Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 3rd September 2013, 14:20   #76
BHPian
 
rejoycjohn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Bangalore / Calicut
Posts: 442
Thanked: 708 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Day 27

Good Morning Day 27. It was indeed a much better morning compared to that of the the previous day’s. We were in a room without dust – had a bathroom to freshen ourselves and a breakfast waiting for us downstairs.

After having our breakfast, we started to drive towards Astana. We had to catch up one day that we lost in the dessert. From Aktobe to Astana its 1515 Kms. Google says we need 19 hrs to reach there. But then we had learned from our previous couple of day’s experience that we should not believe in Google blindly when in Kazakhstan. So we checked with locals and they said, the roads are good from there to Astana. At least some assured that its not as bad as the one to Atyrau
While chatting with them we also understood that the only mode of transport for locals between Atyrau to Aktobe is Train. So not many even realizes that the road condition between these two cities is really bad.

We also wanted to try finding a place in Astana to put spacer in our car’s suspension so that we will be better than a snail when we drive in Mongolia. With that plan in our mind we started our long drive. The locals were right; the roads were good and were in a straight line. Hoping that there won’t be any surprises lying ahead we drove on.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9123.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9141.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9144.jpg
A family who was traveling on the same route got interested in having a photo with us.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9135.jpg
We finally crossed the railway track that was running parallel to us for the past two days.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9128.jpg


The only tree in that whole stretch between Aktobe and Kostaney.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9121.jpg

We reached a place known as Kostaney that night. To stick to our plans we decided that we will drive further over night and reach Astana by early morning.

By midnight we stopped to make tea and omlette. After that modest dinner, we continued our journey towards Astana.

Day 28.

The road was good even after Kostaney. But it was so straight and monotonous that the driver can get bored and sleep off at the driving seat.

It was almost dawn as we were nearing Astana.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9158.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9168.jpg
The roads started to become well paved and broad. I was cruising at around 90km/hr in those roads and just as we were reaching Astana, a police car from the opposite side took a U turn and asked us to pull over. Being at the driver’s seat I went to him and asked what the issue is. He said it’s a town center and the speed limit was 60km/hr.

I said that there was literally nothing on either sides of the road for it to be called as a town center. Neither there was any speed limit sign to warn me. The policeman was not convinced. However I expressed my apologies for breaching the speed limit in that area even though it was due to my ignorance.

After that I think he tried to ask me some money. But then I kept saying I don’t understand what is he asking and I am sorry that I drove above the speed limit. Anyway without much issue he left us and we drove towards Astana.


An abandoned petrol station, or is it ?
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9179.jpg


It was around 9.00 Am when we reached Astana. If someone travels to Astana in an aero plane and then roams around in the city and returns, his image of this country would be completely different from what we have. It’s a city that looks as luxurious as Dubai or any other city in the middle-east. The roads are filled with Land cruisers and Merc G Wagons. The buildings are tall and modern. All the world famous luxury hotels have their presence in Astana. The roads in the city and the traffic discipline can match any of the European cities. The people are well dressed. The night life can be compared to Romania / Madrid. But then all these are strictly restricted to the boundaries of the city.

Our first stop in Astana was Nissan Showroom. We wanted to give our car for a quick service. After all , our puny little car traveled two continents and covered 10,000 Kms by then.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-route-till-day.jpg
It was time that we give it a good service and wash and get the car back to its shining blue colour. We asked them to change the engine oil and check if there are any leaks or any other major issues that need addressing

The guys at the showroom were excited to see a car from UK all the way in Astana. Some of them knew many others who had visited their showroom when they were doing the same Rally. But for the first time someone from India. They also have seen many Suzuki Jimnys and Wagon R s as the showroom was a combined service station for the 3 brands.

We also had a long chat with the service engineer and the other staffs. The only thing that they did not have was the spacer. He said it’s difficult to find spacer for Nissan cars in Kazakhstan. Most of the Nissans sold there were either Tiguaan or Path-finder. We dint have any luck even though we searched around quite a bit for the spacer. The receptionist at the showroom helped us to find a hotel where we thought we would spend the night.


After the service and wash, our car was now looking much cleaner than before. The lady at the service center had a tough time cleaning our interiors too.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9187.jpg
So aesthetically our car was good enough to hit the “roads “of Mongolia.The wash also revealed some bruises that our car got while traveling through the desserts.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9183.jpg

So after thanking all of them for their warm welcome and service we went searching for the hotel that the receptionist mentioned.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9193.jpg




We made plans to meet one couch-surfer in the evening for dinner. We met her and went together to an authentic Kazakh restaurant where we tried horse meat. Exotic stuff for us - it tasted a bit like beef/ mutton.

In Kazakh there is a different type of taxi system. Anyone can drive a taxi. Its like this. You have a car which is registered private in your name, and on the road someone is waiting for a taxi and you give them a lift. When they get down they will pay you. There are some standard rates that these taxis charge from point A to B. You can find even high end luxury cars that stop to give you a paid lift.

After dinner we went back to our hotel in such a taxi.
rejoycjohn is offline   (16) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 3rd September 2013, 15:17   #77
BHPian
 
rrsteer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: 144022
Posts: 940
Thanked: 893 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

What a road trip!!!
The camaraderie, the adventure, the perseverance, the tales of the psychic soldier all combined together to create a memorable read.
Thanks
rrsteer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th September 2013, 00:22   #78
Newbie
 
Dr_Holeshot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Chandigarh
Posts: 3
Thanked: 0 Times
Thumbs up Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Quote:
Once the traffic cleared we drove towards Rostov on Don thorough the Russian highways.

First of all let me congratulate you on making such an amazing adventure possible. Secondly, what an incredible travelogue, you guys are great story tellers....think about putting it into publication mode. I've been hooked to your travelogue and virtually experiencing every bit of your journey.

But once you guys got into Russia, level of excitement rose as I had spend some of my best years in this country. What next !!! I could not believe it (Rostov ON Don)the city where I actually use to live (7 years)...you guys were there.. . It was sad to know that you could not find accommodation even though there are many hostels (Engineering College Hostel , Medical college hostel at Pushkin street with plenty of Indian students residing there). If only the travelogue could have been real time, I could have helped.

Thanks for sharing such an amazing journey
Dr_Holeshot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th September 2013, 10:46   #79
BHPian
 
rejoycjohn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Bangalore / Calicut
Posts: 442
Thanked: 708 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Day 29 .

