We woke up early in order to achieve the 600km from where we camped to the Russia/Mongolia border. The roads were perfect all the way with us averaging about 65km along the twisting mountain roads. We were treated with lots of spectacular views of vast flat fields, rolling hills and huge snow-capped mountains.
En-route we stopped off at a local garage to get the front left tyres nuts loosened as our Uzbek mechanics tightened them to an extreme extent with a 2 metre long lever. That’s when we realised we were momentarily back in a western-style society, as a 10 minute job to loosen some wheel nuts cost us $20!
From leaving at 6:30am in the morning, we arrived at the border area at roughly 4pm. We jumped out the ambulances at the Russian border expecting there to be at least a few issues, however we were once again pleasantly surprised. The only problem was the fact that the border coming into Russia didn’t give as a customs declaration form, which the leaving border wanted. After a few worried moments we found out that the Kazakhstan customs declaration was just as good. Then a brief search of the ambulances, with a guard telling us which of our Russian vodkas were good/bad, we drove the 20km no-mans land road to the Mongolian border.
We were greeted by some Mongolia Rally teams in the passport control area and we got through quickly, however we soon realised the vehicles will take much longer as we are now importing them into Mongolia. We spent roughly 2 hours at the border trying to do the forms until a guard told us to drive the ambulances to a “holding pen” and wait until tomorrow morning to finish the forms.
As we waited the St. Andrews team arrived and not shortly after the Drift Kings arrived to the team’s amazement, as we feared we would not bump into them again after Turkmenistan. For the first time Mongol Charity team members outnumbered “The Adventurists” (Mongolian Rally) teams. We all then settled down to a night of eating and drinking at the border.
Some of the local children came to say ‘Hi’, casually climbing over the border fence for a game of football. The English toys we gave them seemed to go down a treat! Most of the team stole into Mongolia to the nearby village and found someone’s house that doubled as a shop to get some more supplies and change up some dollars into Mongolian Tugrug. We exchanged $170 for over 200,000 Tugrugs with the majority being 500 Tugrug notes, the wad of cash made us feel rather rich.