Day 39 – Fallen Comrades – a sad sight. . . (#MongolRally)
Altay, Mongolia – Near Bayankhongor, Mongolia
ODO: Start – 80,959, Finish – 81,229
Mileage – 270 Miles (435 Km)
Cumulative Distance – 10,224 Miles (16,454 Km)
We left Altay, but not before a quick visit to the Mongol Rally ‘Graveyard’. . . .
There are 4 key drop off points in major towns on the way to Ulaanbaatar. The idea being that should things go very pear shaped, you can either:
- Be towed to one of these drop-off points to have your broken car repaired using some of the most agricultural / bush mechanic like techniques you have ever seen) OR
- Drop your car off for good, should it be totally devoid of newness and unable to continue in the Rally
Around the back of the drop off point in Altay is what they call the graveyard – a whole stack of Mongol Rally cars from over the years that hadn’t made it to UB (either due to bad luck, owner stupidity or the fact they were made in France / Italy). What we saw when we rounded the corner was a depressing site indeed. . .
There were about 15 cars there, some from as far back as 2009. The most recent of which belonged to a young team of Scotts who we met at Goodwood – ‘The Petrol, The Beers, The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears’. When we last saw them, we were impressed that they were carrying a kayak on their roof through to Mongolia. 15,000km later, their journey had come to an end, here in Altay. They were missing a wheel, it looked like their front swing arm was in bad shape . . . . the kayak was sitting on the dirt next to their car.
It’s hard not to feel gutted when you see this kind of thing. We know how much planning goes into getting yourself to this point. For these guys, the great news is they made it all the way to Mongolia – from here their car could probably be fixed and still be auctioned at some stage.
The lady running the show wouldn’t let us take photos, but we got a couple in . . . .
After yesterday’s shenanigans, we heard that the Canucks might be waiting for us on the outskirts of town at around 8. It was 8, they weren’t there – we decided we had to push on, after the news last night we were sure they were safe and well.
We agreed we didn’t need to go as hard, given that we had covered a fair bit of ground yesterday (and opened up a few new angry sounding noises in the Hyundai). Even still, the bump stops (which were now a distant memory) and our new tyres copped a hammering. Ed’s GPS and tablet were telling two different stories about where in the world we were. The GPS indicated we were on the right road, the tablet said we were about 50km from the main drag. We pushed on and eventually came to a small village.
We were dangerously low on fuel at this point, so when a drunk dude clinging to the back of a motorbike for dear life offered to show us where the benzine was at we were pretty wrapped. After a quick bite to eat, Ed’s guts were less than impressed. We told Team Phoenix we would meet them over ‘that mountain’ when they were ready. They never came. . . .
Not sure if we pointed to the wrong mountain, but we had successfully managed to lose our convoy (who we genuinely liked) for the second time in two days. We pushed on in hopes that Ed’s GPS was leading us in the right direction, some locals confirmed this and we continued east.
We were pretty confident, the last bloke who followed this track was probably Marco Polo himself. . . .
The drive was beautiful, every mountain we would cross presented a valley of a 100 different tracks for us to choose from. The terrain today was back to golf course green, it really was a nice run. We followed a trail of dust off in the distance that we thought would be the highway and before you know it, we were back on the main drag to Bayahonogor (not that it was any different to the paddock, but still nice to know we were in the right place).
Bayanhongor came and went, we pushed on until around 10pm at night and found a place just off the road to crash.
The boot of the car was coated in a 1cm layer of dust, it was in everything except the inside of the Baked Beans cans – which we had for dinner. Given that we were sleeping in the car, this may have been a bad move. . . . .