Monday, 8 September 2008

Thanks!!!


A final few words and pictures for everyone who has supported us along our 10,124 mile journey from London to Ulaanbaatar.

Both Cedric and I were touched, encouraged amd extremely grateful for the level of interest and support that we receieved by everyone reading this website over all the 41 days we were travelling. In terms of sponsorship and in addition to the fantastic equipment donations that made our journey possible we have raised in excess of 1800 Great British Pounds for the two nominated charities, thanks so much to everyone who kindly donated. This is also in addition to any money raised by the sale of E'wn in Ulaanbaatar (which I can't imagine will be much given the state of him!). As we have mentioned before the trip provided us with an experience and an adventure much greater than we could have ever hoped or imagined, one we will take much more away from than just the ability to fix a fuel pump in the middle of a desert!

A couple of photos from the finish line to finish on although there will undoubtably be more info and details to follow in the next weeks!

Cedric, Rick, Oli and Paul at the Finish Line. Enormous thanks to Rick and Oli who we would without doubt have finished the rally some 500 miles short of the finish.


Cedric annoyed that the Finish Line Champagne is an Unidentifed Russian brand rather than his normal Veuve Cliquot.



Paul unable to wait any longer for a shower, so decided to use the aforementioned Russian Champagne instead of water.



Saturday, 30 August 2008

The Final Week

Now that the Car has been delivered to it's final resting place and I have managed to wash off the 7 days of dust, oil, petrol and grime off my clothes and I, it is time to give a few more details about the ups and downs of the final weeks of the trip. Apologies for the long post!

It is fair to say we were both immediately amazed by Mongolia. Our first day in the country was filled with incredible scenery like nothing we had seen before. The driving was spectacular too, along fantastic dirt tracks (which constituted the main roads) over mountain passes and through lots of rivers. Navigation was tricky due to the lack of roads, you basically drove anywhere, following sometimes faint tyre tracks in the dirt hoping that they are going in the correct direction. At one point we asked a local for directions and ended up being invited into his Yurt to drink fermented Mare's milk with him and his family, not ideal for Cedric's delicate stomach!

Things were going well, we were making good progress and our fix to the car to re-route the fuel line into the fuel tank by going through the filler cap was working. Then came the Gobi desert and things started going wrong. Firstly, late one evening we hit a pothole. This wasn't a normal pothole but a canyon rivalling anything in America, that stretched the full width of the road, hidden from view until your fate was upon you. We crashed down into it and realised quickly that something had broken, something had fallen off the car. Something pretty important... we had just lost the engine. The hit had caused us to loose two engine bolts and the engine literally fell out of the car, almost onto the sand. Bugger! Thankfully we had two spare bolts that fit and some careful use of the car jack, a very big rock and a piece of wood and we managed to get it back securely in place, we had been very lucky!

The next day we hit it an enormous sandstorm and at the same time came across our first big river crossing. This was one very big river and right in the middle of it was truck that had got stuck trying to get across. In the limited visibility due to the sand we watched as other trucks failed to pull it out and pondered how to get out little car across. A local taxi driver showed us the correct route and with water almost pouring in under the doors we slowly made it across, few!! An hour later, things started to go wrong, the car suddenly started spluttering and then cut out. A water pipe had burst, spitting water all over the engine, normally an easy repair but not so in a sandstorm! However the car continue spluttering and eventually cut out again. All we could think was that the water had got into the electrics and broken something. A few hours of unsuccessfully trying to track the problem down and another team arrived and gave us a tow (we were 120 miles from the next town) until their petrol tanks developed a large leak and they had to leave us in the desert or they would also be stranded.

We were properly stuck, broken down with a problem we didn't understand in the middle of the Gobi desert, 100 miles from the nearest town, on a road which wasn't a road, more a collection of tracks. We tried to flag down every truck or bus that came past (2 in an hour) and after 4 hours we were starting to calculate how long we could survive on our food and water (4 days before it ran out we thought!). Then, like an oasis, another team in a Suzuki appeared on the horizon and sprinting across the desert we managed to get their attention. This was a miracle as not only were they driving the same car as us, Rick, one of the two guys in the car was a brilliant mechanic and diagnosed our problem as a broken ignition straight away. Ten minutes later we were back on our way in convoy with some new friends.

