To allow everyone to catch up with our adventure here are a few words on the very subject. Yes we were kidnapped in Ulan Ude by a Russian family they could not speak a word of English and our Russian is but a handful of words at best. We meet in Lake Baikal and they invited us to a BBQ and it was the best we have ever had, sensational in fact, their pork here is unbelievable. They insisted we come back to Ulan Ude with them and they put us up in their penthouse suite, yes they had 2 and we had our own maid and Nissan Patrol 4×4! We could not pay for anything and they took us out every day to restaurants and clubs. The food we ate we cannot describe, day and night we ate and drank all thanks to them.
I found out in our hand sign conversation Sasha owned 50 petrol service stations and had just purchased 50 trucks from China. They were also building a Mongolian style restaurant for Ela (Sasha’s wife) for fun! Yes this was an experience we will never forget. We all broke down when we parted as they wanted us to stay. They drove with us nearly all the way to the Russian/Mongolian border, we will not forget them their hospitality was truly amazing.
On entry to Mongolia we were the last vehicle to cross the border, we didn’t understand that the border was closed over the weekend and we were rushed through in less than 2hrs, we found out later the others had taken all day to cross! The road to Ulaanbaatar was very good indeed, all we had to look out for were the animals crossing and standing in the road, it is dangerous to drive there the Mongolians drive their cars like they ride their horses which is anywhere they like. I can’t describe the driving in Ulaanbaatar apart from being out right suicidal the manhole covers have all been stolen and you can drop in one if you are not paying attention. Our car is constant amusement to everyone they push, spit, kick the car all the time even trying to climb in! We cannot leave it standing on its own at any time and anywhere! We left the city as soon as we could and started to drive down to the Gobi desert. We meet many travellers who would not drive in Mongolia and it is easy to see why. The roads and tracks just go off in all different directions you need to have your map skills up to scratch. You just have to be here to understand how difficult it is, we even had professional guides look at our maps to try and find a way around a flood or washed away track so they could take their tourists back to a yurt somewhere.
We did a lot of damage to our bug (Victor), we wiped out the rear shock bump stops and we now have developed a engine leak with oil coming out of the clutch shaft and around the starter motor Elayne and I drove 700klm down a track we did not anybody for 26hrs it was 42/45 degrees and I was becoming a little worried as our water was getting low! Washouts in the road are everywhere in some cases we are driving up washed out flood plains the rocks are sharp and the road track surfaces change all the time with the topography. We landed up in a place called Delanzgrade at the bottom of the Gobi. We arrived at a US base camp and they helped us find a welder and a mechanic to do repairs on Victor. We now have Russian jeep bump stops on the rear! We stayed a few days and decided it was to dangerous to travel on our own in such deserted places if we broke down we would be in a grave situation. The military was amazed with our Victor and how we were driving around on just our GPS. We left a small village in the late afternoon and it was 42 degrees and then it started to rain! After five hours we were driving through half a meter of water, in the desert! I could not see a thing no tracks it was a sea, I can’t explain how quickly this was happening! We drove 150kms until it became impossible to see or drive! The alternator light came on and we drove into 1.5 meters of mud and water and that was it we were completely stuck in the middle of nowhere. This is just madness I thought mud and water in the bug over the seats nowhere to winch no trees and just water as far as you could see and in the desert!
More to come soon!
Chris and Elayne, xxxxxx