Driving a 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 from Peking to Paris in the June 2019 ERA Rally.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

0088 Getting closer and closer ,

29th May
Still in Beijing


At the Great Wall
Ashton arrived safely on Monday night, and was out and exploring the streets of Beijing before I had even got up and had breakfast !  Still nice warm weather here, and looking to remain fine while we make our final preparations for departure, which is great.  There would be nothing worse than a wet and soggy departure - And that would grow our plans of trying to do the entire trip without putting the roof on into disarray, too.  

(Edit.  I can’t scroll down on my iPad to insert other pics so here is the link to them here.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/GqntgVsgDynyLLKq5
When you get into the pics, go to “info” in that little < kind thing at the top, and it will give you more info on the pic.    At the bottom of this page I also say go to the ERA website, but I now can’t get back to the bottom to insert the link, so it is here  :  https://www.endurorally.com  )

Meanwhile our search for WD 40 etc continued.   Before Ashton’s arrival I had spent the best part of 2 days searching for a car parts store.  This entailed talking to front desk people at the hotel, trying to get them to understand what I needed.  The conversation would go something like this.
I have an old car
You want a car ?
No, I have a car
Ah, you want a driver ?
No, I am the driver.
You drive in Beijing ?? 😳
Yes.  But my car is broken, I need parts
You need new car then?
Chinese WD40
I won’t go on because I am sure you get the gist of it, and can understand that WD40 or Carburettor Cleaner wasn’t going to be part of their vocabulary !!  They tried to send me to the Infiniti dealer which wouldn’t have worked, but it might have been better than my first destination which turned out  to be a car detailing. After a bit of verbal toing and froing there, and much gesticulation and pointing at parts of cars, I went fossicking in their workshop and found some cans of stuff that looked promising. When I smelt some of it, it smelt like WD40 so I found they had 2 cans so I bought it. We also found something with the only 2 English words on the can being “Carburettor Cleaner”, and they had 2 of those as well, so I grabbed them and fled home with my prizes.  This was going to be harder than I thought.

Aka Start Ya B*dWe were not allowed to ship any aerosol or flammable cans in the cars, so everyone in the rally will be needing this stuff.  I am only looking for the 12 Aussie vehicles, thank goodness !  It was back to the front desk in the hotel, and more conversations, and eventually a “car market” was agreed to be a possibility. Off again in a taxi, and this time it looked more promising, with Goodyear and Yokohama tyre signs everywhere, and row after row of little shops with windows full of dusty cans of Shell oil and lots of other similar similar items.  I started visiting the, one by one, but drew a blank in every shop.  Even with my various requirements written out in mandarin on a piece of paper, the only thing I succeeded in getting was blank stares !   Who is this crazy man ?!!
About the 10th shop I visited, the guy spoke a little - very little - English, but hey, it was a start.  Eventually by moving his door backwards and forwards and making squeaking noises while pointing at the hinges, we got to soap, them oil, until finally he went off and found a can of something that again smelled like WD40, and even said “lubricant” on it.  (I had already learned not to say “lubricant” to the hotel staff as their eyes widened in shock !). I asked ho many cans he had, and he
eventually found 9.  I took the lot.   For about 10 minutes I tried to explain some of my other needs,
but soon realised it wasn’t going to work, so I took my prizes and caught a taxi to the hotel.

After Ashton arrived, we instantly seemed to have more success. First of all, Janet and I both have
Travel SIM cards in our phones while overseas but we having problems getting them to work.  Sitting down with Ashton, they both suddenly started working. To my knowledge he didn’t touch them, but the fact that they both started working was a great relief to us, so I am quite willing to attribute the miracle to Ashton !!  He then contacted a Chinese connection in Sydney and managed to find another lead for car parts, and after getting the address written in Mandarin for the taxi driver, we set off.

