Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Back home

Have now been back home for 14days!! Gosh how the time flies.

Just a few photos taken on my iPhone. Did I mention that I lost my brand new camera which was specially boughtin Hong Kong for me by Benjack. We were under so much stress in UB and it was always packing and unpacking Matilda that on one occassion we had a pile of our things in a pile in the foyer of Nomads offices. We forgot that there were other tenants too and on the Monday before we got there my camera had disappeared! I have decided to buy another one ond have some lessons on how to take decent photos!

 

Below are 2 photos of the Moscow Metro. Any one who has been there, knows that you can do a tour of the Metro stations. There are about 6 listed in the guide books but even the unlisted stations put the London underground to total shame. These were built during the Soviet time to show what could be done. Chandeliers not only in the main thoroughfares but in the tunnel part of the station where the trains go through. Beautiful mosiacs albeit a bit of propaganda to go with them!

 
 
 

Mosaics on the ceilings of some Metros!

 

Robert at Yeltsin's grave. We could not find Kruschev's, to difficult with the different writing!

If Robert was to be buried instead of cremated, this is what he would like -- with is dog!!

 
 

While in Mannheim we visited an antique dealer to find a couple of miniatures. Incidentally he had just acquired an Orange Free State penny of about 1886(I think) together with a few other items. It was in very good condition. On the internet we found that in the last auction sale a similar one had gone for €1600. Not a bad acquisition as a part lot! We weren't interested in buying it!

Kuki Limbourg on her stoep in Mannheim
 
 
The Kloss's holiday home in Ossiach taken from the gate as we left. It is lovely and right on the lake.
 
For the benefit of Karin and Lala, here is a painting by Samuel van Hoogstraten now hanging in the Art Gallery in Vienna! Did you girls know you might have some artistic genes tucked away some where!
 
 
 

Meeting up with P2P here are the Everingham's arriving at Schladming

 

One of many lovely view while driving through Switzerland. The rally intentionally takes the routes over mountains and down steep passes.

 

Seonaid, Catherine and me at the final dinner.

 

Richard had a brother, a cousin and a nephew at our table (all South Africans) and the two Russian participants ( Boris and Evgeni). They not only came second in their category but also drove their car down to Peking from Novosibirsk and were leaving the next day to drive back to to Novosibirsk. In other words they will have done the trip twice although half the time on their choice of roads!

 
 

Stanley Gold from Los Angeles who did the trip in a Porsche. He flew parts in from the UK via a personal courier ( did not teust the Russian customs to clear them quickly enough)!

 

Christiaan Lalarderie from Paris who also did it in a 1938 Fangio Chev.

 

THE WINNERS. Phil Garratt and

Two delightful young men who did it in a 1936? Fangio Chev which was beautifully prepared. They really travelled light, taking only the bare necessities with them -- only 2 shirts each and I did not ask how many of each other bits of clothing!

We spent a lovely day and a half with Birgit and her niece Anne, in Paris. The weather was wonderful and we really enjoyed Paris -- all too short but it was time to get home after nearly 7 weeks of travelling!

Now now are back and concentrating on family. Gerrie and family are already here doing a bushveld holiday with his family and will end his trip with Robbie and Carina's wedding.

When all these festivities are over we will take stock of what adventures we can still fit into our lives. Robert is thinking that next year we should try to do our own 4x4 trip through the rest of Mongolia and a bit of Russia. I will have to start investigating that! I am thinking that we should get a slightly older Chev and prepare it for the next P2P which will be from Peking to -- wait for it - Dehli!!!! Endurorally feel that they have done enough the traditional way but still want to use the brand name. This time they want to go over or around the Himalayas i.e. through Tibet and Nepal. That would be fun too although a shame not to end in Paris.

Well goodbye until we plan another adventure!

Thank you all for your support and interest

 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

We are back with the rally!!

We are back again with the rally for the last few days - as camp followers!

I will give you a brief synopsis of what has been happening in our lives and will try to keep it short.

