money for a charity called Send a Cow.  These guys donate livestock to farming families in Africa, providing a much needed source of meat, milk and manure.  The scrawny native cattle don't provide enough milk to make them a paying prospect.  The donated cows give up to 14 times as much milk as the native variety, and they also bear young that can then be passed on to other needy families.  Instead of just throwing money at Africa and hoping for the best they give African farmers things they really need, and do their damndest to help them help themselves.  The nature of the charity is a rare example of a virtuous circle in this harsh and unforgiving part of the world. 

To enter the rally we need to raise £1000 (about $1750) for Send a Cow by any means necessary.  Initially I'd hoped to be entirely funded by Rotarians, who do good works both at home and abroad.  Unfortunately the feedback we've been getting so far is no cause for optimism. 

We're also looking into corporate sponsorship.  We'd be happy to plaster the car in advertisements if it'd raise enough cash.  I've emailed a few local businesses to see if they'd like to sponsor the team, so fingers crossed we'll get a little interest. 

Finally, I'll be raising money through this here website.  That's where you guys come in.  Here's the deal.  This thing costs a lot of money.  I mean a lot.  When we were first planning it out the idea was that it'd cost the £1000 for charity and maybe a few hundred for petrol.  It wouldn't matter if we didn't raise the £1000, because we could just supplement it with our own money. 

After a few days planning and budgeting, though, it seems it'll be much more expensive than we anticipated.  We'll be scrimping and saving where we can to pay for the actual rally, but we'll need all the help we can get to raise the charity money.  We're hoping some of you will be able to help make up the difference, generous souls that you are.  If you'd like to donate, click the picture of the cars on the left sidebar - that'll remain there until the rally.

We're not asking you to give us your kid's college fund and the keys to your Porsche (but if you'd like to, I won't try to stop you).  All we are asking is that if you can spare a dollar or two, please throw it our way.  As a bonus, any money you donate will be supplemented by Gift Aid, which adds up to 28% extra from the UK tax man.  As well as supporting a great cause, you'll also allow me to fulfil one of my life's ambitions: to scream across Kazakhstan using all 45 horsepower of a Fiat Panda in 40 degree heat being chased by knife wielding members of the Russian Mafia.  With my brother telling me I took a wrong turn at the last steppe. 

Thank you.  You guys kick ass.  Or something.


Our request for sponsorship by the magazine FHM was refused just now.  What more FHM-ish subject is there to support than the Mongol Rally?  Throw in a few gratuitous boobies and you've got your issue ready made.  Asses.

'Nother Update

Tim Worstall has graciously donated a slot in his Blogads to help the cause.  If there are any other bloggers out there with empty ad space available it'd be great if you'd let us fill it for a while.  Even if you only get two readers a day - yourself and your mother - we'd be grateful for the ad space.  That way you can help the cause without having to reach into your pocket.  A poifect plan.  Please drop me an email if you can help out.  Thanks.

'Nother, 'nother update

The good will keeps pouring in.  Mike Smith at Take Your Medicine has donated a Blogad; MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy's Beth has seen that and raised it a ten spot, and The Devil's Kitchen's  Chris Mounsey has offered his technical expertise in designing a Blogad gratis.  Thank you very much, guys.  $10 down.  $1740 to go.  I've got a good feeling about this.  I feel like George Bailey at the end of It's a Wonderful Life.

I've also been thinking of a few ways to get some others to chip in.  My old employer runs a dress-down Friday once a month and charges £1 per person.  The money raised goes to charity, so I'll be speaking to the boss to see if he can't divert that lovely lucre to us in exchange for pasting their logo on the side of the car.  If all else fails I have some dirt on the company regarding violations of the Data Protection Act.  Hey, you play the hand you're dealt.  Don't judge me. 

On a less sordid note, the headmaster at my old primary school is an acquaintance of ours, so I'm gonna see if he'd be interested in running a competition to design a paintjob for the bonnet of the car.  Have to figure out a way to make money out of it, but if we can't manage it we can always shake down the kids for their lunch money.

Why do all my fundraising schemes end in blackmail and violence? 

