Day 2 Datong to Erenhot

Tonight I visited the rally doctor at his daily surgery and asked him if he had some pills for‘ speed bumps’.

There were a lot of nasty metal speed bumps along the first 250 km of this almost 600 km long day. The doctor himself travelled the same roads today so he knew what I was talking about . He suggested to start with some back pain medicine and he would consult the home front if there is not a more permanent solution to this problem.

The reality is that classic cars were not made for speed bumps and certainly not those metal ones on our route. There are no warning signs so if you miss one you might end up hitting them at 80km an hour. Fortunately I have Anty as my second pair of eyes and he spared us back pain several times.

We had to make progress today to get to the border of Mongolia as soon as possible and that is why today was a day for a lot of driving.

We left Datong in the middle of the morning rush hour which meant a lot of patience and a bit of mischief in the traffic. Once we got out of town the traffic got a little lighter but it had started to rain and our next section took us through an industrial coal area . This meant that the wet road turned into black mud roads with spray from truck filling our windscreen. The car was really filthy and once we got through this area and the landscape opened up we were praying for a good ‘clean’ rain storm.

It threatened all day but eventually came at the end of the day so the car looks half decent again.

The rest of the route was much running on local highways, sometime four lanes, sometime toll roads where you pay 1 ½ euro for 75km driving.

We passed a lot of new towns in the middle of nowhere with often still a lot of construction work going on. One thing we cannot work out is why the Chinese build all these new towns full of high-rise flat buildings. They have some much space and land they could easily build more housing communities. Maybe they do like living together in small spaces.

There is also a lot of road and rail construction work going on. En route we saw new motorways and high speed train lines being constructed. They all disappear in the far distance to newly constructed towns. It is certainly happening in China.

We also passed through some small mountain passes and eventually found ourselves driving through the Gobi desert toward Erenhot.

With start number 94 we left late but with the high average speeds we can do we arrived at the final time control MTC as one of the first again.

Tomorrow when we go into the desert the competition will begin in earnest and we will see where we will end up in camp at the end of the day.

Now we are in Erenhot at the same hotel we were in in 2013. Erenhot is the border town with Mongolia. It is a town with 16.500 inhabitants in Chinese Inner Mongolia. The altitude is about 966 meters.

It is also the border for the Trans Mongolian railway track. The international trains change their wheel as China and Mongolia have different size tracks.

We don’t have to change our wheels (yet). The car is in good order and we found that we have very good average fuel consumption. We can do around 650 km on a 85 litre tank. Not bad for an old car

Tomorrow we leave at 8.00 in convoy to the border. This will be a fairly long process. Thereafter we will start our first desert section to the overnight campsite.

I will try and file a story tomorrow but I am not sure if we will have phone signal from the overnight campsite.

Good night,

Mick