The Gobi – Day 4

While day three had two posts, day four of our Gobi adventure was rather eventful, but lacked anything really major to write about. (Watch me write a LONG post about it nonetheless…)

Day four was definitely a “just drive”, and “just wait” day. We drove through the mountains that we had explored the previous day instead of around them. Apparently most tours travel around, but us, we went through. At one point as we drove through the mountains (it felt like) our van was on fifty degree angle. Jeff guesses it was actually around twenty or twenty-five degrees, but it was steep nonetheless. At the bottom of the mountain we drove along (not really beside, more through) a stream. We stopped at this said stream to fill up our jerry cans for water to cook with and drink (after it had been boiled of course!)

Driving along the stream through the mountains.

Driving along the stream through the mountains.

Driving between mountains provided us with new landscapes and new hazards for the van. When we finally made it through the mountains, our driver stopped to check and make sure that everything was okay with our vehicle.

Driving through the mountains. It was a tight squeeze.

Driving through the mountains. It was a tight squeeze.

It wasn’t. The leaf springs on the back of the van lost a bracket. I knew nothing about leaf springs before, but apparently they are a type of suspension. The bracket that broke held the springs together. Without a bracket we couldn’t go far – especially with those terrible roads! So we waited on the side of the road (okay, so it wasn’t really the side, there wasn’t really a real road… more like a dirt track) for two hours as our driver tried to get things at least fixed enough so that we could make it to the gers where we were staying that night.

Jacking up the van using a jack and some rocks.

Propping up the van using a jack and some rocks.

Our broken bracket.

Our broken bracket.

Looking around there was nothing. In the distance, probably three(ish) kilometers away there was one ger nestled at the bottom of the mountains. Other than that, nothing. No gas stations, no repair shops. No bathroom in sight. And it was getting colder. Remember, this was October (I know, a long time ago…) and dusk was falling upon us as we waited patiently for our driver to make the van drivable. It was nice to have Jonny there. He knows about cars so he could at least let us know what was happening and what needed to happen in order for us to get out of there.

Snow covered sand dunes.

Snow covered sand dunes.

As we waited we walked towards the sand dunes that were in the distance. Yes, this desert has it all. The sand dunes in the Gobi are reportedly the highest sand dunes in the world. They were also covered with a light dusting of snow… such an anomaly.

Finally the van was fixed. I think that Dawa ended up taking what looked like a metal coat hanger and wrapped it around the springs in order to keep them from moving too much. We piled back into the van and began our 2 hour journey to the next ger where we were to be staying.

After living in Uganda I don’t like to drive at night in developing countries. In Uganda it was a fear of road blocks with people who would rob you or worse. In Mongolia it’s the fear of getting lost. There are no roads, no road signs… nothing. How Dawa got us to that ger camp is beyond my understanding… we never would have made it if we had tried to drive the Gobi by ourselves.  I was so happy to pull up to the gers and get our things out of the van. Sitting by the fire I was thankful for our safe arrival, and hopeful that the van would be in a condition that would allow us to “just drive” the next day. When we went to bed the back wheel was still off the van…

So much for a short post…

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~ by dawseng on February 8, 2009.

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