However it hadn't fixed the spluttering which got worse and worse. We spent most of the next day trying to fix this and came to the conclusion that the fuel pump was dying on us. No suitable replacement pumps could be found in the town so we carried on carefully, having to pause every few miles until it got too bad and we decided to try to build a new pump from the dodgy one we had bought and a windscreen washer bottle. It failed. At midday the following day we gave up on the fuel pump and were out of ideas, the engine had now seemingly seized and it wouldn't even turn over, let alone start. The rally was over for us, a very emotional time. Rick and Oli said they would tow us back to the nearest town so we could dump the car and fly to Ulaanbaatar. End of Rally, 400 miles short of the finish.

Then lady luck popped in to say hello and a last attempt to start the car whilst being towed worked and he coughed into action. The spluttering was still continuing and progress back to the town was slow but somehow Oli and Rick persuaded us not to quit but to carry on towards UB with them towing us all the way if necessary. They were crazy, abandoning their own route and plans in order to get us to the finish line, what amazing guys!

So on we went, very slowly, especially as early the next day the car wouldn't drive more than 10 meteres before cuttting out and we had to be towed for 60 miles to the next town where we would have a final attempt at fixing it. We were still 270 miles from UB and towing for that distance was out the question. We had three ideas, the first 2 failed after less than 5 miles but third and final idea (tying a fuel tank to the roof and using a hand pump to force fuel directly into the engine) worked. It hadn't stopped the spluttering but we were able to drive for more than 5 minutes without stopping.

We carried on in that fashion, filling up at petrol stations caused lots of odd looks as we climbed onto the roof of the car and filled our new fuel tank, but it was just about working and we were getting closer to UB. We had also noticed that the front suspension had snapped one of it's two springs and the front left CV joint was failing badly. The last 100 miles were driven very carefully indeed and it was only when we stopped the engine at the finish line (using the interior light switch which was how we started and stopped the car!) that we realised that we had made it.

The relief was immense, we had pretty much given up on reaching the finish twice during the last week but had somehow got through. It is impossible to thank Rick and Oli (http://www.pop2mongolia.co.uk/) enough. Without them, not only would we not have finished but we would still be stuck in the middle of the Gobi desert trying to catch Marmots to have for dinner. Two fantastic guys that really got us out of a very deep hole and then nursed us to the finish line.

We will have more to add soon about the adventure and some photos will also appear showing us sporting some very dodgy facial hair, but now - time for another beer!

Friday, 29 August 2008

A word from the airport

First post since a long time... First of all many thanks to all of you for all your support and comments as they warmed our hearts and kept us going. Mongolia doesn't have much in terms of infrastructure so we couldn't give much updates but we will make up for the time lost.

So what happened? Well on the Monday morning we were meant to cross the Mongolian border, after 5 days of not eating, serious pain in my bowels and blood in my poo I simply wasn't able to leave my tent. Paul dragged me to the car and engaged in a 10 hours drive to the closest city. You know the story. That was bad. I was in dehydradation as everything I drank went straight through my body. And that morning I cried. Cried because of the pain, cried because I thought I would be forced to go home and cried because I tend to always end up in hospital and start to be tired of that. I would like to publicly apology for the panic created whilst we were trying to find a French / British doctor to talk to. I later found out that I was fully covered by my insurance which provided everything from 24/7 doctor access to helicopters. Lesson learned.

So after 3 days spent in the "infectious diseases" section of a Russian hospital (an isolated derelict building in the middle of the forest) I was back on track. They gave me shots in the bum every nights and oatmeal 3 times a day and that seemed to have done the trick (alongside the drop in my arm). Spending time in a Russian hospital is quite an experience which I only recommend if you are very sick. One interesting feature of being in the "infectious diseases" section is that visitors are not allowed to enter the building. So people converse via mobile phone whilst looking at each other through the third floor window. This is great. The hospital is clear of any cluter and doctors can focus fully on fixing people. It is fair to say that the doctors and nurses there where very switched on despite the apparences and did a good job with me. I owe them a lot.

So off we went to Mongolia, blowing into our fuel line every 100 miles or so. Straight from the border the landscape started to change into a mix of Alpine snow capped mountains, prairie and desert. It is quite dramatic and, to us and everyone we met, felt very special.

From that point onward a lot of things happened to us, putting both Paul and I a bit outside of our comfort zone on more than one occasion and pushing us close to abandon again. The full story is coming soon but I've got to catch my plane for now. All I wanted to say is that this was a real adventure, much harder than anything we've done so far, and we both are extremly happy to have done it. We have learned a lot from the experience.

