Where does the road go? No idea!

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Duman Hotel

Flag of Mongolia  , Bayan-Olgiy,
Monday, April 18, 2011

Discovered this morning just who our fellow guests were, four members of the Russian Special Forces. Well, so they told us. From the arsenal they were carrying, I'm no clearer. An AK, 2 rifle bags that looked as if they were home made and a rifle that looked as if it was left behind when Noah released the animals. However, very friendly lot, and they drove away in a clapped out transit type vehicle, perfect cover for special forces.
The lady of the guest house refused to be photographed, so I didnt push it.

Drove to the Russian border post. The first checkpoint is about 30 km from the border, then another 10 km along there is another. Its harder to get out of these countries than to get in. Especially as when we gotr to the Russian final check, it was 12.45 and they were all going off foor their lunch hour from 1 to 2! So we wait. However they did get back reasonably promptly for 2.
At this time, in a very stuffy smelly room, Martin started feeling off, so I sorted the rest of the paperwork. They even came and told me that he'd been seen by the medical officer. We put it down to altitude sickness, we have been up at 8000 feet today, and the symptoms are very similar to mine in Peru. I'll keep an eye on him.

Anyway, another 20km further, during which there were no animals grazing, no life whatsoever, we came to the Mongolian side. Greeted warmly by a lady on the barrier - welcome to Mongolia. The to the disinfecting hut, where we had to drive through a dip and were conned out of 50 roubles for the trouble. He offered to change our Kazak money for us, which we did although we were robbed again, but otherwise wee could have been left with it. At least we have some Mongolian Togregs in hand.
The to the Mongolian side of things. What a shambles. No, a shambles is to polite to them. The first office wanted the car documents, then while we were waiting for her, the next guy summonsed us over, so we gave him our passports. So he demands the car documents, we explained that she still was processing them, so he shouts at her. Eventually we sorted them both out. Go to Customs, who cannot get their act together. The guy processing things really didnt know what to do, and went off to do other thiings in the middle. Entered the details in about 5 books, photocopied everything. After everyone else had gone through we were eventuallyt allowed to be inspected by customs. They did do the most thorough check of any country so far, but I could still have got an armoury through without their knowing!

Then we have to buy Mongolian Car insurance, only the second country to enforce it after the EU.

And so onto the road. Well, track would be an over statement. We set off on this potholed mud bath that they call the Border Road. Every so often, there is a side track, where someone obviously thought that the bush was smoother and more reliable than the road, and it does become very difficult to know which is the road and which is the bush. After a while Martin complained that the sat nav was saying that we were getting no closer to our destination, so I took over navigating and he took over driving. Probably best for both of us!
Honestly, the roads were 100 tmes worse than the old corrugated roads in Rhodesia, for those who know what I am talking about. More than once we bottomed out the car over rocky bumps in the road, and we werent going hard at it.

Eventually, I discovered that the traack we wanted was about 500 metres to the right, so we took off over the bush, and it was a lot smoother than the roads. Back on track, still trying to select which track we should take when it split, but in the right  direction. Then all of a sudden, we came to a join, and there was the tar road! Only on one side, we had hit it at its very start, in the middle of nowhere.

So we motored in to Olgii and looked for a hotel. Found one eventually, that was recommended in the guide. What a dump, but we booked in. Asked if there was a restaurant around and they directed us to the same hotel, but a more luxurious wing! So we moved into the lux version. Only 17 a night.

Had a meal, and Martin went straight to bed. Best thing for altitude sickness.

Had a shower. I was worried that the wet room would let water out under the door, but then discovered that the water pressure wasnt enough to get any water to the door at all. let alone wash me.

Then at 11.45 they came withthe soap and complimentary toothbrush. Not bad timing for a town where restaurants all close at 10! And they insisted that I move the car to somewhere more safe than in front of the hotel.
So thats it for today

Mileage 372 Max elevation 8644ft

Martin's mountain moment:
We didn't realise we were up to 8000 feet and I'm still not sure it is/was altitude sickness.Still a good nights sleep seems to have warded off the worst.perhaps I should have slept in a bunk bed.
I forgot to tell you that I saw for the first time something that you suspect happens a lot but never see for yourself.Somebody drove away from the petrol pump with the nozzle still in the car's filler.Ripped the trigger bit off the hose and drove a good 20yds before attendant caufght up with driver.
This day was a grim day - at points I was not at all confident we would be able to navigate road.We were only vehicle in sight and had Roger not found correct route on his Sat nav goodeness knows what would have been the outcome.But he did and we crept a little further forward.Rog was impressed with quality of road at end of our journey and suspected it would set a standard for rest of journey
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Dave Palmer on

Martin, Roger, I've been following your trip since I found out about the blog.
I think your both doing very well indeed, but please look after Stanley,because
don't forget, he is 73 years old, and I do know him very well! My most sincere
and best wishes to you both ,and of course, to Stanley. keep it up.

sara on

great to have another burst of blog entries- the day is never complete till we read your adventures.
Hope the road situation has improved and Stanley is holding it together. Very few get the opportunity to go forth as you are and can't imagine many have a better crowd cheering them on at home.
Daniel was inspired by your saying he was 31/4 when confident on a pedal bike, so one week after Isaac became the proud owner of a pedal bike (50p in garage sale on Goldington Road) the stabilisers came off, half an hour of Dan holding the back and he's got it!! He can't get going by himself yet but won't be long. Think we'll dedicate his achievement to the Redmond determination- wonder who that came from!! So it'll be a summer of scraped knees and elbows now!
Just applied for Olympics tickets- details in your inbox-fingers crossed.
missing being able to show you the grandchildren's exploits in person, xx

Jemma on

Happy Easter Guys,
To celebrate I have had 2 hot cross buns for breakfast while trying to cook a cheesecake. I don't know why people insist I can cook when I really have no idea.
Nice to hear you are both in the fairly good spirits, if feeling abit dicky.
Any rubbish chocolate eggs to keep your spirits up?
Am in contact with Bill and he seems very confident about the shipping arrangements.
Ok well off to buy dessert.
Take care

Alison and Em on

Jemma- Mum has just said you must have done something good in your life on the dessert front...we were just talking today about who is going to cook with who in Somerset in August. It has been decided that the pairing will be random...it' could be you and Josh!

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