In Ulan Bator, with just five days to go

A Kickstarter update

By Claire vd Heever Oct 5, 2012

Ulan Bator

Sanbanor! We’re finding our feet in Ulan Bator, where we arrived on the Trans-Mongolian two days ago. It’s a surprising city, where dirt roads, ger slums and decrepit, Soviet-era apartment complexes are giving way to glass towers and traffic jams. In the first quarter of this year, the country’s economy grew by almost 17 percent, and Ulan Bator has an astonishing array of cuisines: at an Uzbek restaurant last night, we sampled some of the food that awaits us on the Silk Road.

The ways in which Asia’s skyrocketing demand for commodities has reconfigured the lives of a traditionally nomadic people is just one story we want to tell with Old World Wandering. We’ve also thought hard recently about how we can tell these stories best, beyond text, and whether or not our Kickstarter project succeeds, we’ve decided we’re going to explore all the possibilities of digital media to add another layer to our long-form dispatches. Expect our descriptions of Ulan Bator to include video, music, maps and local artwork on specially styled, immersive pages.

Our project has raised $10,645 so far, which is a substantial amount of money. We’re grateful for all the support – not just from Old World Wandering’s regular readers, but from many new readers too. Unfortunately, we only have 5 days left to reach our target of $34,500. If we fall short, none of our backers pay, or receive rewards. We, of course, don’t get paid anything either.

We know we only have a very slim chance of success – but we’re going to do all we can to finish as close to our target as possible. You are the people who believe in this project – who see the value of our storytelling and our journey – and we need you now more than ever. Please find five or ten minutes today to tell a few friends or colleagues about Old World Wandering. From the data we’ve collected so far, it seems like emails work best. (If you have any contacts in companies who might want to be Old World Wandering’s sole corporate sponsor, please get in touch with one of us by email.)

We’ve received a few comments and messages – some more skeptical than others – about why we need $34,500 to fund an 18 month overland journey, and the dispatches we’ll write along the way. Iain and I reached this figure after a lot of careful planning, and the rewards we’re offering are the main reason our target is so high. Fifty percent of it will cover our overheads, including Kickstarter’s 5% fee and Amazon’s 3-5% for processing payments. The remainder – approximately  $18,000 – will go towards transport, accommodation, food, entry fees and visas: all the basic costs of travelling for 18 months.

Iain and I have been travelling on a shoestring for several years now, so we know how to calculate a budget. We’re also more realistic than we were six years ago during our first overland trip, when we spent our last two months in India boiling water and eating nothing but vegetarian Tibetan soup and bread with peanut butter. We now factor in the cost of the occasional semi-private vehicle, for example, without which our freedom to explore would be drastically reduced. We also rely a lot on WiFi to maintain Old World Wandering, and usually have to pay slightly more for guesthouses that provide it. To give you some idea of how that $18,000 breaks down, our time in China, Mongolia and Central Asia will cost an average of $55 per day for the two of us, inclusive of everything except visas.

The point of this project is to cover our costs. We won’t be compensating ourselves at all for time spent writing, because Old World Wandering has become a part of who we are, with all the perfectionism and passion that implies. I hope we’ve conveyed how grateful we are to you for getting us this far. Let’s see how much further we can take this!

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One Response to “In Ulan Bator, with just five days to go”

  1. cj mckenzie says:

    Good luck on your big journey.. I have just discovered your blog – I'm a bit past long tough journeys except from my kitchen in southernmost NZ..though I went to Kenya 3 times in 2011..

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