“Never Give Up – Love is the Answer” runs a 24 hour on call service, helping and transporting handicapped people and children. Our ambulance will make this worthwhile task possible. We’d like to thank our sponsors and collaborators, without which all this would be impossible.
A heartfelt thank you, on behalf of The Improbables, Go Help, as well as the Never Give Up foundation to:
IE Business School
Herdade do Gamito
Miami Device Solutions
Miami Ad School
The Other Media
Also a big thank you to all of those who helped us out along the way!!!
We (Jonathan and Estevam, while Dhruv is still “busy” in Astana being an exotic guest) arrived in Budapest on Friday night. We love Budapest, it’s a city where everything stands out in a very good way, from the buildings to the people, with a glory of past times that you can feel every step of the way. On Saturday (we will post photographs soon) we donated the ambulance to the Never Give Up Foundation (http://www.nemadomfel.hu/en), a Hungarian based ngo that among many activities, runs a 24 hours on call service that helps and transports handicapped people and children. We had the opportunity to visit their installations, their workers, people, and those who they help. They were thrilled with the ambulance that just seemed to have “fallen from the sky” and so were we to give it to such a good cause, to an organization where those who help are in turn helped at the same time. We give special thanks to Catarina Sarafana and her friend Alexandra who put us in touch with Andrea Bergner from the Never Give Up Foundation.
Although our initial aim was to donate the ambulance in Mongolia, sometimes things turn our for the best in unexpected ways. And we believe this has been another example of it. Just as the the Hungarian ngo we benefited, we never gave up and worked with the current circumstances as best as we could. In the end, we will reach Mongolia for sponsor and charity comitments, albeit by plane, and Dhruv is in Kazakstan as we speak fulfilling our obligations there.
Once again, thanks to all that have helped us along the way, and tomorrow Jonathan and Estevam are off to Mongolia with a quick one day stop in Russia, making use of the cancelled visa entry and exit, performed by the caring border crossing Russian guards of the Uspenka border, who seemd to know that we would cross into Russia one way or another.
Enjoy the Euro Cup final today and we’ll post photographs soon.
So, we finally left the city of Mariupol, which we came to know a little too well. Serena was ready and fixed and Estevam and the mechanic had a deep automotive moment, which reflected the importance of this “second part” of the rally.
After trying one last time to get through to Russia via the Foreign Trade Bureau, the 2 driving Improbables decided to donate the ambulance to an an ngo in Budapest, Hungary (we will detail later). However, the road was still long ahead. Arriving two days ago in one of their favorite Ukranian cities, Poltava, which actually looks like Coral Gables, Florida, Dhruv was on their mind. Alone in Kazakstan, the last news they had of Dhruv, was that he was safe off the train in Astana, having coffee with a mysterious girl that was obviously taller than him.
The following day, they arrived in Kiev where there was the possibility of donating the ambulance to the Ministry of Health. However, this would take too long and time pressed.
Coming to the day of today, they are in one of there other favorite Ukrainian cities, Lviv, which is definitely worth a longer visit.
As promised here is our mega update concerning our current situation since we reached the Russian border.
On Day 13 (June 21) we arrived at the Ukranian-Russian border of Veselo-Voznesenka where we were refused entry by the border inspector who we like to refer to (amongst other things) as Alexander, the Mustache Man. The reason being that our ambulance is considered a medical vehicle or “special car”, the only way it could pass would be for it to stripped down from all the equipment that make it an ambulance (eg: shelves, patient bed, sirens, etc…) or for us to pay a “broker deposit” of 7,000 dollars. After 8 hours at the border trying to convince the Russian authorities to let us pass with all our available means we were told to “go home”. Some of the other inspectors and guards felt sorry for us and suggested we try the next day a border 100 kms north where they are more relaxed. Dhruv, our Indian team mate was forced to cross to Russia on foot because he could not return to the Ukraine due to his single entry visa. He managed to reach Taganrog where he was the main attraction for the nhabitants and is now on his way to Astana, Kazachstan by train.
