4th - 10th June 2019
Camping, incredible scenery, and some of the ROUGHEST roads you have ever seen !
|Its a wide open land !|
Day 3. Erenhot to Ikhket Camp 1. 395 kms. The border crossing, as usual in this part of the world, took ages, and half the day was lost queuing. To get 110 cars plus support vehicles across is a major undertaking, and our NOMAD fixers did a pretty good job. In S & Central America we always budgeted a whole day to get through a border, and then if one got through any faster it was considered a success ! Very similar mental approach required here. Once we were away from the
|Convoy across the desert|
|Refueling at the camp site|
|Our first nights camp|
up the toilets, the shower block, the kitchen and galley marquees, and the yellow rental tents for people who didn't know how to pitch a tent !! Even some people with their own tents obviously hadn't practised pitching them before the event, and there were quite a few people waving poles and pegs around trying to work out how to put them together - But more of this later ! Once we had our tents pitched, we found a beer / wine tent, where although they were not ice cold, they were certainly very welcome. Dinner was in the large galley marquee with tables and benches to seat 6 or 8 were set up, and it was excellent. The food was good, and with everyone sitting in together it was a case of making new friends as well as chatting with those we already knew.
It is worth mentioning here that, due to the staggered time starts each morning, we only tended to see the people who started at around the same time as us each day. The slower Vintagent cars started some hour or more ahead of the Classics, so we rarely saw some of these, except for a few slower ones that we caught. So during the day we only ever really saw (and therefore chatted with) maybe the 10 cars in front and the 10 cars behind us in the start order.
|Camp site in the evening|
|Packing up the Illien's tent|
Camping breakfasts from NOMADS are as good as their suppers. Plus they provide us with a
|Heading towards UB|
We had lost the E Type last night ! It turned out Boris and son Elliot had gone off course last night and got bogged, so they had to spend the night out in the desert ! Fortunately they were located this morning, extracted from the sand, and rejoined us later in the day. They were not happy campers !
|Wild dirt roads in the Gobi|
Almost the entire day was spent off road on very rough and rocky roads, which even gave us some "air time" on a couple of occasions, Gidget seemed to survive OK, although IIRC, Ashton wasn't feeling too good, needing a couple of emergency stops ! Life in the Gobi is hard when there are no hedges !
|Genghis Khan & a Contal|
the 40m high statue of Genghis Khan on horseback. If you know your local history (like who was China trying to keep out when they built the Great Wall ?), you will understand there is a bit of argy bargy between the two countries, and rumour has it that the statue is pointing directly towards China as a form of intimidation ! Hmmmm. Anyway, a very impressive statue, even more so because Anton & Herman were there at the same time, but after a quick look, we drove on - It had already been a long day and we still had to negotiate the notoriously bad traffic in UB.
|Contal following behind|
|Heading into UB|
|Working on the car|
|Other cars being worked on|
|Our weighty box of spares|
|Gerard Brown on Contal|
the Mongolian Government, and fortunately (traffic wise) located right opposite the hotel. However with brass bands, string ensembles, plus speeches and vast crowds of onlookers, it turned out to be both a long and frustrating time before we finally got away, once more to battle the crazy traffic that is Ulaan Baatar. The situation isn't helped when 90% of the cars want to pull along side us and take photos, especially when it is sometimes the driver taking the photos ! Even harder when Gidget is in a grumpy mood due to the heat and the slow traffic not enabling her to clear her throat.
|200 kms of tarmac to start the day|
Once on the dirt, it was rough and dusty for the rest of the day. After one particularly bumpy section, the car started crabbing, but luckily Skippy was close by in the sweep car (having just righted Keith in his Pontiac who had managed to roll on a particularly bumpy section), and after jacking the car up, we found we had broken one of the U beaut heavy duty
|Fixing our first broken spring|
|Camp site for the night|
|Mending Gidget's spring|
located in a stunning spot, and with the NOMADS stoking up the boiler, good hot showers were available, followed by their usual great feed in the social environment of the mess tent. Bit of car damage today, and lost time, but the scenery out here is unbelievable. And Steve and Alan in the Rolls were heard to say that they didn't get lost today, which made me very happy !
Day 7. Unitiin Brigada to Tsagaan Uul Camp 3. 381 kms. We packed up early and as usual then
|John & his VW in the Gobi|
|Camp site in morning|
|Horse at Toll Gate|
|Rocky dirt roads|
|Choose best track !!|
|Typical rocky roads !|
|Helping to fix the Alfa|
|Crossing rickety bridges|
There were a lot more mechanical issues for many people today, yet somehow we managed to get through. One section where a number of cars got bogged in deep sand cause us no dramas - The low down torque of the big 4 cylinder engine enabling Ashton to get us through. Many wooden bridges too, most of them in very poor state of repair so much care required !
|Finding air !!|
Another sandy section we took at speed in order to get through, but it ended up with a lip at the top which caused us to get airborne ! Since Gerard was there with his camera, the moment was captured, and provides us with one of the great shots of the rally !
|A dusty day in the saddle|
|Missing head light trim|
|Oldsmobile in the air|
|Awaiting our morning MTC|
and punched through the body work, leaving an exit hole like from a rocket ! There were cars on jacks, front wheels off our friends in the green Porsche, and we had growing cracks appearing in our front bodywork ! Worst of all was the sight of Erik and Mary-Anne's Oldsmobile with the front of the car suspended up in the air on a crane, while they tried to find a fix for some suspension woes. This was truly a difficult event. We gathered on a nearby hill top to await our start time at the morning MTC.
|Beside Khyargas Lake|
|Modern nomads on the move|
|Chris & John arrive just in time !|
|Storm clouds gathering|
|Struggling up the hill|
|Snow at the top|
After that, with the rain clouds closing in and the temperature dropping fast, the track got rougher, rockier, wetter, and steeper, as we wound up and up, eventually almost to 3000 m. There was snow on the hills around us, and sleet falling in places, but somehow we kept going. As we neared the top, Gidget was becoming more and more breathless, and eventually Ashton ended up traversing from side to side in order to reduce the severity of the hill. This of course meant we were totally off the "track", and had a lot of rocks and gullies to clamber over and through, while we were peering through the murk of the windscreen,
|We finally made it to the top unaided|
|After we had conquered the hill !|
|Sand flies on the fly sheet|
Day 10. Achit Lake to Kochevnik Camp 6, in Russia. When we awoke, the extent of the fly problem was evident - The fly sheets were covered, the tents were covered, the cars were covered, wheels, and anything left lying out were covered, and even the toilet tents were covered ! And as soon as one stood still, you were covered. So packing up was done quickly, and in silence so the mouth didn't have to open !
|In the Altai|
beside rivers through the Altai mountains. There were sections of tarmac, then more dirt, and on the way to the border we passed the steam car which we hadn't seen for a while on the wild dirt
|Broken down brake down !|
We finally arrived at the border in a small village, where we
|Queuing to leave Mongolia|
|Trucks carrying wounded cars|
|Cars being towed across the border|
their cars since Mongolian trucks could not cross the border - The car owners had to push their cars across the border, and then get Russian trucks to load their cars on to for the ongoing journey. Meanwhile we ate our sandwiches, caught up with everyone's news, and waited. And got upset when locals pushed into the line
|In Mongolian border post|
We survived Mongolia and were still running.
All the pics for Mongolia can be found here :- https://photos.app.goo.gl/j5g3nCKjXkkW9VhS8