G'day. We are Seb and Jaime - aka The Barra.,
A big thank you goes out to Propulsion Aquatic Swimming club (especially, Maggy and Wendy), Melissa Treherne Australian Debt & Insolvency Solutions Pty Ltd, Seb's mum and dad, Cementon family, and the Berrill family for contributing to our MercyCorps charity fund.
Day 20-26 (Last Day!!!)
Posted by Seb at 19th August 2010 at 03:57
We didn’t make the border, the roads were a lot slower than we expected and we got pulled over by police 3 times and most importantly our brakes We also we wanted to enjoy what is meant to be an awesome drive through the Altai mountains. So we spent another night in the car, this time no truck stop, instead we slept just near a servo in a town in the Altai mountains.
Started the day with an awesome drive through the Altai mountains to the border. The roads and scenery look like they should be in those car advertisements (snow and all). Another team told us that the roads to the border were going to be terrible.... they ended up being some of the best in Russia. We got to the border about 10am. We lined up and waited, then everyone decieded it was lunch time so we waited some more. After having all our paper work checked about 4 times we got through the Russian border at about 2pm. After about 10ks we drove to the Mongol border, where we saw a bunch of other teams. Some had been there since early in the morning. We were told that if the border would be closed on the weekend and being Friday we were worried we would be stuck in no mans land for the weekend. In the end, we couldn’t be processed that day, so we slept on the floor in the Mongol border control building.
They opened the border on Saturday and we got through at about 1pm, over 24 hours after we reached the Russian side of the border. But we were in Mongolia!!!! Our last country! The great scenery continued, this time though there were no trees, I know everyone that goes to Mongolia says this, “It’s like the moon.” As we set up camp, a Mongolian guy on a horse came and watched us set up. We had a bit of a chat but neither had a clue what the other was saying.
Continued to 4WD our way through Mongolia crossing rivers (creeks), we stocked up on some more food. We drove until dark, flying past heaps of teams as they struggle in the 2WD cars. Had feast of canned Russian and Mongolian foods, as we spent a night in the Gobi desert. Within about 2 hours we had food poisoning.
Drove over 500k’s on sandy tracks with very little sleep and still feeling crap. Some of the other teams gave us some drugs...not sure whether getting them from a vet was the best idea.... but it seemed to work. Thanks guys! Made it to a hotel at about 7pm and fell asleep straight away, didn’t wake up until 730am.
Determined to make it to Ulaanbaatar, over 600k’s away. We knew some of the roads were going to be tarmac but we weren’t sure how much. Some said it was 500km, most seemed to think about 300km’s and some 40km’s. In the end it was about 500!!! But in the 100km before we managed to get our first puncture of the trip.... at least the spare got used. Drove through the biggest dust storm I have ever seen.... it was almost impossible to fill the car up due to the strength of the wind. Combined with lightning, it made for some exciting driving. We got to Ulaanbaatar at about 6pm, but the traffic was chaotic, imagine the Tulla at 840am but with no lane lines and poor quality roads. We eventually made to the finish line at 740pm, but there was no one there. We found our hotel and had hamburgers and pizza for dinner, our first meal in about 48 hours.
Officially crossed the finish line at about 1pm!!!!!!! Said goodbye to the green beast. It didn’t miss a beat the whole trip (apart from the brakes), what a great car! Thanks to everyone who has donated some of their hard earned to the Mercy Corps. See you all soon!
Posted by Seb at 11th August 2010 at 18:36 in Mongol Rally
Haven’t had the chance to update the blog in the last few days but this is a quick rundown of what has happened.
Drove from Moscow to Kazan. It was good to leave the smoke of Moscow behind....or we thought... but it was haze and smoke followed us everywhere we went. As we drove the 890ks from Moscow to Kazan, we realised that our beast had developed an annoying noise in the front left break. I am sure it was a result of the terrible roads we had along the way. Only to stop for fuel, At the servo we met some locals who offered us vodka..... only in Russia.
After realising the car didn’t mend itself over night, we removed the wheel to investigate the problem. We had no solution, so we decided to test how it would drive. We pushed on, as the car was still driving perfectly, and figured it was probably a better option than asking a Russian mechanic. On the way to Ufa, we got pulled up by the cops, for something we weren’t even sure we did, we were let go after paying a 2000 roubles bribe to have the problem go away. At about 1 am we pulled in to a truck stop at Ufa and slept in the car.
