Midnight came and we seemed to have
lost our way. All the maps are bad and
the distances are wrong. Luckily it was
the night of the full moon. “I am
afraid”, said Anatoli, the Russian chauffeur: “Are we anywhere near the Soviet frontier?
If so, we’ll be shot. I
have no documents”. “We had been
earlier”, said Müller. Earlier we had
been within 30-40 miles from Soviet Outer Mongolia, but now we were about 100
miles away. “We’ll have to camp out”,
said Müller. We then passed the
skeleton of a camel in the moonlight. “Killed by desert foxes,” said Müller.
All day long we had passed skeletons of cows and horses killed by desert
wolves. “Let’s go”, said Anatoli: “Soon we’ll come to Beidzemiao”.
So we rattled on.
a.m., after travelling for
21 hours we gave a shout: “Hurray!” We could see a town of
mud walls and with temples. We were all
about dead-beat and we thought: ‘time now for a good rest’. Suddenly we came to a river, which was about
150 yards from the town. It looked like
a ford. Our car splashed through and
then, just as the front wheels had gone on the other bank, the back wheels got
stuck! The car could not get out. We tried until about 2.30 a.m., pushing, but
it was no use! Anatoli and I went into
the town and shouted, but no one came although a lot of dogs barked. We went to some Mongol yurts half a mile
away, but the Mongols just grunted from inside. We went further on, but we could find no help anywhere.
Finally at 3.45 a.m. we came back to the car where we decided to
stay until dawn.
I slept for nearly two hours
and when I woke up I was bewildered. There were two camels tugging in front and a host of Mongols.
I got out of the car and we all pulled at
ropes. Next we got some oxen, but they
were no use at all. Then a lama in
salmon coloured silk robes came down in a car from the temple. About eight o’clock we decided to go to the
town and leave the car. We came to an
inn that was occupied by Japanese who were most hospitable and charming. At nine o’clock, they gave us a room and
after 29 hours I lay down on the floor and slept!
Gareth at the Lama service.