After Matilda aught alight and we decided that short of putting her on a truck and having her drivento the EU tofix her there, the best would be to give her another cruise home from Beijing. We hopped on a Very early flight to Moscow the next morning and started our sight seeing in Moscow. We were so fortunate to discover that Johan and Bini v d Wat were on a Medical conference there so we managed to join up and then arranged to stay at the same hotel in St Petersburg. We gad a lovely sightseeing time with Johan dragging us (I go quite willingly) to markets all over the city. Robert managed to find an old MIG clock so he was happy. We saw all the relevant sights (loved 'Our Saviour on Spilled Blood - thanks Marianne) and all the rest. As it never seems to get dark we never got to bed early enough and all were suffering from sleep deprivation!

We then flew to Munchen where we picked up a hire car and went off to Mannheim were we had two lovely days with the Limbourgs. Great fun but with temperatures of around 35*C!Then off to Salzburg and then Vienna. In Vienna we stayed in a lovely little hotel called 'Boutique Hotel am Dom'. Which was obviously right in the old city.

Vienna we just loved and I would love to go back again! So easy to walk around and we have now become masters at traversing the city Metros or U-bahne or whatever they are called.

Our Bryanston neighbours, Michael and Silke Kloss have a holiday house in Ossiach and they very kindly invited us over so we arrived for a latish breakfast and after seeing their lovely home we all left for Schladming to see the rally cars come in. It was all great fun!

It is just lovely being back with the group again and all have been so friendly and welcoming!

We had a marvellous dinner in the hotel in Schladming. This morning we saw most of the cars off and then decided to follow the route. It was pretty misty and rainy and the scenery would have been spectacular if the sun was shining. The route takes you mostly on the smaller roads through the small villages. In the afternoon we decided to go the easy way and drove the shortest way to Davos, taking the car train through the mountain. I think we missed wonderful views from the top of the mountain which was still covered in snow. Great fun being with all again and hearing the news. All the cars have some or other problems - most are solvable unlike our problem. People have had parts flown in to different towns when needed. Some people have even had friends personally fly in and bring the parts with them if they fear customs problems like in Russia. The bearings which Gerrie ordered and had sent to us in Novosibrisk had not been delivered by the time the rally passed through.

I am having a problem with putting my photos on the blog but will do so when I find out how!!!

Tomorrow we are off to Zurich to see Catherine Schrafl. Toni passed away on the day we were going to see him, before we went to the Limbourgs. We want to pay our respects to the family and then we will drive down to Gstaad to be with therally again.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

In Moskou aangekom

Toe ons in Moskou aangekom het toe sien ons in die vlug tydskrif dat die beste manier (en vinnigste) om in Moskou te kom is met die sneltrein. Ons maak toe so maar toe ons by die hoofstasie kom, toe besluit Pa hy wil die Metro ervaar. Daar is ons toe met 5 swaar sakke en ons moet rondsukkel met roltrappe af en trappe op om met 2 lyne uiteindelik by ons stasie uit te kom. Gelukkig is ons twee keer deur jong mans gehelp, anders was ons miskien nog daar onder. Toe ons uiteindelik op straat vlak kom toe reen dit en 'n taxi bestuurder vra ons toe Zar80 om hotel toe te gaan. Pa se toe 'nee' want ons het geweet dit is loop afstand. Gelukkig kom daar toe 'n private man en wys ons waar die hotel is -- so 10min weg. Ons kom toe soos nat rotte daaraan. Gelukkig het ons 'n taxi geneem na die Metropol hotel toe ons by Johan aansluit het. Nou wil ons na die Sneltrein na StPetersburg gaan en weens die verkeer raai die hotel ons aan om op die Metro te ry -- met al ons sakke - weer. Op die laaste oomblik het ons tog besluit om 'n huurmotor te neem en toe heel vroeg by die stasie aangekom

Pa het vanmore na die Museum of Modern History gegaan ( vorig: museum of the Revolution) en ek wou St Basils sien en ook vir Lenin in sy mausoleum. Laasgenoemde is weg met vakansie want more is hulle groot vakansie dag en sy mausoleum is toe! Nou wag ek vir Pa by die Hotel.