Drove from our truck stop to Yekaterinburg, another lazy 610k’s, not counting the 2 hours we circled Yekaterinburg to try and find a hotel. The GPS had no idea!!! It was still really hazy and we realised, we hadn’t seen blue sky since entering Russia.
Drove from Yekaterinburg to Omnsk 950k’s. The GPS was no longer any use, as the map finished just after Yekaterinburg. We found our way alright. Driving in Russia follows the exact same routine, drive along, slow down for road works, drive some more, slow down for cops, drive some more reach a long line of trucks and spend the next hour overtaking them one-by-one, like playing frogger. Havent yet decided if the Russian drivers are the best in the world, or just the most dangerous, some of the overtaking moves they pull off are just insane. Spent another night in the car at a truck stop. On the bright side, the truct stops have the best food and its really cheap!!!
Omsk to Barnaul (885k’s). The smoke has finally cleared, and there is some blue sky..... when it isn’t raining. Got pulled up by the cops....i think for speeding, but when he realised I couldn’t speak Russian, he let us go without a fine. Navigated our way into the last Russian city!! Have stocked up on food for Mongolia. Best result we cross the border tomorrow, if not we will probably spend the night at the border. No idea how long it will take to get through.
Highlight of last few days
Russian truck stop food
Sleeping in the car.
Toilets....its much worse than you could imagine!!! Much, much, worse!
Day 13 &1 4
Posted by Seb at 6th August 2010 at 19:31 in Mongol Rally
What a massive day!!
Left Riga at 8.30 am and arrived at our hotel in Moscow at 3am.
Some of the things that happened in that time:
-waited at the Latvian/Russian border for just under 3 hours, not 11 plus hours like many other teams. There was really no problem crossing the border, no intense searches or questions....i guess we were lucky.
-after crossing the border we realised the rally had begun; the roads were terrible, it was raining and nobody spoke English, this made getting our car insurance and even filling up the tank an experience.
-Arrived in Moscow with no clue on how to get to our hotel, the GPS just gave up on the streets of Moscow and the only map we had was what was in lonely planet. With some luck and with the help of a petrol station attendant we found the hotel.
-Getting through the border unscathed
-Trying to find our hotel when we were absolutely wrecked from the days driving
Visited the red square and the old KGB headquarters.
-Checking out the red square, pretty impressive place.
-The heat and smog. You can’t see more than 500m.
Day 11 and 12
Posted by Seb at 4th August 2010 at 21:59 in Mongol Rally
Day 11 and 12
Drove into Latvia yesterday, really started to feel like we had entered eastern europe. The roads deterioated and less people speak english. By less we mean that about 1 in 5 people dont speak english compared with 1 in 100 in all the other countries we have been to. Riga is our last real rest before we make our move into Russia. Visited some more castles, although I missed out on the bobsled run which was closed. Shattered! Not looking forward to the 35 plus degrees we face in Russia.
Lido, Latvian buffet
Latvian open air bars
"Lady Cabs" Female cab company which is also about half the price of its rivals
No aircon in the car, at 27 degrees it was bad not. Not looking forward to the next couple of days
Posted by Seb at 3rd August 2010 at 08:33 in Mongol Rally
Finally some nice weather!!!! It was our 2nd straight day of no rain after 7 straight days with rain. We drove from Tallin to Parnu, the beachside resort town of Estonia! While driving, we realised we were no longer in western europe, the roads were all one lane and to overtake the logging trucks you had to cross onto the other side of the road. In some instances, we were convinced a car would get hit head on, only for it to squeeze back in the right lane at the last second. When we got to Parnu, we went straight for the beach, finally a summer a holiday!!
Spending the afternoon at the beach, water 21C!!!
The really hot night, if we opened the window we would be biten by mozzies, if we closed it the room turned to a sauna.
Posted by Seb at 1st August 2010 at 23:15 in Mongol Rally
Started Day 8 as one of the teams that has travelled the least distance, but after trading our 1.3L Jimny for a 212m ship we are back on track after arriving in Tallin, Estonia! We woke up after only a few hours sleep to disembark and walked around Tallin. Came back t. Checked out the sites of Tallin which included climbing heaps of stairs to get to the top of a church tower. Got back to the hotel in time to see Webber take out another GP!
