A Mongol Rally Tale of how the Pink Yak became a Yak
I slowed my Yaris down as I approached what appeared to be the Turkey-Georgian border. Officers wearing large military style hats waved me and my convoy mates, a yellow panda with the “Boys,” in the opposite direction of what seemed to be the line for the immigration. After rounding the corner, we soon discovered to our dismay that the line for the border continued across the road and wound down as far as the eye could see.
With the sea to our right and the mountains to our left we passed the long, not moving traffic of cars and trucks awaiting the Georgian border. After 20 minutes of driving, we finally found the back of the line and did a U-turn in the middle of the road to take our place at the back. I shut off the engine and stepped out of the car. This was going to be a long one.
Driving a Pink Rally car has its benefits. I tend to stand out and it wasn’t long before two Scottish boys from further down the line approached me. They were also fellow rally members and they invited us for a tea, which they heated on a stove they had somehow fitted to the hood of their car.
“How long have you guys been waiting?” I asked.
“An hour or so,” they replied.
After some quick chat, the matter of my dying car engine came up and luckily one of the boys was a mechanic. He offered to follow one of my convoy mates back to my car to inspect my engine. He came back with bad news.
I sipped on my tea while he explained to me that my engine was dying and I wouldn’t make it to the finish. “If you even make it to the next town I’ll be surprised!” He emphasized, trying to relay to me how serious it was.
“Naw, she’ll be fine,” I brushed it aside. Every one since the start had told me the same thing and so far I had covered over 5,000 kilometers. I regularly checked the oil, struggled uphill in 2nd, but so far everything was fine and I had confidence in my mighty Pink Yaris.
Hours passed and instead of driving the cars and turning on the engine and wasting valuable fuel me and my convoy mates would simply put our cars in neutral and push our cars the few spaces forward each time the line would move. Slowly but surely we were making our way towards the border crossing.
To time pass we took turns walking to the sea to stick our feet in the water, except for me because I don’t swim, or cruising the long que in search of toilets and street food (which we found.)
It wasn’t until one of my convoy mates had a brilliant idea that we all sparked to life. “Krystal,” he said, as we all sat on the hood of his yellow Panda, looking at the back of my Yaris. “You know if you remove the ‘IS’ in Yaris and make the ‘R’ into a ‘K’ you’ll have a YAK.” We all looked to one another. Before we knew it we had a whole supply of tools on the hood of the Panda spread out to help saw away the YARIS and turn it into a YAK. Upon closer realization I also noticed that the Toyota Logo also would look like a YAK if we removed the two top bars.
We began sawing and glueing and turning our craft project into a full blown team mission.
The finished product looked spectacular...
It was dark by the time we reached the border. Because I was the owner of the car I had to go through a separate car owner immigration and customs check then passengers so I went on my own to get inspected. I was very happy to find a woman immigration officer behind the window and when I handed her my passport she began smiling and checking each and every stamp—there was a lot of them. She was very excited about all my travels and admitted to me finally, “One day I hope to have as many stamps as you!” She smiled a big smile, stamped my passport and handed it to me, a big grin on her face, “Now you have your first Stamp to Georgia! Welcome!”
On the other side, after 6 hours of border crossings, it was well after midnight by the time we officially crossed into our 10th country of the trip. Luckily, our new Scottish friends had sent us the location to their campsite, hidden away not too far after the border. We arrived at around 2am, set up our tent quickly and settled in for a well earned snooze.
I had only encountered one Georgian so far and seen from my car window in the darkness the first glimpses of the country, but I could tell it was going to be one of my favorites… and I was right!
Watch the videos of my adventures from England to Mongolia, or continue reading the Mongol Rally Pink Yak series found in this blog! Other Mongol Rally Stories: Bulgarian Scam and Captured in Belgium.