Mother and daughter team, Davina and Savannah Madden return home safely from the Mongol Rally.
Our blog correspondent, Vicky, grilled Davina and Savannah (not literally) to find out whether we should send the boss Andy Sparsis on it next year … While the cat’s away, the waiters will …
V: First of all, many congratulations. How are you both feeling?
D&S: We are really pleased to be home, although we are both suffering from rally-lag. It was a fantastic experience. Plus we found out that we are the first-ever mother-and-daughter team to take part!
V: How did you both get on? Were you together a lot of the time?
D&S: There was not a cross word! We were even sleeping in the car together when it got too cold to camp. We know each other so well, that we know when to shut-up if required! It was a real special experience.
V: How did the car handle driving so far?
D&S: The car was great for most of the time until later on, when the car’s computer got confused by all the lumps and bumps we were driving over. The computer assumed the bumps were a car crash, so it automatically stopped the fuel while we were driving in the Gobi Desert of all places. Luckily we were in a convoy of four cars because there is no mobile signal out there! We were extraordinarily lucky as Mark Baird, one of the drivers was a skilled mechanic and managed to fool the computer for a while.
V: I understand you then had to be towed.
D&S: Yes, that’s right. We had to be towed by another car for the last 400k, across the Gobi Desert in the pitch black, with flat battery, and no road signs. Now that was a scary experience.
V: Then you got lost?
D&S: Yes, again in the Gobi Desert. There were five tracks which are difficult to follow, and then we took the wrong track. We were relieved when we eventually saw the lights of Ulaan Baatar!
V: What was your favourite part of the Mongol Rally?
D&S: Driving through Mongolia was stunning. Mongolia is known as ‘the country of blue skies’ and they are not exaggerating. The blue sky was amazing.
V: Did you camp for most evenings?
D&S: Yes we slept in a tent for a lot of the journey. Between Russia and Mongolia it got really cold because it is very high up, so we slept in the car. We did break the trip up with occasional hotel visits.
V: Before you went, you mentioned that you knew one of the customs inspectors at the border between Russia and Mongolia. Did you bump into him?
D&S: Yes we did. It was brilliant. Needless to say we got through the border much more quickly than usual. We also stayed at his house which was excellent as we were greeted by 20-30 of his friends and village residents.
V: What is Mongolian food like?
D&S: Lovely. We tended to east manti, which is dumplings stuffed with mutton and flavoured with local spices. Other than that we ate nutritious pasta and rice dishes.
V: Yum. We should ask the boss to put manti on the menu.
D&S: Manti was lovely, but after 3 months of eating it we could do with a change.
V: Did you have any interesting camping experiences?
D&S: Yes, we met a lot of nomads who were herding goats. They did not speak much english, so we improvised with pointing and sign language. They were very friendly and loved English tea. They seemed to know when we were putting the kettle on!
V: What was the finish-line like?
D&S: Amazing! We arrived very late Saturday night. There were already lots of finishing-line parties. We had to wait for a return flight home. We just wanted to get home.
V: What was Ulannbaatar like?
D&S: It was a strange mixture of modern and old. There is a wide gap between rich and poor. There are a lot of people from the country trying to get into the city for work. It is nice though, Westerners go on holiday there. They hire jeeps and go horse riding. The temperature was perfect when we got there, but it gets to -30 degrees celsius in the winter.
Would you do the Mongol Rally again?
D&S: We would do another drive, but not that particular rally. It’s good to try something new.
Where is the car now?
D&S: The car stays in Mongolia – they auction them for charity.
Did you miss your husband?
D: Yes lots. We’ve been married 29 years and have never been apart for even a week. However, he was busy working and looking after the house. The house was immaculate when we got back!
V: Have you had a Welcome Home party?
D&S: No but we are thinking of holding a fund-raising party. We will let everyone have the details when we know them.
V: How much money did you raise?
D&S: Between £2-3000. We are still waiting for money that people kindly pledged. We are still collecting, and if people would like to sponsor us, you can donate to either of the three charities that we are raising money for (below) – or all three if you really want to!!
- Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps helps people in the world’s toughest places turn the crises of natural disaster, poverty and conflict into opportunities for progress … Click here to read more or donate.
- Christina Noble Childrens Foundation (CNCF): The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation is dedicated to serving children in need of emergency and long-term medical care, nutritional rehabilitation, educational opportunities, job placement and protecting those at risk of economic and sexual exploitation. The Foundation seeks to maximise the potential of each child. Click here to donate.
- Yes to Life: Yes to Life is dedicated to helping people with cancer take an integrated approach to their treatment. Integrated cancer care allies the best of orthodox medicine with Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), to significantly improve patient care and choice. Click here to donate.
Congrulations again, to Davina and Savannah.