September 5th – Siberia, Russia
Autumn comes early here in Siberia. Camping among the birches and spruces, enjoying the brisk air and fall colors. Our car has been running on 3 cylinders now for over 300km. We’re going to try to push it 600km more over the Altai Mountains and into the Mongolian plateau…and if it’s still running, we’ll try to make it the last 1800km to Ulaanbaatar. If our little Fiat makes it all the way, it’ll be a Mongol Rally miracle.
HEY! WHERE DID JEFF GO??????????????????? Oh No!
September 6th – Biysk, Russia
Holed up in Biysk, Russia for an extra day to give our 3-piston car a fighting chance in Mongolia. Replaced a broken spring, fixed our engine mounts and re-attached our sagging sump guard. Also bought a whole lot of ramen. Now we’re finally ready. MONGOLIA, HO!
Made the mistake of replacing our broken spring in a parking lot next to a Russian bar. Got swarmed by “helpful” drunks who proceeded to “fix” our car by banging on stuff and shouting. Eventually we shooed them away and went to sleep, only to have them come back a few hours later and knock on our windows. After another liter of vodka, they had even more car ideas for us…
September 7th – Mongolian Border
It’s been nine hours at the border, and we’re still waiting. Got to the Russian side at 7am. Four hours later, they let us through. After 15km of No Man’s Land between Russia and Mongolia, we arrived at the Mongolian side just as they went on their 2 hour lunch break. Sitting here twiddling our thumbs and enjoying the last bit of bureaucracy before we reach the Mongolian steppe!
MADE IT!! (Photo)
September 8th – Olgii, Mongolia
WE ARE IN MONGOLIA!!! Made it across the border and into Olgii. Our car limped over the Altai mountains and the roughest roads are ahead. We’re told that only 3 Fiat Puntos (and no Seicentos) have made it to Ulaanbaatar – and none of them tried to do it with only 3/4 of their cylinders firing. Here we go! Never give up.
September 9th – Olgii to Khovd
Chuga, chuga, chuga, chuga, chuga…
They have really nice bridges in Mongolia… (Photo)
September 10th – Khovd, Mongolia
We passed a graveyard of 5 dead Fiats at the Khovd drop-off point, but somehow ours didn’t join them. Made it through the roughest section of Mongolia and now we’re on the home stretch. We think we can, we think we can.
Car stalled out TWICE in the middle of rivers…whoops. Luckily some drunk teenagers were on hand to push us out. In exchange, we gave them a lift to the next town (and got serenaded by a few Mongolian drinking songs).
September 11th – Altai, Mongolia
The car’s spitting oil, leaking gas and spraying coolant…but we’re still chugging along through Mongolia! We’ve made it 2000km on 3 cylinders and have 1000 left to go. The mechanic here in Altai is amazed we’re still moving and says our car might spontaneously catch on fire at any time. We say bring it on. We’re either making it to Ulaanbaatar or going down in flames.