After having our breakfast we went to register our names at the foreign office. Kazakh rule states that any foreigner staying in the country for more than 6 days should register at that office. The registration was not really straight forward. We had language issues as only a few officers knew English. There was no queuing system, we dint know where to go and ask and such things. Well somewhat similar to what we feel when we go to a government office in our country. In that aspect, we felt at home!

Finally we somehow managed to get our registration done.

After that we started our journey towards a place known as Pavlodar.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9219.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9220.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9230.jpg
Kazakh Mines
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9232.jpg
Meet our truck driver friends in Kazakh. The guys were really thrilled to see our beard and wished " Aslaamalaikkum " , being from Kerala and having a lot of Muslim friends we knew what to wish him back. They were really thrilled to hear our Arabic and that we from Hindustan. They understood a bit of English here and there and understood that we were on our way to Mongolia. The guys were really sweet to gift us a coffee mug. Good human beings they are everywhere!
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9237.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9240.jpg
We reached Pavlodar by night fall. That day we stayed in a local hotel. We went to the top floor restaurant to have our dinner. There was some birthday party going there that night. We went there and the local family invited us to join the party. We spent our time with them till late in the night before we went to our rooms to sleep.

Day 30

Our plan was to re – enter Russia that day. The border was not very far, but then we dint want to reach there late and get stuck at the border for the whole night.

We started our journey and soon reached Kazakh border. The lady at the border office saw our receipt that we got from the local authority and was happy to let us go. At the Russian border the officials wanted to know if we are carrying any narcotics or arms. They checked our car quite exhaustively to ensure that we are not part of any Russian – Kazakh mafia.

We saw a team who was denied access as one of the team – members did not have a multiple entry visa to Russia. I remembered the struggles that we had to go through to get Russian multiple entry visa back in India. It sounded absolutely impossible till I called the Russian consulate in Chennai. We explained our case to the lady who picked up the call. She recommended taking an appointment at the consulate to present our case to the visa officer. Luckily visa officer was convinced with our case and he granted us a multiple entry Russian tourist visa. The only thing he mentioned was not to drive in Russia like we do in India.

Anyway we got the permission to enter Russia. Even though everything at the Kazakh – Russian border went smooth for us, it took a bit longer than what had planned.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9364.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9398.jpg
Our plan was to reach Biysk and spent our night there. But then it was almost midnight when we passed Barnaul - a place before Biysk. We drove searching for a place to stay that night. But then there was no luck for a couple of hours. Given then fact that it was already 2 past midnight, we thought it would be wise to just park the car in a good place and then spent our night inside the car
.
None of us except Sibinho were actually good at waking up early and starting our journey. Kent was better compared to me and TV. Both of them had to spend quite a lot of energy to get us ready in the morning. However none of these problems occurred whenever we were sleeping in the car.So one more reason to sleep in the car.


Day 31

One whole month has passed since we started our journey from Good Wood circuit. Our initial plan was to complete the whole rally in 30 days. Now that 30 days have passed, we are still to enter the Great Mongolia.

In this part of Russia, the weather is something that we expect in Russia. The roads too were not boring like what we saw in Southern Russia / Kazakhstan. It had a bit more life to it. It was winding through the dense Siberian forests.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9321.jpg
Once we crossed Biysk city we stopped our car near a petrol station to do a small repacking of our luggage. As we were sure that in Mongolia there is no chance that we are going to get hotels, we wanted to keep our tent and sleeping bags inside the car and keep our clothes inside the tarpaulin on the roof of our car.
The roof luggage had almost all the dust that we started gathering from Atyrau. We spent close to 1 hour or more to do the repackaging of our luggage. We also filled our Jerry can with 20 Litres of petrol.

Just as we were about to leave, a car came and stopped near us. From the car 3 girls and one guy came out, the guy was asking something in Russian to us. Later when he realized that our Russian is similar to his English, he enacted that his friends want to take pic with us. As always we were ready for a photo with them.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9247.jpg
Couple of times in our rally we really wished we knew Russian. If you know that language, you can survive in that entire area starting from Ukraine in west to Mongolia in East.
Most of the times the language skills can get you out of trouble and may be help you choose the best meal from a Russian menu. Some other times, like the one that we had then, it will help you at least say a couple of more words than just “ Spaseeba” ( Russian for thank you ) to the local crowd.

We drove further through the Siberian highway and stopped at some place amidst the Russian leg of Altai Mountains. Even though we were on an adventure like this, we never had any old-school maps with us other than the one for Europe. We were mostly relying on our phone AGPS through out our rally.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9255.jpg
We met a family in that pitstop. We asked them about the roads to Mongolian border and the wife explained the entire route to us. She also mentioned about some place which is supposedly the highest point in that route and couple of other interesting spots too. But then we dint have any map for her to mark the places. However she was kind enough to donate her Russian map to us. She was also very fluent in English.
It was no wonder as she was a teacher in one of the schools in Novosibrisk and her subject was English.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9262.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9266.jpg
Once we left that place, we started seeing other Mongol rally teams. We could actually see a convoy of Mongol rally team cars ahead of us.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9269.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9275.jpg
We followed them and stopped along with a couple of teams to check how things are with them. They had similar stories to share. They mentioned their plan of camping at a place near to the Mongolian border. We thought we should do the same and drove along with them to the camping site.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9323.jpg
The place where we decided to camp was really good. It was near to a small stream - Green all around- calm and quiet.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9315.jpg
In the night we had our modest Egg omlette and maggi dinner. Others however had a bit more elaborated dinner compared to that of us. Some had pastas while some others made grilled beef / chicken.

Every team had a story to tell – tough terrains, great locals, car break downs etc. The discussions and chit chats and further plans went deep into the night.

Day 32

Even though most of the teams slept at the same time as us, a couple of them had already left when we woke up. Some of them agreed to wait for us, but then we dint want them to wait till we get ready.

We took our own sweet time to have bath at the nearby stream. It was so cold that spending more than a minute continuously in that water can give you frost bite. We somehow managed to have a decent bath, finish our breakfast, packed our tent and started our drive towards Mongolian Border.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9294.jpg

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9298.jpg

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9301.jpg

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9405.jpg

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9402.jpg

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9408.jpg
We reached the Russian exit border post soon and started our formalities there. It was a bit more than what we expected. As our cars were on “temporary import”, they wanted to see the receipt the officials gave us at the entry point. Some teams had lost that, while some other left it in the car and was finding it difficult to get it. For us luckily we had all the papers and the process went faster. But then the officers were considerate and some teams were allowed to exit in spite of not having the documents.

