Monday, August 28, 2006

Photos of the Rally

Hey there, those of you who are still checking in
  • here's a link to my set of rally photos, which my boyfriend David has kindly hosted on his flickr account

  • Unfortunately, they are not really in order. Enjoy!
    [UPDATE: Photos now in chronological order. Continue to enjoy! -- Cheburashka]

    there's a comments feature on flickr - so, comment away!

    here's a picture from the site - this is a lake we drove past in Kyrgyzstan, about 4 hours outside of Osh:

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    And the view from 12th Street is just delightful

    Hey all,

    I apologize for the radio silence for the last week. Been hectic, but I'll tell you now that Paul dropped out of the Rally in Tashkent about 10 days ago, to head home to New York, after stomach non-cooperation issues. I continued on from Tashkent with Team Globalisation Institute (at that point just Anthony Batty) and we made our way through the Ferghana Valley of Uzbekistan (where we were stopped by the cops SEVENTEEN times in one afternoon) and into phenomenally gorgeous, and ridiculously inaccessible Kyrgyzstan - without a doubt the highlight of the Rally. Most unbelievably stunning place I've ever seen, and also, the best driving I've ever had in my life. Apparently the roads have been repaired in recent years. And once through Kyrgyzstan, back into Kazakhstan and lovely, cosmopolitan Almaty. Anthony trudged on north towards Siberia, but even with an extension from work, I could not promise that I'd be back in the office on time, so, with a slightly heavy heart, I left the Rally from Kazakhstan. I tell you all this so that you all know that we're home, and that once I get a few more minutes in front of the old intertron, I will post as many photos as blogger will allow.

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Osh, Kyrgyzstan

    Message received early this morning from Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Bad jokes regarding Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or the Oshkosh (B'Gosh) brand of overalls omitted for readers' pleasure.

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Islam Karimov's Presidential Motorcade

    Outside cafe, having our umpteenth shashlik and beer dinner tonight in downtown Tashkent, Uzkbekistan. Walking up towards a corner of a major intersection, we notice people being diverted from foot traffic. And men in fatigues with automatic weapons. We slow down, take a bit of cover behind a newsstand. Auto traffic in all directions has stopped. Then we figure it out - one cop car, another, a third, an SUV and I stop counting. It's a motorcade! We get asked for our documents and head on our way. That's tonight's event in Tashkent, which has been good to us for the last day. We're staying in a great hotel (The Grand Orzu Hotel) and have hit the bazaars big time. Tomorrow some museums and on to Kyrgyzstan. We are, as our newfound British friends put it, knackered. This isn't vacation one bit. It is hardcore, brutal, nose to the grindstone travel. What makes it great is catching up with other rallyers and trading stories. The teetotaller who was stopped by the cops for allegedly driving drunk and then "failing" a breathalyzer. The Moldovan gas station attendant who refused payment for the gas the rallyers put in the tank, and then demanded that they do shots and smoke cigarettes with him. in the gas station. while getting ready to drive. Sometimes it seems a bit that there are little to no rules going on here. But we enjoy it. We're on to Kyrgyzstan tomorrow and will report more from Bishkek.

    Tashkent, home of GooGoosh(a)

    Latest reports put our hard-drivin' team in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which is described as beautiful, friendly and cosmopolitan. Unclear whether they have seen or heard the number one jam on Uzbek MTV at the moment, "Unutma Meni (Forget Me Never)," a danceable tune that happens to be sung by the daughter of the beloved Uzbek maximum leader, Islam Karimov. Said daughter, Gulnara Karimova (pictured, right), apparently goes by the moniker GooGoosh or GooGoosha.

    Team NY now plans to head east to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and then north to Almaty, Kazakhstan.

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Yes, But Did They Stop At Baikonur Cosmodrome?

    Our latest dispatch puts Team NY and their traveling companions in southern Kazakhstan, near the Uzbek border, having spent the night in Aral(sk) and confirmed reports that there are indeed boats on the sand there (the Aral Sea having lost some 60% of its surface area in the last 30 years or so and the city of Aral no longer being a port but rather a sad, landlocked place 100km from the nearest shore).

    They plan to reach Tashkent tomorrow, and then head on to Bishkek and Almaty. From the brief communiqué, it appears that they have approached the rally with renewed vigor and intend to visit the Silk Road cities AND go all the way to Mongolia. Cheers to our hearty band of adventurers!

