Chuka, specialist of the Mongolian 4×4, recently made an extraordinary trip: 12 700 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar to Paris in his own 4×4. Today he gives us more details about this fantastic epic that has led him from one end of the world to the other.
Who are you?
My name is Chuka, I am Mongolian and passionate about travelling for many years. I am also a specialist partner of Planet Ride for everything that touches the 4×4 in Mongolia!
What’s the reason you’re leaving?
In 2007, I had the opportunity to work with a Swiss TV team following a rally in memory of the 100 years of the very first car race carried out in 1907 (Beijing-Paris). Since I dreamed of making this trip by car rallying Ulaanbaatar in Paris in the opposite direction of the route of European motorists who were rather the direction Europe-Mongolia.
When did you leave?
I left Mongolia towards the end of October 2015 and left with a friend to join Moscow. When I arrived there, my friend returned to Mongolia from Moscow and my wife replaced him to finish the journey to Paris.
What specific preparation?
I did not particularly prepare the trip because it is not a crossing trip and it is not very complicated technically. We always roll on the tar so it doesn’t really require a good car preparation. After that there is of course the personal preparation and the setting in the context before the start: envy, courage, knowledge, competence, logistics.
How many kilometers have you travelled?
In all, we drove almost 12 700 kilometers. In fact, there are some 10 000 kms between Paris and Ulaanbaatar if we drive straight. But we wanted to go through several European countries, so we made some detours that made the journey a little longer.
What vehicle did you use? Why?
This time I chose Subaru Forester as a vehicle to limit fuel costs. I always prefer Japanese vehicles and I love 4×4, so it was perfect. Forester is a good representative of small 4×4 (symetrical AWD) with a reliable not very large engine (boxer engine). Before that, I had already done 2 times this kind of trip to Russia and Central Asia, and I had rode with a hdj80 TLC.
Does it work to cross Europe?
It works without a lot of trouble. The only problem we encountered was that the Mongolian plate contained Cyrillic characters and it posed problems to us at the EU border because according to the regulations it is necessary to register non-European vehicles with a plate containing characters Latins, which leads to the inability to insert Cyrillic characters into their system. So we were forced to make a double plate with the translation of the characters to be able to access Europe.
The craziest, craziest, coolest moments…?
The most insane moment is precisely the history of the Mongolian plate. During the trip, everyone was asking us questions, often the same. “How do you manage to make this trip?”, “How many kilometers have you travelled, how long?”, and we even had a “they’re crazy these Mongols!”. Even if it is possible, there are many people who couldn’t even imagine this kind of trip. It proves that there is a barrier in the head of still many people from various countries. On the road, we had a lot of drivers who greeted us very warmly with a sign “thumbs up!”. This was very nice and we are really proud to be among the first Mongols who were able to conquer almost all of Europe with a simple 4×4 Subaru forester.
The memory you’ll keep forever?
The finish in front of the Eiffel Tower saying “We did it!” With my wife by my side. This is still unforgettable.
The place you preferred in your trip?
There is not a single favorite. For the city, we really like Prague and Paris. For the country, we love Switzerland. For the road, the quality of the Dutch roads is at the top. For gastronomy, Italian cuisine… That is what is interesting with Europe is that we love all countries for a different reason every time!
The best meeting?
We’ve had good meetings all over the place. The Russians may seem a little cold (without a bad pun!) and the Europeans are friendlier but more reserved. The meetings with our compatriots who live in European countries were the best because it was like reunion with people we knew well.
The hardest times?
Without hesitation, Russia. The fatigue of driving on a road of thousands of kilometers and the monotonous landscapes, it was quite difficult.
What advice would you give to travelers who want to do the same thing?
It is necessary to prepare quietly and to foresee a minimum the journey and the journey you wish to make. The first thing is to buy a very good mount, not necessarily the most modern-my preference goes to Japanese vehicles. They are everywhere and they are known for their reliability, their excellent mechanics and their simplicity. It is also necessary not to hang out everywhere and to be physically and even psychologically fit. You have to be prepared to solve any problem you encounter. We must not hesitate to create friendly exchanges at each meeting, to equip with the necessary without too much clutter, to have a good GPS and some skills in foreign languages (English mainly and Russian if possible).
The little tricks you would give to all the motorized travelers?
Take a not very large 4-wheel drive vehicle that allows you to go everywhere. A no more than 2 liters preferably, to be in good economy. It is best to be 2 per car and choose a good car where you can sleep both in. Knowing how to do a few mechanics can be a plus to avoid possible bad mechanics and repair costs. We had serious contacts in each of our countries of passage, it helped us well.
Where are you going? And when?
Maybe in North America, but not for a few years!
Interested in Mongolia? Here is the journey that Chuka offers:
Un parcours unique qui vous fera découvrir la conduite 4x4 dans les steppes de la Mongolie.
La visite de Kharkhorim, célèbre cité impériale et son palais d'une beauté époustouflante.
Le volcan Khorgo et le parc national de la province de l'Arkhangai au volant de votre 4x4.