Where last we left off, the Global Goulets were going truly global by expanding our adventure onward and eastward into the Asian side of Istanbul. Asia! A whole new continent to discover! We couldn’t contain our excitement.
As the careful reader has observed, the Mongol Rally represents an epic and ever unfolding series of dramatic highs and lows, at both the large and microscopic levels and everything in between. Let’s now take a moment to consider a case study of how this works at the micro level.
We crossed the Bosphorus Bridge fueled by a tremendous amount of positive energy and hope for a whole new world on the other side. Do keep in mind that in the last 24 hours, we received our official car registration from London at last, we smashed our car and had it magically fixed through the benevolence of non-English speaking total strangers, got all our remaining visas (Brian’s Azerbaijan finally made it), made some great Turkish friends who showed us true baklava and an amazing time, and were now finally free to continue! Freedom! Asia! We zoomed across the bridge beaming happiness into our GoPro camera.
Upon reaching the other side, reality set in as we quickly approached a tollbooth. We’d seen a few of these in Turkey already, and knew that we weren’t doing them right. Turkey uses a pre-pay system without tollbooth collectors, and we hadn’t pre-paid. Nor did we have any lira on us to pay anyway. We zoomed through, just like we had for the rest of them, wondering what could happen. A siren went off from the tollgate. Oh no! Are we busted? Was Asia just a dream? An exotic dream we once had?
We slowed a bit on the busy 6-lane highway, awaiting our fate. Just then the car behind us flashed red and blue lights. In the rear-view mirror we saw men in the car violently waving us aside. Busted.
We slowed the car a bit more. How do we pull over? We’re in the second lane of six lanes of traffic! We came to a near halt, disrupting not only our dreams of Asia but now many cars’ around us. With an air of defeat we switched lanes. Wait a second. Why aren’t they…? Where are they…? Is that…? Aha! The next car has a bride and groom! We were being trailed by the leading car of a wedding procession! We weren’t criminals, just your everyday wedding crashers!
Asia! Freedom! Now it was real and the high even higher. No stopping us now. Except for, wait, is this guy stopping us now? A policeman on a motorbike pulled in front of us and waved us to the side. Yes, he means us this time.
The cop approached on foot. We readied the car papers. “Is there a problem with your car?” he asked. “No, I don’t think so…” we replied, but truthfully these days it’s fair to assume there is a problem with our car. Besides the freshly duct taped door. “You were driving quite slow” he challenged. Pulled over for pulling over! We explained the story to the cop, and much to our Turkish delight he shared our enjoyment of it. We showed him our route for the Rally and had a nice laugh. As he mounted his bike to leave he turned and shouted back to us. “Hey,” he yelled, sticking his thumb up. “Take a picture!” So we did.
Readers, we can now tell you with confidence that Asia is real. And it is big. And there are far less P.F. Chang’s than you would think. We didn’t stop across the bridge – we set out to drive a marathon stretch straight to Batumi, Georgia and then to Baku, Azerbaijan over two days.