Die weer hier was wonderlik en ons het baie gesien maar weens die vakansie dag more was die Kremlin ook toe behalwe vir hulle 'armoury'wat baie goed was met wonderlike skatte van die die Tsars en ander adel. Robert was 'n bietjie verveeld want daar was so baie. Hy kan maar net so veel ikone of silwer bakke besigtig en ek kan weer net een of twee ruimtevoertuig kapsules waardeer!

I must just add that we did go to the Russian Space museum. The monument to their winning flight around the earth is just beautiful. I have a lovely photo but just cannotseem to copy it to my iPad so do not have it here. We saw many many flight capsules so Oupa owes me a few churches! In addition I took a photo of the tools which the Russians took up in one of their trips -- Clive, as a terrific Makita fan, you will be very happy to see that it is a Makita drill!


 

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Dis die einde vir ons!

Baie jammer om te se maar hier is die storie. Omdat die naweek 'n bietjie van 'n mors van tyd was, met die vakansie dag op die Saterdag en dan die Sondag, kon ons eers op Maandag begin soek vir 'n agteras. Hulle het wel een gevind en al die modifikasies gedoen maar (ek verstaan nie heeltemal nie) iets met die dryfas en die konneksie met die ratkas te doen, het nie mooi gewerk nie. Ons het eers 21:30 op Dinsdag by die huis aangekom, en is toe 04:30 op die Woensdag op. Die oorpakkery het 'n tydjie geneem en ons is toe omtrent 6:00 oppad.

It was wonderful driving out of the town with a minimum of cars but we were only gone about 20 km when we smelt burning. Robert checked and thought it was the one rear brake so he released it a bit and off we went. 6km later we smelt burning and realized it was coming from under by 'beautifully' built - in box between our seats ( for holding our water bottles, pens, satellite phone, rally books etc.) i even saw a small flame. Robert grabed the water bottle and doused the flame and I removed the box to find the carpet under the box had melted!

It was too early to phone Ariunaa at Nomads being 07:30. At the moment she works from 8:30 till 22:00 in the office! We tried to tell her that all we needed was a tow but she did notseem to understand so we sat were we were ( on a road under construction) until the road builders came to push us over to the other side where they were not working yet. Robert disconnected the drive shaft and then there we sat, posing for photographs through the window of the car. People stopped there cars and came to take snaps -- we felt like real celebrities in a car that couldn't move an inch!

At last they came to tow us back and when we got back to the hotel we booked our flight to Moskow. We will spend about 9 days in Russia (Moskow and StPetersburg) and then fly to Germany where we will pick up a hire car. We then plan to drive to Salzburg and Vienna and if we can get across the border, to meet the rally group in Bratislava, Slovakia which is right on the Slovakia/Austrian border. We will continue as troop followers from there to Paris.

A very big disappointment, but if this is the biggest disappointment in my life, I am a lucky girl!

I will not be blogging again while a tourist, as that is not of interest to anyone but oneself. I will however do a bit more when we meet up with them again on the 24th.

Showing Robert and the main Mongolian helper with our bent axle. We now have a good idea what caused it --- traveling over far worse roads than you can imagine (far,far worse than any in SA in spite of the fact that Robert felt the roads in our remote areas areas are the worst ever) and for hours on end, slightly too long shock absorbers (have I got it right?) , carrying far too much weight (no matter how large the boot is) and then trying to drive too fast (the times set are very fast for the conditions of the road). That is as I see it!

Sorry everyone. We're sorry we've let everyone down as well as ourselves!

Goodbye for now!

 

Monday, 3 June 2013

Ulaan Baatar

Sorry I have been such a poor blogger for the last few days!

The Austrians who looked decidedly scruffy and dirty! The drive an open Bentley - no wonder they look like this! I saw them later and did not reconise them until they reminded me who they were.

Look how the yurts are mixed among the 'modern' houses. The yurts all have 'uithuisies' and I even saw one that looked like it was en-suite.

