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4.5 out of 5 stars
Mission Mongolia: Two Men, One Van, No Turning Back
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2010
I generally enjoy travel books, but I often stick to reading about places I've been or am planning on visiting at some point, as I find this more interesting. Needless to say, Kazakhstan and Mongolia are not high on my list of places to visit, so if I'd been browsing, I may never have chosen this book.
However, a friend recommended it to me, and I found it a delightful read. It's interesting, witty, and informative and the descriptions of the places they visit and people they meet are sympathetic and never condescending.
Of course, given their level of mechanical knowledge, Russian, and camping, you have to question the sanity level of David and Geoff for undertaking the trip in the first place, but I'm very glad they did, and that this book was the result - a must read for any fan of travel writing.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2010
This book is brilliant, absolutely hillarious!

Forget Bear Grylls. Forget Ray Mears. This is the story of what would happen if you and your best friend decided to trek half way across the world with little more than a clapped-out Anglia Water van, a few maps that are akin to works of fiction and more toilet rolls than you know what to do with.

From start to finish, this book is both funny, intriguing and thoroughly exciting to read. From the snowy lanes of a wintry Britain to the baking desolation of the Gobi desert and beyond, what these two men managed to achieve through sheer force of will and cheery determination is fantastic.

Brilliantly written, this book manages to side-step the usual travel-guide dogma you'd expect when examining the histories of the towns and villages which our travellers pass through, instead focussing on the personal effect that the events had on the many and varied people whom they meet.

If nothing else, this book is worth reading for the sheer entertainment value of every time the author attempts to 'go native' and order dinner in the language of whichever restaurant he's in... Priceless!

I guarantee that by the time you've read this book, you'll be sticking a pin in a map and looking through the window at the Ford Fiesta on your drive, just wondering...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2013
This really is one of the best travel books I have ever read: very well written, amusing and informative. Although you know what happens in the end (they get there) at times it reads like a thriller as you want to know what happens next and where they're going to get their next beer from. The descriptions of the roads and hotels are both hilarious and frightening. From now on I intend to be slightly more tolerant of the pot-holes in the roads of west London.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2014
Two English middle-aged men decide to go Mongolia in a 4X4 Nissan. All in the name of charity. They are a decent and gentlemanly duo and although they are taxed beyond human endurance by Russian administration, the border guards and the police road bullies, the pair never loose their temper: they only indulge in an ineviatble flow of expletives long after the recipients have gone... Well done to them: they are perfect ambassadors of British cool and manners!
The story rarely strays from the road itself: you get an almost mile for mile description of its state of repair ( between poor and appaling) and there are also regular updates on the many (poor to gastly) hotels that the pair have to sleep in. The food and beer are high on the list of priorities on the trip. Finally, the story is sprinkled with political and historical events which aim at reminding you that you are not just covering an 8,000km road and having to sleep in some hotels with bad food and no beer along it... the story is also about a continent and its culture! (well, just a bit of that...)
Davis and Geoff, after so much hardship along the way to Ulaan Bataar are surely now qualified to work for Lonely Planet...
The most pleasurable part of the book is in getting to know David and Geoff because they are nice and decent people and that is refreshing, soothing and warming!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Bought this book as I have an endearing interest in Mongolia - been wanting to go there for years.Having said that it is not until the end chapters that you actually read about Mongolia. The rest is a travelogue as our intrepid duo trek through Europe via Germany and entering Russia, then Kazakhstan. I would have liked to have read a bit more about some of the places they visited, Colditz for one, and Stalingrad if they had visited. However, I did find it absorbing, especially their troubles at each border, and the constant run in with traffic cops wanting the old bribes! I was with them when they hoped the van would make it, they even patched it up a couple of times with make shift spares from the back. Their descriptions of some of the roads leads me to think I shall never moan about the state of our roads. Look out for the slight twist at the end involving the van - all is not how it was supposed to work out!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 2013
Very enjoyable read and insight into a lot of places (and the beer they sell) - Mongolia is on my list to visit
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2010
At an early stage of this book the author and his companion, Geoff, get lost. They are in Lincolnshire. It is a suitably comic start to a story that will see them getting lost many, many times - eventually, in the Gobi Desert. As a post-retirement adventure, they have committed themselves to driving a van from England to Mongolia and this delightful book is the story of the trip. It takes them through Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Siberia and Mongolia itself. But do not expect deep insights into the culture of these places. Instead, we get a gently self-mocking account of two Englishmen abroad, muddling through as best they can. Much of the joy of reading it comes from the contrasting characters of the two men. The author is eternally optimistic and somewhat shambolic. Geoff is warier and more practical. One thing they have in common is an awe-inspiring ability to keep themselves supplied with beer in the most inhospitable of environments. It is written with a skilfully light touch; we get to know the two friends gradually, as their journey becomes more fraught. And we feel all the dangers and discomforts with them: the potholed roads, awful hotels and corrupt officials are all vividly described. Anyone who has ever got lost in a strange country will enjoy this: highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2014
I loved this book, what an adventure, a glimpse at a world hidden from the world; crazy russians and mind boggling events. An easy and entertaining read, beautifully written and will make you smile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2013
Thoroughly enjoyed this journey to Mongolia. It was humorous and informative and it made a lovely bed-time read, well an anytime read really, but just extra nice to go to sleep on!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 October 2011
Really good read, captivated from begining to end. Means I can cross Mongolia off my places to visit. Very funny episodes
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