Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Day 3 Tue 14 Jun : Erenhot to Undurshireet (Mongolia) 400kms

We left China today and crossed the border to Mongolia. The border would probably be quiet without 300 odd P2P competitors and officials all crossing at once.

At the China departure point, drivers are separated from navigators.  Navigators get to walk through and wait, while the drivers get the cars and drive through.  Well – it takes about 3 hours and the rally organizers waive all time penalties at a restart before the first test.

First time for me navigating to GPS ‘way points' and it is different to special stage rallying. 

The good bit is that in the Gobi desert you can drive anywhere you want. If you can’t see a track just drive in the direction of the waypoint.  You can usually go safely go cross country. There are no stumps, no big boulders  (for this bit of Mongolia anyway).  Usually there are multiple tracks but they are mostly going to the same endpoint.  It’s great for passing other cars.

We reached the camp site and thought what a great camping site. Flat smooth – start putting up the tent.  We wondered how dust got into the boot, then “Holy hell”, the left rear strut is about to pop through the top.

Mark and I despaired.  Seemed like a huge problem, but regular P2P competitors told us the ERA mechanics would help and they did.  We emptied everything out of the boot, moved away from the tent as welding sparks might damage the tent, removed the strut

The ERA mechanics were great (above). They worked out how best to repair it and hammered, welded and added bits to affect a fix.  All good
, but it was 2am by the time we got in the sleeping bag.
I didn’t mention the howling freezing cold wind that seems to come and go out in the desert.  A couple of hours after going to bed, the tent felt like it was going to blow away and I was cold. Note for next camping night. Wear the thermals and rally jacket to bed.
Problems next morning:  Can’t find stuff and there is no petrol at the camp as many expected.
All Mark’s shirts, socks etc have disappeared, as has a fire extinguisher and the hold-down clamp for the spare wheels. Our current thinking is that the clean up guys (a Mongolian tour company chooses the camp site and provides the facilities including clean up people) may have thought it was rubbish and binned it sometime in the late evening or early morning.  We are trying to contact them.  The clothes could also have just blown away but not the extinguisher or the hold-down clamp.
The organizers arranged fuel for those desperate to get fuel at a village 13km down the road but they only had limited quantities of 80 octane fuel.  More about that later.
Our times on the “tests” (stages) were OK.

Results after Day 3:

More photos from Erenhot to Undurshireet:

above: lining up for the start 

 right: Erenhot hotel carpark

Day 04 Undurshireet to Ulaan Baatar.htm