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