Don't wanna sound like im writing for Lonely Planet, so instead Ill just say its awesome!
Not having enough sleep the night before....woke up a bit worse for wear.
Saw another teams car parked but have no idea where they are!!!!
Posted by Seb at 1st August 2010 at 09:29 in Mongol Rally
Had to get up very early to drive to the port as the city streets were being shut down for gay pride parade. After parking our car we had to catch a bus back into town to get our stove for Mongolia....yeh I know little last minute. Getting back to the car became a massive problem as the bloody parade stopped all the busses. We had to catch a cab which cost heaps because of the traffic around the city, not to mention the smart ass immigrant driver who was trying to negotiate for cash. Made it back to the car 20mins after the meter expired (lucky....no fine) and 15 minutes before we were due to check in.
-Laughin at the unique swedish dancing style at the "disco" on board the ship
-The lack of blonde swedish girls at the "disco" on board the ship
Tomorrow, Tallinn in Estonia!!!
Posted by Seb at 31st July 2010 at 08:57 in Mongol Rally
Drove from Copenhagen to Stockholm, our biggest drive yet...a massive 6 hrs, which felt even longer due to the 110kph speed limit. It seems that everyone in Sweden and Denmark wants to leave, there are more caravans and campervans on the road than cars. Its the middle of summer but it feels just as cold as Melbourne, especially considering we drove in the rain for 4 hrs!!!
Seb-Eating Reindeer!!! Yeh I ate Blitzem
Bez- Eating a McFlurry
7th straight day of rain
Having no idea how we are going to get to our ferry considering all the roads are closed for the gay pride parade.
Posted by Seb at 30th July 2010 at 18:40 in Mongol Rally
Another day in Copenhagen. Visited Princess Mary's future house...... at 1am, I dont think the guards were too impressed.
Fredericksborg Castle, pretty amazing place.
6th straight day of rain. There has been at least 2 hrs of rain everyday since we started the rally!! :(
Posted by Seb at 29th July 2010 at 10:46 in Mongol Rally
Better late than never to begin our blog.
A recap of whats happened so far
Let the race begin!!!
We said goodbye to Bill and Monica, our fantastic hosts in England, and headed towards Goodwood race track for the start of the rally. After doing a lap of the circuit.....at 30kph(didnt stop me clipping the apex out of corner 10), we headed towards Folkerstone and the chunnel crossing. We tried to get there without the help of Katerina, our navigator, we lasted 10 minutes before turning her on. After dricing through France for a couple of hrs we reached the Belgium border, our 3 country in 6 hrs!! We arrived in Brussels at about 11pm, luckily there was no one on the rd as we got incredibly lost before finding our hotel, about 600m from where we first pulled over.
-Lap of goodwood circuit
-Having the worlds best hot chips in Brussels...over 60 sauces to choose from!!!
-Not reverting back to driving on the left hand side of the rd and ending our rally on Day 1.
-Katerina losing all sense of direction in the tunnels of Brussels....we found our hotel 2 hrs after entering Brussels.
After having a waffle for breakfast, we left Brussels and headed towards Amsterdam. We sacked Katerina and hired Ken.
-Everyone speaks English!!! Im talking better English than most Aussies
-Crowded city streets even in the early hrs of Monday morning.
-Nearly being killed by cyclists who are given preference in this city over pedestrians and cars. They ride on the footpath!!!
Another day in Amsterdam...of course. Visted Anne Franks apartment.
Left Amsterdam and eventually Holland and entered Germany. After reading Lonely planet we realised that Hamburg, where we spent the night, was the red light capital of Germany. We went from the red light capital of Europe to the red light capital of Germany (Mum, I promise this is just a coincidence :))
-Driving on the Autobahn.... no speed limit.
-having the worst bratwurst of all time at "viva la wurst"
-the smell on the autobahn from the cattle farms next to the motorway.
Drove from Hamburg to Copenhagen
-Crossing some massive bridges in Denmark
-Visiting Tivoli gardens, a theme park in Copenhagen
-Leaving the Autobahn to roads where 110-130 is the speed limit ....arhh well :(