The next day we tried the Upsenka border as suggested, but when they saw our same day visa entry and exit from Russia of the previous day, they called the other border crossing. They tried their best to find a solution for us to pass, but in the end, we were also told to “go home”. The border guard dubbed our rally “mission impossible”. Apparently there has been a law since 2010 that prohibits the passage of “special cars” through Russia. Something we would have loved to know before buying an ambulance!
To make matters worse, our radiator started to leak after hitting a giant pot hole. The roads near the border are so bad, that it takes 4 hours to drive 150km. We were towed in the night by a nice villager to the nearest gas station, where he made a “quick fix” so we could reach the nearest city of Mariupolo.And so we did, our special car has been at the mechanic since Saturday. It will be ready tomorrow and after we will donate our ambulance either in Kiev or Budapest and then fly to our ultimate destination of Ulan Bator, Mongolia, where we will re-unite with Dhruv.
For now this is the plan, and we will continue to document the voyage as always!
Excited to work with Nokia – Live adventure everywhere & capture every second with the most awesome camera phone in the world.
Check out their latest PureView and Lumia phones. We’ve been using them on the road (many of the pictures that you’ve seen were taken with them). Yes, they’re that good! Also since leaving Italy they’ve been our primary navigation system (GPS). Which is to say, we be would be lost without them… Let’s ride!
We’re proud to introduce our newest sponsor: Ford! We could not think of a better fit, our dearest Serena is after all a Ford Transit Ambulance. We will be cooperating with http://www.fordopenworld.com/ where you will be able to read about our latest adventures (in Spanish.) As Ford believes, the world is changing and becoming increasingly open. Ford Open World: “Tú eres el motor” (“You are the motor”) and as such it is our pleasure to be a vehicle for further integration between the inhabitants of the six different timezones we will be crossing on our way to Mongolia.
We now have a confirmed time and date for our exhibition at the National Geographic Store Madrid. It will be Tuesday, September 11, 2012. More details to come in July/August. Stay tuned! For now we leave you with the expo teaser:
“The adventures of the “The Improbables” on their solo participation in the longest charity rally in the world. The Mongolia Charity Rally 2012, the 14,000 km journey of a Portuguese, an Indian, and a French-Italian from Madrid to Ulan Bator at the wheel of a yellow ambulance called Serena. Experience their adventure through their stories, video, and photographs, which crossed one third of the world’s land surface in the name of charity and the spirit of adventure.”
As many of you know, on June 9th, Dhruv, Jonathan and I will be on our way to Mongolia with our ambulance Serena. Some say we won’t be coming back. In case they’re right, we’ve decided to “summon” the “last drink” before we’re off, at Bar Miguel Angel, which is very originally located at calle Miguel Angel, 6. This Wednesday at 10 pm.
So, before this gets too long, to conclude, we’ll be there and hope you will too. For those of you can’t make it or don’t want to , please visit our website at www.madridtomongolia.com (and “like” us on Facebook because that’s what our sponsors like). This is especially directed at all of you that have avoided my Madrid to Mongolia “like requests” as if you were ninjas for the past months. So, see you Wednesday or not. This is possibly the most non-exclusive event you have ever been invited to, so you can bring who ever you want.
PS: Dhruv will be there in spirit, because he will be physically somewhere in London.
Como muchos de vosotros saben, el 9 de junio, Dhruv, Jonathan e yo estaremos en camino hacia Mongolia con Serena (nuestra ambulancia). Algunos han dicho que no vamos a volver. En caso que esto sea cierto, hemos decidido “convocar” el “último trago” antes de empezar el rally, en el Bar Miguel Ángel, que está muy originalmente ubicado en la calle Miguel Ángel, 6. Este miércoles a las 10 pm.
Por lo tanto, antes de que esto se haga demasiado largo, para concluir, vamos a estar ahí y esperamos que vosotros también. Para aquellos que no puedan o no quieran venir , por lo menos visiten nuestra web en www.madridtomongolia.com (y hagan “like” en nuestra pagina Facebook, porque eso le gusta a nuestros patrocinadores). Hablo especialmente a todos los que han evitado mis peticiones de “like Madrid to Mongolia” durante los últimos meses como si fueran ninjas. Este es posiblemente el evento (si es que lo podemos llamar así) más no exclusivo al cual hayas sido invitado. Lo que significa que pueden traer quien quieran.
