Day 37: Russia, Mongolia and the Finish Line. The Final Blog
What the Dickens! The boys have actually made it to the finish line in Ulaanbaatar. 10,000 Miles away from the local chippy - who would have thought it?!
It is with sad fingers that we type the final blog in the series of the League of Extraordinary Mongoliers’ epic adventure. Let us fill you in on the events that unfolded during the final and most treacherous stage of the Mongol Rally- the 1800km drive through Mongolia to Ulaanbaatar.
We set off on the 600km drive through the Russian mountains to the Mongolian border. This was a beautiful route and would not look out of place as the backdrop to the Sound of Music. ‘Kahn touch this’ hit a rock however and bent their exhaust so that it hit their engine or something… Don’t panic though, Steven the mechanic used a police baton to lever it back into place. Soon enough we had reached an appropriately scenic camping area in the middle of the mountains by an ice cold river. Of course we had to have a little sunset swim/ near- drowning experience in the rapids. We built a camp fire and cleared away the food (so as to not attract bears) then slept very well.
Arrived at the Mongolian border. It was shut. We waited for 2 hours until about 4pm (accidentally kicked our football over the border). When we finally entered we were greeted by the 'Lion Rampant’ team who had found a place to stay. It is called a ‘Gur’ which is like a circular Mongolian family tent. We were greeted by the homeowner who offered to buy us (10 people) beer and vodka- enough to kill us all twice. We thought it would be rude not to accept the kind offer. 3 hours and 20 units later we were in a state. Riding horses, motorbike backies, eating horse cheese and milk, vomiting (in that order). The gentleman even killed a sheep for us to eat in the evening.
Imagine the worst hangover ever and then imagine either sleeping in the freezing cold car/ on a stone slab in the house/ having to relieve yourself and having a rabid dog attack your feet. This was experienced by our group. Onwards! Roads disappeared on the way to Khovd. River crossings were attempted and for the most part were successful - the only issue is if the water gets into the exhaust or air filter in the engine. Then you are in the poo poo.
We made it to the town and had a surprisingly good night with a meal in ‘Winners bar’ (watched some really weird plastic surgery Korean X factor show) followed by retreat into our showerless half-star hotel.
Team ‘Gingerbread men’ ’s sump guard was bent and so we spent a while warping it back into place under the engine. Bought some supplies (noodles and sour laces) for the next week and left.
The Lions then broke down and we spent a couple of hours trying to fix their car… turns out their clutch cable had snapped… apparently this is useful for changing gears or something? Bollocks to that! (They said) and drove on just ramming the gears into place, hilariously unable to stop whenever a significant bump arose and so blew quite a few tyres. After a good game of football we were off, only to then run into another dihatsu terios who had broken their ‘ball joint’… this stops the wheel collapsing at 90 degrees and rolling the car. We had no idea that could happen to our car.
After the Gingers’ sump guard had fallen off and we’d waited for Steven to repair a catastrophic fuel pump failure we camped in the desert and found out for the first time about the ‘Mongolian death worm’ - a sulphuric acid spitting, electrically charged, village destroying bastard red sausage looking thing apparently.
Incredible driving. We were right in the middle of the Gobi desert. Imagine sand as far as you can see, an Ipod full of power tunes and a bunch of idiots at the wheel. There were no real roads but we still managed some record speeds, that’s until the Gingers’ suspension fell off. We reached the town of Altai - this was home to the ‘Mongol Rally workshop’ - a lucrative local mechanics’ enterprise. The Lions got their sump and clutch cable refitted and the Gingers did the same with some suspension… little did they know that it had not been fitted so when we all drove on for 100km they soon realised - it was like sitting on a rock space hopper.
Next- we reached some tarmac so picked up speed until it suddenly disappeared… all 3 cars hurtled over the edge and luckily came to a stop without rear ending each other. About 10 minutes later the Gingers were driving in front of us, went over a huge bump and their roof rack snapped clean off! It was impossible to reattach so we removed the contents, tied it to our car and used it as a surf board… a line of flaming petrol and a metal pan helmet even became involved.
What could go wrong today? 1 hour in the micra car in front of us ‘lost all power’. We sped on to catch the rest of the convoy and in the end towed them 10km to the front of the convoy. We waited for 1 hour while Steven tried to glue what was apparently a broken fuel pump pressure line back into place. No luck. Oh dear, tow it is. We began towing through some of the nastiest roads we’d ever seen. Rule no.1 - don’t twang the tow rope or it’ll snap. We snapped the tow rope. Bugger. At this point ‘Kahn touch this’ were 30 minutes behind us because their rear spring suspension had literally broken free from their car (we had even laughed while we drove past it on the road before realising it was theirs) so we (the slow tow) went ahead. We then snapped the second tow rope. Bugger. Using gaffa tape we managed to continue, finally reconvening for the sunset with the rest of the convoy before reaching the nearest town.
The Micra boys got their pump fixed and we set off for the day, deciding to miss lunch in order to catch up time that we lost in the morning. We set up camp and cooked some chips, pulling pranks like spraying fire extinguishers and driving cars through each others’ tents- it was the last night after all.
WE REACHED THE FINISH LINE. After 3 hours of driving in the morning we were on the podium drinking distilled horse milk vodka and spraying foam into the air. Success. The car was too badly damaged to be worth shipping home so we gave other teams our parts (who were driving back home) and signed it off for environmentally friendly scrapping.
The Damage on the Dihatsu:
- Broken rear coils and shocks
- No horn
- Cracked screen in 4 places (we had 3 more through Mongolia)
- Ruined bodywork
- Fan broken and fixed with inappropriate wires leading to dashboard switch
- Serious right wheel rattle which became both front wheels on the last day
- Broken rear brake light
- Cracked wheel arch
- Tonnes of biscuit crumbs down the seats (disaster!)
2014 Rally Records Broken by the Mongoliers:
- Longest Tow of the Rally (200km)
- Largest convoy (5 cars)
We would like to say a hugely humble thank you to all who have supported us and read the blog along the way, it has kept us going through what has been a really challenging and (literally) incredible experience. A massive thanks to our sponsors: ‘Consult and Design’ and ‘Wonder Stuff Studio’ who have designed our website and logo; ‘Clothier Lacey Co.’ who have managed our media interactions; ‘Alpha Male Grooming’, ’Cupid Peptides’ and North South for donations towards our Rally. To the teams who have repaired our vehicle and kept our spirits high throughout the rally - you da best.
In the great words of Eleanor Roosevelt “Do one thing every day that scares you”. We would like to challenge you to do something crazy in the next year, something that really scares and excites you. Say ‘yes’ and take the next opportunity that presents itself, be that climbing a mountain, forming a relationship or taking that trip you’ve always dreamed of - set the ball rolling and make it happen.
If you can enhance your own life whilst attempting to improve the lives of those who are not lucky enough to be given the same opportunities as yourself, it makes your adventure even more valuable and rewarding. We are raising money for the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice and have almost reached £3000 which will go towards enhancing the lives of young people who are tragically denied the luxury of growing old. The link to our just giving page is www.justgiving.com/teams/mongoliers. If you have enjoyed watching us flounder abroad while reading the blog, we would be truly grateful if you could make a small donation to the cause in return.
Finally, not to worry, there is one more treat in store… The final video. We have captured some crazy things on camera during the 6 weeks and would like to share it with you as a reward for your donations and amazing support. We hope to release this in September.
In the words of Steve Jobs (2005) “Stay Hungry, Stay foolish”. Until the next time… Thank you sincerely and good luck on your next adventure.
Matt, Jamie and Rob x