London — Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin

My biggest adventure

What’s the biggest adventure you’ve been on? This will probably be my biggest to date. I connected with the director of the English School in Mongolia and he asked me if I’d be interested in helping them to bring their English adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin to the UK.

[This is not their production.]

He told me he’d be in London and asked if I’d like to meet in person. It would be silly not to really — I wouldn’t get the opportunity again, at least until he visited again. When I met him at the Cavendish Hotel in London he put 2 options on the table. I could work with him on the opera project from London, visiting potential venues etc, agreeing certain assignments and a suitable fee. Or I could visit Mongolia “for a bit”. “How long a bit?” I asked. He asked if I wanted to work at the school as a kind of music teacher, with a pretty “blank slate” as far as what I actually did. He said the school would pay my air fares, visa, give me somewhere to stay AND give me a salary. ‘About 2 months’ he answered. My gut reaction was “If it was in London, I’d say yes please, absolutely”. He asked me to think about it.

After I’d left the hotel, it suddenly hit me and I was in a bit of a daze, so I wondered around (Piccadilly Circus…) for a bit. And stood in one place for about 5 minutes thinking & looking at my phone to see what, or who, was Happn’ing.

After I got home again, I told my dad about the offer, and he said ‘What adventure have you been on? You should say yes’. I explained my concern about food (I have a somewhat limited diet, including being vegetarian).

I told a few friends about the invitation.

One said “just F***ing Nike it”, as in “just do it”.

Another said

“Absolutely! What an adventure! Imagine the smell and feel of a country like that…The beauty and culture! Gotta do it! Ive done stuff like that before, you never forget the experience and new friends made! You’ll be fine….The capital, … is getting to be quite cosmopolitan in a Mongolian way….It will work out……It always does! You will KICK yourself for the rest of your life if you forgo opportunities like this one…If it doesn’t, you come home is all…”

Over the next few days, I started by looking on Google maps & Streetview for supermarkets.

Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin
Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin
Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin

OK, so there are supermarkets. So I’d probably be ok, food-wise.

Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin

I looked on Instagram & Flickr for pictures of the city to help me decide whether to say “yes please” or “no thank you”.

Not too bad, quite developed, I thought….

They look like square relatives of the ‘Cello. But they appear to only have 2 strings. I wonder what difference the shape & size makes to the sound(s).

Then I wondered, hoped it would provide an opportunity to fly on an Airbus A380. I haven’t been on a plane since I flew to Berlin about 10 years ago. I haven’t been out of England since I went to France with some friends in 2010. I looked on Youtube for videos about the biggest passenger airliner in the world. 73m long, 7 stories high at the tail, almost 80 metres wingtip to wingtip, big enough to hold over 550 passengers. The engines cost £15m EACH!

An 11 minute tour of the inside of an A380.

A 40 minute documentary about the development & building of the A380.

Then I started looking at possible flight routes. Alas, it doesn’t look like it will. It seems more likely I’d be sat inside an A330 and/or a 737.

It doesn’t look like there are (m)any direct flights. Which route would you recommend? I don’t really want to have to stay (overnight) anywhere. Or do I? Arriving at one airport in Moscow, staying overnight somewhere and then getting a plane from a different airport seems daunting….

LHR — Beijing — ULN

LHR — Moscow — ULN

LHR — Amsterdam — Seoul — ULN

LHR — Moscow, Russia. Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin
Moscow, Russia — Ulaanbatar, Mongolia. Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin
LHR — Seoul, South Korea. Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin
Seoul, South Korea — Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin


I’ve received an email from the school informing me I’m going via Istanbul in Turkey.

Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin
Map data © 2016 Google, SK telecom, Zenrin

Talk to people. Explore ideas, however crazy they may seem; discuss plans, share dreams. You never know what might Happn! As Danny Wallace invited the reader of his book (which I found quite amusing) “Yes Man”, Just Say Yes! Unless it’s a “Just Say No” thing, like if someone ‘asks you to kill a man’.

What should I do whilst I’m there? What should I NOT do?

Where should I go? Where should I NOT go?

What’s the biggest adventure YOU’ve been on?

Email me at or

Message me on Facebook. Tweet me @rupertcheek / @cheekypromo

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