Dublin group end their gruelling ‘46A’ trek to Mongolia

Quintet arrive at destination after travels through 20 countries, 3 deserts, 2 seas

 

Five men, 20 countries, three deserts, two seas - “one crazy idea”. Whether it’s staying in Soviet-era hotels, bribing border guards with cigarettes or attempting to locate “the only ATM in Turkmenistan”, there is something appealing about a transcontinental mission to Mongolia.

Jordan Sutton, Jonathan Lewis, Jack Perdue, Shane O’Rourke and Ben Chadwick arrived in Mongolia earlier this week and are due to cross the finish line in the Asian country on Friday after a gruelling 41 day adventure in a blue and yellow Honda they call the “46A”.

The quintet set off on their 28,000 kilometre odyssey last month with ambitions to raise money for the Go Help and Make A Wish charities, finally arriving in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital.

“We are in Ulaanbaatar now, but have still not crossed the finish line,” they posted on the 46a to Mongolia Facebook page on Thursday. “We will do so tomorrow, with a couple of other teams, and make a proper celebration out of it.”

They had earlier posted that “after six weeks, the 46A is pulling into the terminus, and honestly, even we can’t believe it.”

The men, all friends from Wesley College in Ballinteer, worked for a year to save money to buy the 2006 Honda CRV which they will now leave behind as a community vehicle in Mongolia.

They slogged their way through Europe, Turkey, over the Caspian Sea and through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan meeting, along the way, no end of challenges.

Jack Perdue, describing their arrival by ferry in Turkmenistan and the subsequent difficulty in scraping together a $4 parking charge, wrote: “Being absolutely penniless at this stage we haggled with the guard and he settled for one dollar and a pack of smokes. We’ve come to realise that cigarettes are a valuable currency.”

This was followed by a drive to the interior, a search for the country’s “only ATM” and then the “Door to Hell” - a natural gas field burning continuously since its discovery in 1971 - pushing through sand dunes before “eventually even the [Honda] succumbed to the merciless desert”.

Near Dashoguz, five hours away, the car finally packed it in. “It may have been the sand encrusted in the engine, the 42 degree heat, or more likely the shitty Turkmen diesel for 25 cents a litre, but the 46A ground to a halt on a goat path somewhere in the desert,” recalled Perdue.

Following a tow from a passing lorry and a chance encounter with a Russian man speaking poor English, the engine was repaired with “a can of deodorant and maybe some black magic”.

“Three days had passed with minimal sleep; we were covered in dust, and had hardly eaten, so we settle for an old Soviet hotel with a very grumpy receptionist in Dashoguz,” Perdue said, recounting the kindness-of-strangers experience common to travellers the world over when a man arrived at their room with a bag of supplies and well-wishes for the road ahead.

“We will remember [Turkmenistan] most fondly for the people we met and their willingness to help; like the truck driver who towed us, the mechanic who fixed our car, but most of all the young man who spent his own time and money to help out five strangers and asked for nothing in return.”

Would-be donors can find out more by visiting the “46A to Mongolia” Facebook page but now, with their adventure at its end, the men will swap their bus for a plane ride home.