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Monday 31st July - Alat campout

There's not too much to report today, sitting around at a ferry port is about as riveting as it sounds.

We checked out of our accommodation after a cold interacting with the bloke at the front desk. We were still quite pissed off about him pressuring us to pay the night before. He'd even come to Natalie and Haylee's from at 9am in the morning demanding we hurry up and pay. No idea why they were so desperate for the money, we expected him to run off and pay some gambling debt when we checked out at 10am but he didn't.

We drove straight to the ferry port ready for our camp out. We arrived to find a bunch of other teams already there. Always a relief to see other teams no matter where you are on the Mongol Rally. Also a massive relief to see teams actually still waiting and not an empty port which would have meant we'd missed yet another ferry!

We parked our car near another team which turned out to be the couple doing the rally as their honeymoon. Their team name was Team Honeymoon + Guido, their mate Guido was doing the rally as Paola and Claudio's 'chauffeur'. Thirty minutes later, we'd set up camp and were enjoying watermelon with the seven other teams also waiting for the ferry. A massive army truck was also parked at the port with the words 'French Adventure' written on it. Turns out a French family was doing a similar route to us except travelling in a fully decked out truck complete with kitchen and living room. Their young son would be enjoying the trip of a lifetime, to top the trip off they'd also brought their two dogs with them! Everyone looked at their luxurious truck with envy while we set up our cheap camping chairs and tiny fuel stoves. We passed the time by getting to know the teams around us, we had Belgium, Czech Republic, Sweden, UK, Slovakia, Italy and Mexico at the port. Quite a cultural mix. Everyone started pulling out maps to discuss routes to Mongolia. Conditions at the port weren't as terrible as we were expecting, however, that didn't stop it from feeling like we were in a refugee camp. We'd had our passports and documents stamped for the ferry which meant we were now in no mans land and weren't allowed to leave the port. The blokes had three squat toilets in a demountable while the ladies had one proper toilet. To save this toilet from being destroyed by the messy blokes a key was guarded by the staff. If nature called one of the (very few) Rally girls had to track down which staff member had the key (it moved around a lot) and politely ask. There were five showers at the port located in a container, they were in surprisingly good condition. Throughout the evening other random people arrive, some were ralliers, others were just travellers wanting a cheap passage to Kazakhstan. A whole bunch of truckers were also camping out at the port, it's just a regular part of life for them to wait endless days for a ferry that may or may not arrive. Occasionally the truckers would walk over to us, curious at our cars and the random games we were playing to pass the time. In the afternoon the boys organised for a big tug of war match. We all gathered around and watched the blokes battle it out. The best of three was the winner, the team with the English and Swedish bloke won.

The guards turned out to be quite nice, they'd try and chat to us or just watch us play card games. The only thing they weren't too happy about was when we'd take photos of them. They'd turn cranky very quickly and motion to us that we needed to delete them. There was even a little 24hr shop in a demountable at the port, which meant we could have a constant supply of watermelon and soft drinks. The food in there was extremely questionable and looked like it had been sitting out for ten weeks. Safe to say we stuck with our two min noodles and deb.

Alat turned out to be the better ferry port of the two, our fellow ralliers at the port in Baku (waiting for the Turkmenistan ferry) apparently had no showers and horrible guards & staff. We even had a nice breeze at Alat, quite a life saver compared to the unbearable humidity in Baku. Dinner was a bowl of nutritious two minute noodles with a nice view of the ocean, hoping and praying the ferry did actually arrive overnight. Natalie and Haylee set up their tent on the hard concrete to get some sleep, the blokes roughed it by just laying their sleeping bags out. We fell asleep not to the calming sound of the ocean but to the crashing sounds of cargo being loaded. How's the serenity?

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