Transmongolia – Part Five: The Finish Line

Transmongolia: Part Five. Click above to watch video after the jump

*After an extended hiatus (we blame the whole getting lost in the desert thing) Transmongolia is back to offer even more coverage of the 2011 Mongol Rally.


The Mongol Rally isn’t a race, at least not in the official and common sense. There are no prizes for first place except bragging rights. More than anything, it’s about who makes it to the finish line and who doesn’t. It’s about arriving at the finish line and scanning a large wall-sized poster that lists who has retired [RET] and who has completed the journey in their original automobile, no matter the condition.

After crossing through the fabled Mongolia Steppe, our team finally reached the end of their 10,000 mile long journey. Emotions ran high; we experienced excitement at the thought of being stationary for a long period of time and trepidation over knowing that everyone would be heading separate ways in just a matter of days. We had made it to Ulaanbaatar, victors of the Mongol Rally.


Transmongolia – Part Five: The Finish Line

For more information about the Mongol Rally, including how to sign up for the 2012 rally or tips for entrants outside the EU, visit the Adventurist’s website – or view the Adventurists’ 2011 trailer here!

Transportation was made possible by the scholars and gentlemen at the Adventurists. No editorial content or opinions were guaranteed nor was anyone’s safety or hygiene.

Transmongolia – Part Four: Traversing the Steppe


Transmongolia: Part Four – Click above to watch video after the jump

*After an extended hiatus (we blame the whole getting lost in the desert thing) Transmongolia is back. Click here for our previous coverage of the 2011 Mongol Rally.

Other than a complete break down or having to wait days for a spare part to arrive, there are few things as disheartening on the Mongol Rally as driving in the completely wrong direction for hundreds of kilometers. After recovering from a near-disastrous rendezvous with the Chinese-Mongolia border, our humble ambulance regained its eventual path toward Ulaanbaatar.

With a scheduled welcome party arranged in Mongolia’s capital just a few days away, we hurried to get back on track as fast as possible; while gradually losing more members of our convoy with every deep pit and poorly spotted rock in the road.

The end was in sight, but the final sprint across the steppe would still test the endurance of our newly formed friendships and our overworked engine.


Transmongolia – Part Four: Traversing the Steppe

As we ventured out of the Gobi and into the Mongolian steppe, the landscape shifted to sloping grasslands and sizeable hills that seemed small in comparison to the Altai range that we had grown accustomed to.

The steppe signaled several things for our battered rally team: that our journey was nearing its end and that our contact with large towns became more and more frequent. We no longer were concerned with filling up our jerrycans with the maximum levels of fuel and stocking up on food, water, and other necessities at every establishment we crossed.

With the moderate temperatures of the steppe, and the knowledge that we had only a few more nights under the vivid stars of the Mongolian wilderness night sky, we slept out in the open – with only sleeping bags, neighing horses in the distance, and the constant wind whipping across the hills.

It was bittersweet to know that we’d be back in the familiar grasp of a rapidly modernizing city in just days – one that for me, would now be revisited with an entirely new perspective.

For more information about the Mongol Rally, including how to sign up for the 2012 rally or tips for entrants outside the EU, visit the Adventurist’s website – or view the Adventurists’ 2011 trailer here!

Transportation was made possible by the scholars & gentlemen at the Adventurists. No editorial content or opinions were guaranteed, and nor was anyone’s safety or hygiene.

Space Tourists: a cinematic journey to the ISS (w/ Audio Interview)

Space Tourists airs tonight on the Documentary Channel at 8pm & 11pm


When Anousheh Ansari boarded the International Space Station on September 20th, 2006, she became the first self-funded female, the first Iranian citizen, and the fourth human overall to enter the Earth’s orbit as a coveted ‘space tourist’.

After building and selling a large telecom business, Ansari had decided that she would pay over $20 million USD to take a ride on the Russian Soyuz TMA-9 and orbit Earth as a crew member of the International Space Station for 8 days. While training as a backup for Daisuke Enomoto, who failed to meet the required medical qualifications, Ansari was notified that her lifelong dream would be fulfilled – with only one month remaining before liftoff.

Meanwhile, without Ansari’s knowledge, a charismatic Swiss filmmaker had begun to collect material for a documentary that explored the peculiar circumstances of the Russian space tourism industry. Gathering footage at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia and at the Baikonur Cosmodrome (the Soyuz’s launch facility), filmmaker Christian Frei began to lay the foundation for what would become the first documentary to uncover a highly exclusive and secretive world.

The finished product, Space Tourists, debuted in the US at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Thought it never had an overwhelming reception in North America, it is arguably one of the most fascinating travel-themed documentaries to have been produced in recent years and a must-see for anyone with a sense of adventure or a distant dream of venturing to space.

Frei’s film uncovers many facets of the Russian space tourism program that are especially compelling to watch unfold on the big screen.

From the pre-launch rituals at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, to the group of men that make a living by hunting down and recovering the enormous scrap metal that falls to Earth from every Soyuz launch; Frei’s film captures an incredible spectrum of physical environments, people/cultures, and brilliantly contrasts the magnificence of spaceflight in direct contrast with the trivial hardships of life on Earth.

It’s a film that’s both visually arresting and offers to bring the viewer on a journey with each of the characters that it follows – from training to touchdown and everywhere in between.

Space Tourists is currently being featured on the Documentary Channel airing tonight at 8pm and 11pm, or available on DVD via the Documentary Channel online store.

Click below for an exclusive, uncut interview with Anousheh Ansari & filmmaker Christian Frei:

Video of the Day – Sermilik Ice Fjord

The Sermilik Fjord is a long, steep-walled waterway in southeast Greenland where hundreds of icebergs calve from Greenland’s enormous ice sheets every year. Those looking to sail through the stunning fjord for a closer view of the icebergs depart from Ammassalik Island, where Greenland’s seventh-largest town, Tasiilaq, is located.

Today’s Video of the Day shares a vivid sample of a trip up the Sermilik Fjord, hosted by Borea Adventures, and captured by Vimeo user Haukur.

If you have imagery of a beautiful winter wonderland, we’d like to share it! Post a link in the comments below or submit photos to our Flickr Group – it could be our next Photo/Video of the Day!