We arrived in UB by train and settled into the hotel. At least I could do all the washing. Matilda was due to arrive at 12:00 which she did but at the wrong side of the city. It was one of the most important public holidays on Saturday; the holiday for Mothers and Children! I like that. While waiting we went to the local supermarket and found that we could not buy any beer or any other liquor at all because of the holiday. In fact the hotel was not even allowed to sell any and Nomads ( the agents for endurorally) eventually witha lot of trouble managed to obtain a permit from the goverment, to have the cocktail party that evening! But the city centre was totally closed to traffic and the large trucks, carrying our cars were not allowed through at all. They therefore had to unload the cars and put them onto smaller trucks to bring them through to the Nomads premises. This all took time and eventually she was offloaded at about 15:00. After that nothing was done except peer at the broken halfshaft and bent rear axle! On top of all this we discovered that when Matilda had been loaded and secured on the truck in the middle of the Gobi, we had left to catch the train and the loaders, in their wisdom, had tied a steel cable around her and then secured her to the truck in this fashion. Well a steel cable leaves its mark and poor Matilda has lost paint, dented her grill and mudguard, had her back licence plate broken off, rear lights broken and looks a bit of a mess! All this is only cosmetic but what a thing to do to a beautiful girl!!!!

On the photo you can see the lone below her headlights and acros he r boot where the number plate should be!

 

We went back to the hotel and asked for an announcement asking for a wheel bearing that would fit our car ( the reason we did not have a spare was that we could not find one in Jhb. It is a very difficult size and was made only for the Chev cars of those years. Three other contestants very generously came up with offers but none were the correct size, so back to square one. ( We could do something about the axle but when the halfshaft broke and the wheel fell off, it totally ruined the wheel bearing.)

Helge Reitz of Nomads has been helpful and Ariunaa, in the office has been totally wonderful. She worked for Helge for many years and has recently got married and now living in Australia, but she came back for a month to help with this event.

Sunday broke, the rally continued, we stayed behind and tried to see what could be done. After really taking stock the men decided that what we needed was a replacement back axle. Ariunaa worked out a route through Mongolia for us to follow when Matilda is running well again and I spent the rest of the day in Ariunaa's office finding the coordinates of the little villages we need to go through.

While sitting there, a phone call came through that #54, a white Beetle, had rolled and had to be fetched. There are now 5 lots of participants sitting at the hotel with different plans of action. Two other have already shipped their cars home, bought some other car, transfered their numbers onto the new car and are riding with the rest. They are no longer competitors but are enjoying the travelling.

Robert spent most of the day driving with an interpreter to all the scrap heaps and looking for a second-hand rear axle. He really feels he has seen far worse than Kayalitsha. He even had to use one of their toilet pits which was apparently quite something! I won't describe it here! No Go. Until 1991 this country was one of the poorest in the world and under Russian protection so there just were not cars and definitely not American cars!

We have become good friends with Stan Gold and Brant Parsons in #64 ( white Porsche). He has a large collection (15 at the moment) of special Porsches and for years was on the board of the Disney Trust. They have broken mounting which is made of a special metal and cannot be welded or fixed here. They have put her on a truck and are driving her to the closest border with Russia, off loading her,driving her over the border, putting her on another truck which will drive day and night with 2 drivers to Novosibirsk. They will get a lift to the border and then take the Trans- Siberian rail to Novosibrisk where they will fix her.

Monday has dawned and Robert left early for Nomads leaving me with instructions to sort our belongings into: must have, maybe, leave behind. We must seriously reduce the weight! Stan Gold and Brant want to try to leave for the border as soon as possible so we all went off to the Russian Embassy to see if they would allow us into their country a day or two earlier. We were told only Mongolians in the morning and other nationalities must come back at 14:00. We dutifully did this and went with our story. At first they said it would be fine and sent us off to fill in forms but when we got back they would not conaider it unless we had a letter of invitation from the organization who arranged it in Russia. Back at the hotel I am trying to do this but cannot seem to get through to them. I thought it a good idea to get this forward extension just in case we need it.

Pa has just returned from Nomads - very tired but more satisfied. They found a rear axle from a Korean military jeep, name unknown, which appears to be in good condition! A very good welder is busy with it now. Robert will have dinner now with Stan, Brant and me and then go back to Nomads at 21:30. As things stand now we might be on our way very early on Wednesday. They have about 15 hours of daylight which we will try to utilise.