Off to Beijing now.

They made it!

They have made it to Ulaan Baatar! The lads arrived at 3pm local time after a last minute fix to the fuel pump.

Well done Paul and Cedric.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Still going

The lads are now in Arvayheer which is 270 miles from Ulaan Baatar. They are both ok but still having big problems with the car and had to be towed the last 60 miles by another rally team. They are attempting one last fix of the fuel pump. If that doesnt work they may need to be towed the rest of the way!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

So close...

The lads are camped about 400 miles from Ulaan Baatar. They are both well but unfortunately the car isnt. Lots of problems with the fuel/engine (?) which is causing big delays. They are trying to get the problem fixed so they can limp the final few miles to the finish line.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Made it to Mongolia

Arrived in Mongolia this morning. Landscapes breathtaking. Roads ok. Now in Olgi and heading onwards. Eating lots, all is well.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Back on the road

A few bugs are not stopping us. Back on the road, mongolia tomorrow. Military style planning now underway to complete our mission. Over and out!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Life of E'wn

Whilst Cedric is spending another day with Helga (I think he is growing attached to her now) and I have some time I thought it was about time I gave an update on how our little E'wn is doing and what it is like to have driven him 8,600 miles across deserts, mountain ranges and the odd river.

It's hard to explain the experience of driving E'wn words.  Apart from the noise which I have mentioned earlier it really is seat of the pants driving but at low speeds (max speed is 60mph).   Keeping him on the road is a real effort since the steering wheel can turn almost half a turn in either direction before the wheels follow.  Add in the effect of a side wind litterally blowing us off the road (E'wn makes trucks look aerodynamic), and puddles on the road (seem to cause the car to veer off course drastically) makes keeping a straight line more like a Krypton Factor challenge.  Unlike most cars we don't have to worry too much about speeding, the needle we watch more closely than the speedo is the temperature gauge through feer of overheating. Through muliple scientific experiments Cedric discovered that to keep the engine temperature under control we need all lights off and the interior heating on full.  So yes, we spent 3 days driving across a desert with our heating blasting out.  As for entertainment whilst driving, well... there is the road and thats about it.  The radio won't work while the lights are on, luckily we can't have the lights on due to the heating, but unfortunately a bent Kazak traffic cop helped himself to my MP3 player so no music for us either.  Describing the ride as a little bumpy would be a slight understatement. Cedric and I are both smaller having lost several vertibrae over the last 5 weeks. 

Some of the minor problems we have had so far include...Drive shaft broken (the Helsinki hold up), leaking fuel tank (there is a petrol trail from London to The Mongolian border, if anyone lights it you see our route from space), coolant leak (on going and very irritating), unable to start (two hours of attempts failed to get him going, needed a tow.  Half a mile later he rawed into action), semi-blocked fuel line, almost lost the alternator (nearly fell off), exhaust snapped in two (now fixed with both Peaches and Pineapple tins), right back suspension pretty much dead, seat bolts snapped (yes, that was while I was sitting in it), front light falling out, various nuts and bolts lost or coming loose or about to fall out, oil & water in air filter box, flat tire, transfer box mount sheared, both wing mirrors fail to hold position... and there is more, I've just wiped them from memory.

So all in all he is doing quite well, keeping us entertained both on and off the road and is still going even if we temporarily aren't.  He certainly gets a lot of attention and at pretty much every petrol stop or town people sign/write rude workds in Russian on the car, look under the bonnet, gasp then laugh as they shake their head in bemusement and walk away.  This is coming from guys driving 1970's clapped out Ladas.  I just now hope we all have another 1,500 miles in us!!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

So near and yet so far

Before I report on our adventures of the last few days (more adventure than we would ideally have liked!) I can report that Cedric is doing extremely well and is almost fully recovered from a pretty nasty stomach infection.  It is amazing what a needle in the bottom from an enormous and scary Russian Helga can do for the immune system but it seems to have ridden him of the little bugs that caused us a fright over the last 2 days.