While I was getting my paper work done, I saw one guy in front of me from Britain whose name was Benjamin Atkinson. Actually we had met him back in Belgium in one of the car parking. His idea was to travel to Mongolia, but after reaching Ulaanbaatar, drive back to London through Russia and Europe. He said he wanted to do something like this before he start his college. He and his friend were driving a Fiat Panda ( std version ). These chaps were full prepared , they even had all terrain tyres with them.
Last point in Russia.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9421.jpg

The road towards Mongolian Border was a bit bad – not as bad as what we had in Kazakh, but still bad for a car like ours. We had to travel 5-10 kms before we reached the Mongolian border.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9423.jpg
We reached the border just minutes before they close for the day. If they had closed then we would have spent our night in no-man’s land: D.

Anyway at the border, we showed our passport and car’s passport. TV had an issue with his name on the passport. Some letters were missing from his last name. We thought it would become an issue but cool headed TV and the border officer worked it out and then he was also allowed to enter the country.

After the checks, I drove the car to the parking area. Well it was supposed to be a parking area – but now converted to a camping site. Mongolian customs officers take a long time to process the paper works of our cars and hence we had to camp near the border till they process our paper works. We also started setting up our camp next to other teams.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9426.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9429.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9431.jpg

As there were a lot of teams waiting for their turn to enter Mongolia, it was like a mini Launch party. Everyone was sharing their stories with each other. As the night fell, the weather started to get worse. The wind was getting stronger and stronger. The western border between Russia and China that we took was at the top of a mountain and this made things worse. Finally we had to park our car against the wind to protect our tents. Luckily the wind stopped after an hour. But then that one hour was really scary. We were just imagining how badly things can go wrong in such places. If this is the case in such a small mountain, the situation in Himalayas would be unbearable.
Our respect for our soldiers was only growing.
rejoycjohn is offline   (21) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 4th September 2013, 13:07   #80
BHPian
 
rejoycjohn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Bangalore / Calicut
Posts: 442
Thanked: 708 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by nishantdlv View Post
Maybe because they doubt they would ever find a foreign exchange in the desert!
You remember it even after a year! It was really a memorable "Dream"!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Top-Gear View Post
This one had me in splits
Btw, you REALLY have to write a book on this journey.
Thank you Top gear. Yes we should . The plan is there , hopefully we will be able to implement it soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by callvvijay View Post
I was out of town for couple of days without any access to internet. Was feeling so depressed as I would not be able to catch this story as it unfolds. But alas!! I come back to see it in the same stage as I saw it on Friday. Whats happening??

I have been pressing 'F5' button for quite sometime now and nothing seems to change. I am eagerly expecting a flurry of posts from you, dude. Please.
Call Vijay, I apologize. Even I was out of town over the weekend, so the delay. But I hope I dint make you wait so much that you left the thread before we reach Ulaanbaatar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rrsteer View Post
What a road trip!!!
The camaraderie, the adventure, the perseverance, the tales of the psychic soldier all combined together to create a memorable read.
Thanks
Thank you. Our journey was more of experiences than sight seeing. Some of them are etched very clearly into our memory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr_Holeshot View Post
First of all let me congratulate you on making such an amazing adventure possible. Secondly, what an incredible travelogue, you guys are great story tellers....think about putting it into publication mode. I've been hooked to your travelogue and virtually experiencing every bit of your journey.

But once you guys got into Russia, level of excitement rose as I had spend some of my best years in this country. What next !!! I could not believe it (Rostov ON Don)the city where I actually use to live (7 years)...you guys were there.. . It was sad to know that you could not find accommodation even though there are many hostels (Engineering College Hostel , Medical college hostel at Pushkin street with plenty of Indian students residing there). If only the travelogue could have been real time, I could have helped.

Thanks for sharing such an amazing journey
Thank you Dr Holeshot. There isn't anything that can make us more happy than knowing that someone is able to virtually feel the journey through our travelogue. Thank you so much.
Wow , that 's super cool. I am sure you had the best days of your life too in that 7 years. Well regarding accommodation, we reached that city in the middle of the night and honestly the locals helped us in every single way that they could. Oh yea I agree, live travelogue update would have been the best. We did give our live updates through our FB page during our rally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shipnil View Post
Rejoy, have been following your thread since the first day. Well, most of the other members have showered so many adjectives that there is none left for me. It is indeed an epic journey. But even after so many posts and pictures, I am yet to figure out which one is you among 4. It would be nice, if you have a team picture with names. Thanks!
Thanks Shipnil.
Yes we will do that. May be once I complete the travelogue I shall tag each one's name and picture.

Last edited by rejoycjohn : 4th September 2013 at 13:15.
rejoycjohn is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 5th September 2013, 12:09   #81
BHPian
 
callvvijay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Chennai
Posts: 250
Thanked: 143 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by rejoycjohn View Post
Call Vijay, I apologize. Even I was out of town over the weekend, so the delay. But I hope I dint make you wait so much that you left the thread before we reach Ulaanbaatar.
Not at all, sirji. I am never leaving this thread by any chance. I have only been forwarding this link to my friends asking them to read through this fantastic travelogue.

Btw, looks like just 3 minutes after I had posted, you treated me with the next episode.

Your 3 minutes starts now!!

Cheers!
callvvijay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th September 2013, 16:27   #82
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Pune
Posts: 25
Thanked: 17 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

HI GKEIC team,

This is surely a dream T-Log. i have been hooked to this one from the day you first posted. I forget work at office, but not to check TBHP to see if you have posted more details.
Try selling your T-Log to a film production house, it will surely break all box office records.

