Friday, September 12, 2008

Gooooood-bye Mongolia

Just a quick update of the last couple of days.

After my last post on Tuesday we decided it was fish or cut bait time. After a full day of mucking around at various mechanics, the Mini was still not in drivable condition. Meanwhile Scarlet was raring to go. And Cyrus had a looming deadline - some nonsense about working again. So Cyrus and I decided to leave the Mini to the mechanics for another day with Theo/Tina/Alex and take Scarlet east to Ulaanbatar.

After a tearful night of good byes and frantic picture swapping, we discovered we'd infected both the laptops with some sketchy virus from the last internet cafe. So there's a moratorium on pictures for the moment. Early in the morning we hit the road and made surprisingly good time. We reached the city we were hoping to spend the night in for a late 2pm lunch and pushed on in search of asphalt.

Apparently we were pushing too hard as Scarlet's suspension finally decided we'd been off roading too long. Instead of bumping along at 60kph through the ruts, we'd find ourselves fully compressing the rear suspension with a loud whack. Mostly just annoying, until one of the whacks cut our rear brake line! Fortunately we were near a town and limped in and got it fixed. Then we finally found the glorious asphalt brought us the last 430km to UB.

After fighting through horrible traffic (almost forgotten what that's like) we found a hotel and wandered over to the finish line bar. We were pleasantly surprised to find a couple of other ralliers, including the team that drove a Mini with a telephone box!

This morning (Friday) I got up early and fabricated some documents supporting my planned next stop - Beijing. Because of the Olympics, getting a Chinese visa requires proof of transport in, transport out, hotel reservations, sufficient funds, and generally a bunch of bureaucracy. This is exacerbated by the fact that they only have one guy who can process the applications, and he's only available from 9:30 to 12:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. After waiting two hours to get into the consulate, I was told that it was impossible to get a same day (Friday afternoon) visa despite the website's assertions to the contrary. But if I could leave, change my Sunday plane ticket to Thursday, and fight my way back through the line in under an hour, I might be able to get visa by the following Wednesday - since Monday is a holiday.

Fighting my way out through the gathering hordes, I decided it wasn't going to happen by Wednesday, next Friday was looking more realistic. And that would be too much time idling. So instead, Cyrus and I went shopping among a couple of travel agents and got tickets home. It's a bit sad to leave without seeing Beijing, but one of the toughest parts for me about coming on the Rally was missing summer in Seattle. I'm hoping it decides to still linger for a couple of weeks when I get home. That probably won't help me get more pictures posted soon though. Anyone up for a Bailey Range traverse?

The Mini's made it to Bayankhongor, about 650km from UB, and undergoing yet another round of suspension enhancements. Hopefully she'll make it in early next week - even if the motorcycle has to tow her. There are a couple of Minis that have been turned in already that maybe they'll be able to scavenge for parts. I'm looking forward for the Mini to make it to Vladivostok and ultimately back to Seattle!

1 comment:

b mathew said...

Uh oh sorry to hear about the virus. Hey if you want a free 1 year subscription for One Care, let me know :P