We made it!!!

A lot has happened in two weeks…

– Two hardy lasses successfully negotiated their way through the mountains of Kazak beaurocracy.

– After a speedy police pick up, Mildred found her final resting place in amongst the dusty abandoned vehicles of Shymkent’s state car compound.

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– A race against time to beat our Russian visa exit date allowed us to experience the joys of overnight bus and train travel across Kazakhstan and Russia.

– 27 and a half hours on a bus with approximately 17 other families is a far cry from the peaceful days and nights Mildred had offered us.

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– We held our breath as the Kazak border guards studied our passports (very clearly stamped “entered with car”).  They promptly ignored the said stamps.  After all the stress and rigmarole of obtaining official disposal documents for Mildred we were mildly disappointed with their lack of interest… but overwhelmingly relieved to be out of Kazakhstan at last.

– We experienced the delight of Russian hospitality when a mother and daughter approached our sorry-looking and grubby selves sprawled on the floor of Omsk train station and offered us their home to rest our weary heads, a shower, a huge jar of banana jam and the obligatory 8 shots of vodka.

– 3 days on the Trans-Siberian railway… our first chance to actually stop and sleep, safe in the knowledge we would be leaving Russia within our visa dates (deportation therefore avoided, always good to try to avoid being deported) and we were steaming towards Mongolia and the Rally finish line.

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– We revelled in the beauty and spectacle of the Mongolian steppe… checked up on Lucy’s wild Przewalski horses (the herd has grown from under 100 to over 300 since she saw them last 12 years ago),  visited monasteries, slept in gers, swam in lakes, rode on horseback, drank fermented mares milk (unique flavour summed up in 4 words – fizzy mouldy citrus milk – the drinking experience made all the more special by blowing the horse hair off the top layer of milk before slurping, yum).

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– THE FINISH LINE, Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia… we got there!

The surprise of other ralliers we’d met and who’d helped us along the way, reminded us of quite what we had achieved.  As we wrote our names on slot 94 (out of 247 teams) and popped the bubbly, we celebrated what has been an extraordinary (in every sense of the word) 6 weeks.

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Thank you all for your support and look forward to sharing our epic power point slide show of photos with you one day.

Goodnight!

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Will we ever leave the Stans?!

Our week in numbers…

Mechanics visited: 4

Vehicles Mildred towed by: 7

Kilometres towed: 1300+

Police stops while being towed: 5

Borders crossed: 1 (Uzbek to back into Kazakhstan)

Jump starts needed to cross border: 20+

Customs and police offices visited while attempting to dispose of Mildred: 14

Parts of Mildred that fell off while being towed and were handed back to us by bus drivers: 1 (we still don’t know what it is)

Bribes offered to help our ‘situation’: many

Bribes accepted: none (what?!)

Dubbed Kazak films watched: 2 (Star Wars and Wallace and Gromit)image image image image image image image image

Ridiculous, fluorescent dresses tried on in mall for our amusement: 16

Car boot sales held to dispose of Mildred’s contents: 1

Brilliant plans hatched to bury Mildred: a million

Successful executions of said plans: zero

Days spent actually being a tourist and enjoying the sites: 1 (in beautiful Samarkand)

Giant mafia bosses who fed us melon and laughed at Mildred at the border: 5 (in one blacked out giant jeep)

Ralliers who came to our rescue and reminded us to embrace the adventure that this undoubtedly is: many. Thank you to them all.

 

 

On a wing and a prayer…

image image image … We set off once again headed into the Uzbekistani desert. Fingers and toes crossed and prayers said that Aziz was the mechanical wizard we believed him to be… … Sadly he wasn’t. Within half an hour Mildred was bubbling and boiling and we were sat at the side of the road waiting for her to cool. Using our own mechanical know-how, we fashioned a miniature ladle out of a bottle lid, wire and gaffar tape. We proceeded to painstakingly ladle out all the boiling water from the overspill reserve tank and replace with cold (luke warm as nothing in Mildred could be described as cold). We then spent the entire day bunny hopping along ( the suspension has also given up the ghost) stopping every half an hour for half hour to allow her to cool. Eventually a kind gentleman took pity and yet again we found ourselves tied to the end of a tow rope. Despite testing us to the limit, we’re not quite ready to give up on Mildred yet and look to tomorrow with hope. Bukhara waits us at the end of this desert highway if Mildred can only hold on a little bit longer.

Mildred gets a bit hot and bothered in Uzbekistan

image imageQuick update… Mildred felt that 45 degree heat in the Uzbekistani desert was a bit much to ask so she told us loud and clear by blowing her head gasket. After 2 days of thinking we’d hit the end of the road with Mildred, Aziz the mechanic, in the dusty suburbs of Nukus, in wonderful dungarees, built us a 4 cylinder gasket from scratch as apparently you can’t source that type in Uzbekistan.

We are fully aware there is still many many miles to go and Mildred may fall I’ll again but with all fingers and toes crossed we set off en route to Bukhara. Wish us luck!

Until the next time, rekhmet.

The juice that keeps her ticking…

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Petrol, of the unleaded 95 vintage. We have come to have a new found love of the sellers of this fine liquid and spend much of our time either in petrol stations or looking for one. 

Mildred, it turns out, has a small bladder and after a couple of miles is in need of a pit stop.  Lauren’s mental arithmetic have saved us and we now know how far Mildred can run in one go despite her faulty fuel gage.

Her constant companions dwarf her but the best things come in small packages so they say.

Not always smooth sailing…

image image imageDespite our best efforts with a calculator, our non-fuel gage beat us and we got to use our red triangle… And meet the locals. 

On a more successful DIY note, we made it to the garage just in time before the gaffa on Mildred’s wing mirrors gave out. 

 

Meals with a view…

imageimage image We discovered early on that we were going to be experiencing the full spectrum of locations for our tea and meal stops… From the sublime to the not so. The last photo is of us inside Mildred while a thunder and lightening storm raged outside. Our hopes of cooking pesto pasta were dashed.

Farewell UK

image imageSunday 20th July

Mildred puts herself in the trusty hands of P&O and we wave goodbye to the UK.
Our fellow ralliers on board include 3 boys young enough to be our kids & a very optimistic yuppie driving a red ferrari who thinks it’ll be a breeze driving across Kazakhstan with only a few inches of air between his car & Kazak desert.