Kublai Kooks - Mongol Rally 2017
Day 45 - August 29, 2017
Wild Camp, Kazakhstan
Countries: 27 KMs/Miles: 15950/9969
Breakdowns: 15 Time @ Borders: 46h 30m
Geej was up early to head off with the Aussie boys who were in a large convoy heading north. Convoys are great for socializing (having a yarn and kicking back a few cans) but move about as fast as John getting out of bed in the mornings. The plan was to catch up with the convoy the following day and head with them to Mongolia.
There was no need for a mechanic today so it was John’s day off. After working his hands to the bone over the past few days it was time for him to kick back, relax, and most importantly, check out what Kazakhstan Tinder had to offer. Mike, Andy and John headed to a nearby café while Josh went and finally got his visa sorted for Mongolia. Breakfasts had largely consisted of luncheon, strange cheese, cut tomatoes and cucumber, the occasional cold hardboiled egg, and lots and lots and lots of bread for the past few weeks. You can imagine the boys eyes lit up when there was a big breakfast and eggs benedict on the menu. Wa-wa-wa-wa-wi-wa! It’s the little things you appreciate when living the rally life.
Back at the hostel a couple of the guys from team Stananball had heard of how the Kooks were ditching a car and had come over to do the exact same thing. They also had a Skoda and had pretty much the exact same problem as Yacks, except they didn’t have an in house mechanic. Hearing their stories and how much time they’d spent sitting in towns waiting for the car to be fixed made us all realise how much of an asset John was to the team.
After waiting for hours for the guy who was getting rid of the cars to turn up he finally arrived. As with the previous day the hostel guy was playing translator. After a 30 minute run down in Russian about how the process was going to go, exaggerated hand gestures, and a lot of words that sound similar to ‘problem’ it was translated down to three sentences indicating that we needed to go to a lawyer to get some letters written and then a truck would take the car. Perfect. Let’s get this show on the road so we can get rid of that bloody car and back on the road.
It turned out there was a lawyer in the building so Mike and the guys went to see her. After a another big run down in Russian that lasted about 15 minutes the hostel guy indicated that we just needed to write letters indicating that we had swapped the cars. This definitely didn’t sound legit but if that was what she was saying and Mike could cross into Russia that was all we needed. It also turns out that there was the possibility of getting $700 for the car as technically the Kazakhstan government was buying the car. This had to be done back in the UK so who knows if this was true. Getting a deposit back for not having to ship the car at the end of the rally and this meant the Kooks were literally printing money for scrapping Yacks. She was definitely worth more dead than alive.
Back at the hostel the pen and paper was ripped out and letters were penned in Russian and English outlining the trading of the car. So official! John and Josh had returned from picking up a new tent just in time to see Yacks get shoved onto a tow truck and taken away. It was mixed emotions. On one hand this car had taken the boys most of the way through the trip. There had been plenty of good times and great times in the car. Yarns had, podcasts played, and beers drunk. On the other hand there were also a lot of bad memories with constant breakdowns, hard work towing and fixing her and days wasted. Most importantly though the Kooks were free to push forward with a car that was working.
It was time to get rid of the excess baggage to lighten the load so the boys headed around the corner to a post office. The Kooks were shipping back big backpacks but they only seemed to sell boxes that were half that size. Not a problem for a Kook. Shove that bad boy in there and get out the sticky tape. With the box looking more like a poorly wrapped Christmas present with the bags poking out at every angle the long drawn out process of trying to fill out the forms in Cyrillic began. It seemed that half of the store had to help out but after an hour the bags were on their way. Hopefully they’d make it back to Australia.
The Kooks hadn’t eaten since breakfast so headed to the mall only to find there was a Burger King, Carls Jnr, and delicious chicken covered in all 11 herbs and spices of the Colonel’s secret recipe. Time to really branch out and get cultured and see if the KFC chicken tasted any different in Kazakhstan (note: it’s still finger lickin’ good).
Back on the road with the music turned up to 11, the sun setting, and blazing a trail north, the boys were all absolutely pumped. Finally they were ticking off the k’s again with a car that had no problems with it. The suspension was cranked up and Millie was flying over all of the bumps that used to cause them so much grief. John and Josh were the only ones on the insurance and they had heard there were a lot of crooked cops around so they were the ones lumped with driving. Andy and Mike made the most of it and decided to lighten the load of the car by drinking all of the vodka and whiskey in the back of the car. Someone’s got to do it!
Stananball had bought a Micra off another rally team that had disbanded in Almaty and were also back on the road. Hyped up on energy drinks the Kooks soon caught up with them and began a convoy. Pulling into a service station Stananball tried to fill up their tank using a Jerry can. They had been told there was a problem with the tank where you needed to stick a second tube in the opening to let the air out. This backfired massively with fuel spilling out absolutely everywhere. It seemed that none was going in and it was just spilling all over the forecourt, much to the Kooks amusement. John had the idea of lifting up the back seats and taking the fuel pump off the top of the tank. They tried again and it seemed to be working until Mike noticed there was fuel pouring out of the top of the fuel tank and into their car. The tank had been full which was why it wasn’t taking any gas. No smoking in the car for a while boys!
The roads were starting to get worse and it was getting late so the convoy found a paddock and setup shop for the night. Time for bed. End transmission.