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Motor extreme: Long noses in Chinese protective custody

Performance of the VW Touareg with more than 100 km/h and sand storm on a desert course.



China Peking Tiananmen Guard Honor with Flag
Picture by T. Micke

"Yes, Mister constable, we would like to drive along here to the Mongolian border. – Yes, Mister chief-constable, on this street. – Oh, that isn't possible, Mister chief-inspector? And you don't want to explain why? – Naturally, Mister chief-commissar. We perfectly understand. And the 320 Kilometers detour are a pleasure for us either, Mister Major. Has nobody ever proposed you for police-president?!"

Being a "Long nose" – like some Chinese lovingly call us Europeans – negotiating in the realm of the motoring dragon leaves aside little scope, or else you really get into troubles. Eventually because you were in the prohibited zone, the special-driving license is issued incorrect and invalid here, or the route is unapproved by the local authority.

China Peking Tiananmen Stopping Restriction Sign
Picture by T. Micke

If the language of the Eskimos reputedly counts 50 different words for snow, the Chinese have at least 51 different kinds of demanding: starting with a jasmine-blossom-soft suit up to a sneering open carried forward threat.

We made a fault, which even our translator could not explain. Anyway after a two days ride along the Chinese Mongolian border through picturesque steppe land full of camel and cashmere-goat herds and a night in the tent under the starry sky with our Touareg-convoy, we have to go back to the south on the long winded main road to the city Sonid Youqi. A friendly police escort welcomes us there, and one asks us "for our own protection", very urgently (!) not to leave the hotel territory anymore until our departure the next day. No, not even for dinner...

VW Touareg Volkswagen Experience 360 Mongolia with Camel
Picture by T. Micke

As we depart for Mongolia, our situation does not improve a lot in Erenhot: Approaching the Chinese border bar, they drop it as a precaution, although during the whole morning swarms of Mongolian and Chinese vehicles pass in both directions. We must be too exotic indeed for this area, with our German giant cars, so that one has the impression, the supposedly already finished border formalities cannot be possibly completed in less than six hours.

VW Touareg Volkswagen Experience 360 China Country Code Plate
Picture by T. Micke

A (with hindsight) funny detail: If today we cannot make it to Mongolia anymore, we have to tow our cars across the border tomorrow, because our special driving licenses, specially issued for this tour, are only valid on this very day. After about two hours all of us have to go back to the city once more, because an important paper of the city government is pretended to be absent. Meanwhile a storm blusters in Erenhot, which turns over some of the pretty solid tricycles. As we are finished with our tasks finally, the kind borderers are on the lunch break.

Then everything goes at cyber speed on the Mongolian side: Chinese country code plates are unscrewed, the Wolfsburg factory car signs are mounted and after twenty minutes we betake ourselves. But after five kilometers the asphalted main road to Ulan Bator ends abruptly. The only hint, that we aren’t lost in the meantime nearly level flying Gobi-sand, are the telegraph pylons, which surrounded with wriggling half drifty sand slope traces over the main lowlands, are leading straight ahead to the north of the capital.

VW Touareg Volkswagen Experience 360 Mongolia Convoy Formation
Picture by T. Micke

Touaregs prove to be ideal vehicles for that terrain: 100 km/h on sand are, despite regular partly truly sharp chuckhole-maneuvers, no problem with attentive manner of driving. Only the roof racks show some weaknesses facing the severe sand sheets.

Desert Gobi spoils us with enthralling animal-"filmlets": A herd of brumbies from the left, galloping gazelles from the right, below jerboas and in the blue sky hawks. A pleasure, until the fine, trickling red sand in spite of closed air-conditioning and circulation dusts out of our ears and finally drives the Touareg-Car computers crazy...


< Coming up in part III of our series: A turbo donkey with a digestive problem – caught in the ravenes of the Altai mountains

© A report by Tobias Micke (14-06-05) – Contact