The Diary Of Team (W)reckless
We hope You enjoy reading about our trip to Mongolia.
It has been a great experience to all of us!
We feel proud to be able to help the kids from the Children Lotus Fund but also to have meneged this adventure.
Today was the day that we have been working for for a long long time! We packed our little bags and the car. At noon Team (W)reckless left Munich and headed for the Czechout party at the beautiful Klenova Castle.
We started the day with a good bowl of porridge to provide us with strength for the day and left the campsite to look for a place to buy some extra springs for the rear axle and do our real final shopping. Since we could not find the springs we bought a camping-table and some chairs. Both provided us with the possibility to play the amazing board game "settlers of Catan" and preparing food for the supper. Before supper the hosts presented us the "Festival Of Slow"-show. We had a lot of fun watching a Czech dancing group and a Mongolian group who would do some music, dancing and for the amusement of the audience wrestling. After the programme every team was to drive their car on a photo-spot and surrounded by the sound of sirens and horns they had a quick chat with the moderator and introduced their team. It took us a long time to get to the spot since it were almost three hundred cars waiting to be shown but waiting with other teams we have got to know over the last two days was really funny!
At night the crowd went on
a pilgrimage to the castle on the mountain next to the campsite where a banquet, life music and shows awaited the happy gathering. Later this
feast turned into a ludicrous party!
This was the final day of leaving. When we woke up most of the teams had left the campsite and we did the same without waisting much time. We packed our goods and tied the roof rack and after having our final goodbyes we left the place to head for Budapest. Our first checkpoint. On our way to Budapest we managed to navigate only with the help of our map. We came through areas with many traces of the days of communism and were shocked and amazed at the same time of some apartment buildings. Furthermore the landscape of all the countries amazed us in the most positive way. We passed through Austria and ended up in Hungary.
After checking in at our hotel and having a long shower we updated our websites and went out for supper and a drink. Since it was Jasper's birthday tomorrow
we had a good reason to party and we found some nice bars and clubs around Budapest possibly one of the nicest cities in Europe.
Today is Jaspers 21. Birthday, and we were out until 6:00 am to celebrate it, therefore we got up quite late and started our way to Uzhgorod, a city in the Ukraine that is located very close to the Slovakian border. During the last 200 years it has been occupied by several countries such as Austria, Slovakia, Hungry and Ukraine, it even was independent for one day. Its history provides the city with a very interesting mix of cultures. To get there we had to pass our first border. It went very well, sadly though it will most likely get harder to pass borders the further we travel. Once we arrived in Uzhgorod a local, named Arpad, warmly welcomed us. We have been in contact with him for a while and he invited us to stay in the guestroom of the company he works for. Later that night we had a great dinner at a local restaurant and were shown the city, which is quite spectacular.
We woke up at 9 and had a wonderful breakfast. Our plan was to stay in Uzhgorod until mid-day, and then start the long drive to Kiev, around 850 km. The drive was very good. First we took a country road through the mountains it was not in very good shape, but it went well apart from the fact that the truck drivers do not pay a lot of attention what’s ahead of them when they overtake each other. Around 300 km later we had passed the mountains and the roads got much better. By now we had listened to the first couple of chapters of “the lord of the rings“. Driving here demands a lot of attention though, so sometimes we had to listen to some passages twice, since the driver was busy dodging the trucks that were coming at us on the wrong side of the road. At 11 pm we entered Kiev, but we had no idea how to find our Hotel because we didn’t have a detailed map of the city. We spend some time searching but ended up paying a cabdriver to lead us there. Once we checked in at the hotel we decided to play an exciting round of “the settlers of Catan“ and went to bed.