Amazing log. keep it up

Cheers
archangelvishal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th September 2013, 18:39   #83
Senior - BHPian
 
ku69rd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 2,293
Thanked: 1,226 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Fantastic Experience mate, now eagerly waiting for you to complete the rest of rally. Rating this thread a well deserved 5*****.
ku69rd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th September 2013, 23:02   #84
BHPian
 
treadmark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 407
Thanked: 188 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

This is truly an amazing adventure guys, hats off to your willingness to try something like this.
To me this travelogue sounds better than many of the cross country drives by Jeremy, Richard and James; hope you also had interesting moments like them but without competition from three different cars.
treadmark is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th September 2013, 17:31   #85
BHPian
 
alokgunhal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 61
Thanked: 105 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Attachment 1133708

Looks like the portable sofa was way too comfortable. For two days we have been eagerly awaiting the next installment.
alokgunhal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th September 2013, 03:04   #86
BHPian
 
rejoycjohn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Bangalore / Calicut
Posts: 442
Thanked: 708 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Day 33

August 15 2012 – Indian Independence Day.
Among the many things that we missed to carry from India, the most important was the Indian flag. We missed it at the Launch party, at the Czech out party and now at the Mongolian border. There wasn't anything to announce to the world that our team was from India. The fact that other teams had their own flags only made us feel worse.
So all that we could do on this special day was to wish each other and be in the memories of those who sacrificed their life for our nation.
We also posed for a group photo where many others posed with their National flag.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9440.jpg
The processing of our papers at the border was real slow. Some teams were there for the past two days. In all the previous countries it was just a matter of entry and exit, here it was proper import under charity scheme. The organizers had made all the papers ready and these folks basically need to check if our cars have paid the duties and then just let us go. And for reasons unknown they were making us wait. May be the border officers fancied having some international crowd around?

This extra time that we got in the border gave us some opportunity to interact with the other teams. Of the many teams 2 of them caught our attention. These two teams were driving their previous generation Suzuki Swift. Their windshield was held together by tapes. Their bonnet was out of shape and their bumper was tied to the body with ropes.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9428.jpg


This made us ask them what happened. Supposedly they forgot to close the bonnet properly while in Romania and while driving due to the wind the whole bonnet cover slammed to the windscreen and destroyed the windscreen. In between this car went and rear ended the other car and both of them got their bumpers hanging from the cars. These chaps were driving through the same route as we took across Kazakhstan. They were keeping their head out of the car and driving as they were not able to see anything on the road due to the duct taped windscreen. It was very interesting to hear them speak and trying to imagine how they managed to reach till the border in such a condition. Kudos for their spirits!

Waiting at the border in general was not at all comfortable for the Ralliers. There were bathrooms and commodes inside the building, but they were not given for us to use. We had to take water from a near by stream for washing and cleaning and tap water for cooking. The toilet was just horrible – honestly I have not seen anything like that ever in my life. They were filthy to start with. One needs to be an expert in acrobatics to take a dump inside that toilet. There were no doors or that which resembled a door did not have hooks to keep it closed. We were singing songs inside so that we don’t give surprises to other innocent souls. Some memories from our college days !


We saw such kind of toilets first in Russia. The rural areas of Russia / Kazakh and Mongolia have very poor sanitary systems. If they had more population, I am sure they would have had the largest number of epidemics in the world. To be fair, we are used to such toilets ( read unclean ones ) but then I was wondering how the guys and girls from the west managed to perform their activities in such horrible toilets. But then that’s the whole communal spirit of the rally. Everyone needs to survive the challenges that nature throws at them.

We tried to get into the office and try speeding up the process by bugging their life. Finally after lunch at around 3 or something we were able to leave the border. We bought the insurance near the border. The guard at the border stopped us and was checking where we were from. When he understood that we are from India, he wanted an Indian coin!! Oh my god, we were in cloud 9 – I mean are we in some kind of dreams? Some foreigner asking for an Indian coin! Well we somehow managed to find an Indian coin from inside the car and gave him.

Our plan was to reach a town / village known as Bayan-Olgii by night fall. It was only 80 kms from the border. But its Mongolia, the distance is never a measure of how much time is taken to cover the same. The road condition was bad as expected. The road became worse as we progressed. We were taking almost all the possible trails to find the easiest path forward. In Kazakhstan we only had to tackle the potholes, but here we have to tackle potholes and the climb. At some places the Mongolian govt started constructing huge highways to connect the Russian border to the Mongolian interiors. But we were there at the wrong time, the huge rocks that the highway engineers paved on the road made our progress much slower. Somehow we climbed up the hill and reached the other side.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9471.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9473.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9474.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9480.jpg
The roads became good as we started approaching Bayaan Olgi.


While at the border, we met a couple of other teams which had members from UK and Thailand. Couple of the team-members had Indian ancestors and was very keen to know about India and Indian traditions. They left at the same time as we left and hence we were traveling together till Bayan Olgii. We had food together and started looking for places to stay. Even though this place was really remote, it had decent hotels to stay. We checked into one of them and later had our dinner together with the other teams.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9486.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9487.jpg
Day 34

We woke up early in the morning and were waiting for the other teams to get ready. In between we saw some other group of Mongol Rally teams who were also waiting for their friends who were stuck at the border. They were well read about this place and knew that the local tribes stayed almost 100 kms away from the main city and there are local tour operators who help the travelers to go and experience the Mongolian Nomad life.

We thought we should do the same, and asked the other teams if they are interested in joining us. They said they will prefer to go forward and will meet us on the way or at the finish line.


The tour operators took us in their vehicles towards this remote area in Mongolia.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9502.jpg
The plan was to go and visit the “Gher” the house like structure that the nomadic tribes of Mongolia stay in. There are the Kazakh tribes and the Mongol tribes staying in this area and we were going to see a Mongol tribe Gher. We were visiting their summer camps. During winter they move south around 500 km and set up their camp their. During this migration they carry all their belongings and livestock with them. These tribes follow this twice in a year even in this age of micro chips, blue-ray cds and bullet trains.

Our drive to this place was breathtaking. Snow capped mountains, rough terrains, roads filled with rock debris of glacier movements – very similar to our own Himalayan roads.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9506.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9520.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9559.jpg


The Russian Vas 4*4 was the best suited for such terrains. The tough off roader was comfortable as well. Russians are actually good at building vehicles which are tough at the same time comfortable. It may lack luxury or the reliability of a German or Japanese vehicles, but what it lack in those areas are compensated by its pure toughness and go-anywhere attitude.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9595.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9568.jpg
These Ghers are engineered in such a way that one can assemble or disassemble one in less than an hour. (Even after 30 days, we were yet to master the art of setting up our tent!!). These Ghers had a big pole in its center which they believe is where all the spirits of their grandparents reside. They have rules which are very strict and everyone is supposed to follow them.
  • A few that we had to follow are listed below.
  • Any non member of the family should only get into the Gher through the right side of the pole.
  • One should drink or eat any food offered to them.
  • He or she should not keep the food on the table without finishing it and many more such rules.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9598.jpg
These nomadic tribes depend upon their live stock for their survival. Goats and Horses are the main part of their live stock. These nomads make everything that they require to survive from these animals.
Horse milk is part of their daily meal. Fermented horse milk is used during festivals or when guests come. They make ghee and butter out of horse milk. Horse skin and fat is considered special and used only in special occasions. Dried horse meat is a specialty among the tribes.

