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Archive for September 13th, 2012

The Bastards Cancelled Our Trip!!!! Why???

Posted by TravellingStrom on September 13, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

A new sunny day dawns, after a freezing cold night. This is definitely the season to be somewhere other than Mongolia, which during the winter experiences -50C, that is chilly!! I have a wood stove in my Ger, which is where I am living until further notice. A Ger is a traditional Mongolian movable home. It has a wooden plank floor, wood lattice framework and is wrapped in felt, made from the hair of animals. Mine has four bunks in it, but I am paying the price of the whole Ger for privacy, and the fact my snoring would waken the dead anyway 😉 As you can see I have moved in and deposited all my gear everywhere, just like home 🙂 😆

The wood stove is OK, but the fuel that is supplied is compressed sawdust which is in pellet form, about the size of a small drink can. This is very smoky and once lit, does not last very long. It will not last the night, so you need your sleeping bag, or one of the other blankets, because by early morning, it gets very cold.

Here is a view from the outside, as you can see I have started to strip the bike down, which is the reason for the mess inside the Ger.

There are a few things that need fixing on the bike. The seat frame bolt needs replacing, plus I need a TAP to clean out the stripped hole where the bolt goes. I need the bash plate fixed again, but on closer inspection this should only need a new bolt, with some spares just in case. I need to mount the pannier rack correctly and fix the back mounting point. Plus a few little odds and ends that you always find when looking after your transport. If I have time maybe I can repair the front mudguard, I have most of the bits that broke off during the crash, and maybe look at the plastics on the fairing, maybe that can be fixed in some way. I am thinking stainless steel wire and sewing it all back together, or something like that.

After lunch, which was sausage chips and egg, Neil and I headed back down to the Black Market to see what we could find as it is supposed to be open today. Now, the BM is not illegal in any way despite it’s name, the owners of each container have to pay rent and taxes, but whether all the money that is made is declared is another story 🙂 We had been advised, watch out for pick pockets there, and on the buses as well, a couple of our group have already had first ‘hand’ experiences with that practice, although nothing was taken.

As you can see, we were mainly in the car and tool section. I tried in vain over the next few hours to find a TAP that would match the bolt hole in my seat support 😦 In the end I found some other bolts that would replace the stripped one and some slightly longer with nuts, just in case I had to drill the hole out and use a nut and bolt instead. I did find a spacer, which is a small 1″ piece of metal tubing, which I needed for the pannier mount on one side. That bolt had vibrated loose causing the spacer to fall out somewhere between here and China! I could not find any stainless steel wire, so fixing the mudguard is out for the moment. That was it for the day, I went back and relaxed as it was now beer o’clock 🙂

It was during the evening that Neil got an email from our tour company. Basically it said we cannot enter China, so sorry, please give us your bank details so we can refund your deposit, bye bye have a nice trip!!!!!!

We were devastated, there was no explanation why, in fact here is the email in full:

Subject: PANO-120828UK Cancellation 09-13

Dear Neil,

Thank you very much.

I’m sorry I have to tell you the bad news.
We can’t enter via Erenhot on September 20 and we have to cancel PANO-120828UK self drive tour.

During September 01-05, it was China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi Xinjiang Province.
At the end of September or in October, it is the 18th national meeting, detailed date to be advised.
For the permits of PANO-120828UK, things were going smoothly until these days.
We make efforts to check the details but without detailed answers.
Now we are told it’s impossible, and we have to cancel this group PANO-120828UK.
But almost at the same time we handed in the permits application for another group, which has been finalized this week.

Solution: We cancel this tour PANO-120828UK.
1. Our company responds all the cost occurred already.
2. Our company refunds the full amount you have paid for this tour.
**Deposit-2-A: 9052-7210=USD1842,- per group has been transferred to the above account before March 15, 2012.
**Deposit-2-B: 250*7=USD1750,- per group has been paid in cash in Xinjiang before September 6, 2012.

That’s to say, totally refund: 1842+1750=USD3592,- per group

Since you will get your visa, you can fly to visit China, but not self drive.
We are very sorry we can’t help this time. Hope you kindly understand.

Please let me know your bank info. Then I can arrange the refund in time. Thanks a lot.
Beneficiary’s Bank:


Beneficiary’s Bank Address:

Beneficiary’s Name:

Beneficiary’s A/C No.:

Beneficiary’s Address:

Keep in touch.

Best regards
Ms. Liu
China Chengdu Greatway Tour Co., Ltd.
Tel: 0086-28-85548220 / 85540220
Fax: 0086-28-85541221 | |

The company originally went by the name Tibet Tours and used the following name in it’s paperwork

China Chengdu Panorama Tour Co. Ltd.

They have since changed the name to China Chengdu Greatway Tour Co., Ltd., this occurred after the Tibet part of the trip was cancelled earlier on and they have another web address as well as the two above

This was all we got from them, no suggestions except visit China without bikes, no suggestions as to how we are to get our bikes out of Mongolia which they forced us to enter! We were unhappy campers and proceeded to have more to drink, but now with a different reason.

In the guest house were a couple of other travellers, they were driving big old ambulances and they also were entering China via the same border post. They had not been told their trip was cancelled, and they were using the same company, just a different agent, so what gives, we had no real idea. The mention of the 18th national congress by the tour company in their email, as an excuse did not fit the bill, because these other travellers were entering after our date of entry, so why it was mentioned was never clear.

Some other bikers staying here talked with us, they are shipping their bikes back home and had done a lot of research as to who is the best shipping agent to use and the cheapest etc and gave us their business card. As we could not ride the bikes through China, we would need to do something else, so we all decided we would go and have a chat with this bloke tomorrow and see what options are available too us. Just for the record, there are a few different ways to get out of here:

1. Fly the bike to wherever

2. Ride the bike out of Mongolia, this option is very limited. I cannot go north into Russia as I cannot apply for another tourist visa outside of my home country. I could apply for a 10 day transit visa and maybe get to Vladivostok in the far east, then maybe ship the bike to Korea or elsewhere. But, it is cold now up north, not an ideal time to be going that way as the season has changed for the worse, as experienced by us the other day with snow and sleet, not bike weather.

3. I could get the transit visa, ride west and apply for another Kazakhstan visa, but this is the wrong direction totally, so rejected out of hand

So, it looks like option one is the big unknown, we would need to get prices etc, and it seems the preferred destination would be Bangkok, Thailand, so on that note we all crashed out and resolved to contact the shipping agent in the morning to arrange a time for a group meeting.

Just a quick note on this as I am actually posting this on the 27th September 2012 from China. I have been in contact with the tour company. I asked them for a valid reason why our tour was cancelled and gave them a week to reply, they refuse or are unable to give me a valid reason for the tour cancellation but they did refund my deposit. But, they have never offered any compensation for the fact I was forced to go into Mongolia at my expense, spend an extra three weeks where I had no intention of going with the associated costs, then I am forced to fly my bike out of the country at GREAT EXPENSE. I have advised them that I will be naming their companies and I now advise people to steer clear of these companies as they have right royally stuffed the whole reason for my trip(and the rest of our group of course) and there is no guarantee it will not happen again in the future to other travellers.

Cheers from Ulan Batar, Mongolia

Posted in Around The World, Eurasia | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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