The first thing we did when we woke up was to find a place in the city center for our breakfast. Our hotel was right in the Center. By the time we got to eat something it was already a brunch shortly before a lunch, because it took a while until we found something that we liked, mean while we have had a great walk through the Central part of Kiev. Compared to Budapest we all agree that it is not necessarily prettier, but it has it’s own unique charm. In the afternoon we decided to go along the river that Kiev was build on. On our way we found a sling rope which came very useful at that moment, we were already a bit tired and didn’t feel like walking to the nice looking river bank on the other side, even though we wanted to chill a bit over their. We therefore decided to take the sling rope that was much more thrilling and faster for little money. Of course we filmed the whole excitement. Later that day we eat dinner in a restaurant that was called “Mafia” to avoid any risk of poisoned food we drank the good Ukrainian Vodka. After our good meal we went out to one of the crazy techno discos we have heard so much about. It turned out to be a very nice night, though Jonas was missing due to some sickness he had for the last days.
At this morning we left the Hotel in quite a hurry because we woke up to late. Therefore breakfast was to be eaten in the car. We had cereal-bars and the good-old “German Dauerwurst”. Again, it was driving and listening to “Lord of the Ring” until we came to the Russian border. We were about to enter “Mother Russia”!! In advance Jonas had been introduced to a Russian man who offered us to help us cross the border.
We thankfully accepted…
So when arriving at the border the guards saw our number plate and ordered us to proceed our way by overtaking the queue and handing in our passports. This was leaving Ukraine. Arriving in Russia looked roughly the same:
We had to go to a empty lane where our friend waited for us to help us fill out the documents for the entry - so far we learned that he was friend to a guard at the Russian border – and after that find to the hotel we were staying in. This night we went out to have some dinner with our friend and two of his mates in a nearby club. Before that we were shown the city of Belgorod where our Hotel was. Again vodka (this time Russian) was the companion to our dinner and concerning Jonas who was feeling a bit sick, it showed some effect. He felt good again thanks to this good Old Russian medicine…
We went to bed after dinner planning to leave Belgorod the next morning.
When we woke up this morning our friend was already waiting for us and brought us to a place for breakfast. To our surprise it was a normal restaurant and therefore we had pizza and salad for breakfast. It was strange but all right.
After finishing breakfast we were led the way out of Belgorod. On our way to Moscow we saw many relicts from the Soviet era like the symbols the star and the crossed hammer and sickle or the ear. The trip took longer than expected. We were supposed to meet someone to direct us to the house of our host for our time in Moscow, but we missed the meeting point and got very lost in the big city. Around 12 that night we finally made it to the house and quickly fell asleep after an amazing late dinner.
This sunny morning we got up early; we had a big day ahead of us. After breakfast we met Anna, she was our Moscow guide for the day. First we went to the red square and a wonderful mall next to it. It was an amazing place and I think all of us were overwhelmed by Moscow’s beauty. A little later we entered the Kremlin, this was even more impressive than what we had seen before. Many cathedrals and other glorious buildings were giving us a very good impression of the Tsar’s former wealth and glory. When we saw the treasure which contains more than 30.000 carats of diamond and more than 100 kg of gold we were truly impressed. This collection can easily keep up with the royal British treasure. After visiting many more landmarks of Moscow, some of them from the soviet times, we went for dinner and then home to go to bed. We were very tired after this long day.
After Breakfast and a chat with our wonderful host in which we received some good advise and tips which route to take and how careful we had to be we left Moscow for Yekaterinburg, which was around 2500 km away and a 4 day trip. We left the house of our host at 1:00 pm and planed to drive 500 km that day. However we underestimated the terrible traffic in Moscow, and when we got our of the Moscow region it was already 6:00 pm. We drove only 200 km the most. When we found our camping spot. We left the main road and found a nice, hidden camp spot 5 minutes away from it. As soon as we got out of our mighty Polo we figured that we weren’t alone! Sadly we weren’t, thousands of mosquitoes lived there and attacked us. Gladly we had a spay that provided us from getting eaten up by them; seriously they could have been able to. We have never seen that many (Chernobyl) mosquitoes. We eat quickly and went to bed, the next morning we wanted to get up early
We got up at 8:00 am there where no mosquitoes, after a tasty bowl of porridge we left the spot and kept on driving. We managed a bit over 1000 km in which the countryside hasn’t changed too much. However we drove long into the night and didn’t want to build up a camp in the dark therefore we slept in the car, for 5 hours. It was tremendously uncomfortable, especially on the back. We haven’t eaten much that day. A little Video we filmed shows our situation.
