Mongolia Day 1: After a night spent in the border compound (August 24, 2011)

By Kara Van Malssen

We arrived at the Mongolian border shortly before closing time. Although we managed to pass immigration as individuals before the doors shut for the night, the car didn’t. We were locked inside the gates of the Mongolian border compound, and told to pitch our tents where ever we’d like. They would process the vehicles, which were now officially being imported, in the morning. There was a small patch of dirt in the middle of the grounds that a few of us took advantage of; others gave it a go in the parking area. Fortunately, we were first in line in the morning, and were out of there within a few hours. We were now in Mongolia, with 1800 km to go to the finish line. We had absolutely no idea what was in store, starting with the fact that there are virtually no roads in the entire country.

8 days of driving through a country with no roads, no signs, few functioning bridges, and no sign of human life for 400 km stretches is a hard story to put into words. So we’ll focus on the sounds and images (still and moving) for this portion of the tale, with a few of the exciting, scary, and hillarious stories mixed in.

To start, this is what it’s like driving in Mongolia. Needless to say, it was going to be a very long, slow and bumpy ride.

Mongolian rocky roads from Kara Van Malssen on Vimeo.

And here are some shots from our first day. The scenery is quite stunning.

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