PD: Dhruv estará allí en espíritu, porque físicamente estará en Londres.
We are pleased to announce that The OTHER media is sponsoring “The Improbables” to travel the OTHER way round to Mongolia. theOTHERmedia are the creators of Wonders App & does proactive ecommerce for BenSherman, PaulSmith, RoyalCollection, HarperCollins… Visit them at www.othermedia.com
Thanks to George and the whole crew for their support !
Woho !!! A preety lady donated her Polaroid Camera this weekend to help us bring joy to people all along our trip. Camera and hence photographs are a rare & prized possession in this part of the world and we hope we can bring in some smiles to the people !
See the camera here !!! Guys does anyone have any films for this camera (Polaroid 600) ? We are looking for more films right now.
With basically one month to go for departure, what has been going on at M2M HQ? Well, in terms of visas, things are looking better (for some at least). Dhruv only has the Russian visa left, Estevam is in process for the fearsome Kazak visa (don’t ask), and Jonathan has three visas left (which is another way of saying all of them). However, the team is confident he will pull through Brightening up the day, Dhruv got his British driver’s licence today after failing the exam 5 times. This might be good news or not. As far as Serena (our sexy ambulance) goes, she is being massaged daily by our mechanic. When asked why, the mechanic said he learned this technique from Kobe cow farmers in Japan. Apparently it makes something better. Stay tuned.
We like Google Maps, they’re nice. However, in terms of route and duration we beg to differ. Plus, we don’t do ferries. With this said, our “tentative route” will not be what’s in the picture, instead it will be: (Spain) Madrid – Barcelona – (France) Marseille – (Italy) Genova – (Slovenia) Ljubljana – (Hungary) Budapeste – (Ukraine) Mukachevo – Khmelnytskyi – Kiev – Poltava – Donets’k – (Russia) Rostov-on-donu – Elista – Astrakhan – (Kazakstan) Atirau – Aktobe – Kostanai – Astana – Maykin – Semey – (Russia) – this is a tricky one, will be there about 2 days on the way to the Mongolian border – (Mongolia) Altanbulag – Ulan Bator
Well, you’ve seen our ambulance but you don’t know her name…She’s called Serena, after one of the most beautiful Italian girls if not the most, who resides in the pearl of the Mediterranean (that’s Malta for the ignorants). Special thanks to Alberto Tejero for accompanying us on the “buy day” of the ambulance in the whereabouts of Madrid’s Aguacete Industrial Polygon and also his donation of an ultra modern radio with CD and USB (14,000 kms without music would not be pretty). We also thank Joao Formigal for co-piloting Serena from Madrid to Portugal where it is now being “tricked out” big style by master mechanic Antonio Joaquim. Finally we thank Cristina (another rally participant) for hooking us up with the contact of the ambulance seller and also her moral support. Let’s ride!
We had a crash course on Ambulances this weekend and here is a summary of the crash course
Usually we have three types of ambulance(s)
#1) Patient Vehicle
- No Turbo Charged Diesel Engine
- Single seat in the front
- Instead of a second seat, we have a box as storage space, but this box can be removed and a seat can be fitted inside.
- Rear has 4/5 seats which are foldable and can also be removed on demand
- Usually Cheaper than front line vehicles
** there is a separation between the front and read and hence travel for the third mate might not be boring
#2) Front Line Vehicle(s) – 999/112 ones
- Usually has Turbo Charged Diesel Engine( more power )
- Two seats in the front
- Has more miles and rashly driven in London
- Does not come with a lot of seats
- Usually expensive but depends on the age/ miles
- More Cupboards space etc
- Usually has 2/3 batteries which can power inverters for charging points.
** one mate needs to sit behind and might get boring since there is no separation (usually, but depends) between the front and read ! sitting alone might not be fun(14,000 kms)
#3) Front Line Vehicle (normal)
- Less cupboard space. normal vehicle, non turbo
In the UK the price for a Renault 2004 is £ 2500 but for a 2005 is £ 3500 , which is obviously too expensive for our budget.
