Team Vanishing Point consists of 3 Police officers from Coventry City Centre. Rich and Dave. L. have climbed mountains together. Dave. B. is the outsider. We all work the same shift and persuaded Dave. B. to join us as a 3rd Member.
Why Vanishing Point? does anyone remember the 70's movie? remake in the 90's? thought not! We will be driving a 1988 Mitsubishi Pajero 2.5 turbo Diesel. Its hardly an American muscle car, but uses about the same amount of fuel and has enough power to pull down a house. There is also the possiblity of all 3 of us getting ourselves into trouble and just Vanishing.
We only have 3 weeks to complete this rally, so have chosen the more direct route through Russia. We will however enter Mongolia via the Western Boarder. This is the bit of the journey we are all looking forward too. We have enough supplies to remain shut off from civilization for about 10 days. Anything longer than that, we will have to eat Dave. B.
We were glad to get out of Russia as we were stopped at least 5 times a day by the police, all asking for money, although we never gave a penny. It became a game of cat a mouse and a battle of wills. The roads were full off knackered old trucks, bellowing black Diesel smoke. And the end of each day we would wipe a thick black film from our skin. I'm not sure even with Russia's trees they will ever be carbon neutral. We eventually reached the Altai region which was refreshing after the rest of the country. The only problem was the lack of hotels. We drove until dark to get a hotel but failed. I went to sleep in the back of the car whilst BBD carried on driving. I was awoken with the car pointing at the sky and the 2 Dave's arguing about how to get it out. BBD had driven us into a ditch. I got out and into the driving seat and managed to get us out. We slept in the car a bit further down the road. It was not until morning I discovered my wallet was missing. We went back to the ditch and searched around the muddy water. To our shock I found it in the water. In daylight we continued to the Mongolian boarder. Again great views and lovely weather. On arrival the boarder was closed and we were offered accommodation in a family Ger. It was more like a refugee camp with about 40 people in it. We declined the offer and slept in the car again. Getting out of Russia was almost a difficult as getting in, more forms and more stamps. Mongolian boarder was great. We were met by a very attractive female guard who saluted and said "welcome to Mongolia" The paperwork confused them a little but did not take long. We had picked up a couple of hitch hikers and said we would take them to the next town. Our first camp site not far between the first and second town was spectacular. We swam in a lake, had a few beers and relaxed for the first time. We were joined by several thousand mosquito's, but did not mind. Mongolia has some of the greatest countryside views. Massive contrasts from rock to dessert to green meadows. It also had some of the most punishing roads. I am amazed the Pajero put up with it! It was not long before we had a puncture. We tried to change the wheel, but the jack collapsed. We flagged down the next car and borrowed a jack. Really nice people. They had nothing, but were prepared to give what they did have. They said we could keep the jack and we gave them a 10 day ration box. We were glad of the jack because it was not long before we had another puncture. A family from China stopped and gave a hand on this occasion. The Mongolian people were some of the nicest I've met. They were always willing to help and would always stop if they thought we needed it. Driving in Mongolia was very stressful. On one occasion I was driving at 2 in the morning and ended up in a wetland. The head lights lit up a flapping duck and then a horse walked by. Very surreal. The 4 wheel drive got us out and we continued. Shortly after this tensions were raised in the car and it ended up in a blazing row between me and Lasty. It was over something stupid and we soon apologised and moved on. We found a hotel to stop in. This place made rising damp look 5 star. It was cheap and it had beds. We all had cold showers (no hot water) and got some well earned rest. Next stop was Ulaan Bataar. What a great city - very relaxed and great night life. I could have spent a few days here but needed to get home. We met up with the CDPF and handed over the car. It seemed strange walking away from her but knew it was for a good cause. The staff were outstanding and helped us with a hotel and flights.
Would I do this again, probably not but would not have missed it for the world. What a great experience!
The hardest thing for me was being away from my wife and 2 boys.
The best sights were the Altai Mountains, Siberian plain, Mongolia deserts and lakes. The Irish Bar in UB was great. They even cooked us some food when the restaurant was closed. The CDPF were fantastic. They made us feel welcome and it was like we were old friends. If people do not want to drive to UB, it well worth a visit by plane.
If this trip had been without problems it would have been boring. We have all come out the other end wiser and better people. On seeing the poverty of people en route, it made us all appreciate what we all have. We met people with absolutely nothing. For them every day was about survival. We gave in to this and gave what we could to the genuine people. The sights of poverty will stay with me forever.