Goat skin is dried and used as protection in extreme cold conditions.
They make horse milk curd, but its not like that of ours, but hard like a rock. Well literally hard like a rock. When they served us this and told us that it was curd, we thought it would be only as hard as a “peda” , in fact the curd biscuits are in the shape of our “pedas”. But once put inside mouth we got to know the hardness, but we were helpless as keeping it back or taking it out of our mouth is considered very offensive.
We moved out of the Gher with all our mouths filled with this Mongolian curd!

Another important member of their livestock is Eagle.

During winter they use eagles to hunt rabbits and hamsters. These eagles are taken into the group while they are young and trained in hunting since then and are considered one among the family. Once dead these birds are buried with great respect and possibly with all those rituals similar to the funeral of a human being. These birds indeed deserve such a treatment for they are the biggest supporters of this nomadic tribe. They are huge and aggressive and always ready to launch a lethal attack on its pray. Their eyes are always kept closed with a mask and even with their eyes closed these birds sense any movement and launches their attack towards that direction.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9586.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9661.jpg
The tribe leader offered to help us take our Kodak moments with these amazing creatures. We were given the traditional dresses of the tribe and asked to wear a really thick and hard glove that was long enough to cover our whole hands.
Once the guy kept the eagle on our hands we got to know why the glove was long and thick. Man the eagle was really heavy and the claws were as long as our fingers and sharp as a swiss knife!
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9616.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9624.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9636.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9651.jpg


Look at the wings - they are huge!!
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9655.jpg

We had some nice moments with the family members of the tribe leader whose house we visited. They offered us many things to drink and eat. Though these are really special to them, their smell and taste were not really pleasing to our nostrils and taste buds. But as it was rude to return them, we thought we should complete eating or drinking them.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9680.jpg
Another eye-opener for us – its quite normal for us to get offended when a person from a different country or from a different part of your country comments that they don’t like the taste of some oil or some food. Say for eg Keralites getting offended when someone comments on their coconut oil/ or those in the north India getting offended when someone mention that the smell of their oil is a bit on the stronger side. Let me tell you folks, its completely normal and if someone considered those comments to be personal , may be they should try these exotic food from this part of the world .

The drive back to Olgii was as beautiful or may be more beautiful as the one that we took towards this nomadic village.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9670.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9669.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9696.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9703.jpg

That day evening we stayed in a Gher camp in Olgi.
rejoycjohn is offline   (20) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2013, 15:23   #87
BHPian
 
rejoycjohn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Bangalore / Calicut
Posts: 442
Thanked: 708 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Friends, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

We left our Gher camp with the other teams. We thought we will join the convoy, but then due to our bad ground clearance we were not able to drive our car fast enough to be with them. The road was just not even. Well it looks even from a distance, but when you come closer, you will be surprised to see the small ridges that run across the road miles after miles. And these small ridges or humps on the road are potential car killers. Any speed of more than 30 km/hr will destroy your spine as well as the suspension of the car.

To explain the situation a bit better, all the Topgear fans here would have seen the trio in their epic African journey. In the second episode of their journey you can see them traveling on a road full of small ridges that almost break Jeremy’s and Jame’s cars. Situation was the same. The only difference was here all 4 of us were in the same car.


We tried to minimize the effect of the ridges by keeping the car’s wheels on the less ridged part of the road. We were improvising ourselves as we moved forward.


GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9714.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9739.jpg

This part of Mongolia is where the maximum number of rivers was. We crossed every river with a lot of care even though none can be treated as big or dangerous. All of them were very cold and we did not want our car to get stuck in any of them. So we were extra cautious in taking our ways across these rivers/ streams.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9784.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9774.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9783.jpg
Sibinho and Kent walking towards nowhere
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9750.jpg
Our car following them
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9753.jpg
Snow caped mountains in the background
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9776.jpg


You would remember the English lads in their swifts that we met in the border, we saw them on the road. These guys are crazy. They were running with flat tires and the terrain had almost completely destroyed the tires that it looked like they were running just on the steel wheels.
But even though almost everything in their car was falling off, they were just belting down that road in the max speed possible.

Soon we saw them stuck in one of the river crossings. They had towing rope and we towed them with a lot of difficulty out of that stream.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_97861.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9789.jpg


But immediately they got out of the ditch, they were back on the road with their " I dont care a damn about Mongolian roads " attitude.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_97931.jpg


Final touches to our luggage.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9796.jpg

That day evening we reached at a place known as Khovd. We met again some new rally teams there. This place luckily had some super market. We refilled our car with all those things that we require to survive. Sibinho was pleasantly surprised when one of the other team – members recognized him. They had met in the UK launch party , they did some catching up and chit chats.

Later that evening all other teams headed towards a camping ground near Khovd. We however did not want to camp unless the hotels over there were really expensive. We got a small cozy hotel where we stayed that night. We went around looking for dinner and on our way back we again met the other teams who headed to camping. Supposedly the camp site was filthy and mosquito infested. So they also stayed at a hotel near ours.

Day 35
The next day morning we were up early and started our journey. The other teams were still getting ready. Not after very long we saw them on our rear view mirror. The main issue that we faced was our ground clearance. The other teams had only maximum 3 members in one team. Some of the teams had all terrain tires too. This also helped them in terms of ground clearance.
They over took us and went ahead. But then one of the teams in that convoy had some engine issue and the whole convoy stopped in between. So we caught up with them, they had a New Zealand soldier with them who knew almost all the stuff on repairing cars. So we dint have much to do there. Soon we started moving as we knew our speed was no where near theirs.


GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9808.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9810.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9812.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9818.jpg


We stopped in between for petrol and after that pulled over by a stream side to have some food. Maggi , tea and omelets had become our standard food in these Mongolian roads.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9828.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_98531.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9854.jpg

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9858.jpg

The landscape was really beautiful. I am sure that the only motivation that we had to get through these tough terrain was these magnificent background that the nature gave to this country. Point your camera to any direction and the nature will be ready with a perfect pose.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9832.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_98381.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9845.jpg


And the person whom we put on duty to capture these shots.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9849.jpg


Later that evening we reached a place known as Dharvi. It was late when we reached there and finding a place to stay seemed impossible. There were a couple of them which were either filled or charging extra trying to cash in the Mongol rally season.