At 6:00 am Jasper couldn’t stand his uncomfortable spider position in the back anymore. He switched seats with Jonas who was sleeping on the driver seat and started driving. This was the best time on the road there where almost no other cars and we could really enjoy the landscape. The long steppes of Russia seamed endless under the colorful sky. We filmed part of it with the camera. This day has been all about driving and potholes. The roads are getting worse and worse the further we drive east, but our Polo is tough and survived all of them. Today we drove 700 km and made to Yekaterinburg, one day earlier than planed. Our plan is to make it to the first finish line on the 10th of August. We arrived in a Hotel close to the airport and enjoyed taking a shower. Tomorrow we will enter Kazakhstan. I hope the border passing will go well.
This morning we got up early, because we were going to visit Yekaterinburg. It turned out to be a very nice city. Above all we really liked the cathedral that was build in memory of the Tsar and his family, which was murdered in the very spot. Around 1 we left the city and continued our trip. The plan was to cross the border into Kazakhstan and find a camp spot close after the border. But because of bad traffic and the fact, that we got super lost in one of the cities on the way, there was no way we could make it to the border before it closed. For us driving through cities is the most difficult. Signs are rare and hard to find and we do not have detailed maps of every city on the way. So we usually get a bit lost in the bigger ones. This time though our situation was very bad. We were devastated. All of a sudden a local stopped in frond of us and asked us if we were lost. He spoke English and after telling him where we wanted to go he started describing the route to us but stopped and decided it was better to just show us the way. So we followed him. After a while he suddenly stopped again and walked up to us with his navigation device and gave it to us as a present so that we would find our way easy and safely. We were overwhelmed by his generosity and kindness and told him that we could not accept such a huge present but he insisted. We thanked him and managed to find our way back to the road we wanted to take. Then we turned the navigation system off since we wanted to get to our destination by maps. But if we get so very lost again we will gladly make use of it again. That night we found a very nice camp spot close to the Kazak border on the Russian side.
We go up early to dodge the traffic on the border. It worked well. After just over an hour and many passport and car checks we were in Kazakhstan. The roads were good and we traveled fast. Too fast even, maybe because soon the police stopped us. Before our contacts with them were never really pleasant, they never spoke English stopped us even though we did not commit any traffic crimes and we always ended up having to bribe them with Euros. Not this time though. The officer spoke good English and was very impressed about our rally. He told us to have a safe trip and enjoy Kazakhstan and let us go. We kept driving and the landscape was indeed incredible. There is just nothing here. As far as one can see there is fields and steppe. Often we saw cows and horses guided by their shepherds, wandering about. Some time later in a little cute village the police stopped us again. And again the officer was very friendly and interested in our trip. He then wanted to see our roadmap to show us the best way to get to Astana, the capital, since some roads here are very, very, very bad. Around 8 that night we found a beautiful camp spot on top of a hill, overlooking the Kazak countryside. Sadly though it started raining soon and it got fogy so we could not really see much. We hope it will be sunny tomorrow and we can enjoy the view then.
We woke up by the sound of a galloping horse next to our tent. However, by the time one of us was chosen to take a look, nothing was there, and it was still foggy. Therefore, our plan with the beautiful sunrise and the stunning view over Kazakhstan didn’t work out. After a delicious bowl of porridge, we continued driving to the capital, Astana. Half an hour later we came to a rode that was surprisingly well, almost as good as the German Autobahn. Later we were told that this was the best rode in all of Kazakhstan.
When we arrived in the capital, the people where very happy to see our mighty car and us. They where honking when we drove past them and at the traffic lights we had some little chats with the people in the cars around us. Driving around the city made us realize where half the old cars from Germany went (the other half went to Africa). Old Mercs, Audis, Volkswagen and BMWs surrounded us.
After having lunch in some restaurant we were confused, because we expected a little bit more from the capital than what we have seen so far. We were asking locals where the city center would be and than followed their instructions. After a while huge buildings appeared in front of us, big skyscrapers with golden windows, buildings with huge gates, a very high tower with a big round ball on top and glass pyramids. We figured that they went completely bonkers. Our expectations were more than matched. After we parked our car and discovered our surrounding for a while we kept on driving east for 200 km and found a nice camping spot 5 min away from the rode. The landscape seemed endless again.
