Mongolia Follow-up

monvanLast month NewsFour reported on three medical students who were undertaking an epic 10,000 mile pan-continental road trip for charity in a second hand ambulance. The journey started in London and ended in the ancient Mongol capital of Ulaanbaatar, where they donated their vehicle to a local hospital.

We asked Robin McManus how it all went. “The scariest moment was crossing a river in Mongolia that was deep and the engine flooded. None of us were mechanically-minded so we thought it was all over. Luckily, the engine dried out overnight and we were on our way the next morning!”

The trip took 28 days, quicker than the 35 expected and the vehicle held up much better than anticipated so they covered a lot of ground fast. “We rarely got lost. We had a gps and good maps. Grant (Dalton who joined him on the trip) has an excellent sense of direction. We once took a very wrong turn as in Mongolia many roads go in the same direction, so Grant ended up sitting on the roof and redirected me using distant markers and his instinct while Tristan (Hill) and I navigated through a cactus field”.

Their medical backgrounds came in handy a couple of times. “Tristan had bad back pain so we helped him out. We then came upon other overland travellers with minor ailments due to the local cuisine.”

monvan1The standout song was ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ by Guns n Roses. “We sang it every time we crossed a border. I have particular fondness for that song when we crossed into Moldova. That place was crazy. But our favourite country was a close call between Russia and Mongolia. Russia was an incredible surprise; the people were so friendly and helpful. The roads were ok, the food was great and the girls were very pretty indeed!

“Mongolia was everything we imagined it to be. Just an incredible place, the people made it for us. They were so happy to see us, and they all wanted to talk to us and look at the van. Every morning climbing out of the tent was like an issue of the National Geographic.”

They raised a total of €9,000. “We were just shy of our target of €10,000 but we are delighted with the response we received. Donations can still be made on our web page while our photos and videos can be viewed on Facebook, he said.”

By Caomhan Keane