Days 42 – 46 – Finish Line Fever
The boys had finished the rally, but they hadn’t finished having fun.Over the next few days they went out for lots of food and drink and saw the sights around Ulan-Ude. At the club after the finish line party Chris had made friends with a local, he arranged to meet them the next afternoon to show the boys around.
He turned up in a blacked out 4×4 with his girlfriend, who had another car. The boys got into his car and soon realised he was a lovely chap and that they shouldn’t be worried about a stranger driving them off in a blackout out off road vehicle! The local (unfortunately his name evades me) took the CCBB and Aston Micra boys up to a Buddhist Temple and showed them around, Duncan rang the big bell and then ran away. He then took us to a restaurant and offered us a shot of this spirit that was kept in a jar of snake skins, Dunc and Matt gave it a try and it wasn’t too bad! Apparently from this temple, which stood on a hill, you could usually see a great view of the city but local forest fires meant that all the boys saw was smog unfortunately.
That evening a few of the convoy went to a sushi restaurant, where Dunc and Dan took on a “boat” of sushi. Afterwards a good slice of Rolling Thunder convened at Churchill’s pub for Dan’s award ceremony, unfortunately The Bourne Dubbers, The Haggis Hunters and The Yorkshire Special Branch had already made their way home. The awards were a fun way of rounding up the adventure and Dan had come up with some brilliant categories, each award came with a prize of course. Notable awards included; Vera for the being the least reliable, Dunc won Gains Master, Matt won World’s Sweatiest Man and Henry and Dunc won the fire fighting award for dousing Matt’s face. A mention also has to go to Dan for giving himself the award for the worse decision when driving into the river.
After the awards ceremony the convoy went out to a karaoke club (or Kapoke) as the locals called it, the night peaked when Chris did some rapping! Unfortunately after the first group had left the club in the taxi (including all 3 CCBB boys) some locals turned on the others with Dan effectively getting beaten up before escaping to a taxi, it was a sad end to the night but he was OK other than a few facial wounds.
The next morning it was time to say goodbye to Vera, the boys stallion that had taken them across 2 continents and over 9,000 miles of “roads”. Henry and Dunc took the old gal to a railway yard across town (amazingly she still worked) and signed the paperwork to say she could be crushed once she had made it to Estonia. It was a sad end to have to leave her in such a way but the boys had given her a worthy send off, and she was parked next to her friend Hillary, Aston Micra’s trusty workhorse.
That day turned out to be a holiday in Ulan-Ude and the main square, below the giant statue of Lenin’s head, was full of people watching performances by local school kids. The next few days until the boys flights home were just spent relaxing and sleeping, the CCBB and AM boys went out for a nice meal at a Vietnamese restaurant where Matt tipped his beer over everyone and they also perfected indoor cricket, using their arms/hands as bats!
On the Tuesday it was time for the boys to say goodbye to Dan from AM, The Spare Parts and Team Superheroes in Training as they were making their way home on the Transiberian railway, The Spare Parts couldn’t fit Sven the reindeer in their luggage so CCBB looked after him. That afternoon the three CCBB boys and Chris from AM went for a traditional massage; in some parts it was very relaxing but in others it was excruciatingly painful, especially when your hair was being pulled out!! The boys also went into the sauna where you took a branch of a tree that was soaked in water and hit yourself with it, at least that was what the boys did, and then you left the sauna and tipped a bucket of cold water over yourself, it was an experience to say the least.
Too soon the time came, on the Wednesday, to leave Ulan-Ude and conclude this Mongol Rally adventure. The boys got a taxi to the airport, a small affair with 3 gates, in which they were allowed to walk through security whilst drinking! You wouldn’t get away with that in Europe. Two flights later they touched down a Heathrow and after a lengthy wait for their baggage they entered arrivals where their families were waiting with open arms…
Finish Line Stats:
Beers Consumed at Churchill’s – 31
Sad Goodbyes to Vera – 3
Price of a Branch at the Spa – $4
Note from Matt:
Thank you to all of you who have read these blogs, I hope you have gained as much fun from reading them as I have had writing them. The rally was truly the best experience of my life and I’m glad to have been able to share some of the memories with you, and they will stay as a permanent memory for all three of us for years to come. It could be said that we fell a bit behind with the blogs (only about 9 months!) but at points on the road it was impossible to write them, we were spending all of our time just trying to keep Vera going and for the last 2 weeks or so I don’t even have any notes so I have written those days from memory.
A massive thank you must got to all of those who we were lucky enough to share our rally experience with, without you the journey would have been much less interesting. I can’t mention everyone that we met on the rally but I would like to mention a few; the Aston Micra boys, The Bourne Dubbers (who we only met because John was going for a roadside nature stop), The Spare Part’s boys, our Swedish couple Team S.H.I.T, the ever jovial Haggis Hunters, Jennifer (not John) the baked Potato, Yerts, Yaks and Yoghurts, The Chemical Brummers, Marco Rolo, The Yorkshire Special Branch…..the list is endless.
Thank you to everyone who donated to help our charities, Leukemia and Lymphoma Research (now called Bloodwise) and Cool Earth, together you raised a staggering £2,296.14 for these great causes.
But most of all I must say a huge thank you to Duncan and Henry for firstly convincing me to take part in the rally and secondly for making this experience what it was, you guys are great.
Right where shall we go next??