Quickly we packed all our stuff, ate a few cereal bars for breakfast, had a cup of tea and kept on driving. We modified our roof rack that morning and now we have a very comfortable seat up there. Tile was the first one who chose to drive in our new seat. We have been driving for only 140 km until we met two other Mongol Rally teams who we teamed up with. But somehow, it looks like we are kind of lost. On my right is a big, dirty factory… where the heck are we?!… For some reasons we drive west now... Tile is communicating with the other team over “Walki Talkis” right now. Jonas keeps on driving west. There is a policeman with an AK 47… we are going back now… I think we found the right road now. We are leaving Kazakhstan for Russia! Somehow the leaving of Kazakhstan took longer than the entry of Russia, which only took us some 20 minutes. That is strange…!
We are setting up our camp on a field. Three cars camping together look very cool!
We all drove together to the next big city in Russia. The last one before we passed little villages on the road to Mongolia. One team, the Scousers, decided that they needed a shower very badly, so we split up, agreed that we will meet again at the border to Mongolia and kept on driving with Johnny and Lina who are the team “Mongoliando”. The little Russian part we are driving through to get to Mongolia has the prettiest landscape of all the other areas we drove by so far. The road went along a big river that flowed through the mountains. At first the landscape looked like the Alps in Austria, but the further south we got the more it changed to look like Colorado. We made some good distance before we found our new camp spot next to the river. Within 10 minutes the camp was build up and we where already bathing and cleaning ourselves in the river. Dark-brown liquid came out of our hair when we washed it. It was gross, but we felt much cleaner and better afterwards. This night we chatted until 1 am with the Mongoliandos, we are very glad to drive in a convoy with such great people. They are a married couple from England. They met each other in Lina’s hometown in Peru. Johnny will turn 40 on August 3rd
We got up early and started driving. The landscape was beautiful and the road kept sloping up higher and higher. Often we had to stop because cows or horses were crossing the road. After around 300 km we got to the Russian/Mongolian border. As soon as we got passed the last Russian checkpoint the roads turned into dust. Soon we got to the Mongolian checkpoint and had to stay the night there because the immigration takes a while and the office was already closed. 4 other teams were stuck there as well, so we set up camp with them between the border fences and played a round of “Catan” before going to be.
It could have been such a peaceful night; sadly it wasn’t in the middle of the night we were woken by yelling and barking. Soon we found out that one drunken border guard and his dog were outside and he was trying to open the tents to get the dog inside and make it bite us. The dog seemed like a friendly one, but the guy kept beating and kicking it so it didn’t really have a chance but attack. When the guy approached our tent we made a knot into the inner sipper and tried to keep it out of his reach. He didn’t manage to open it and we were safe for the moment, but it was very uncomfortable seeing the big dog right on the other side o the mosquito mesh trying to get in. After a while, to us it felt very long, the guy gave up but started throwing things from our roof rack over the border fence into Mongolia. Then he grabbed something and dragged it away, we were worried it could be our fuel tanks. Later we found out it was a full garbage bag. While he was gone we used the situation to get out of the tent and into the car. Jasper climbed the fence to get our things back after we locked ourselves into the car and tried to sleep again. But we had to get out to help the other guys. It seemed that the dog as well as the man had calmed down, but all of the sudden the dog attacked one of the other rally drivers and pushed him over, but before the dog could harm him Jonny used his peppery spray on the dig and chased it away. Only about an hour later the guy decided it was enough and left with the dog. The next morning everything went quite quickly considering the massive amount of bureaucratic we had to go through to get into the country. Around noon we were in and started driving east in a convoy with the four other teams. The roads were bad and very dusty, so it was basically impossible to go any fast. Especially because we approached even higher mountains we had to get over. Hours later after a lot of wheel spinning and pushing we made it to the top, 2500m. Around 8 we stet up camp and everyone went to bed early to recover from the lack of sleep from the night before.