VAT FREE SALE: The sale of vehicles certified as ambulance is VAT free in the UK
BLUE LIGHTS: In the UK, it is not ILLEGAL to have blue lights on a vehicle. It is illegal to use them for inappropriately or without real reason. blue lights can be kept on. The Agency can issue a letter stating that the vehicle was sold with the blue lights fitted; since the vehicle is a export vehicle for charity. This has never been a problem in the EU or in other non European countries , but there is no guarantee. In case of issues, you can always remove the fuse and put them back once in Mongolia.
Electricity in the Vehicle: You can have a inverter fitted for around £180 to charge your laptop/ camera charger etc in both these vehicle types.
Leased Vehicles: The vehicles I saw were leased by G4S and hence are Regularly maintained & Had Service history
Auctioned Vehicles: Not always the best and unless you have experience with ambulances, you are advised to keep away from auctions.
Some memories from the weekend !!!
Last week we were in the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain; promoting Madrid to Mongolia. It was a great event and we could network with many telecom operators, mobile manufacturers and content providers around the world. We were mainly concerned with network coverage, roaming partners, devices, mobile charging equipment etc and have some interesting contracts in the pipeline
What we want to showcase here is the awesome “Global Coverage Analyzer” product from Mosaik . I really appreciate the help of Mr. Chip Strange – VP of Mosaik Solutions for the demo. It took him just 5 minutes to let us know the mobile network coverage along our route and the best possible service providers.
My european friends, many of the networks are in CDMA and hence we need to get hold of a CDMA mobile device.
The attached pictures are some of the pictures we took suring the demo and the providers can be summarised as follows
Russia – CCB/ Bayka Westcom/ Skylink / ETK / Vokja Telecom
Ukarine – CDMA Ukarine / Intertelecom
Kazakhstan – Dalacom
Mongolia – Skytel / Telemax Communications
*there are many providers but have poor network coverage than the ones mentioned above
Last week we had the opportunity to go live, on air in the “The Hannah Murray Show” in Talk Radio Europe. Thanks to Talk Radio Europe for supporting us and the venture. You can listen to the recorded show below. (We start speaking at 30 minutes if you want to get right to the talk ) First time in Live Radio – Obviously nervous ;-(
Date: 17th Feb 2012, Time: 13:30 hrs Spanish time
Listen to the complete show here
Talk Radio Europe is a radio station based in Spain. TRE presents a wide variety of programmes and interviews a huge range of interesting guests from around the world. The station has been featured on numerous British factual TV shows and maintains a long-standing association with the British and Foreign press working closely with the BBC, ITV, SKY and RTE (Ireland).
*All content rights are owned by their respective owners. Content reproduced in this website from “On Demand” service of www.talkradioeurope.net
Here are some interesting facts about our destination
* Mongolia stands an average of 5,800 feet above sea level!.
* Mongolians spell Ulan Bator – ‘Ulaan Baatar,’ which means ‘Red Hero.’
* Ulan Bator is the coldest capital city in the world!
* You could fit the Netherlands into Mongolia thirty-seven times!
* BUT you can fit Mongolian roads into the Dutch road system sixty-seven times!
* Genghis Khan is just a title. His real name was Temujin.
* Genghis Khan could not read or write, but he commissioned the first Mongolian writing system – the Mongolian script.
* If you count carefully, you will notice slightly more horses than people.
* The two-humped camel comes from Mongolia and survives temperatures from minus to plus fifty degrees Celsius!
The London Ambulance Service has teamed up with UK charity Go Help to take recently decommissioned ambulances on the Mongolia Charity Rally, an epic drive of around 10,000 miles from London to Mongolia. Three of the ambulances will be driven by London Ambulance Service staff and four will be driven by Mongolia rally teams. The rally will start from the 9th July 2011 and take approximately five weeks.
The objective of the partnership is to raise funds for Go Help and the London Ambulance Service’s chosen charity MERU. The ambulances, once they reach Mongolia, will be used to support Go Help’s flagship ambulance service.