Tomorrow is our 48th wedding anniversary - wonder if Robert will remember!! Doubt it particularly as he has other things on his mind!

Robert has now gone of to Nomads to see how they are getting on. I am finishing the blog and cuddling up with my kindle!

 

 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Vierde dag oppad na Ulaan Baatar

Pa het die elektriese goed getoets en gevind dat alles aankom sonder die 'by pass' en dit toe weggeneem. Net toe ons in die tou staan om te vertrek toe sny dit weer uit! Ek moes toe gou vorentoe hardloop om ons boek te laat stempel en hy moes gou die stuk draad konnekteer en toe is ons oppad. Alles het goed gegaan deur die eerste 'time trial' maar net daarna, voor 'n klein dorpie, is daar 'n groot 'clunk '- geluid en daar staan ons!!!

Die agterste wiel staan skeef - die regter 'half shaft' is mors af!

Nie te lank daarna kom eers die mediese 'back-up' en toe van die werktuigkundiges.

They were all very helpful but nothing much could be done at this stage.

Pete and Emma Wilkenson in a later model Chev truck stopped. He was sure he had a half shaft so after a lot of unpacking he found it. It looked as if it might fit but when ours was desembled, the spline was different.

They organized for a flatbed, which was picking up a Ford. A young Mongolian made himself helpful and then gave us to understand that someone in the village could weld it for us so off Robert went into the village and lo and behold, 90min later he was back with the welded half shaft but no bearing so we have to wait for the flatbed which might arrive even in in the middle of tihe night! Luckily we have an off day in Ulaan Baatar!

#92 Who tried very hard to help!

So we started our wait. We tried to phone Helge, who was in charge of the flatbeds but got no reply. We did this with our satelite phone only to find that every Mongolian who came by had a cell. Oour cells worked perfectly! Eventually we sms-ed our bearings through to Helge just to make sure he had them. And so we waited and waited. As we were right by the village we had some young men and even a youmg mother and child come to see us and the car and to take photos.the younger boys would come right up to the car window, leaan on the door, with Robert and me sitting inside, with not a smile - a bit disconcerting! We were warned to be very careful and not give them any opportunity to help themselves. They are actually very friendly but be careful!

We packed our boot out, repacked and waited. At least I got some time to write on my iPad! And then I crocheted - I do not go any where with out it and my kindle. And the gale continued although it was warm enough. It really wasn't fun getting out of the car.

Just before sunset we got ourselves ready for bed, snuggled up in our sleeping bags,seats as far back as possible ( better than cattleclass plane!). Note the warm scarf and hat made for me by Caitlin and Jacqui. ( Jacqui, I crocheted a tighter rim around the hat to fit it more snuggly around my ears).

At about 22:00 the truck arrived. There were 2 trucks, the one already had a Bentley and another P2P car on. The other truck had the ramps and a chain block and tackle to pull the cars up onto the truck. And so the fun started. Two Austrians in the Bentley were also there with a broken clutch/gearbox. We were then given the chance to catch the train to Ulaan Baatar instead of going with the car. The cars would only be arriving in UB at about 12 noon and with a 1st class ticket on the train we would get in at 8:00 and we can sleep! So armed with all our electronic devices, our necessities we were off to the station leaving Matildahalf way up the ramp with instructions to the truck driver to screw on the diff cover when the car was on. So much for flatbeds and electric winches in this country!

We got on the train, carraige #7, 2nd from front and found that the Nomads girl who was with the trucks and could speak English,had organised us a 4 berth compartment for just the two of us (the same for the Austrians). I think we probably paid for 2 berths each, but what a pleasure!

Waking up the next morning the terrain had changed! From 2 days of wavy flatness to quite hilly. Still only grass, grass, grass. The amount of 'trees' ( actually large shrubs) we have seen on both days, we can count on both hands. We must be going higher as we have seen our fist sighting of snow, on the hills and next to the railway line.

Just showing the hilly terrain.

For the first time we see trees, pine trees on the hills!

Robert has noticed that every pole along the side of the track, are clamped onto concrete posts. We are wondering why. Termites? But we see no anthills. We will try to find out.

