After an interesting nights sleep, punctuated by the occasional cries of the families new-born baby, we were ready to hit the road and get down our first serious miles in Mongolia. A quick check confirmed that we had indeed lost the two sleeping bags, but we put it down to bad luck at the border and tried to get on our way. It was then that the issue of payment was raised. We had obviously assumed that some money would probably change hands for all the food and hospitality, but the price was initially quoted as $250 for the 11 of us. We thought this a bit steep, having heard of prices from $2 up to $10 each, so we tried to take back the guitar. After some haggling, they kept the guitar, and we paid 8000 Tugrugs each (about $6).
A few hours later we refilled on diesel, food and sleeping bags in Olgiy and decided to get some miles behind us. Unfortunately, 20 minutes outside the town we had to pull over, as Adventure had a little problem. Surprise, surprise. This time it seemed like the differential might have gone, making it a little more serious than any of the previous problems, so it was with heavy hearts that we towed it back to a garage. They confirmed our assessment of the problem, but said there were no parts anywhere nearer than UlaanBaatar, and they couldn’t fix it. We were going to have to leave Adventure behind.
We started sorting out what we could fit into one ambulance, bearing in mind that we now needed to get all 7 people in as well, and bought a local SIM card to call ahead and find out the procedure. We were not keen on scrapping the ambulance, and neither were GoHelp, but towing it 1800 km on gravel roads was not an option, and we couldn’t afford the weeks wait it would take to get a new part. The only way around it seemed to be leaving it to be collected later. After some persuasion that we needed an answer today as we needed to be on our way, we were told that they had contact with a man who runs a children’s place in the town. We got a local to give him directions over the phone, and it turned out she was related to him. We ended up leaving Adventure in her yard and heading off for the first time all in one vehicle.
We got a bit further than we had when we broke down, and had to stop for the night as it was getting dark. So far, very little progress through Mongolia, but a lot of drama…