The First Meet

Last night saw the begining of things to come for the Thunderyaks, as we hit the road for the first time as a complete team.  It's the first time since Christmas that the entire team has been in the same country, so we were eager to get a bit of practise in before the real event. The adventurists had organised a vodka party for this year's teams, as well as a few veteran rallyers from previous years. 
The vodka fuelled mayhem was set to go down at the Adventurists HQ, which is in Bristol. Unfortunately for us this meant that we would be driving 3 hours eachway, the return leg of which was obviously going to be rather late at night (or early morning depending on how you look at it I guess).
However, considering that we will be setting out on a six week drive a third of the way round the earth in a few months, we didnt let this measly run phase us.
Having no idea what to expect when we got there, we were rather surprised at first by the seemingly empty and rather grubby warehouse we were confronted with. We spotted some event security though and wandered up to ask her whether we were in the right placer or not. 
Rather cryptically, when we got to her, all she said was "welcome" and then pointed at a fireplace continuing "this way..." 
This obviously stumped us for a minute, as she was essentially just pointing at a wall. However a bit of fiddling with books sitting on the mantle revealed a secret door, as we wandered through it into the darkness beyond everyone's excitement levels peaked.
Inside was a large warehouse with a wooden panelled 'gentlemans' bar at one end, and a mongolian tent at the other. In between were banks of picnic tables and benches, full of excited rallyers eagerly meeting the new peop-le around them. Introducing themselves to the complete strangers they would be sharing the open road with over the coming weeks.
Needless to say we got stuck in straight away with the mingle-age, with one of our team members getting himself into an England Vs. Scotland boat race pretty much 5 minutes after walking through the door! 
The evening ran on, as these things do, and copious amounts of almost every drink you can imagine were consumed by the 150 odd rally goers. Only interrupted once in the evening to share a bit of mongolian culture in the form of some throat singing. Now I'm not sure if any of you have seen Mongolian throat singing before (Or rather heard Iguess) but to give you an idea of what it consists of have a look at this: (youtube link)
After the singing came the horse head violin, and a dubious story about the origins of the instrument (Just for Pete I'll put this in, basically the body of the violin was originally made using a horse's head itself, and the two strings were made from individual gender's hair. So one female horse hair string, and one male horse hair string.)

We're proud to say that when closing time came, we were amongst the last few people left standing. With the other teams slowly heading off to wherever they were staying that evening.
We came, we met, we partied... And now having seen some of the other teams, I think we were put at ease a bit by the fact that they weren't all nut jobs, and we weren't the least prepared of the bunch (by a LONG way). All in all a rather successful night, now we're just waiting for the next one!
Good luck to all the teams participating in 2013's Rally, and we look forward to seeing you soon!
P.S... Dear Finnish team that we gave a lift to at the end of the night, you owe us! :)