When we woke up today it was raining badly. But most of our British companions greeted it as a reminder of home and especially Jonny, one of our companions, whose fortieth birthday was today considered the rain quite nice. All until we found the first river to cross. Since it was pouring down the rivers were deep and fast so we had troubles crossing them but despite some lost number plates and bumpers and soaking cloths or muddy cars every car managed the rivers. Tile was driving this morning. It was his first time ever to drive on muddy, sticky roads and through rivers but it was a real fun having to work with the car to get it through the situation, even though our rally-tires were helping a lot!
Luckily the rain stopped at some point so we were able to make it to the city Khovd where all of us refueled and shopped some food or picked up some Mongolian Tugrik from the Bank. After a break of almost two hours, during which we sadly had to change the first of our tires du to a megabump we ran through, we set of to leave the city but got lost just after some meters…
Finally we found each other again and met at a police station where we had to pay a fee to drive on the asphalt-road going away from Khovd. With the help of this tarmac- road we managed to cover some previously lost kilometers and headed for camp at around eight. Everybody was tired because of the hard work we went through today so after dinner and a quick celebration of Jonny’s birthday we went to bed.
Waking up today we were greeted by rain again, which luckily lasted only some minuets. So the roads were all right. We made use of the asphalt again and covered as much distance as possible since our aim is to arrive in Ulaanbaatar (UB) at the tenth of this month. But at some point the good road transformed into a small bad path, which slowed us down again. However, we struggled through it and had a very good time looking at the gorgeous landscape and herds of camels or horses.
This good mood was scattered during a break when another team had to change its punctured tire: We were refastening our roof rack when Tile discovered that the tent was missing which used to lie on top of the roof rack. After checking Photos of our car taken with a camel herd and on the bad path we discovered that going back to look for it was very pointless. Really sad!!
While we were plowing on through a desert driving on roads where the surface was turned into a ground with short waves by the wind, we almost reached the next city. Altai. The shaky road has had a bad impact on several cars in our convoy but nothing severe happened.
Waiting for approximately thirty to forty minutes with another car for the rest of the convoy we started to worry and headed back to find the others. Somewhere next to the road we found the others helping some Mongolians who’s friend has lost her conscious. Finally, an ambulance took her away and we were able to set up camp, find a new way to build a tent by fixing to tarps between two cars and celebrate another companion’s birthday.
Waking up we discovered that the night in our new tent was not a bad as we expected it to be. OK, we had no rain and no mosquitoes but we had to wear our fleece jackets in order to stay worm in the sleeping bag.
After leaving camp we encountered some tarmac again and headed for Altai, where some of us had reparations done at their car or bought new food. We bought a pot of butter and some bread and had a late breakfast of bread with butter and salt. It felt like heaven!!
We left Altai again heading east for UB! But today our convoy was not really blessed…
Firstly, several punctures forced us to stop and help changing tires and secondly car from our group caught a stone quite drastically and started to leak oil. Though we fixed the sump with a hammer and were able to drive on it took this teams only a couple of minutes to encounter the next stone and break the sump completely. So we stopped where we where and set up camp.
Because we stopped so early we had some time to take out the golfclub and the polomallet to have some playing around.
Eventually we rebuilt our new tent and after a long dinner in the dark we went to bed again.
This morning developed into quite a successful time: After waking up we took off rather early to find a mechanic in the next village in order to get the sump of the Micra, which broke yesterday repaired. Fortunately we eventually found some guy to weld the sump and after just a brake of some hours and a good breakfast we were happy finally set off.
Yet again, the good mood lasted only some time because during our trip through bad paths the Micra’s suspension broke and we had to wait some time again meeting two other teams from the Mongol Rally. However, they abandoned us soon after because they were eager to crack on. With some mechanic know-how and creativity we fixed the suspension with tying it to a metal beam in order to suspend it and tried to manage the ninety kilometers to the next town, called Bayankhongor.
We and another team were sent to reach the town before dawn in order to find somebody to pick up the Micra. After some really tough off-roading we reached the city from another direction than the one planned and failed to find a mechanic since it was dark already. However, we did find a hotel to stay for the night, which – we were really sad about it – had no real shower to use. We only managed to do a quick wash had some porridge and went off to sleep. Really, a lot has happened during the last days!!!
