The Peking to Paris Rally is a recreation of the 1907 challenge issued by Le Matin, "Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
The 2016 version will follow a route of 13,695 Km (8,510 miles) and take 35 days. We are travelling in Rhubarb and Custard, a 1936 Buick. We know nothing about cars or rallying.
Wednesday, 15 June 2016
We were not in the tough off road trails that are to come but it was still pretty rough.
Here we are driving along.
Here we are setting up camp.
Tomorrow the rally really starts.
We've all seen those Hollywood alien invasion movies where Washington or London is ravaged by the invading hoard. But you've never seen the same script enacted in Mongolia - and that's because no one would notice an alien invasion in Mongolia. They could land their spaceships here and for hundreds of miles around there would be just goats and sheep, cows and horses, yurts and nomads. The aliens could set up shop in Mongolia and no one would be any the wiser - possibly they already have.
Actually, it's China that's the alien country, which is something you feel as soon as you leave the country. Just as you cross the border you get the internet again and Google, snapchat, Instagram and all that other silly stuff that makes you free.
115 cars need to leave China with 230 people. For Chinese high command this is important paperwork and administration that really matters - Have you filled in the right form? do you have the correct pieces of paper?
Everything must work, match up, conform. To what end and with what purpose no one knows. Why is it important that 115 old cars leave the country with the right process and inspections? Why not just say so long and farewell and wish us on our way?
But in Mongolia it's a different world. Oh for sure we are asked for passports and visas and car paperwork but it's absolutely clear that no one's heart is in it. These people are nomads - they don't have any idea how to fill in a form that asks for an address and without an address the Man can't own you. Mongolians are a free people, living under the Big Sky and surrounded by nature. They are trusting when the Chinese are suspicious, industrious when the Chinese are in bondage, kind when the Chinese take slight.
Mongolia is a far nicer country than planet earth deserves. But if we are not careful aliens - perhaps in boardrooms in London and New York who want to mine this county's resources - will take it all away.
Here endeth the lesson.
In other news the rally continues.
We had our first off road experience today and camped in the Gobi.