We woke up in peace and brought the car to the mechanic to replace the broken coil, however, without any luck as there was not one proper Volkswagen dealer in the entire country. Deciding that this was unimportant we continued with two cylinders and all enjoyed a large burger lunch in the mall with our host before heading to the Narantuul market.
The market was chaos – rain, people, screaming and sales all amidst floods of puddles in between stands and tents. Anything could be sold in this enormous and strangely public black market, as long as you kept a good hold of your personal belongings amongst the many pickpockets. My mother found a traditional Mongolian dress and costume for myself and Lana, and the Norwegians brought gifts for their girlfriends. After this we set off quickly and made our way through the heavy rain and bumpy roads of the Mongolian north.
We loved Mongolia, but were keen to leave, time had flown and it was time to reach home, at this stage the road was long and quiet but we all were under the impression of finding a yurt hotel near the border.
After yet again fighting the horrendous Mongolian night driving skills and working our way to the border we quickly found that the places to stay were either overbooked or in horrible state, so we decided to have one last camping food meal and take the border.
All went well until we reached the Russian side. We were happy seeing these people with a sense of humor again, but the dog suddenly jumped our medicine kit.
With the Norwegians out of the border we were settled for a long night, told, by a very friendly night-staff lady to settle down, and that the fact the security camera caught everything we were forced to go through the full beaurocratic procedure.
I took the blame for the painkiller that we didn’t know was illegal in Russia, and we all slept in the car, piece by piece being taken out to sign documents or answer questions. I had to write a report and wait for hours. By then 8 hours had passed and my mother asked one guard how much longer it would take. At this, the guard simply grinned at her maliciously and answered “long.” It seemed amateur hour had hit from there – any small detail was revoked, any minute word change over and over again for no reason. We realised the guard decided to play his authority on us and make us suffer, so we contacted home.
Both my girlfriend and my father were on the case immediately. Receiving the numbers of the German embassies in no time from my girlfriend, my father called them, and soon we were in contact with a representative of the general consulate in Moscow. The extremely kind man helped us, talking to the officer in charge, and within 30 minutes – a 12 hour stay at the border, emotional breakdowns amongst the team, and an easy solution found – we printed out the recipe for the medication and finally left this horrendous border.
The road was quiet, I was driving, and we were sad to have been parted from our Norwegian friends. We had no contact to them and only wanted to pass the finishing line together with them, now we were on a muddy road, fighting gisella through rain and dirt with only two cylinders one last time, and on the way to Ulaan Ude. We changed into our rally kits and turned up the music, we were excited, we couldn’t even eat – all was focused on making the end. Finally we turned into the city and the music became louder.
Now we saw the Mongol rally sign to our left and made a sharp turn, a man came running up to us and we saw the stage. He congratulated us and we drove up – we had made it and couldn’t believe it. Even less could we believe that only two guys were there to welcome us, but as our picture was taken we heard a honk and turned to see the Norwegians had arrived immediately behind us. Through pure luck the woke up and left the moment we got out of the border and were only two minutes behind us – we ran up to the in excitement, jumped on their car and hugged in mad joy. Then we all took a picture together.
Finally signing the arrival list, finishing the final details, and moving into a well deserved dinner the other teams came together, and we – twenty other ralliers, and the organisers came together to enjoy a wild, boozy and festive evening, sharing stories of emotion, travel and adventure, and rejoicing in the knowledge that we had all made it together.