Doodles in Russia

A quick update from the road by Ant Lillingston, a Planner at gyro who is traveling from London to Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia raising £10,000 for a number of children’s charities. Check out

We’ve been driving for a little over two weeks now and visited 3 SOS Children’s Villages along our route. As I write this entry we are circling Moscow through a thick blanket of smoke from the forest fires. We’ve driven through the night from St Petersburg and our most recent charity visit in the Pushkin district.

The European roads have been flawless but since passing into Russia they’ve become less consistent and we frequently have swerve to avoid debris on the road. Also, now we’re in Russia, communicating with people who have absolutely no idea (or care) in the world about what you are saying / doing / trying to achieve is becoming increasingly difficult. They speak literally no English. So, trying to explain why your car is covered in doodles and that it hasn’t been vandalised, has become our new favourite game. And the Border Police seem to think it hilarious.

The forest fires have caused some debate; do we avoid the Moscow area altogether and add 5 days to an already tight schedule or do we risk the fires and plough on through, make Kazakhstan by Tuesday sundown and risk the fire. We’ve decided to risk it and are now heading for the border. 2 days left in Russia .

The visits have all been very different. Our first was unannounced but we were welcomed with open arms by the Vitolds the director who cycled in when he heard we’d arrived – despite being on holiday. The second took the form of a highly competitive football game against a team of
5 – 12 year olds (which we lost miserably).  And last night we were fed traditional Russian tea and presented with a large framed painting by one of the kids – we love it but are struggling to find room in our already fully packed car. We’ve written about the individual visits in more detail on the blog.

Our car trundles on undeterred and we have two more visits before the finish line in Ulaanbaatar, so things are looking up. But – and this is a big BUT – we’ve yet to hit the Kazakh roads and our trusty little one litre engine has been known to struggle against the incline of Battersea Bridge. Fingers crossed she holds out for the remaining 7,000 miles…

We’ve been keeping our blog up-to-date (at worst we’re 2 days behind) and our twitter is always ‘live as we drive’ but If you’ve missed it, then follow this link: