Heeeeey the stuff on our roof didn’t get stolen. It was a slight concern as there were a bunch of people who weren’t staying at the hotel hanging out in the parking lot really late at night, but I guess Mongolian hooligans aren’t into free gas. There were a few very very loud people staying at the hotel though, maybe they were the same. Considering part of the wall separating our room from the hallway looked like it was made of really tall cubicle dividers, it was a wonder we got any sleep at all.
Starsky and Dutch headed out earlier than us that morning so that Dave could get to internet faster for all the business related things he needed to get done. The Yaks and Birches hit up a gas station on the way out of town, where I would later discover that not only did I leave my credit card there, I was charged $17 to fill up the tank after the guy said the credit card didn’t go through. We also noticed that the Doblo had a really bad oil leak all of a sudden. We were so close to the end, but the car just keeps trying to kill itself. Whatever the problem was we couldn’t do anything about it so we hit the road and just decided we would stop once and hour and do a fluid check on everything. Damnit if we weren’t going to drag that thing kicking and screaming back into Russia.
A couple hours in the gas smell was getting worse. It was really cold outside, so we tried balancing opening the back windows with the heater on full blast but the fumes were becoming unbearable. If you were in the backseat it was nauseating. We pulled over to try and seal the whole apparatus better, which involved stuffing a bunch of plastic bags around the top of the gas tank and between the removable plate that separated the floor from everything else.
While Mitch and Ryan were working on that, the Birches and I were considering walking across the “highway” and trying to pet some of the horses hanging out in this field. So that’s what we did, or at least started to. In the picture you can barely make out the horses, but to the right of that are a couple of yurts, which is where the family that owned the horses lived. The dad of the yurt popped out to see what was going on, so we detoured and went to say hello. Rich had a phrase book that ended up being no help at all, but he was able to communicate that it would be great to see his house. The guy gestured sure, why the fuck not? so we followed him to his humble abode.
Once again these yurts are so much bigger than they look. We were a little surprised to see several generations of people hanging out in there. If my memory serves correct on one side of the tent thing was grandmother, mother, couple daughters, maybe an aunt thrown in. On the other side the guy sat down and gestured for us to take a seat on a bed.
This was genuinely super rad. Looking around there were animal pelts hanging out and maybe even some cabinetry? There was definitely a large mass of some part of a creature next to me on the floor next to the bed that I couldn’t quite distinguish, but it didn’t smell so it was easily ignored. The dude motioned for one of the younger daughters to get us a drink, which is something we had been looking for with an authentic experience. From wikipedia:
Yeaaaaahhhhh, alcoholic horse milk. The girl walked over to a large vase filled with the stuff and used some kind of scoop to give us a literal bowl full. As excited as I was to try the stuff I had just recently been in the backseat of the Doblo and was a little uneasy stomach wise, but what the hell. I took the first gulp from the bowl. Yes, it had a few hairs floating around in it. Yes, it was ever so slightly curdled on the side of the bowl. But my rationale was I might as well take a giant drink, and not be grossed out by just a tiny bit. If you’re gonna barf you’re gonna barf, but I hoped perhaps like a beer maybe a tiny amount wouldn’t represent the entire flavor. Honestly, not that bad. Sour obviously, like watery greek yogurt with a tiny bite of alcohol. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t buy the stuff in bulk, but it wasn’t awful. Both teams actually had a funraiser challenge that involved all of us trying the stuff, so we hollered at Mitch and Ryan to come try some too. Bartender and flavor connoisseur Ryan wasn’t grossed out by it. Mitch however – albeit still nauseous from the fumes but would haven’t liked it regardless – almost dry heaved. He kept it down though while the rest of us had seconds. What was really funny was the Birchs’ challenge was actually to make a white Russian with the stuff, so they shared their Kahlua type drink (and left the bottle as a gift) with the proprietor of them their tent, and that guy was definitely not used to the taste of our western heavily flavored booze. He made the same reaction Mitch did, but with more of a smile. We all had to get back on the road so we thanked him and took off.
Around 5 or so the Doblo started to act up whilst climbing a hill. It was cutting in and out but not quite losing power completely, that is until it did. Our gas gauge had stopped working a while ago due to all the fuel pump failures, so we filled it up with some cans from the roof and it did manage to to start up and run for the next 15 minutes or so. During which I will say we all hoped that it wasn’t the fuel pump, again, again, again, again, again. But alas, the car did choke itself to death and there we sat on the side of the highway knowing that we would have to take the fuel pump assembly apart again and rinse repeat.
This time was considerably worse. Actually I was say it was literally at the point where it could barely, barely, be any worse. All of the pieces the fuel pump had split into before had easily doubled. The plastic housing that the pump sits in was in pieces, all of which had to be recovered from the gas tank.
Yay for submerging your entire arm in gas several times to recover pieces of plastic! The good news was that at this point we were experts, damn near engineers in the disassembly, construction, and reassembly of these stupid fucking Fiat fuel pumps. The bad news was that as fast as we could pull it out – which was actually hindered by the comical amount of gasket sealer holding the top of it together – it was going to take a good while to put it back together. It ended up taking several different types of epoxy, gasket sealer, and bailing wire to piece it back together. While we were waiting for the glue to dry we did invent a fun game called “Will it Burn?” which eventually might make its way to a TV near you. We had a lot of gasoline sitting around, not to mention a bunch of stuff we wouldn’t need in 3 days at the finish line. So we would grab something random, douse it in gasoline, and then… now picture this in a British accent because it was way funnier when Rich said it:
“Next on Will it Burn?…a Fiat Doblo?”
Turns out a sponge doused in gas is hilariously flammable. Also someone spotted a (what I’m going to guess is a 5 quart) pot sitting in the field next to us, so we made a trail of gasoline to it, poured gas in it and set a WD-40 canister. Ok here’s the deal. Yes we’re technically adults, but dudes of any age like a certain amount of chaos. Chaos meaning starting fires? We were pretty disappointed with the pot not exploding, but we still had a jolly good laugh out of the whole thing. The fuel pump eventually came back together and we were able to get back on the road. A few hours later we pulled into m****r fucking UlaanBaatar, the capital of Mongolia.
We decided to treat ourselves by staying at the fanciest hotel in UlaanBaatar – the illustrious Grand Hill Hotel – to the tune of $120ish a night. After getting our rooms worked out we went back to the car out front, and at this point Mitch did something you could only ask him about regarding his motivations. In sheer excitement he kicked the fender of our car. , punched the rear window of our car, then punched the rear window again…shattering it.
So Mitch spent the next 30 minutes or so taping up the back window so all our stuff didn’t get stolen. In the meantime we all took a very lovely shower and pounded a few beers before hitting the town and meeting up with Starsky and Dutch, who had been at a bar/restaurant for a few hours.
The bar/restaurant was pretty awesome and I’m pretty sure we closed it down, ordering buckets and buckets worth of beer. This was truly cause to celebrate. Not only had we made it to the other side of Mongolia, we were 1-2 days away from the finish line. So we had a merry good time. This next part I only remember in flashes, but I believe we started to walk home and then hailed a cab. By that I mean 5 of us crammed into a Toyota Corolla.
Before that though we came across this place and since their sign was broken we uh…pilfered part of it. The unlit “C” specifically. Can’t say we’re super proud of it, but it was broken and made a fine addition to our car the next day. Don’t judge us, we’ve just drive over 10,000 f’n miles! Also I remember part of our rationale being “Party Enter” making a lot more sense marketing wise.