    No word on whether they stopped at Baikonur Cosmodrome on their way from Aral to Tashkent.

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Aqtobe, Slight Return

    This e-mail arrived from Audrey earlier today, giving a bit more detail on our Team's current situation:
    we are having a rough time of things here- lots of driving, little progress. bad roads, breakdowns, and i'd kill for a shower. but i am in a post office with a bunch of the rallyers we picked up. their panda broke down outside aktobe, and we towed them 50 miles in the wrong direction, camped, then set on back for aktobe. cars are being repaired right now, and then we go back towards aral. i realize now that we are either going to mongolia via kazakhstan, straight east then north, or just going to tashkent/bishkek/almaty and then home. there's not enough time to do both.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Aqtobe (or not Aqtobe)

    More news from the front:
    Near Aqtobe - picked up another two teams. Have not yet decided whether to finish rally by going to Siberia and east, or just to Uzbek & Kyrgyz and then home. Will have to decide soon.

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Kazakh Camel Sighting

    Latest dispatch from Audrey:
    In Atyrau. Big Chevron town. having dinner, had our first offroad experience and saw camels!!

    UPDATE: Notwithstanding Audrey's comment that Atyrau is "atyriffic," Teams NY + GI will be pushing on eastward through the night, armed with industrial-strength halogen lights thoughtfully brought along by Team GI. They'll be headed about 700 km or 450 miles towards Aral, formerly a port on the Aral Sea before it started shrinking. In any case, we should expect radio silence for the next day or two.

    Continental Divide

    The latest word is that Team Newyorkistan and Team Globalisation Institute were at the border circa 9am (1am EDT), awaiting entry into Kazakhstan from Russia, and, by most reckonings, into Asia from Europe. Sadly, Dr. K and Sammy T (and their ukulele) had to stay behind in Astrakhan to wait for their visa to mature, but they intend to meet up at the northern end of the Aral Sea.

    By all accounts, this next stretch will be difficult -- there aren't roads so much as rocky trails through the western Kazakh desert, and cellphone coverage is light, so we may have to wait a day or three for word from our stalwart convoy.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Lenin in the Post Office

    Writing to you from the last few minutes the Post Office is open here in central Volgograd. Today was a great day of sight seeing and hanging out. Lovely, lovely city it is here. Having a great time. An unfortunate dearth of Barry Manilow tapes though (my bright idea of taking itrip hardware backfired. Can't get it to work. Have been reduced to buying ukrainian pop music tapes in gas stations...). We're going to get back on the road in the morning - heading to Astrakhan with the lovely Team Globalisation Institute, and possibly Dr. K and Sammy T (they have a ukelele, and hence are very valuable to any convoy). I think what will be the much harder part of this trip lies ahead after tomorrow, when we hit the Kazakh border. Some teams are reporting difficulties towards Uzbekistan, and possibly avoiding the country entirely. I would be disappointed to not go there, but of course our decision will be guided by reason and as much information as we can gather. If anyone is trolling the Rally site and hears anything on this point, we'd love it if you'd send us an email - our internet access is spare, and we never end up having the time to do as much research as we'd like.

    Anyway, in other news, Sarah Grafman was kind enough to post a link in a comment to our update interview with interview, which we did, like everything else we do, in a gas station parking lot. That particular one was somewhere north of Melitopol in Ukraine. Here is the link to the updated interview:

    Have fun and we'll talk again soon...

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Tuesday in Volgograd

    When we last left you, Paul and I were in Kiev. We were hoping to meet up with some other rallyers, and shortly after we posted to you, we did so. Since Sunday we have been in a convoy with Team Globalization Institute, and Dr. K and Sammy T, as well as a filmmaker covering the Rally. Rich, Anthony, K, Sam, Liam, Paul and I have been on the road since then. We have all made it into Volgograd today, and had the greatest showers of our lives tonight and some pretty damn good pizza. Especially considering that last night's digs was the lot behind an abandoned building somewhere outside of Rostov on Don.

    This is from the start of the rally on July 22. I was so thankful that my family came and enjoyed the great time we had.

    More startup hijinks. And great fashion.

    I think this might be a photo of our most recent breakdown.

    Proof that we have in fact caught up with Team Ramrod.

    Team Globalization Institute. Ask them - what's the best country in the world?

    Rolling Deep With Posse Into Kazakhstan

    A text message from Seattle-based Team Ramrod indicates that Team Newyorkistan is convoying with them, somewhere near the Russian/Kazakh border.