Monday, September 8, 2008

Vast Mongolia

So we've been spending a lot of time in the vastness that is Mongolia. The views are scenic, the people (when you run across them) are friendly, and the nights are cold. And windy. Very cold and windy. Fortunately hobo spaghetti is filling and warm.

With three vehicles, we've got a mixed bag. Theo's purchase of a Russian motorcycle (with questionable transit tags) has been brilliant. When we can get it started it races ahead with the best suspension and carries a person or two and a bunch of luggage. Plus Theo's snazzy yellow Office wind breaker contrasts with the green bike and the beautiful countryside. Every once in a while we run across pretty little ponds that make nice reflecting pools for the snowy mountains in the distance.
Unfortunately these are often located near river crossings. Sometimes there are bridges. Sometimes there are not. Sometimes there are bridges with holes in them. Usually we just push on through. And hope that they're not too deep to drown the Mini. Scarlet usually does just fine.
We spend a lot of time trying to get pictures of the wildlife. Tina is our wildlife photographer extraordinaire. Whenever we stop you can count on her heading off in whatever direction the biggest animals are.
And finally we spend a lot of time getting lost. I think we've seen a total of 3 road signs so far. And most of the roads are just tracks in the dirt which split and merge and branch and generally cause a lot of confusion. Pick the wrong road and who knows where you'll end up. Heck, pick the right road and who knows how much damage you'll do to your car!
The Mini has suffered the most on this front. Besides it's lack of ground clearance and propensity to scrape and hit rocks, I've lost track of the number of flat tyres it's had. The problem is we can't get new ones, so we just have to keep patching the old ones. Or fill them with inner tubes. Or remount them. It also made friends with a berm at high speed which messed up the front alignment slightly - as in the right front wheel now lists 20 degrees from vertical. So we're in town now trying to get that all patched up. At least it breaks down at the end of the day so you can take pretty sunset repair photos!

Normally the trip from Altai to Ulaan Batar is 2-3 days for a 4WD vehicle. We're hoping we can make it in 5 but we'll see. We're also excited about the prospect of paved roads!


flynbo said...

Afternoon team,

Glad to hear your making steady progress through Mongolistan.

Cyrus - You are now the proud owner of more V5 docs. The ones I sent to you in Greece got sent home with a load of rubbish written in the greek alphabet. I'm guessing they were trying to proffer an apology for not speaking the Queen's English and therefore being totally unable to get the letter through to you and your pal. In light of you not requiring the docs in Mong, I shall hold on to them and we can notify the DVLA of the Export of young Scarlet upon your return to Blighty.

Hope the Camel Milk White Russians are as good as they sound.



Heather said...

Awesome stories! Keep them coming! Good luck getting the mini to the start of the race!!!

b mathew said...

Nice pics. Maybe a dumb question but where did you make this blog posting from? The pic on the road at sunset looks like one lonely stretch..

shoe said...

Wow, now I'm really jealous of the trip -- the whole crew is together. Good luck with the rest of the trip. Oh, and I'd def pay big $$ to see a pic of Tina on the motorcycle in a leather jacket. I don't care if you have to kill the wildlife for the leather!

dlott said...

Jamie, no Camel Milk White Russians yet, but Chinggis Vodka is top notch.

Hi Heather!

Biju, I posted from Altay, which had surprisingly fast interwebs - and a virus that made Slepak and Cyrus' laptops unhappy :(

Shoe, the good news is we were together in Altay. The bad news is Cy and I have gone ahead to Bayankhongor with the Panda and T's&A are still stuck in Altay doing repairs. Hopefully we'll all get back together in Ulaanbatar while I wait for my Chinese visa and before Cy heads back to London to sign away our lovely Scarlet.

Jimi said...

I'm so jealous I cant be there.. Be careful with the river passings. Take care of the distributor and manage to keep it dry. In any case the car stops from water inside the dizzy take the cap out and with a tissue dry the metal surfaces of the cap. A good idea for the flat tires is to buy some special filling foam but i guess that is a bit difficult in Mongolia. To gain some ground clearance i would recommend to change the shock absorbers.

Keep on Going