Driving in Mongolia is a lot of fun. The roads tend to be very wide, usually gravelly, or if you're really lucky very sandy and often splitting off into 2, 3 or even six different paths. There are often obstacles, some of them moving, including camels, stones and various types of holes, dips and ridges.
We spent our second night in Mongolia in a gher camp setup by one of the Mongolians actually doing the rally in Khovd. It was to be the last night of his camp and he had already taken down most of the ghers.
The next day we started the long drive to Altay, apparently the worst bit of the Southern route across Mongolia. I may be tempting fate here, but it really hasn't been that bad so far, more of the above. The worst is the small, regular ridges, possibly caused by tracked vehicles in the winter. The cars vibrate painfully, until you reach the Sweet Spot. Usually at about 90kph.
To our great pleasure We'd met the Icelandic team, Mud Lab, yet again, in Khovd and left with them in the morning, east. In the evening we came across two other teams, Modern Nomads (Kit from Norway) and Hit the Road Yak (George and Matt) and then another two teams that they'd been in convoy with, Fear and Alexes in Mongolia (Alex, whose team mate had had to fly to Ulan bater to get a rabies jab after being bitten by a dog in Khovd) and Banana Hammock (Heather and Justin), which made six teams in total, the largest convoy we've travelled with.
(I would like to to treat the next bit like an episode of Casualty, what could possibly go wrong in the following situation?)
The four teams we'd met had this game they played, called rocky rock, where
they would all throw stones at a specific rock, trying to hit it. A little
while after starting this game,
someone, George I think, Alex aimed a small rock at
Kit's car, hitting the back window and shattering it. Like all good geeks, he
fixed it with duct tape. Taping up the whole window.
We moved on. We were one of the last cars. Just after a particular sandy
section of road we found Kit and his car, pointing in the wrong direction. He'd
spun and both left tyres had deflated, he decided due to the seal being broken
rather than punctures. Luckily he had two spares, changed them with us watching
and we were on our way. The other teams had stopped up ahead to camp and we
formed a bit of a circle with our wagons. Kit was determined to make a fire and
started chopping up a bit of wood he had with an axe. We joked that with the
luck he'd had he shouldn't be wielding an axe. Kit gathered some dung and
asked for some petrol. Being as my mum has always drummed into me not to use
petrol on fires I didn't volunteer our petrol and hoped he could find something
a little less flammable. The next thing we knew he was opening a very large
jerry can in the middle of the circle. For some reason the can was pressurised
and very full and sprayed petrol as it was opened. Unfortunately one team had
already started cooking and in the moment that we all stood, staring in
disbelief the petrol ignited. Now Hollywood (and Casualty) may have lead you to
believe that the petrol on the ground will burn in a nice line until it reaches
the full can at which point the can will explode and everyone dies. Let me tell
you from experience that this is not what happens. The spilt petrol all
ignited simultaneously, everyone ran for their lives and then there was a calm
moment as everything just burned. Luckily none of the petrol had reached the
car. Unfortunately Kit had been sprayed and was now on fire.
Someone, George I
believe Alex, redeeming himself from breaking Kit's back windscreen managed to put
Kit out and the rest of us stood in shock. Kai was the first to remember that
we actually had a fire extinguisher and handed it to me, later saying that he
didn't want to be the one caught in any explosion. Kit's burns didn't seem too
bad, though obviously relatively serious and apparently very painful. Kit
happened to have set his video camera up on a tripod and filmed the whole
thing. Several of us wondered if he'd done the whole thing on purpose