The road up and over the hill by the lake was in fact rather hilly, taking us through yet another little patch of forest (what’s the difference between a large wood and a small forest?), with a very interesting (read: definitely only for 4×4’s or motorbikes) road down the other side of it. Back down in the valley between the hills on the other side we rounded a corner and promptly stood on the brakes, as there was a three-foot deep ditch with a stream in in front of us. It was probably about three feet wide, with a variety of logs and planks scattered across it as temporary bridges. From the most recent-looking tracks it seemed like the only vehicles that had been using it recently were motorbikes, over one of the flimsier-looking planks of wood. We had great fun moving the logs around to try and make sure we had something sturdy enough to hold the weight of the car as we crossed, including using the waffle boards in earnest as ramps rather than just to get us out of sand or mud. Somewhere we have a video of us driving the car across; Niall behind the wheel and me directing from the other side, whilst simultaneously doing the mosquito dance as I was being eaten alive.
After the incident with the wheel nuts, our first port of call when we crossed into Mongolia was to find the Land Rover dealership in Ulaanbaatar to buy some new wheel nuts. Crossing the border from Russia was simple enough – the usual paper filling out, car inspection etc., but on the whole not nearly as bad as it could have been. Car insurance purchased, monies changed, and we were on our way to Ulaanbaatar. We headed towards Ulaanbaatar, fuelled by little fish biscuits, enjoying the scenery and working out where we were going to head off-road before reaching Ulaanbaatar. We figured if we had to go there, we might as well make the journey there part of the trip.
Well, it has been far too long since I updated this, and far too many exciting things have happened to not share with you. So, for a Friday afternoon we take a little step back in time to March of this year and an 8-day roadtrip around our lovely country of Oman. Since we had a leaving date set (end of May) for moving back to the UK, we thought it was high time we headed further south and made our way down to Salalah and the Dhofar mountains. Our plan was to start in Muscat, head down the highway past Nizwa and Adam, before turning off the road and heading into the Empty Quarter the way we’d come out of it on our February trip. Niall and I headed out of town on the Thursday night straight from work, stopping off at the big Lulu in Nizwa to stock up on food for the next week or so. It was pretty windy and dusty south of Nizwa as there seemed to be a lot of building works etc. being done near the roads. We turned off along a little track and sheltered behind the perimeter wall of an un-developed plot of land just off the road. Tent popped, samosas and onion bhajis from Lulu, a cup of tea in hand and we were all set for night one.
In the morning we hit the road for the last hour or so of driving down to where we had arranged to meet up with Gab and Liz in their car. Not driving an old car, they can cover the distance on the main roads a hell of a lot quicker than we can! First things first, stock up on water and fuel before heading into the desert. We’d established that we’d have plenty of diesel for the distance that we were planning to cover, with our main tank, sub tank and additional tank. However, Sheba the Jeep wouldn’t have enough range on her one tank of petrol, so needed an extra couple of jerry cans, just in case. Our 50L water tank was filled, plus several 5L water bottles stashed away in the back of the car just in case. Off we went!
Half way through February, Niall’s mum arrived for a holiday in Oman, and as she’s been here a few times before, we thought we’d do something a bit different this time and do a mini roadtrip away from Muscat to visit some places that none of us had been before. I took a couple of days off work and we made it into a 5-day trip over a long weekend. As it was Chris’s birthday whilst we were away, I made a birthday cake the night before, which was somewhat complicated by the fact that our gas bottle ran out just after I’d put the cake in the oven……. I did wonder why it wasn’t cooking after it had been in there for 5 minutes already!
Anyhow, it turned out OK in the end, and I made some more homemade marshmallows to roast over the campfire to go with it. If in doubt, make marshmallows, and pour more lemon drizzle onto said cake.
So we loaded up the car, plugged in the solar panel, filled up all the tanks (and the fridge!), packed the tools (always an essential when you’re driving a 30-year old Land Rover!) and headed off. Continue reading