After our Migration Card problems in South Kazakstan we headed quickly North for the Russian border hampered only by the exhaust pipe splittling in two resulting in the already pretty noise car making a horriffic racket.  Despite us both wearing ear plugs we couldn't stand it any longer and found a garage to weld the pipe back together.  I've seen the odd welding kit before, but never one like this Frankenstein contraption, plugging it in was achieved by sticking two bare wires directly into the mains, and winding it up to get it started.  Here's me thinking the sparks are only meant to fly after you start welding!  The youthful 135 yr old welder did an excellent job (without gloves and with some very dodgy glasses) and it seemed that our ears could be unplugged and we could continue in peace.  100 miles later, the ear plugs came out as the weld split... an excellent $40 that was!

Crossing the border into Russia we met a rally team driving a London Cab stuck in no-mans land between Kazakhstan and Russia.  They had left Kazakhstan but their Russian visa was yet to start and so they were stranded for 5 days in a 10m square section of what they deamed "Taxi-stan". They weren't helping their chances of finally getting into Russia by playing the National Anthem and The Great Escape at full blast each morning to the extreme annoyance of the Russian border guards.

At this point both Cedric and I had a "funny tummy" and had to have the odd emergency stop whilst driving, but nothing more than standard Travellers problems.  We drove up to Barnaul, a large town on the Edge of the Altai region of Russia in the car which was now sounding more like a Jet Aircraft than a 970cc Suzuki to such an extent pedestrians covered their ears as we approached.  So there was nothing else for it,  a tin of Peaches (minus the peaches) was moulded around the pipe, removing the odd decibel from the exhaust pipe and resulting in a nice caramelised peach smell for the next 50 miles.

Two days of driving and 500 miles later and on Sunday night we arrived at the Mongolian border ready to step foot on the hallowed Mongolian soil only to find it closed for the weekend. We camped there for the night with a few other teams and at this point Cedric's condition worsened.  Yesterday (Monday) morning it was clear that we had no option but to head back to a large town and find a doctor.  With Cedric in increasing pain and running to find a tree by the side of the road every half an hour we drove back to Byssk, 400 miles and 10 hours away to seek help.  It was at this point that the car and the weather decided to do everything in their power to prevent us getting there.  Firstly we were hit with the recurring problem with our fuel line which results in it temporarily getting blocked by some rubbish in the tank.  The engine doesn't like this and stops, the only current remedy being to disconnect said fuel line and blow, with the aid of a foot pump, the rubbish out of the pipe.  This happened twice on the drive back, both times in pouring rain.  Then we got our first flat tire of the trip... perfect timing!

Finally we arrived at Byssk, found a hotel and got a doctor who quickly carted us both off in an Ambulance to hospital.  Well I say hospital but it could easily have been a prison.  I will never complain about the NHS hospitals again whose floors are absent of rubbish and (at my last visit anyhow) there are no flies and unidentified rodents running around!  After much searching through a Russian-English dictionary (anyone know the Russian for diarrhoea?) Cedric was kept in overnight and given the magic injection and is now pretty much better, if a little lighter. 

As for what is next, we don't know.  We will see how Cedric feels tomorrow, work out the options and decide on a plan of action, will keep you posted...

(A massive thanks to everyone who has posted messages below and who we have been in contact with over the last few days, your help and support has been very much appreciated, we are both very grateful!!)

Monday, 18 August 2008

Update on the boys

Just spoken to Paul. Following a few days of stomach problems, they are taking a slight detour to a big town so Cedric can get checked out by a doctor to be on the safe side. It sounds like they have got the right medicine now but just want to speak to a doctor to make sure everything is ok. Will update blog when I hear anything more from them.

For Cedric's parents = Paul has his phone with him if you wanted to call him.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Message from the road

"In Russia, limping to Mongolian border. Car and us broken. Exhaust patched with a peaches tin. Fuel line semi blocked. Wish we could say the same for our bowels."

Monday, 11 August 2008

The Mythical Stamp

Another "magical" moment today as we spent 9 hours 14 minutes and 48 seconds (PJ's internal body clock is said to be more accurate than the latest atomic technology) at the police station trying to become legal again. Yes, we didn't tell anyone but we screwed up our legal situation once again. This time we had the immigration cards but we needed to register them within 5 days of entry and guess what... So big fuss at the police station of Taraz, a normaly quiet little town east of Almaty. It was a long day, the police needed a certified translator which was found in the nearby english school. Got 6 forms filled up, two warnings issued and then waited and waited for the mythical stamp to appear from somewhere. I'm glad to report that I did fall asleep in the process and that Paul is now quite far down his book. I'm also glad to report that the 6 cops that where in the room with us did the same. But the stamp materialized itself just before the closure of the Police station at 19:00 and everybody went home, thrilled that another day full of excitement went by. We are now officially legal. Officially legal but still in Taraz which puts a dent in our tight schedule.

