Day 40 – The Final Stretch to Ulaanbaatar (#MongolRally)
Near Bayankhongor, Mongolia – ULAANBAATAR BABY!
ODO: Start – 80,229, Finish – 81,576
Mileage –345 Miles (558 Km)
Cumulative Distance – 10,571 Miles (17,012 Km!)
By the time I climbed out of the back seat, Ed was surrounded by a pack of wolves playing ‘patty cake, patty cake’. These dogs were huge, but playful as puppies.
After a cup of tea, some porridge and a baby wipe shower we continued our journey – we had no idea that today would be the day we would reach Ulaanbaatar.
We came to a bridge that looked like it would fall apart given a slight breeze, after checking it our and realising it was even unfit for humans to walk on – we decided to take our chances with the water. When we pulled up, I jumped out and rolled up the jeans to find the shallowest part of the creek – just as I was about to walk in a Polish team in a Honda CRV (more cheaters) pulled up next to us.
Polish hero – ‘Are you going to go through?’
Me – ‘I’m going to walk it first, but you can give it a crack if you like’
With that the Poles launched into the water, getting about 2 metres before their 4WD met with death in the middle of the creek. After we stopped laughing, I walked past them on the right and found a shallow track – the Hyundai crossed with no dramas.
It seems even in the middle of nowhere, pride still takes a box seat.While this guy looked to have no idea what he was doing, he wasn’t going to accept any help from us. Water was spewing out of the spark plugs like a water feature from Backyard Blitz.
We watched the comedy show continue for another 10 minutes before we headed off in search of food.
We found a good place for lunch and managed to order ourselves something which wasn’t mutton dumplings, a very exciting prospect indeed. After lunch and a few beers we continued on in search of a place to camp for the night. By this point we were on a bitumen road (BITUMEN!), which didn’t help to be honest – it just meant the potholes hurt more when we hit them.
Night fell and we pushed on. Towns came and went and we couldn’t seem to find the right spot for us to throw the tents down. Eventually, we asked a truck stop the best place to sleep the night. ‘Ulaanbaatar, it’s only 70km away’. That was good enough for us, we continued on (very carefully) into the night until over the horizon we saw the shimmering lights of Ulaanbaatar. . . .
After 40 days and 17,012 KM we had finally made it to Ulaanbaatar!
Unfortunately, what we came upon as we entered town was enough for me to have a ‘turn around and let’s get the hell out of here’ moment. . . . .
The roads leading into the city were the WORST we had seen since Turkmenistan. It was 11pm and every man and his dog were on the road, and you would swear the dogs were doing the driving. It was chaos. At 11pm at night, after driving for 16 hours to get here, I had made my assessment within 10 minutes – Ulaanbaatar was a dog’s box. . .
It was such a contrast having come through some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen to be in a city like this. It’s that Paul Kelly song again I guess. We asked at about 5 hotels before we found one that would take us. Ben had 3 showers, he reckons each time more black stuff came off him. Ed swore it was just his ‘newness’. . .
We still weren’t at the finish line, but we were close enough to get the car there over the next few days. It felt strange after so long to be so close. . .