I think we are approaching UB, judging by the activity of all around us.

What an adventure!!

Hoop net ons kry vir Matilda weer reg vandag sodat ons more weer kan saam ry. So much for sightseeing in UB!

 

Ons tweede en derde dag

Ons het 'n baie lang dag gister gehad. Die pad van DaiHai Hotel was vir so 60km sleg met slaggate oral in die teer. Dit steur nie veel vir Pa nie, maar ek het pal met my voete styf teen die voorste om myself te stut. Op die goeie pad het hy vir Matilda tot die maksimum gestoot. Ek het aanhou herinner dat ons nie op ' n spesifieke tyd by die volgende 'passage control' moet wees nie en dat nie hoef te jaag nie! Toe ons daar aankom, toe is ons net 2 minute voor ons 'estimated time' daar. Dit. lyk asof ons tog teen amper maximum spoed sa moet ry!

Entering Hohhot ( there seem to be many different spellings for the places in Inner Mongolia!)

Sorry about the scratch on the window pane! A lot of highrise apartments going up here too.

The driving is something else! Pedestrians, cyclists, scooters, donkey carts etc have right of way and just turn in or walk in front of any car. People wander across a 3- lane highway! Children playing with their bicycles at the side of the roads. There do not seem to be stop streets and in the cities. Cars just come in from the side and even if you are going 60km/h, you have to make way. Most of the robots give a countdown before the change for both red and green lights.

Pacific Hotel in Erenhot. The group was split into two, one lot at the Pacific and the other at the Hotel Ru Yi. Somehow one expects the Pacific to be at least within striking distance of the Pacific Ocean - but of course it isn't!

 

In the queue at the border.

Another Rainbow Nation! At the Chinese border post.

We were supposed to start our rallying at 10:35 this morning but it is now 11:10 and the Mongols have not even taken our passports yet! Don't know what will be happening to the rally times!

A man in a space suite with a mask stood at the entrance to Mongolia and had to spray our wheels (insects, foot&mouth?). There were so many cars that he just sprayed the right-hand wheels!

We all got through customs 1 1/4 hours later than expected so the day's rallying was moved later.

We had to make our way through the desert choosing our own track. They are busy building a new road which we could drive on (half completed) but every few hundred meters there would be a gully where they were putting in a drainage pipe, and we would have to come off the road onto a track. To us it looked like they would never be needing drainage pipes!

Here you can see how the tracks criss-cross and you just choose the one you think best. All very flat and just shoty grass. One can just as easily create your own track.

The first car we helped with electric wire little knowing that we would soon be using some ourselves!

Most of the time there is a howling wind. Quite unpleasant and a mission to get out of the car. If you do get out, you must make sure papers etc aren't blown out of the car

A little while later Christian Lalarderie in his Fangio Chev, needed 'bloudraad' to secure his front bumper which was faling off and then it was our turn! Matilda just cut out. The Everinghams stopped shortly there after and he found that if we by-pass the fuses, she was fine. We were on our way again!

Maybe because it was so warm, Matilda showed a bit of fuel starvation so that slowed us down some what. After refueliing she ran much better.

Halfway through our next time trial, we came across a Merc bedded down in the sand. We got out our jack and and tried to get them out but after 45 minutes of struggling, the 4x4 and support group arrived to tow

Our first camels.

Off we went again but was now so delayed that we arrived at our final control 1h30m late and were of course penalized.

Our first night of camping! Thanks to the Derksens for their tent.

 

A 10yr old Mongolian boy helped us to secure the tent and inflate the mattrass. When we got back from supper, it was nearly flat and our hearts sank. We inflated it again and found that he had just not put the plug in properly!!

 

All seemed calm when we went to bed but then a howling gale broke out again. Lying next to me in this little tent all Robert could say was ' well, at least we will be blown away together'!

The food tents and the Nomadtrucks used for setting up camp. All calm with no wind.

The showers were little cubicles with hot and col water and the toilets were holes in the ground, in a cubicle but they had little box seats and toilet seats which was a great improvement on the toilets on our trip to Macchu Picchu!