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No more monkeying around for intrepid duo

TWO INTREPID young civil engineers from Glasgow have successfully driven from London to the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator for charity.

They are now back at work, taking only five and a half weeks to navigate the 13,000km.

However, theirs was by no means the quickest journey.

'Some of the teams did it in about two weeks, driving through Russia, and the average was three to four weeks, ' says co-driver Lorraine Hutchison who works at Mott MacDonald when not tackling central Asia's most notorious roads.

Hutchison took up the challenge with her friend and Entec engineer Nina Rooke. For such a long journey, the pair only encountered signicant problems in Afghanistan, famous for its diabolical infrastructure and extreme danger.

'Iran was not getting a good press when we set off, but our parents were very worried about Afghanistan, ' adds Hutchison.

'But we found amazing hospitality everywhere.' Once in Afghanistan, they were politely informed that perhaps their 'Monkey Tank', a 1L Fiat Panda, was no match for the roads.

'The road to Kandahar is extremely dangerous, even for Afghans, ' says Hutchison.

Instead they sent the car ahead, meeting up with it in Kabul.

Surprisingly little went wrong, and what did go wrong was soon put right.

For example, when negotiating the hills down from Mazare-Sharif to the Uzbek border, the brakes failed.

'Nina screamed, so we tried the handbrake. That didn't work, so we crunched down the gears and eventually came off the road onto hard shoulder, ' says Hutchison. 'That was the worst time we had.' With the girls through all of this was their passenger - a 1.5m tall monkey, named Arnold.

They raised £7,000 for Send a Cow and Mercy Corps.

Donations can still be made at www. monkeytank. co. uk.

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