The 46A to Mongolia: Meet the Dublin lads taking the trip of a lifetime for charity 8 years ago

The 46A to Mongolia: Meet the Dublin lads taking the trip of a lifetime for charity

Many people in their early 20s will spend this summer in Manhattan; these lads are off to Mongolia instead.

Mission to Mongolia might sound like an ill-advised extension of the Police Academy franchise, but it aptly sums up an epic journey that will be undertaken by five Dublin lads this summer.


Most of their peers will be off on J1s in various cities on the east and west coasts of the USA but in July, friends Jonathan Lewis, Shane O’Rourke, Jack Perdue, Ben Chadwick and Jordan Sutton will embark on a trip to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia instead.

The involvement of the famous 46A bus – which the lads were inspired to mention by Bagatelle’s ‘Summer in Dublin’ – extends only to the title of the project, but the trip will be far more eventful than the route from Phoenix Park to Dun Laoghaire.

The journey through the Stans

They’ll be covering the best part of 10,000 miles in a minivan and will take an exotic route that includes a trek across the Caspian Sea and a journey through more Stans – Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – than Steve Staunton’s family reunion.


It’s not just for fun or some sort of early 20s rite of passage either. The lads aim to raise a lot of money for the Make a Wish Foundation and to help out the Mongolia Charity Rally, which benefits Go Help's ambulance service in the country.


The Make a Wish Foundation is particularly close to the lads’ heart, as one of the five involved, Jonathan Lewis, told us recently.

“Jordan’s cousin was born with Rett Syndrome. It’s a rare developmental disease that affects the growth of the hands and is the cause of a number of related issues. For example, approximately 50 per cent of people affected are unable to walk.


“As well as being Jordan’s cousin, her Dad used to coach the hockey team that me and one of the other lads played for so there’s a connection there. The whole family went on a trip to Orlando thanks to Make a Wish and we wanted to pay back the charity for what they did for them.”

Having heard about the Mongolia charity rally through a friend of his sister’s, Jonathan and Jordan were convinced it was something they wanted to do and before long, they had convinced the other three members of this particular party of five to give it a go.

Saying you’re going to go to Mongolia and actually going ahead with it are two completely different things; type Ulaanbaatar in to Google Maps and you’ll get an idea of just how far away it is.

For a sense of perspective, the distance between Cairns and Sydney in Australia is 1,500 miles. Route 66 in the USA is just short of 2,500 miles. In short, it’s a long journey.


And it’s not as if they’ll be travelling on fantastic roads for the duration of their trip either. Only ten per cent of the roads in Mongolia are paved. There will be times when an Irish country boreen will seem like the equivalent of an eight-lane motorway.

Five people stuck in a van

So what we wanted to know is, are the lads absolutely sure of what they're letting themselves in for?

“I’m confident that we’ll get on fine but I’m sure arguments will happen when there are five people stuck in a van for a month or more; they’re bound to,” says Jonathan.

“We all get on well and we all know each other well. I’ve lived with two of the guys before and played sport with three of them for a long period of time and gone on tours with them.


“We know each other pretty well so we’ll know when to give each other space.

But when you’re in a car, when it’s 35 degrees outside, when you’re sweating and going down a bumpy road, there will be times when you get annoyed and there will be difficult moments.

“Hopefully that’s why people will get involved and donate because it’s not exactly an easy trip either.”


There’s a romantic notion of the lads seeing where the roads will take them but while there will be an element of that about the trip, it’s not that simple either.

There are Visas to be sorted. The culture in the places they’ll be travelling through will sometimes be completely different to what they’re used to at home.

Most importantly, the atmosphere in some parts of the route is pretty hostile at present. A potential route through the Ukraine, for example, was discounted because of the present situation there, while the lads will be avoiding north-western China due to instances of terrorist attacks in the region in recent times.

With that in mind, Jonathan says they’ve done their homework.

“We're by ourselves and we’ve nobody looking over us so we’ll have to deal with whatever happens along the way.

“At the same time, we want to be safe. Myself and Jack have done a lot of travelling and Jack has done a lot of research on where we’ll be going and what we can expect.

“The route we're taking is a bit tricky but the alternatives involved going through Ukraine and close to Syria, Iraq and Iran down south.

“We didn’t think it was worth taking a risk going to those countries with everything that's going on there at the moment. Another way would have been to go above Ukraine and go through Russia for half the trip but we didn’t want to do that either.

“So we talked to another guy who went across the Caspian Sea by boat and he said it’s completely doable. And he did it in a Nissan Micra!”

The lads will be careful when they have to be, but they want to experience these countries and make their own judgements, rather than being guided by the perception of them that might exist in the Western world.


“People might have preconceptions of these countries and we want to document our experiences. We want to try to throw common stereotypes about these places out the window.

“One of the guys on the trip, Jack, is studying film and English so he’s going to help us make video diaries along the way. We want to get people on board on the way, talk to them and get to know them as we’re travelling and get to know their cultures."

The number one priority

Seeing the world, experiencing different cultures and journeying into the unknown form a huge part of the trip, but raising money remains the number one priority.

After a successful fundraiser earlier this month the lads have already sourced €2,500 of the €10,000-11,000 they’ll need to get them to Mongolia. They’re also hoping to raise as much as €50,000 on top of that.

To that end, they’re looking to stage fundraising events like White Collar Boxing between now and July. They have set up a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter account and aim to raise money via travel crowdfunding website Trevolta.

They have also made various donation packages available, offering various mementoes and pieces of memorabilia from the trip, like postcards, t-shirts and random gifts picked up on road.

“We’re already getting messages of support from people none of us know through the Facebook page and a lot of people were interested because of the name of the project which is quite catchy as well,” says Jonathan.

“We’re just trying to push on, keep the ball rolling and not let up just because we’ve had one successful fundraiser already.

“We need to keep going, make it really good and do as much for the charity as we can.

"The response so far has been great and at the end of the day, we’re trying to do something good for charity and nobody can hold anything against us for that.”

It's going to be some trip.

For more information on 46A to Mongolia, check it out on the website, on Facebook and Twitter.