What made you want to do The Mongol Rally?

On a not very special evening back in Nov, 2010, I was in Taipei visiting family, I had just finished dinner with my mom and am attempting to fight off the onset of food coma by poking around on the internet to see what kind of mischief all my globe trotting friends are getting into. I stumble across Sherry Ott’s post about something called The Mongol Rally. What is that? I clicked over to give it quick read and the first thing I see is this:

 “10 000 miles of bad roads, no roads, bandits, deserts, mountains and other adventuresome stuff…”

Ughm. Ok. Sure. It didn’t really quiet sink in. I read a little further down and I read this:

 Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of your participation are high. Individuals who have taken part in past Adventurists’ adventures have been permanently disfigured, permanently disabled or even lost their life. These adventures are not glorified holidays. They are unsupported adventures and so by their very nature extremely risky. You really are on your own.

The Mongol Rally is dangerous!

The Mongol Rally is NOT an organized tour. You may end up stuck at the borders of any of the countries you choose to travel through for days or even weeks. You are completely at the mercy of those countries’ authorities. You may miss your flights home, you may not get even half way to Mongolia. You will likely find yourself in situations that were not foreseen and which pose you some degree of danger. And you will receive no support should such a scenario occur.

The Mongol Rally poses risks to your health and your life. You will be driving for many thousands of miles in parts of the world that are unfamiliar to you, which means your chances of being involved in a road accident or in any number of other health and life-threatening situations is significantly increased from your day to day life.

Road traffic in many of the regions you might encounter can be hectic, chaotic and dangerous. Should you be injured or harmed in some way, medical help might be hours from where you are. Even then, the kind of medical help you may receive may differ vastly from the quality of medical care you would expect to find at home. By way of example, Mongolia itself has no centre of excellence in which you could be adequately treated for serious injuries.

If you are unfortunate enough to become involved in an accident it is quite likely you will be blamed by local authorities for the accident regardless of whose fault it was. At this point you may end up in prison for several years or face very large fines.

This adventure is not a glorified holiday. It is an unsupported adventure and so by it’s very nature extremely risky. You really are on your own and you really are putting both your short term and long term health and even your life at risk.

These long paragraphs describing risk, injury, mayhem and chaos send a rush of adrenaline into my system, put a pause on the food coma and an unmitigated, unprovoked YES jumped out of me!

Am I insane? Maybe.

Why would the warning about risk, liability and danger be the thing that made me want to take on 10,000 miles of the worst terrain in the world? Any sane person would say, yeah, I don’t think that is a good idea.

Life is a dangerous proposition.


There are a hundreds of ways to die an unexpected painful death, thousands of ways to waste life away slowly and unconsciously and the ways in which you can make sure that you can feel alive involves risk. To risk pain for love, risk humiliation to sing in front of your friends (even if it is off key), risk potential harm for that adrenaline rush, risk rejection and publish, risk being alive. Life dare you at every turn to see if you will take the bait.

My friend Hugh MacLeod’s new book, Freedom is Blogging in Your Underwear, has this great cartoon and I think it sums it up perfectly:


I could absolutely hurt myself, get thrown in Kazakhstan jail, kidnapped (seems unlikely since that’s already happened once), get stuck in the middle of no-where and god knows what else. But here is the thing, whatever happens, I made a choice.

I look at life in the face and I say YES. YES. I want live and I want to be alive. So bring it. I dare Life to bring me the most wickedly excellent adventure possible. I want to #makeitcount!

*Hugh’s new book is fantastic. You should check it out.

You Might Also Be Interested In:
The Trouble of Wanting to do Good
Travelers are a Strange Breed
Your Life is a deKooning