So tonight, in order to celebrate, we went into a bit of a folly and ate Turkish doner kebab and pide. The tears where very close to be shed as this is the first time in 6 days that we actually know what we ate (roughly). Our other attempts at eating Kazakh, generally the result of random finger pointing at obscure menus, were all classified as failures (pasta in a ball of hot water, two salads for mains, ketchup and mayonnaise bonanza) apart from the one time when we crashed a local wedding party and got some delicious dumplings and a superb soup for free.

The adventure continues. The plan for the next few days is to try to get out of the country via the south east mountains and then back up to Astana. We will hide in the forest or desert (harder) for most of the time so there might be a bit of a blackout.

Assalam aleykum

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The long way to the empty Aral Sea

This trip is now really turning into something magical and the smile on my face just doesn't fade away. So we left Uralsk or Oral and headed down South to see the Aral Sea which has been emptied by the Russians in the 50s to irrigate the North of the country. The road was good to start with but then disappeared. We just confirmed today with the locals that there is indeed no road to Aral at the moment but it is being built (shown as a motorway on our faithful map). So we ended up doing around 400km of sand trails, used by the local truckers. Averaging at best 30kph, dodging the potholes and blasting on the straights and banked corners. Absolutely awesome driving.

This being a desert it was very very hot and very very dry. Water consumption rose up to 4L per person per day. And we had to turn the heating on in order to keep the engine cooler... Think sauna but without the lake nearby. At about 23:00 we had to stop driving as it was becoming dangerous (could barely see the dead river crossings which can be a fatal mistake due to the drop) and front light failure (repaired by PJ in 34 seconds next morning). So we decided to camp! Where do you camp in a desert criss crossed by truck trails? In the middle of one such trail of course! In between the car and our Halfords warning triangle to be more precise. Never have we felt any safer. Thankfully all the trucks that passed by seemed to have missed us, although one track was maybe too close to my left foot. Anyway...

Off we went in the next morning, as refreshed as one can be sleeping worried about his life. We did managed to reach Aral in one piece though and then the Aral sea with the boat cemetery. Basically these boats who were once floating on a beautiful sea are now just rusted skeletons of a glorious past. It feels funny to walk on a sea bed. This, for us, was a magical moment. I think that the trip now really took an incredible turn and is everything and more of what we hoped for. The desert was a mentally very very hard moment as anything that goes wrong there can take a really bad turn. Driving in potholes so big that the car actually fit in them for 10 hours was indeed absolutely exhausting. But those are the incredible experiences which exceed all our expectations. And then seeing the dead boats... You get the idea.

It is fair to say that we now are both happy like maybe two or three hippos (and also very dirty but you get used to it).

Friday, 8 August 2008

Sand, sand and more sand...

Survived the road of death, 200 miles of deep sand and dust across kazak desert. Visited Aral sea after night under the stars. 100 miles north of Aral.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

A Night in the Forest

Skipping back a few days we had a particularly interesting time in Russia, not from encounters with locals which normally provide us with more entertainment, confusion and rapid searches through a dictionary as one can in 5 minutes, but this time with a dark, spooky night deep inside an dense Russian Forest.

We had started out our journey from Vladimir, 180km east of Moscow with a bit of rather pleasent sightseeing and picture taking in the bright sunshine and mid afternoon we left heading east with the aim of getting a few miles under our belt and camping wild onroute. The journey started badly with some dodgy navigation thanks to our trusty Russian road atlas such that we ended up on some backroads driving through dense forest. By backroads, these aren't the type you expect from experiences in the UK, no these resemble more like off road moutain bike tracks with potholes large enough to swallow the car and still have room for a few large lorries for dessert. After an hour it started raining hard, then harder still until visibility of said potholes was lost and we were appropriately playing Russian Roulette with the steering wheel, hoping not to fall down any. Then the lightening started, no thunder, just lightening all around us. Several times it hit a field just to our right creating fireballs rising from the earth and making our hair stand on end. We were now also swerving fallen trees as well as potholes in the middle of the road.

