Spots Unknown

Drive Across Mongolia in 4 Minutes (video)

Brokedown Mongolia

It took two of us 11 days in a 1.2L Fiat Panda to get from the Russian border to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, but you can do it in 4 minutes thanks to the dashboard cam that recorded it all. Experience the roadlessness, the bandits, the breakdowns, the yaks, and the camels, without ever having to figure out how to steer and shift a right-driving mini-car through some of the remotest land on the planet. And see it out the windshield just like we did.

The trip started last July with us flying from San Francisco to London and buying a car to run in the Mongol Rally. The next video will take you from England to the border of Mongolia - 40 days of driving in 5 minutes - under the British Channel, over the Caspian Sea, through Eastern Europe, Turkey, most of the 'Stans (Kazakhstan!), and Russia.

During that long haul, my teammate and I talked about doing something in America. And so, this summer I'm organizing a car rally here in the States, a road trip where each team goes on its own route of discovery armed with cameras and mobile technology, and they all meet up for a party at the geographic center of the country (it's in Kansas). Follow it online, or join in!

Quick Time Lapse from Turkey

The town is called Giresun. This time lapse video is from the second night of Ramazan. The call to prayer is being sent out from the minaret glowing green on the left.

Here are my photos, and here is the site for my team's Mongolia trip, where you can track us in real time.

The Road to Mongolia

Here are a few shots I've kept from the trip so far.

We have a Spot GPS strictly for tracking our progress and gathering data about our trip, but we navigating the old fashioned way - with bad maps and lots of u-turns.

You can follow us at the blog, or on Facebook.

For access to all of my photos and videos, friend me. (I'm posting primarily to FB for now to save on redundant uploading.)

Things will only get weirder from here.

San Francisco to Mongolia – a Road Trip

So, this is happening, folks. I leave on Monday.

As if the site wasn't quiet enough recently, I'm leaving Monday for a road trip from London across Central Asia without GPS navigation.

You can follow our progress (or lack thereof) as we bring irony to such countries as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and yes, Mongolia, here:

Rally Team America

Also, the Facebook page.

This is a 10,000-mile trip for charity, so if you'd like to donate to the cause, you'll find prominent links in both places, especially the blog.

Believe it or not, there are about 5 other teams from the Bay Area participating in the Mongol Rally this year, so we hope to meet up with them along the way.

If anyone out there has ever been to this part of the world and would like to drop some knowledge on someone who's never been to Asia, please do so. And watch for media of the adventure shortly after my return in early to mid-September.

Here's a silly little video we put together to psych ourselves up:

Mongolia: Bring It On

I've been quietly conspiring with a couple of friends to enter the 2011 Mongol Rally, a 10,000-mile, 6-week trek from London to the capital of Mongolia in an ill-suited 1-litre automobile.

We just sent off our visa applications for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Other visas needed: Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkmenistan. So, this is happening.

It's put on by The Adventurists out of the UK, and the basic idea is to invite trouble while raising money for charity. They put limits on the quality of car you can use, to guarantee you'll have to fix it on a bandit-infested mountain pass. The vehicles, such as they are at the end of the trip, are donated to the poor in Mongolia (where they can actually do a lot of good), along with at least 1k pounds per team in cash.

If this sounds like the best worst idea you've ever heard of, consider donating to the cause. And stay tuned, as I'll be updating on our progress leading up to the start of the trip.

Janet Jackson Video Shot in Cartoon MUNI Station?

Janet Jackson Video on MUNI in San Francisco?

Jane at Uptown Almanac tries hard to make a San Francisco connection to this undeniably funky, adorable video. Alas, I cannot concur.

The stop they get off at is "Venice," and there are palm trees and a Hollywood sign...

1983 Snowy Winter Scene from a Tokyo Neighborhood

I spent Christmas this year with my fiance's family in Southampton, PA. Her dad pulled out a DVD of some footage he took on one of the earliest VHS vidcams (a Hitachi) that chronicled a trip around Japan in 1983 when they lived there. This clip is from the small neighborhood in Tokyo - Hatsudai - where they were living.

The 27-year-old footage of snowman-building kids, lanterns, tight quarters, and a thick collection of snow, really evoke the feeling of Winter and Christmas for me. I also love the ambient sound.

Below is the same street today with images grabbed off Google Streetview:

(Thanks, Bob!)