I just installed WordPress on my website so that I can create a diary about our planned adventure. I always had a website since the mid nineties, though a year or two ago I became too busy to maintain a weblog and switched to the comfortable / lazy facebook postings. I would however never create any significant content for a corporation to make money with — I’d rather keep paying a few dollars a month for web hosting and let the people who are interested enjoy a clean, ad-free website. I always install all sorts of ad blockers for my browsing, so it would not make sense for me to try to put ads on this site. The web should be free.
Anyway, hopefully I won’t be lazy to keep updating this blog. In case the reader is unaware: The plan is that my friend Jerome and I go on a five week road trip from Ulaanbaatar to Zurich by Motorbike. The idea came about when I heard about fellow Couchsurfer Bjorn’s now two time participation in the Mongol Rally, which is a so called charity event where a bunch of naive young people drive to Mongolia by crappy car or 125cc motorbike. This sounded like a pretty cool thing to do, but for a year or two I just kept the vague desire to do something like this at the back of my mind.
It became a topic again when my wife started engaging me in protracted discussions about the supposed great benefits of a second child. I was not convinced at all. My point of view was ‘been there, done that’ with regard to bringing up a baby, and it wasn’t great fun either. I did not appreciate the need to start over from square one. Still, it soon became clear that she was not going to simply take no for an answer. Hoping that her fear for my personal safety in remote regions would weigh heavy, I proposed a bargain: She gets the baby if I get to go to Mongolia. To my great consternation she accepted immediately.
The initial obvious plan was to take part in the official rally using some crap car. I even found a partner relatively quickly: It turned out my former band mate Hedgie’s sister lives in Ulaanbaatar, and he would not mind to visit her. There were unfortunately some problems with the arrangement: Hedgie did not have a driver’s license, nor sufficient funds, nor enough free time to partake in the planning. At the same time, as I familiarized myself with the organized Mongol Rally, I became rather disappointed by a few key points: I didn’t like the fact that the organizers demand a 1000 dollar entry fee in return for practically nothing, which as far as I know does not go to charity. I also wanted to go with a decent motorbike rather than a piece of crap, but anything over 125 cc or so was not allowed. Finally, I tend to grow attached to my material possessions, and I considered ditching my noble steed at the finish line, as they do in the organized rally, rather distasteful. Not to mention that the convenient disposal of a vehicle which can be considered total rubbish by the time it arrives at its destination is rather disingenuous ‘charity’.
I found plan B in the form of Jerome a classmate from the ETH. Back at school we hardly knew each other, but years later we ended up working in the same office building and started having lunch together on occasion. He is a rather peculiar fellow, and as most readers should know, I am rather drawn to people who are a bit off kilter. Jerome and I have in fact done a road trip to Croatia years ago in his car, together with my colleague Pierre and my brother Berti. Since then Jerome has sold his car to fund the development of a home made full motion flight simulator. Jerome also happens to be the person who helped me with my first steps on my first motorcycle — he was already a practiced rider when I was just starting out. When I first told him that I’m interested to go by car, he was not interested, but when he heard that the plan changed to motorbike, he immediately accepted. One part of the reason must have been that we have developed a great interest in enduro and motocross riding after a crash course not too long ago. Another part may be that he is also a young father, and I am pretty sure all fresh dads yearn for the freedoms they knew but a few years ago…and here I am simply talking about the simple freedoms of sleeping through the night or not having child care duty on weekends.
For the time being I just updated a generic photo of a mongol ger that I found on the web. Yes, I realize it is pixelated and rife with JPEG artifacts. I hope to replace it soon with one of my own photos. 🙂