Genghis Khan exhibit in Chicago the biggest ever

A new exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago spotlights the world’s greatest conqueror.

Genghis Khan brings together the largest collection of 13th century Mongol artifacts ever. The exhibition traces the career of Genghis Khan from his birth in 1162, to a noble but obscure family, through his conquest of an empire that was larger than the Roman Empire. In fact, it was the largest ever, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the gates of Vienna, and he built it in just 25 years.

More than 200 objects are on display including a Mongolian house, silk robes, weapons, and even the mummy of a Mongolian noblewoman.

The exhibition shows that while Genghis Khan was a bloodthirsty warrior, he was a clever statesman too. He established a complex and efficient form of government, a postal system, paper currency, diplomatic immunity, even wilderness preserves and laws against littering. His conquests had a profound impact on the development of Asia and Europe.

Genghis Khan runs until September 3.

Photo courtesy the Field Museum.

Wanted: Fire truck for 10,000 mile road trip

In July, the Mongol Rally takes off on a nearly 10,000-mile road trek from the UK and Czech Republic, finishing in Mongolia. Far from just a long road trip, Mongol Rally is about the vehicles, the distance and the teams from all over the world that will take part.

Mongol Rally is an unsupported road rally sponsored by The Adventurists a group charged with the notion that there is still grand adventure to be found in the world.

When they say “unsupported” they mean just that. There are no backup pit crews hanging around to help in case of a breakdown. Each team is on their own, no matter what the trek throws in their way. There isn’t even a map to follow; teams just need to end up in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Sometime. Crossing over deserts, mountain ranges and non-existent roads, 250-300 cars will enter the event hoping to navigate their way through 15 countries and 2 continents.

There are a few rules. Vehicles can’t have engines bigger than 1.2 liters, can’t be more than 10 years old and driving “teams” must raise raise a minimum of £1000 for charity, at least £500 of which goes to the official Rally charity. Cars are driven by teams that average between 2-4 people. One team that caught our eye from the United States and Canada is called The Social Media Syndicate.

Dave Bousill and Deb Corbeil of ThePlanetD, Rick Griffin of Midlife Road Trip and Sherry Ott of Ottsworld and Briefcase to Backpack are a team of four Internet travel personalities/fugitives that make up The Social Media Syndicate. Experts in their respective niches of Adventure, Making the Most of Midlife and Taking a Career Break, they have come together for this road trip of a lifetime.

“We’re eager to follow the journey from London to Mongolia and very happy to play a role in assisting in the fund-raising efforts in an environmentally friendly way and what an experience this will be – exploring a road much less traveled” said team member Deb Corbeil.

In addition to allowing participants to experience the road trip of a lifetime, the rally will raise money for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, a charity that helps homeless and abandoned children of Mongolia.

“We specifically chose a longer rally route through the ‘stans’ in order to get to places that traditionally get little coverage in the travel writing world. The goal of the rally is to not only to make it there and raise money for Mongolian charities along the way, but in general to promote understanding of that part of the world” said team member Sherry Ott.

The Social Media Syndicate is looking for donations to help fund the trek and has an upcoming raffle in the works to make that happen. Money raised will help pay the estimated $4000 fuel bill but they also still need a vehicle to drive. It seems that a loophole in the criteria for acceptable vehicles combined with some good old American/Canadian ingenuity reveals that “Public service vehicles” are an exception to the rule.

“The Rally will give us a break if we can bring something of use into the country. Normally, we would have to pay a penalty for any car or truck over the 1.2 Litre rule, but there is a sneaky way around this while providing a valuable service to the country.

We need to bring in a useful public service vehicle!

Not only will we be bringing something into the country easing our conscience about donating a piece of crap, we will provide valuable comic relief as we figure out a way to navigate a bright orange or red monstrosity through the streets of Europe.”

The Social Media Syndicate has teamed up with Intrepid Travel, specialists in small group tours, to raffle off a ‘trip of a lifetime’ to an exotic location. The fund-raising “Rally Raffle” will be held from June 6 – 12 with the winner being randomly drawn and notified the following week.

Money raised from the Rally Raffle will go towards the Syndicate’s Mongol Rally attempt and the winner can choose from two trips as prizes:

Wild Mongolia – is described as “This 15 day trip in our final destination for the Mongol Rally is a trip to remember. Take in the sights of the country’s capital Ulaanbaatar before heading out for your great adventure. You will be staying in Ger Camps, hiking volcanos and enjoying Mongolian barbecues. Follow the footsteps of Genghis Kahn and take a camel ride into the desert sand dunes of Khogno Khan”

Inca Trail – ” This 8 day trip takes you through Peru. Starting in Lima you will spend the day exploring the historic centre of the city. It is then off to the charming city of Cuzco in the centre of the country. Explore the Sacred Valley and the ancient city of Ollantaytambo before beginning your trek on the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Voted as one of the new 7 World Wonders this is a trip you will never forget.”

We look forward to following along with the Mongol Rally, regardless of the route, vehicle or team. Throw in a fire truck? All the better.

Photos courtesy Social Media Syndicate

Photo of the Day (8.30.09)

Mongolia remains one of the world’s last great uncharted territories, a country of seemingly endless grassy steppes, herds of grazing yaks and wandering nomadic villagers. One of the country’s unique traditions is Mongolian wrestling, a sport that has been popular here for hundreds of years, dating back to the days of Genghis Khan. Flickr user AprilWang2009 took this superb action photo of two Mongolian combatants locked in the midst of struggle. I particularly like the sense of the movement and the soft focus blurring of the audience behind them. It has a very theatrical arrangement to it.

Want your photo considered for Gadling’s Photo of the Day? Submit your best shots here.

Mongol Rally sends drivers on a 10,000 mile road trip

The sixth edition of the Mongol Rally got underway earlier this week when 400 teams, making a simultaneous start from the U.K., Spain, and Italy, set off on the ultimate road trip. Over the next month, their 10,000 mile journey will span two continents, pass over mountains, through deserts and jungles, and will only end once they reach the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.

But the Mongol Rally isn’t just any road race. There are some strict rules that the competitors must adhere to. For instance, this isn’t a rally for speed demons, as the largest engine allowed in the competition is a mere 1.2 liters in size. And since the race is used to raise money for a number of charities, the teams are required to raise at least £1000, which is roughly the equivalent of $1650.

Perhaps the most important rule however, is that the teams are completely on their own once the race is underway. That means they have no back-up, no support, and if they run into any kind of trouble, they’ll have to find their own way out. The race is completely self-supported, and all the participants will have to be quite resourceful to over come the inevitable ostacles that will arise on their way to Mongolia.

There was a new rule added to the rally this year which requires that all the cars that are used in the race must be less than ten years old. The reason for this, is that the vehicles are also donated to charity once they reach Mongolia, and the government there has stipulated this change in order to ensure the cars that arrive are of high quality and safer for the environment.

One of the more interesting aspects of the race is that there is no set route that the teams must follow on their journey to Ulaanbaatar. In fact, they are encouraged too “get out there into the world, get lost, stuck and in trouble”, as they make their way across Europe and Asia. The Mongol Rally website does offer some examples of past routes however, and you can see that teams have ranged as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as Afghanistan in their wanderings.

This looks like the ultimate driving adventure. Who wouldn’t want to load up a few friends, stock up on drinks and snacks and hit the road for a 10,000 mile drive?