Eventually we arrived at a similar type of market to where I had been yesterday - small shop after shop of oil bottles of various descriptions, but also some with tools and scanners - this looked (slightly) more promising.   We found a few cans of various items, but moved on to explore further, eventually finding a workshop labelled “ABC Racing”, with a few cars outside with wide wheels and big exhausts.  Not much enthusiasm or understanding when we entered, but eventually someone appeared who spoke French, and we were off and running, although I have to say that French spoken in a Chinese accent is not that easy to understand.   Long story short, but after showing pics of our Lotus’ and the Healey to them in order to establish our credentials, it tuned out one of them was a race driver, and before long we not only had 4 or 5 of the, all helping, but we also eventually ended up with 6 cans of REAL WD40, a similar amount of Carb Cleaner that smelt like Ether and Start Ya Bastard, 2 bottles of octane booster (not sure about that one !!), plus two second hand 5 litre fuel cans.  Almost everything we needed !

Buoyed by our success, we attempted one last item - light switches.  We may need a couple as spares, and forgot to get them before leaving Aus, and after much discussion Andrew looking for photos, they understood but couldn’t help us.   But they new a place !!   5 minutes later Mung (the guy who races cars) had us in his hot Audi Quattro with wide wheels and we are zooming across Beijing to the
 switch shop !   This turned out to be a very non descript building that you would NEVER know was
of interest from the outside, but when you went in was just stall after stall of taps, ladders, tools, and otherness hardware.  With Mung doing the talking, a woman suddenly conjured up almost exactly the
 switches we need !   We took two for $5, and left, happy to now have everything we needed.

Mung very kindly offered to drive us back to the hotel in his hot Audi........on the condition he could have a photo of us with him and his car when we got there !!   So when we arrived, I ran up to the room and got a few P2P stickers and some of our kangaroo stick pins to give him, which he loved, and we got the doorman to take a couple of pics, before we said our farewells. Hopefully he (and his mates) will come up and see us in Saturday when the cars are all a thing the hotel, because these Guyana just reinforced what we have found everywhere - the Chinese people have just been so kind and helpful to us everywhere.

So, with everything we need now safely in our hotel room, we now just need the car !  Now Wednesday, Ashton is off to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City today, while I do the blog, sort paperwork etc. Then tomorrow we will go over to the Rally HQ hotel for the compulsory Police lecture on how to drive in China (apparently things like “ it is compulsory to stop at a traffic light when it is red” ! We have to attend this before they will give us our Chines arriving permits.    Then on Friday we have to catch buses all the way down to the port in Tianjin where all the cars are stored, pick them up and attempt to start them after 2 months, and the negotiate our way back to the hotel !    Couple be fun.  The remainder of Friday and all Saturday are spent packing and making sure the cars are ready for a 5 am start on Sunday when we head and hour or two north to our official event start at the Great Wall.

So that is what is going on.   2 final things before we go.    I am now doing this blog on an iPad mini, which is quite difficult and fiddly, while the print is very small. So I apologise in advance for any
spelling errors - you will have to work around them ! Additionally, we are not sure whether we will
have either the time or inclination to be doing the blog while on the event, or even the Wi-Fi to allow us to upload it.  So we have 2 solutions. 1) We have appointed good Lotus friend Seth in Sydney as
our proxy blogger, and if we can do nothing else we will get texts and pics to hi, and he will put the,
up on here.   For a more detailed daily report, you should go to the Endurance Rally Association website (link below) where they will be posting up a FULL report every day with rally highlights, photos, and results.  ADDITIONALLY, that is where you will be able to access our SPOT gps  tracker and see exactly where we are.  Basically the SPOT sends out a bleep every 30 seconds or so, so if our spot is moving, it means we are OK👌.   If the SPOT is stationary, it means we are either asleep, or we are in trouble !!


  1. Hello Giles,
    I am following your blog and wish you good luck and all the best. I hope to see you in Germany next month

  2. Hello Giles,
    day two already is over, and obviously you are doing well. You already reached the Mongolian border. That means the first country of the P2P already lies behind you.
    All the best for the rest of the journey


Ashton & Giles welcome any visitors, support, and comments as we prepare for our Adventure !