Leaving China for Mongolia

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After weeks of car troubles, our Blue Beast now finally seems to live up to its name. The 700 kilometer drive from Beijing to Erenhot at the border with Mongolia went without a glitch, but more importantly the 700 kilometer drive yesterday from the border to Ulaanbaatar also went well. No more cooling issues or other problems. That’s comforting to us, since the road conditions in Mongolia are quite challenging, compared to the smooth freeways in China. Our car has to work really hard, since it’s loaded up pretty heavily. But more on that later.

After our guide went to the border crossing at Erenhot on Friday morning to get a final document chopped, she came back to the hotel in Erenhot at 8.35 AM to tell us that we now could go to the border. That was much earlier than we expected, so we had to pack up in a bit of a hurry. After we filled up with diesel, we drove about 5 kilometers to the border where we would leave China.

The border crossing  went much smoother than I anticipated. The whole process including both the Chinese border customs and immigration and the Mongolian side lasted little over two hours. We encountered no real difficulties. Our car was checked, but not thoroughly. They didn’t bother to open the drawers. Well, if they did, they wouldn’t find too much controversial stuff anyway: some spare parts for the car, books, maps and lots of (Dutch) food.

The Chinese custom officers checked our chassis and engine numbers, but the Mongolians were not interested in that at all. They asked for our route through Mongolia and wished us ‘eine schöne Reisse’. We don’t speak a word of Mongolian, so it’s great that we can use our German to communicate with the Mongolians. A lot of them speak German, funny enough. Must have been a thing of the Communist past I guess..

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Since we didn’t get any kind of temporary import document for the car I asked for one, but was assured I didn’t needed one. When I insisted I wanted one, since I don’t want to be in any trouble when leaving Mongolia they gave us a signed letter with telephone number that we can call in case the Mongolians at the western border won’t let us out. I think that should be enough.

After a final passport check we were finally in Mongolia. That’s it. We left China after so many years. No VPN needed anymore; total freedom and a vast empty wilderness opened up before our eyes. A little sad to be leaving China behind, but also very happy to start a new adventure.

After some initial problems to find the only paved road from the border to Ulaanbaatar, we were on our way to the capital. It took us longer than we expected, though. The road was indeed paved, but stretches of it were still under construction. At those sections we were forced off road through the steppes. That took a lot of time, just as slowing down for every bad piece of road or pothole in the paved way. There were a lot! Our car got really hammered.

We arrived at Ulaanbaatar in the dark at about 10.30 PM on an extremely bad road in a huge traffic jam. Extremely tiring to drive, but we managed and arrived safely at our hotel in the city centre. After a quick bite we almost immediately fell asleep. We missed a couple of goals of Oranje in its first World Cup-match agains Spain, since we were too tired to stay awake, but managed to see the spectacular first one by Robin van Persie. We’re very pleased to see Holland beat Spain. The next match we probably will watch somewhere on the steppes. We’ll make sure we use our orange flags this time.

For now we’ll stay  in the hotel for the weekend, get some good rest, stock up with food and water and probably leave Ulaanbaatar on Monday to head west. First we’re going to meet a local Mongol friend and do a thorough check of the car again before we set off into the vast wilderness.

3 Responses to Leaving China for Mongolia

  1. Patricia Daemen

    Wat een fantastische afsluiting van jullie China jaren!
    Geniet in Mongolie.
    We blijven jullie volgen!
    Liefs vanuit een oranje Nederland!
    Patricia en Will

  2. Joop

    Unreal Bert, enjoy and let’s eat a kroket in amsterdam

  3. Rita

    Up to now in luxury hotels. Yurts can be very comfortable as well. So can cars be.

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