Finally we found a small place to stay. During our dinner we met the Swift duo team – the English boy’s team. They also were trying to find a place to stay and they were in no position to set up a tent. So we offered them a space inside our room. So in that small room 8 of us were sleeping. That night for some reason I was missing Indian food and I kept saying “Delicious Indian Rice “while sleeping!! My friends are used to me doing my lectures during night, but not sure how our guests found the same.


Day 36

In Mongolia the good thing is that everyone is ready to move as soon as they wake up. There is no breakfast served, no bath tubs or warm water to take bath. The only luxury at our hotel in Dharvi was that it had toilet. So after performing our tasks inside we got back on the Mongolian truck trails towards our next destination.

Road conditions have been the same all through out. Only within the limits of the city, the Mongolian government ensured that the roads have tarmac. Every time we see such roads, we get excited thinking that the Mongolian torture is over. But the excitement was always short lived.


Mongolia even though a very poor country, has lots of natural resources. Now Chinese government is investing in this country big time in return of their natural resources. They are doing mining in the dessert along with infrastructure construction.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9860.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9867.jpg
May be in a couple of years the Mongol rally teams will be using these 4 lane highways. But for now, we need to live with the dust from construction sites and the never ending ridges on the road.
One good thing is that the weather was not hot! So 1 struggle less compared to the roads of Kazakhstan.

We saw other teams passing by. Two of them were driving their old Fiat Pandas. Supposedly one of them rolled their car in Mongolia and the other team was parked near the road with an engine problem. We tried to help them, but then they had damaged their gearbox so finally jump started their car in the only gear which was working.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9871.jpg

We felt that we were the only teams who were driving sanely in Mongolia. Everyone else was least bothered. To be honest we too wished to have belted our cars in these regions – if we had 2 cars and our luggage was split. The best car in our opinion to do Mongol rally is Suzuki Jimny. But then you need to ensure that there are only two of you in that car.

We reached Altai by evening.



It was only 4 or 5 PM

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9874.jpg

when we reached there. But then we thought we should end our journey for the day there.
We could see thick rain clouds ahead of us and there was this strong wind which was blowing towards the direction which we had to travel. All these signs made us think that it wont be wise to go forward and get stuck in rain and cold all through the night.

We saw another team reaching Altai in their Alto towed behind a truck. We had seen them at the border. Supposedly their rear spring broke and now even the front shocks have given up on them. They tried to get it repaired at the local workshop which dint workout for them.
While we were talking to them a sand storm hit the town of Altai. We have heard of sandstorms, but then never experienced one. It started slow but then within some 10 minutes it became very strong. It looked strong enough to carry humans and cars along with them. The sand along with this wind made standing out in the open impossible.

The Alto team decided to move on to the next place as there would be better workshops there.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9886.jpg
We got a small place to stay that night. The storm continued till late night. The convoy that we had met in Olgii also came and stayed in this place along with us.
rejoycjohn is offline   (9) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2013, 16:30   #88
BHPian
 
rejoycjohn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Bangalore / Calicut
Posts: 442
Thanked: 708 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by callvvijay View Post
Not at all, sirji. I am never leaving this thread by any chance. I have only been forwarding this link to my friends asking them to read through this fantastic travelogue.
Btw, looks like just 3 minutes after I had posted, you treated me with the next episode.
Your 3 minutes starts now!!
Cheers!
The 3 minute law got extended this time

Quote:
Originally Posted by archangelvishal View Post
HI GKEIC team,

This is surely a dream T-Log. i have been hooked to this one from the day you first posted. I forget work at office, but not to check TBHP to see if you have posted more details.
Try selling your T-Log to a film production house, it will surely break all box office records.
Amazing log. keep it up
Cheers
Thank you and indeed if we get some offers we will have a discussion on the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Fantastic Experience mate, now eagerly waiting for you to complete the rest of rally. Rating this thread a well deserved 5*****.
Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by treadmark View Post
This is truly an amazing adventure guys, hats off to your willingness to try something like this.
To me this travelogue sounds better than many of the cross country drives by Jeremy, Richard and James; hope you also had interesting moments like them but without competition from three different cars.
Woww, thank you so much for those words.
Indeed traveling is an experience in itself. When we are completely on our own it takes that experience to a different level - especially when you are in these less traveled countries. Sometimes we wished to have a better vocabulary to put all those experiences in this travelogue. We are trying our best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alokgunhal View Post
Attachment 1133708
Looks like the portable sofa was way too comfortable. For two days we have been eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Hehe of course , the air sofa was used quite extensively whenever we camped.
rejoycjohn is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 10th September 2013, 03:39   #89
BHPian
 
rejoycjohn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Bangalore / Calicut
Posts: 442
Thanked: 708 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Day 38

We woke up, packed and went near our car. It rained the previous night and I drove the car out of the pool of water that was formed around our car. I and Kent were waiting for the other two to come. There was no toilet inside the hotel and there was a queue formed by the other teams in front of the only “Mongolian toilet” that was near the hotel.

Sibinho and TV came and Kent took the car and reversed so that all of us get inside and we start our journey. What I saw on the ground as he reversed still gives me shivers. A pool of engine oil! Yes the whole engine oil was on the ground! And the leak was as strong as a .5 hp pump! We got to analyzing what happened immediately. Even though I was the mechanical engineer among the lot, Kent was the one who got to the work and started getting his hands dirty. We put our hands inside to locate the oil filter. Finally we found it getting under the car while parked on a slope to give us some room to do the inspection from beneath.

We examined the oil filter and checked for any damages. It was the roads of Mongolia and Kazakh that caused the same. The washer was out of its place and even though we tried to put it together and tighten it, the oil kept leaking. Luckily we had enough engine oil for us to do the testing. As we were among a group of other ralliers and we asked them if they had any spare oil filter that fits Nissan. But none of them had. We asked them to leave as it was not possible to keep the whole convoy waiting for us. Technically we were not part of the convoy , so ..!
Anyway it was time that we acted. I and Sibinho went running around the place to see any workshop had a similar oil filter by any chance. None of them were able to help us. We walked towards the end of the street where it meets the main trail towards Ulaanbaatar. There were 2 petrol pumps in that junction, we thought we should try our luck there. We tried at the first one, but they had only engine oils but no filter.