Update ²

Thanks to John Owen for his donation.  I'm pretty sure that the John Owen of Paypal and Johno of The Ministry of Perfidy are one and the same, but correct me if I'm wrong.  (Johno's coblogger Buckethead also chipped in $10.  Thanks, mate - ed)

Let's get a little running total at the bottom of the page.  I'll write it in pounds sterling because, well, it's real money.  Everything else is just funny-looking paper.  Okay, okay, we can have it in dollars too.  You crazy 'mericans.

More in the way of updates

The Devil's Kitchen's Chris Mounsey designed a kickass animation for our Blogads this weekend, but whatever I tried I couldn't convince Blogads that it was smaller than 16kb, which is the upper limit for ad graphics.  Thanks anyway to Chris.  That guy is gifted. 

You can see the simple ad we settled on here in the sidebar (though for some reason they don't show up when I view the site through AOL).  You can also see the ad running at MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and Take Your Medicine.

Thanks to Ben Smith for the donation, by the way.  Almos forgot about that.


£1000 ($1772)

To Go

£979.49 ($1736.33)


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» Helping Sortapundit. from Tim Worstall
Soooo, which charity you gonna support this year? Who you gonna bung fifty quid to cover the guilt over the festive consumption? Send a Cow sounds like a pretty good one to me. Or, you could do it the complex [Read More]

» We were somewhere outside Tashkent, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. from The Ministry of Minor Perfidy
Keith at Sortapundit is gearing up to do the very dumbest fun thing Ive ever heard of: drive the Mongol Rally. Participants ... [Read More]

» Send Sortapundit to Mongolia. from Exit Zero
....to join a rally and buy a cow. This sounds like so much fun - ex... [Read More]


Ah the Gobi and Kublai Khan. Kinda makes a bloke misty-eyed don't it ? :)

Emailed ya...

I am SO envious! What a crazy freaking idea, but I LOVE it! I'm swooning at the thought of doing something like this--you are so lucky to be able to do it! You'd better be taking notes and pictures to blog the WHOLE THING for us when you get home (naturally, I assume you won't be able to do it on the road).

Hopefully we'll be able to blog the whole thing with the help of technology. I'm told mobile phone coverage is pretty solid all through Europe and Asia, so I should be able to email posts either here or to Tim Worstall, who has volunteered to post updates while we're away. Still, we have 7 months to plan logistics. The important thing now is to shake as much money as possible out of people, or I'll be blogging from right here on the couch :)

Once upon a time, I was planning on a motorcycle trip across asia with my uncle. We would have followed a route similar to yours, basically channel coast to the black sea, then across to the silk road, and on to Vladivostok. Then, he and my aunt divorced, and out of consideration to my aunt, I cut back my involvement with Uncle Ken.

Now, with wife and kid, adventures like this are a just a leetle bit harder to justify.

Anyway, here's ten bucks and good luck to you, you bastard.

Why, that's mighty kind of you. Thank you very much :)

And hey, if you get tired of the wife and kid you can always stow away in the boot of our car. You'll have to supply your own beer, though.

Damme you, paypal!

John Owen and Johno are one and the same indeed, and paypal has for the first time unmasked my thinly and desultorily hidden secret identity.

Plus, I got paid and will be contributing another pittance to your cause. Can one rusty Citroen make up a horde?

How did I manage to crack the code? :)

If you were Batman you'd be in some deep shit right about now.

On the other hand, you could actually be fiendishly concealing a third secret identity behind your 'real' name and your online persona. John Owen could in fact be an incredibly clever red herring, a buffer between Johno and your true identity: Aquaman.

All this thinking is giving me a headache.

Please do say hello to Batu Knan for me. He is such a dear old man.

That's why I'm not a superhero, unless I were the legendary Marvel Universe nebbish, Forbush Man. Which these days carries fascinating new connotations. In truth, my online 'privacy' is thinly veiled at best, and that I have allowed it to be pierced by a random stab from an unwitting party suggests that my powers of congitation rival merely those of Polonius, crying out from behind my tatty electronic arras. No big brain, I.

And I'm not frigging Aquaman!!!

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