The Highway to Mongolia - unfinished challenge...
Sitting at the border between Kazakhstan and Russian gave us time to relax – for the first time since the delay at the Turkish – Georgian border. Time to relax for an unknown time .. and this for the unfortunate reason that Bob and Craig had problems with their visas for Russian. A simple mistake by the visa office in Johannesburg forced us to stop our challenge.. A double entry was applied and paid for … but a SINGLE Entry visa was issued..
We have tried everything, sitting 6 hours in an office talking to border officers, kissing Russian ass! But at the end it was a “ NIET” so we had to go back to Kazakhstan, a country we were so happy to leave …
There we found out that my visa was single entry too and expired. Craig’s was a single entry too, but because he was not allowed into Russia they could void his exit. BUT NOT MINE !!! I did have a quite constructive word with them … Result : They offered me to sleep in a room with no door handle on the inside !!! We got out of it and slept in no man’s land between Russia and Kazakhstan. Where we were left with no other choice but to slit up the team. The Silverbacks took the Zebra to Almaty and I am now sitting in a local taxi 700 KM to Novosibirsk where I will fly out to the free world !
This has been the hardest TLD trip… and this by far. We were 12 hours behind the plan .. and would have missed another 6 hours as we would have had to wait at the border to Mongolia. Still we have pushed so hard over roads that redefines roads, for the first time we had real technical problems with the car.. which just shows how these roads kill everything.
We lost 3 hours for no reason except a training session of the Georgian Border Patrol, and I must say the “back-roads” of Georgia had not improved over the 2 years since I was there.. that means another 2 hour delay.. still with a good buffer.. hence why we took a breakfast at our friends at the magnificent Rooms Hotel..
Border crossing to Russian cost us 1 extra hour.. but still all good.. and roads we thought were not perfect but after Kazakhstan we should have been very happy ..
Kazakhstan is a whole chapter of its own .. the roads are simply horrible and when we finally reached good roads, the police needed to collect money for their christmas party. They mixed up MPH and KM/H and this resulted in accusing us of speeding exceedingly despite the fact we were not.. But the sleepy policeman on the rear seat told us “pay or prison” and we paid.. this was a mistake as we had to pay to the next 5 (!!!!) of his police friends within 1 hour .. with a Walky-talky he told his colleagues that there were some stupid tourist on route.. We got rid of the plague and good roads meant we missed a turn .. but only by 200 km…. !!! and since this was planned to be a real challenge we went back to the “small” road.. this was a mistake .. as we simply found 1,300 km of “Map mistake” – there was clearly marked a road on the map .. but they forgot to make it .. MY GOODNESS !!this lost us 6 hours and resulted in a 200 km detour again simply to avoid these roads again ..
I have often been asked what are the worst roads I have driven .. and I said until yesterday Ethiopia … NOT anymore .. Kazakhstan .. Well the info from the Border Police here made us nervous .. as he said .. “are you going to Mongolia ?? There are no roads there… “ NOT good !
We have had a blast of a drive.. the Silverbacks take everything with a smile.. even Bob loved changing a tyre in -1 degree and strong winds.. he was so excited that he was shaking all over..
We have had many TLD first times….but the biggest impression is the sheer amount of Red-Bull the “non-addicted” silverbacks consumed.
We were behind schedule but determined to reach Ulaanbaatar – but failed. It was planned as a test.. and no doubt these guys can join the long one next summer..
Thanks to all !!
Friends and Family for the support
Morten for the maps ( often totally wrong smile )
Smith, Claus, Martins for building us a good car.
Serdar for again talking to the border into Turkey
Our locals, Ketavan, Shako, Roman, Rooms Hotel Staff, Porsche Club Russia.
The team at Ulaanbaatar: Jason, Salima, Baigalmaa – despite it was all for nothing !
A special thanks to Linar from Porsche Centre Almaty who was our lifeline – without him for sure I would sit in a cell now .. And to receive the Silverbacks with open arms.
Our Sponsors who made this possible.
And of course, our mother Olga who reminded us many times to wear seatbelts and do everything right !!!!
It has for many years been my dream to drive to Mongolia .. it has been taken away by bureaucracy .. this kills me .. Much worse than with the Zebra in Tanzania .. from the simple fact, these people could have change it they just did not want to .. I think this way they will lose eventually. I am sitting in the taxi writing this while eating a US Choco biscuit smiling inside .. C…s
I would like all the EU-sceptics back home to do a trip like this and feel how easy our lives are crossing borders and being and feeling free..
Will there be another challenge … ?? I really don’t know .. this is a big hit for me.. spending so much time away from my family and 1,000’s of hours fixing everything .. and then this .. Is it worth it.. I simply don’t know.. its not like with the Zebra.. far from ..
Let’s see .. the next days will maybe give the answers.
Sad sitting in a fucked up old Honda .. driving in the opposite direction of the Silverbacks and the Zebra Cayenne… But happy I have met these 2 good crazy people..
At the end, this is what it all about .. Meeting people and experience things first hand.