Lets see what else will happen in the last days of our exciting adventure.
Waking up was a tough one today, because it was our first time in a proper bed for some time now… However we managed to rise at some point and decided to get some food and find a mechanic. Around noon a good mechanic was found whom we were able to communicate with by using his friend’s German-skills. He agreed to pick the Micra, who was waiting some thirty miles outside the city, and bring the car to the garage. Jasper went with him to show him the way. Than the most hilarious thing happened: First, the driver got lost on a street (OK! He had a choice of several different paths going of the city in the same direction…). Second, the truck got a punctured wheel and had to change it. Finally, the driver realized that his tank was too low to carry a car back into the city and therefore, he had to go back and refill!!! How about that? Now the garage sent a second truck that got lost again!!! After that the Micra itself made it to the mechanic and funnily just ten meters away from the entrance the axle broke completely… It was crazy!
Now everything happened quite fast: The twelve of us lifted the Micra up and pushed it like a barrow into the garage where only two Mongolians (we learned that one of them was the Mongolian wrestle champion!!!) were needed to lift the car on the lift…
It took the fife hours and cost 300 USD to fix the axle and enforce it with another steel beam.
Fife hours used to get our car cleaned and hand polished, update sponsors, shop and attach the Micra’s horn to the breaking lights so that every time the driver breaks the horn will be honking :) We thought of it as a good revenge for all the waiting hours we wasted waiting on their broken everything. However, the plugs of the horn were pulled shortly after because the team was just too annoyed… I don’t know how that happened. Seriously!
So at six o’clock in the evening we left the city using the asphalt to cover some miles and looking out for a new campsite. We found a beautiful campsite and learning from the last nights in the new tend, Tileman was wearing normal and fleece socks, ski underwear, t-shirt, fleece jackets (The Settlers of Catan really helped the kids from the Lotus Children Fund and us by giving them to us!!! Thank you very much), Buffs and a beanie while Jonas and Jasper used other gear to keep themselves worm in the freezing cold of the desert. “It is never to cold! You are just dressed in a wrong way!”
We woke up today aiming to reach the next town, Arvaikheer, by noon because some teams wanted to have lunch at the vegan restaurant there. This aim was disturbed by a little accident we had on our way there… At one point we accoutered a river we had to cross. It seemed quite muddy to some of us but to the driver passable at every place. Therefore, he ignored a perfect passing spot pointed out by a local and drover straight in wondering about the pile of mud that had appeared in front of our car forcing it to stop…
From now on keeping up the revs he waited for his rescue. Even manpower from five men were not enough to get the Polo out of the water. Luckily a tanker passed our placed and was kind enough to help us out of the situation. We thanked him a trillion times and gave them some cigarettes. It had been a tough situation for our team but with the help of others we had managed to fight us free! Finally, even though we were forced to stop again by punctures (of other cars!!) and other reasons - At one point we saw a bull fight. It was really interesting and funny! -We made it to the city at three p.m.
Both Micras and we made the decision to not have a proper sit-down-meal but head for the nearest supermarket to get some food with meat!! We ended up eating noodles and tuna sandwiches with pickles (from Germany)! After the rich meal us three teams left town thinking the others know if we do not come back to the restaurant they could leave town as well and find us on the road (their driving was faster).
By now the street to UB has become a more or less proper asphalt road and we were happy to expect our arrival to UB by tomorrow. With that in mind we kept on driving in a more relaxed way stopping for camels and other things at the road.
By nightfall we found a wonderful spot with rosemary instead of grass to build up camp and wait for the other two cars catch up. They never made it… We, however, had an amazing last evening camping and ate up most of the food we had left while enjoying the sunset with some beers and music. It was a beautiful day full of wonderful nature and new things we saw.
Again, waking up was hard this morning and all the flies surrounding EVERYTHING there was at our campsite did not help the situation. Therefore we left campsite in a hurry and drove on to find a calm and beautiful place to have breakfast.
