Saturday, 29 June 2013

Day 126: Erenhot China to Zamyn Uud Mongolia - Sat 29 Jun, 2013

Day 126: Erenhot China to Zamyn Uud Mongolia - Sat 29 Jun, 2013
The Wanderoos are back to internet and their blog - hooray!! Many thanks to son Justin in Canada for holding the fort and posting the odd email and iPhone photo to keep virtual communication alive with family and friends (your mummy loves you xx). With 50+ days in China to catch up on though, we will launch straight into the crossing into Mongolia, and post the backdated China excerpts when there is time and good internet.
We have done 17,000kms since picking up our vehicle Ozzie in Kuala Lumpur on 24th February.  And now country number 8 is coming up! But – we’ve been told by our China guide Andy that because we bought forward our border crossing into Mongolia by one day, and only informed customs yesterday morning, it will be delayed while they finish processing our paperwork (highly likely we’ll be held up over their 3hr lunch break as well...) So we hung around in Erenhot doing the washing, eating and swapping photos of the convoy breakup party the night before, and taking some posed photos at the windfarm and with the dinosaurs. Met an athletic Mongolian Christian minister with reasonable English who helped explain road conditions we are about to go into (we may not be able to do the number of daily kilometres envisaged).

Can you see Ozzie at base of this gi-normous wind turbine??

All five vehicles lined up at 1.15pm ready to form an assault on immigration and customs to ensure they were happy to move us on, but we were turned back to wait until summonsed. FINALLY at 4.00pm Andy got call to say computers were now working, paperwork OK for us to go to Customs for vehicle checks. We enthusiastically jumped a line of broken-down 4WDs (including a couple being towed up to the gate before the ropes were removed!) before going through the vehicle and people paper queues (as elsewhere, border crossing info will be found on separate blog pages eventually). We farewelled Andy, our supporter of the last 50+ days. The Brisbane based sub-group (who will travel through Mongolia together much of the time) have invited him to stay with and be "guided" by us should he ever visit Australia.

We were in shock minutes later, going out into an absolute late afternoon melee of smashed, dented, overloaded, broken-down or towed Land Rovers, jeeps and trucks shovelling and tying on parcels and people including wiring items under the chassis (apparently this is a vehicle-only border crossing) at a rate of knots into every crevice (except the top, which we heard attracts import duty!) The drivers were absolutely crazy, playing chicken right up until they were just touching another vehicle – one hit Phil’s side and Mads leaned out and grabbed a protruding chair leg - they didn’t acknowledge or stop.   
Two hours and frayed nerves later with China behind us, we thought the final task of the day was achieved when we tracked down a cell network operator in Zamyn Uud and convinced him to stay open to service five late customers seeking Mongolian sim cards and data plans. Just as we made our way back to the trucks, gloating over our renewed access to Google, blogs and Facebook, a carload of Mongolian Customs staff turned up with yet more paperwork (couldn’t miss the Bee in the carpark we guessed). One by one the drivers had to sit in the official vehicle, get their data hand copied and stamped, then march off to a nearby business for photocopies, before handshakes all round and we really were free to enter Mongolia. 

Everyone made for the nearest Western restaurant (undeterred by warm beer and wine) before heading out in the dark to the nearest clear patch in the desert to finally call it a day. 
Happy to be in Mongolia!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mum - love you both as well - was a little morning ritual to get up and see what pics you had sent through and read your stories :)