Turns out that Mongolia is just a lot of driving. Ha, I wish it were that simple. Yes it was a lot of driving but it wasn’t easy. The road was gone so we often had to rely on Scott’s off roading skills and Eddy’s knack for keeping his shit together when it got rough. Only Eddy was having problems, you see that exhaust pipe? It kept falling and falling and falling. Which mean it would drag and we would waste time stopping to try and get it to stay. Which it would have, were it not for the roads and the rocks that loved to knock it back down.
We developed a routine with our new convoy, drive as long as we could until we hit the next city, sleep there then wake up and repeat. We were on a mission to hurry up and get to Ulaan Baatar, one of the Swedish guys, Robert, had a flight to catch. The downside of this was, we never stopped for food. Add this in with the fact it was freezing cold and you’re bound to have someone get sick.
That someone was Kristina.
Apparently no food, cold and less than awesome sleeping conditions all make for a lovely cold. When we did get food I tried to push as much of it as I could over to her and most of the time we just lived off of snacks and water. It was getting to everyone, all of this driving. Also didn’t help when one of the days we lost almost 8 hours to the fact we got lost. We were going further north when what we wanted to do was go west. The road was there and not there, that is to say, it would appear for a little (and keep in mind when I say ‘road’ I’m being generous and am actually referring to a stretch of land that has been consistently flattened by tires) then it would veer off in another direction that was absolutely opposite of what we wanted.
Eddy had little issues up until this point. It must have been something about Mongolia or maybe he was just getting tired, but we started up a break down tally. Mind you over 50% of those were merely from the exhaust pipe falling off. The other issue we were having was his tires, the roads of Mongolia were not kind and we were losing them rapidly. Thankfully we found places that had tires for a fairly decent price, 3 tires down and one kinda shitty spare and we were doing great.
During one of these long days we met Cuddles! Cuddles is a car, a three wheeled one that I had heard about a lot on FB and all the other Mongol Rally pages. I was pretty excited to meet the team and see the car in person. Their suspension had snapped and our convoy put it back together with lots (about half a bag worth) of zip ties. But it worked! Not long after we left we were stopped again and told about an abandoned rally car. It supposedly looked like it had been broken into so naturally we totally wanted to take a closer look.
We came across it and had a look inside and the car had been totally ransacked. The radio was stolen and everything inside of the car was in complete chaos. It looked like the car had been in some sort of accident, and we weren’t sure what to make of it.
River’s were a huge problem for us. Eddy is a low car, so naturally we worried when we had to get him over a fairly deepish river. It meant that at any given time he could be flooded or too much water would get into the spark plugs and engine. It only happened twice, water getting into the engine. We got lucky there. But it wasn’t luck (or maybe it was) that got us over the largest river yet. We had driven through the night, the roads were basically just piles of rocks that gave us one very shaky and wildly dangerous ride. Just when I thought it was over, we come to find that not only have we come to a river, but it’s so deep that the water will come up past the doors and about midway up the windows. It was the middle of the night. The tractors around the river were offering to help us cross (for a fee of course)
We were exhausted and I didn’t want to cross at night, thankfully everyone else agreed with me. Problem was we couldn’t sleep in our tents, it was too busy a road and the risk of getting ran over was far too high. Thankfully a man offered his home for us to sleep in (for a small fee) and we happily took it. At last, I was warm. I was comfortable. It was glorious. Then we all got woken up at 5am. Not so great. We negotiated the prices and after making sure we took the important bits off the engine and covered the exhaust, Eddy was hooked up to the tractor and off we went.
Maartje, Kristina and I were all in the tractor while Scott would be in the car. This is where it got interesting. So the first two rivers it went fairly well, kinda deep but not too bad. And then the third came. At one point, Eddy started to float and tip over. It was at this point that the three of us were all screaming about Scott and omg Eddy!Thankfully everything was fine. Nothing sank or got flooded. The floor was a bit damp, but overall, everything was fine. And after putting everything back together again, it was back on the road.
In the next town we ran into some familiar faces. A few teams from the infamous ferry were all there, we caught up a bit and they told us a bit about all of their breakdowns and even informed us of some of our other friends. Another night spent in a hotel with no food we just went right to sleep. In the morning it was back on the dirt road in search of the promised land. It was this day that we lost our convoy, Eddy broke down again and despite us waiting and them turning around to look for us, we were split up and on our own. A bit scary but do able.
Not everyone on this rally has been so lucky, one of the team’s car got stuck in a deep river and completely flooded. Were it not for the sunroof the might have died. Two cars had blown up from hitting pot holes and speed bumps.Things were getting dangerous and getting very real. As I said in a later tweet: Mongolia is basically the Final Boss level.
To beat the level you have to get through the Mongolian wilderness and find the asphalt road.
And we did it.