Some kilometers later we stopped next to the road and unpacked our chairs and tables to have a sit-down breakfast with bread, tuna, olives and honey. However, us having breakfast was not a secret for long because just when we finished our last bread a Mongolian man came with his two sons offering us the sour mare’s milk. He introduced himself as a military officer on holydays with his family. We decided to give him our chairs and table because we would arrive in UB later this day so he invited us to his yurt where we were offered tea with the sour milk. Surprisingly, this tea did not tasted that bad so we drank it all, took a last picture with the family and their new furniture.
Some minutes later we left their place again and headed for UB where we arrived just after noon finding ourselves in the worst traffic we have ever seen. It was stop and go in first gear. It took us ninety minutes to cover some twenty kilometers!!!
Looking out for two glassy towers (The Ramada Hotel) we discovered that we have missed the hotel and drove way to fast! In fact the Ramada Hotel - a key-point of the navigation through the city – consisted of two towers not covered in glass but normal plaster…! Eventually we found the car park to the hotel where us three teams have decided to meat and discuss the ongoing hotel finding process and reaching the Mongol Rally Finishline. We decided to find a hotel, check in, sort out the things to give away with the car and then go to the finish line. In the end we went to the finish line first and sorted out our things there before handing over our splendid car to the AFDM (Adventures for development) who would take care of selling the beasty Polo. It was a really sentimental moment because we came to seriously like the Polo after we had covered a third of the way around the world in him and he has never ever let us down!!! Well done Volkswagen!
We checked into a hotel not far away from the Finishline desperately longing for some warm water!!! The shower worked miracles! It felt like being reborn or skinned. Just wonderful. We left the hotel for some dinner (We wanted meat!!) at ten-thirty being confronted with most of the kitchens being closed due to the general closing law at midnight. However we eventually found a steak house were all of us ate a proper fillet and were as satisfied we could only be after the best trip we ever had, reaching UB safe and sound, a good shower and proper meat!! This night we fell asleep with a smile in our face.
After a long a good night sleep we met at the Finishline at ten in the morning to catch a coach that would bring us to the Lotus Children Fund Centre where we and some other rally drivers could see the place our money goes to and meet some kids who were practicing the dance for the Finishing Party tonight. Even though the centre could not keep up with the standards we were used from Europe, it seemed like the kids are looked after nicely. They would live together in “families” of ten and have school. From next year onward a full time English teacher is employed and schoolhouses are being finished building. The children seemed all as happy as they could be considering there past.
At some point it was time for us to go again because the way home would be very hard due to traffic. So we left the centre again and once back at the Finishline us three had a fresh up and waited for the kids to arrive for their dancing and for the Finishparty to start.
The dancing was very good! The kids and their teacher performed several traditional Mongolian dances wearing traditional Mongolian costumes. Even though they were kids of some four to fifteen or so they all looked like very good dancers and with some kids you could see that they will be getting very good dancers when continuing! Some just had the groove!! When the dance was finished we use the time to present the kids our presents we have received from our sponsors. They looked very happy with them and many put on some t-shirts straight away.
After a good dinner with some teams from the convoy the Finishparty started and we would all head to a nearby club with very good music and some live performance. Unfortunately the night ended for Tileman - and consequently the other two as well - at some point because his team jacket got stolen which made him very sad. It was a beautiful reminder of the amazing month we had in the car and on our way to Mongolia through Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan.
The next day would be about having a good rest and finding a place to have a massage – without success – and have a final dinner with all the convoy before leaving to the airport at four o’clock in the morning of August 12th and flying home via Moscow.
It will never appear to us how we could manage to cover the distance we struggled to cover in a whole month in just a ten hours flight!!! It will always seem somehow unreal but again it is an airplane, which goes straight and does not have to watch out for enormous rocks in the middle of the road or cross through flooded rivers. Its biggest downside though is that it is way more boring because of that!
All of us had a really great time and we would like to give the biggest “Thank You” to all our sponsors and supporters! Without your help we would not be able to take part in such a great adventure and help the children of the Children Lotus Fund that much as we were able to with Your commitment.