The Princess has traversed all but 25km of Mongolia on the back of a truck and Colin has chundered across half of it. The car’s problems may prove to have been its savior as the terrible roads have wreaked havoc amongst the cars. Most have damage, some are terminal. The old girl would have shaken to pieces.
Further to Val’s notes from my phone call we were the last competitor through at 4:45 PM after 8 hours of waiting. We then faced a 700km drive into the night which should have taken probably 10 hours. The scenery was quite spectacular through winding valleys following rivers down from 8,000 ft above sea level. Night fell and the scenery remained spectacular in the light of the full moon. We caught up with a few cars that had had problems. Our reconditioned engine was running sweetly. Colin was still quite ill from his stomach bug, unable to eat anything, barely able to keep down any fluids, and very weak. We stopped for a chat with Liz and Greg Newton who had some problems with their lights and were travelling slowly, they settled in behind us to continue. Unfortunately during the night our lights started to fade: it was obvious the alternator wasn’t charging and the lights were draining the battery. Up ahead we saw the sweep mechanics with Tim Scotts motor bike. We pulled in behind them to check the problem. Our alternator had given up the ghost: fortunately we had a spare. The mechanics fitted it, checked it was charging then we were off again. But we had lost valuable time and now wouldn’t arrive to our hotel and beds at Belokurika until about 5:00 AM. But the lights started to fade again and we were slowed as a result. The voltage dropped so low our trip computer ceased to function and we followed the sweep mechanics into the hotel at five AM. The engine cut out, and our batteries were dead flat.
Well at least time for a shower and an hour's sleep before getting up to fix the car and setting out for our next destination. Well, the best laid plans etc: we strolled (or staggered - Colin was all in), into reception to be advised that the hotel was full and they had a room for us in a nearby building. We did as directed and followed an old man to a nearby Soviet era apartment block, met the “floor lady” and dragged our sorry arses and bags up four flights of stairs totally exhausted. The apartment was indescribable. A bedroom with double bed made up with blankets no sheets, stained pillows with no pillow cases, and a living room with a dirty couch. The toilet was filthy - no toilet paper and a bathroom complete with rust stains and dirt and no soap. Colin freaked out and wanted to return to reception and give them a serve. Histrionics would achieve nothing except a further loss of sleep, so I convinced him to shower and get some sleep.
I insisted he take the bed and get some sleep after a hot shower (thankfully there was plenty of hot water). I fell onto the couch wrapped in dirty blankets and dropped immediately into a deep sleep at about 6:00AM.
We later heard stories that the hotel was using some of the rooms as a knocking shop before the competitors arrived. I worried about the stains on the pillow and dirty blankets.