We went to the other petrol station and while we were waiting there, we saw one team who was struggling to pay the bill for the petrol that they filled into their car. They did not have enough local currency and the card swiping machine was not responding. We gave them the currency that we had. Just so that we don’t leave any stone untouched, we asked them if by any chance they had a spare oil filter.
Well to our surprise number 1 , they had. The guys checked it in their boot after removing their luggage and found one. We had to check if it would fit our car. Gauging the outside and inside diameter of the filter with our untrained eyes, we reached a conclusion that it will. But we were not sure. The one that they had was a universal oil filter. They were in their Daewoo Matiz, so we were not sure what the chances that it will fit ours are.

The only way to find that out, was to try. We went running back to our car and Kent went beneath and fitted the oil filter. TV with his steady hands filled the oil into the same while me and siby observed if the oil was leaking or not. We switched on the ignition just to be sure and revved the engine , all good till now! Kent tightened the filter to how much ever it was possible, but ensured that he doesn’t ruin the thread.

So the final test - switched on the ignition once again after completely filling in the oil and revved hard. Surprise 2:- There was absolutely no leak! The universal oil filter was literally universal. We thanked the other team who was kind enough to lend their oil filter without any hesitation! Add one more to the number of good folks that we saw on our journey.

A couple of hours before we actually thought that was the end of our rally! And we would be heading back home as the first team from India to start the Mongol Rally. The team who never completed the rally!

Now that we fixed our problem working as a team, we were set to hit the Mongolian trails once again!

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9891.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_98881.jpg
The road was not getting better at all. We started getting extra cautious after that incident, and that meant we drove our car much slower than what we did before.


One major problem that we found in Mongolia was to find the right path when you reach a junction. There are no signboards or anything that can give us the slightest idea of which route to take. We have heard stories of teams realizing that they took a wrong turn when they see signboards in Mandarin script. The only way to make a judgment was to make it blindly, and when you realize that you took a wrong turn come back and take the right one. To be honest, the GPS in our phone did help us to some extend. Previously too we had taken wrong turns and later corrected realizing that we going on the wrong path.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9908.jpg

So it was not surprising when Kent took a wrong turn in the Mongolian trail labyrinth.
But this time it was almost in the same direction of the right route so we were not able to judge if it was exactly a wrong route.
As we drove forward we understood that the road that we took was hardly used by locals or the trucks. It was climbing up a small hill and we were finding it difficult to negotiate the large sharp rocks without scratching the car. We dint want to have another incident of similar nature to that happened in the morning to repeat – now that have we reached so far in this rally there was no question of doing anything stupid that will cause a premature end to our rally!

TV was of the opinion of driving back and taking the right route, Sibinho and Kent thought its easy to just move carefully and most likely we would reach the main trail once we climb down that hill. Half my mind was supporting TV as that would be a safer option, but then we had almost spent 1- 1.5 hrs in that road by then and going back would mean loss of some precious time. Coming from a democratic country, the final decision was to just go along with the popular opinion.

Well after around 4 hours we finally reached the correct trail. Supposedly the road that we took was a short cut, for us it was strictly in terms of distance.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9911.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_99131.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9917.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9919.jpg

As we drove forward we started to realize that we are at the borders of the great Gobi dessert. Once you are in the Gobi dessert there is something that you should know.
Read for yourself!
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9880.jpg
So we are just in the range to be attacked by Olgoi-Khorkhois. We decided to take a pit-stop in this dessert to make our lunch, even though there was a fair chance of that pitstop being fatal.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9900.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9904.jpg

After our lunch we drove forward and we met the Mongol rally team convoy. At the next junction they took the wrong turn and we took the right one. But soon the convoy realized their mistake and started following us. They passed us when we took another pit stop.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9923.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_9932.jpg
Even though we were much slower than them, we kept meeting them all through out.One or the other team in their convoy always encountered some or the other problem. We again met the same convoy when one of their car encountered an issue with their fuel pump. We joined them and tried to help them. But realizing that there is no progress they asked us to leave hoping to meet soon.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-vlcsnap2012090100h14m58s205.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-vlcsnap2012090100h17m55s177.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-vlcsnap2012090100h21m44s110.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-vlcsnap177122.jpg
It got dark in a couple of hours. The rule of thumb was not to drive in the night as it would definitely get us off the track. In Mongolia anything can go wrong any time. So we always tried to ensure that we don’t drive into trouble at least in the night.

But this time it got dark when we were in middle of no where and more importantly when we were in Gobi dessert! Soon we saw some other teams who ran towards us and asked to stop our vehicle. Supposedly all of us were completely off the main trail! And the teams that we met were part of the main convoy that was ahead of the rest. Honestly we were not so worried about this, because as per our GPS we were parallel to the route proposed by Google.

Anyway we thought we will wait along with them for the convoy and then possibly join them till we reach the next town. The convoy team-members had satellite phones, walkie-talkie and all the latest exploration gadgets. The only thing that we could call as a gadget with us was our phone GPS!!!

Anyway we joined the convoy and moved forward. Soon we reached a place where there were a lot more Mongol rally teams. They asked us not to go further as there were a couple of big rivers ahead of us. Locals in that area offer the service of towing the cars across the river. But then the towing service was only available during the day. So all of us thought we should camp there just a few 100 meters from some unknown river.

We had lots of discussions and debates on what to do the next day. One option was to travel parallel to the river northwards and find a place where the water is less or there is a bridge. There were rumors that one bridge that was across this river was washed away the previous day. And earlier that day one bus was overturned in the river while attempting to cross it , another car got washed away in this same river for quite a distance when the rope that tied it to the tractor broke .

So basically none of the stories that we heard was giving us any confidence. I was in the opinion of taking the longer route than risking our rally in that river. Kent as always was confident of taking the car across the river. Siby and TV were also more inclined towards the idea of taking it across the river. But a bit more sensible as they said a decision can only be made once we see the river next day morning. Most of the other teams were also agreeing with me on the plan of taking the longer route. So debating on what to be done next day, we went to sleep.


Day 39

Early morning, before I even woke up Kent Siby and TV went to check the river. They got back with the good news that it’s not as bad as what we thought. We announced to the rest of the teams that we are going to take the plunge into the river. Hoping that we literally dont end up doing that!