Eascaping the lightening in one piece, we tried to find a hotel in the nearest town - all oddly booked up for the night so we had no choice to find a camp spot outside the town in the forest. Only by this time it was 9pm and dark. Half an hours driving and we took a tiny dirt track into the dense forest for about half a mile until it was clear, or so we thought, that no one had been there for a long time. Just as we were getting settled into our very dark, forest campspot and were tucking into some hot food, we both froze to the spot when we could suddenly hear faint music not too far away! Now, forgive me if I am weak and feable here, however in London I expect to hear heavy bass music late at night however 50km from the nearest town, deep in the Russian forest on a wet, dark night I don't!

It didn't take long for our fear of partying, drunken Russian mobsters on AK47 training in the woods to get the better of us and we packed up and speedily drove out and continued onwards in the darkness. We took another dirt track, then another until we were once again in the middle of... well... we had no idea as it was too dark and our tourches revealed nothing but trees and according to Cedric, potentially a Wild Boar nest! So in a moment of courage or more likely madness we decided to camp right there and crawled into our tent trying to ignore any odd or unusual rumblings in the dark forest for a well needed peaceful nights sleep.

Welcome to the Great Republic of Kazakhstan!!

Being forced out of our forest hidding place due to running out of Nutela, we made a last desperate move to the Russian border. After being stopped and fined twice by the local police for 1) overtaking where it is not allowed (PJ) 2) speeding (CL) we finally managed to reach a forgotten Russian outpost 30km north of Uralsk. Local police were friendly enough despite our obvious mistakes (filmed on camera). And even though they asked for $100, they let us go for 300 roubles.

Now, the border crossing: close your eyes and imagine a dusty western movie. Tumbling balls of weeds rolling down the main alley. A couple of rusty buildings squeeking in the wind. It is dry, very hot and there is nothing else for miles. Paul and Cedric are on one side of the street with their hands ready, too used to the action of drawing their papers. On the other side, 30 bored to death border guards are waiting, hands close to their trusty rubber stamps.

It took us 3 hours to close this one which is in fact an extremely good time. The other teams averaged 6 hours. All we did was:
- get there
- befriend a fellow motorist in order to fill in all the paperwork (in Russian)
- showed said papers and whatever we had (international driving license is a must)
- have everybody sign the car
- give a cigar to my new friend Milrn from the Kazakh border
- give 2 vodkas samples to another new friend from the customs checkpoint
- unpack and re-pack the entire car
- and off we went.

Absolutely amazing. Which made us think that the immigration cards might not have been needed after all. In any case we made sure the Kazakhs gave us one before we left.

We've now reached Uralsk (also known as Oral in Kazakh, watch the bad jokes) and are staying in the most magnificient hotel Russia built... 50 years ago.

Swimming suits are ready for the Aral sea.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Message from the road

"Hiding in forest 100km north of Samara - Ran out of Nutella - considering surrendering soon."

Friday, 1 August 2008

Law and Order

Post written from Yaroslavl' also known as Ярославль. Yes, I mean Ярославль. Now try to order food with that. Learning Russian is becoming a survival necessity for us. Since we found out the joys of living wild in the woods, with the bears and all, (yesterday's evening) we are keen on getting back to civilization. However, it is proving a little bit more tricky than anticipated. Communication is reduced to animal sounds (my very famous sheep impression got us some beef, it was good anyway). Russian Babouchkas are happy to help but the men usually dismiss us as the two clowns we really are.

We also discovered the famous Russian roads. Paul and I are now fully acustomed to our new size being respectively shorter by 9.71 and 8.42 centimeters. This slight compression of our backbone came free of charge from the Russian highway agency. We also nearly lost the alternator in the process, having shaken itself of its bolts in no time.

The best bit for the end: arriving at the hotel we discovered that we are in fact illegal in Russia. Not kidding, the border police somehow forgot to give us our imigration cards (for my Mom: not good). Any of the following can now happen:
- large fine by the local police
- large fine by the border police
- severe beating by the local police
- severe beating by the border police
- jail by the local police
- latex glove inspection by the border police (they like to vary the pleasures)
- not being able to leave Russia
- not being able to re-enter Russia (from Kazhakstan, mandatory to get to Mongolia)

Seriously now: if anyone as had a similar problem before, or knows someone who knows someone who can help us, please, please, please send us a message.

Spasiba
Ызфышиф

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Onwards!

Drive shaft received and mounted, transmission box back to where it belongs and any other bolts we had left are now in the boot.

We are gooooooooiiiiiiinnnnnnng.

Russia here we come!
Russie nous voila!