We reached the river shore and started getting our car ready. We wanted to keep all the vital components in the engine component dry. Air filter, ECU , cylinder head, starter motor and battery were sealed. We also duct taped the door edges and the hatch.. We had only 3 doors so it was easier, the only advantage that we had all throughout the rally of having a 3 door car.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_20120822_091638.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_20120822_083813.jpg
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_20120822_091638.jpg
Views:	240
Size:	542.7 KB
ID:	1136486
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-img_20120822_083807.jpg
Soon I was in the driving seat and my mates hanging from the rear of the Tractor along with some other locals.

In that whole hurry, we forgot to get our camera from the car and the only camera that I had was my phone camera. To explain the crossing in words, the water level was so high that it submerged our bonnet. Even though we duct taped the gaps between the door and the car, there was quite a bit of water getting inside. Our car was floating a couple of times on the river, the current was strong enough to make our car move all over that river. The last thing we wanted was to get our car washed away by the current.

You tube link of our river crossing. By the time I started shooting the first or the biggest river among the three was already crossed.




The first one was over and we crossed the second and third river after which the tractor stopped. We inspected our engine bay and opened the seals, luckily there wasn’t any visible amount of water of moisture in any of them.

All the other teams also followed suite. We waited for a bit to get all the teams on to this side of the river. We decided to drive further. But to continue our journey we first had to start our car. It was the moment of truth. Kent got into the driving seat and turned the ignition key , well the tiny 1.0 L petrol engine cranked into life! The other teams were also able to get their car back to life after the river crossing, a big relief for all of us.

On our way there were a couple of more river crossings, but those were smaller – Kent drove through all them with confidence and managed to get to the other side of all of them. The 3 of us used the local trucks or buses to cross the river.

One team in the convoy though got stuck in the river due to a bad judgment. He tried to crank the vehicle when it was in the river, this made water to get into the air filter / carburetor and engine. He was later towed to one side by a local who was traveling in his Land cruiser. But then as the engine was filled with water the car just refused to switch on. Me and Siby went to offer our technical knowledge and help. It was a New Zealand guy who was in that convoy who normally get the other teams out of their trouble. He used to work in the NZ millitary and was an expert car mechanic and engineer. He was trying his bit, but the car just refused to get back into life. It was then we gave our expert consulting to them. We asked them to remove the spark plug and then keep cranking until all the water stuck in the cylinder comes out. They did that and once we confirmed that it was clean, they connected the spark plug back to place and hurray the car came back to life when they turned the ignition key. All the teams in the convoy expressed their thanks for offering our help. The otherwise expert New Zealand bloke was also happy to know that our solution worked. We got back to our car with a broad smile on our face.


How did we get to know this method / trick? Before we started our rally we had a couple of evening classes at “Sejal Motors Bangalore “ , I am sure most of you who are from Bangalore know this workshop in outer ring road. Suresh the owner of the place is a nice chap who taught us all the practical side of how to maintain a car and what to do during trouble. To express our thanks to Suresh and all the staff at Sejal motors, we made their stickers and pasted on our car. You can find his contact details in T Bhp Bangalore directory.

Without wasting much time we left. The terrain was very much dessert like now. While we were driving we saw a man lying down a bit far from the main trail. We also saw a bike next to this man. We stopped our car and kept honking that the guy wakes up. However it dint help. We were not sure if this guy is lying down unconscious due to some sun stroke or if the Olgoi-Khorkhoi worm attacked him!


We felt it to be inhuman to just leave him like that and move on. There were no vehicles on the road to take help. Kent decided to get closer to this person and see what exactly the situation is. As a protection from the worm he wore boots and walked towards this man. The 3 of us inside the car were literally silent and were just not sure what was going to happen the next moment. After a couple of minutes that felt like hours or days, he reached near the man and shook him – to our relief he was just lying down unconious!
And the reason was not sun or any worm! He was drunk!!!!! He got back on his bike and started riding and again fell off from the bike. Now that we confirmed that his condition was nothing more than that of a drunkard, we started driving towards our destination.

The trail was filled with loose sand and we were struggling to keep our car in control and also keep it from getting stuck in the sand. But then soon the inevitable happened, our car got stuck in a big pool of loose sand. We struggled and tried everything to get it out of that pool but kept failing. After some half hour we saw one local passing in his land cruiser. We requested him to help and within no time our car was pulled out of the sand with ease.

Rear tyre puncture
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-vlcsnap2012090100h23m21s77.jpg
We continued our journey towards a place known Bayankhongor. We reached there soon and stopped to refill our car with bread, maggi and egg. We just roamed around for sometime and thought of leave the place. While we were leaving we met the convoy, they were at a local workshop repairing one of their cars. We stopped our car and the guys came near ours and were enquiring about our plans. We said that we are planning to drive as much as possible that night and try reach Aravaikheer.

One of them made a statement, “If Mongolia is a group of rocks, then the Indian team is like a stream which negotiates the rocks slow and steady and reaches the destination safely”. The statement just made us feel proud, especially when it came from a group who has done a lot of traveling around the world. Anyway to live up to their expectations we still had 600 kms to travel!

We continued our journey and soon it became dark, even though driving at night was against the Mongolian thumb rule we decided to break it for one last time. The road condition got worse and I was getting sleepy. Sibinho was also not in a position to drive that night. So at around midnight we stopped our car somewhere on that road and decided to sleep inside the car.

Whenever we sleep in our car, it turns out that only I get to sleep properly. The other’s sleep was always disturbed by my announcements in night.
rejoycjohn is offline   (22) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 10th September 2013, 11:16   #90
BHPian
 
rrsteer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: 144022
Posts: 940
Thanked: 893 Times
Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by rejoycjohn View Post
“If Mongolia is a group of rocks, then the Indian team is like a stream which negotiates the rocks slow and steady and reaches the destination safely”.
Believe me or not, I wanted to put down something to similar effect as a comment!

I am really fond of road trip based movies, books etc. Your log just connects at a different level. It is the best!
rrsteer is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
OEM JK Tyre damaged. Maruti SX4 at 16000 kms anup7649 Tyre & Alloy wheel Section 18 2nd January 2017 15:32
Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days tsk1979 Travelogues 353 12th May 2015 13:53
Tantalizing India. 3 Dudes, 16000 kms, 18 Days neel385 Travelogues 73 4th September 2014 17:07
Cocktail Green Chevrolet Beat Petrol - 16000 Kms Review jeganatu Test-Drives & Initial Ownership Reports 24 21st March 2013 18:04
16000 kms with Fiat Palio Multijet architect Test-Drives & Initial Ownership Reports 204 7th March 2009 15:37


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 07:47.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks