After we had enjoyed a magic evening at that beautiful lake Uureg muur up in the northwest of Mongolia, it was time to get some rest. I went into the tent and started to undress when I heard a motorbike coming, a minute later I could hear Anders saying hello and the next second I saw a man’s head with a big smile stinking of booze in the opening of the tent. He said something, which I think was hello, smiled again and disappeared. I just realised that I was sitting there half naked and probably looked like an idiot. However, I had heard about that this is how the Mongolian people are, no one knocks the ‘door’ before entering. Sometimes it is rather difficult to adapt to other cultures but I’m doing my very best. The man then offered Anders some homemade vodka and Anders pretended to drink it, at least that was what he told me though I could smell alcohol later when he came into the tent. This man was clearly not in a condition to ride a bike but off he went over the fields and disappeared into the sunset.
Yep… that’s Anders after some home made Mongolian alcohol…
The day after we left this beautiful place and after just a few hours we met some nomads that was traveling the same directions as us… but slightly slower.
We left the the place in the wee hours of the morning as we wanted to reach the town Ulaangom not too late. We were excited as we had decided to stay one night in a hotel which means a shower. The roads were tricky at some parts and it changed between big stones, small stones, sand and water. However, we managed to get to Ulaangom in the late afternoon and found a hotel, which looked ok. Unfortunately there were a disco in the evening and the water didn’t work so, no shower that day and not much sleep that night. In the evening we had a meal at the hotel, which was, let say, not edible. Anders ordered a vegetarian soup, which was a vegetable soup with meat in it but unfortunately they didn’t have any vegetables so he ended up with a soup with meat. As soon as they put the soup in front of him I knew he was not going to eat that. Anders is very picky with food. I ordered something called Khuushuur, whish is some kind of meat pastry. That meal could have last a very long time as it took ages to chew the meat. The meat was very fat nad had been cooked without any spices whatsoever. That night we went to bed hungry but that was not the first time and would not be the last time on this around the world trip.
Though they had disco every night, the food was terrible and the shower didn’t work the first day, we stayed in the hotel for two nights as we needed to wash our cloths and get them dry. Except the hotel we actually liked this little town. People were very friendly and it was nice just to be able to walk around and take some photographs.
Now the real nightmare started.
After Olaangom the real ‘nightmare’ started. The roads, if they could be called roads, were dreadful. For each day we said it can’t get any worse now but it did and when the roads couldn’t get any worse it started to rain and with the rain came the mud and with the mud came falling of the bike and with that came pain tears and a totally fatigue. I have never been so tired in my whole life. I have been running, cycling, walking etc. quite a lot but this was something different. Most evenings we didn’t have the energy to cook a meal so we just shared a bag of peanuts or a few biscuits and I guess this didn’t help to get energy back. Most mornings we woke up with rain and I got a bit of panic as I knew that the road would get even worse and these mornings we only had a couple of sweets for breakfast, as we were afraid that the rain would make the road impassable. During these ten days we did between 10 to 12 hours of off road every day and considering that we are not experienced off road riders this is quite a lot. When I woke up on day eight I was so exhausted that I couldn’t lift my arms and tears were rolling down my cheeks. I just wanted to give up but I knew that it wasn’t possible as we were in the middle of nowhere and we hadn’t met any people for days. We just had to continue and that feeling of not having a choice is not a pleasant one especially for me who is a person who always find solutions for everything. I had fallen of the bike, god knows how many times, and hurt both of my legs pretty bad and I was in pain and didn’t sleep well. It was just bruises but they were bloody painful big bruises. That day Anders fell off his bike and hurt his knee quite bad. He was just laying under his bike with his foot stuck but at the time I had stopped and come running to him he had managed to get himself loose. I could see that he was in pain but as he had fallen off the bike in a large mud puddle and got both himself and the bike muddy so there in the middle of nowhere, exhausted, hungry, smelly and in pain we started to laugh rather hysterical. This was probably the first step before we would go completely mad so luckily we didn’t have many more days like this. When we had stopped laughing and we were on the bikes again I started to realise that if Anders would get seriously hurt I wouldn’t be able to get help as if I drop the bike I would not be able to lift the bike myself…. scary thought….
During this week Anders also managed to crack one of his teeth. This happened when he ate a lollipop that we had bought to give to kids. Anders who has a very sweet tooth couldn’t of course refuse one and of course he can’t eat a lollipop as you are suppose to, no instead he chew it very quickly and of course one of his teeth cracked, there in the middle of nowhere. If Anders has some kind of pain you can be sure that he will constantly remind you about it… yes he is as a normal man 😉 However, I was suspicious, as he hadn’t said a single word about it.
One day when sitting on my bike in ‘deep’ thoughts I suddenly realised that he hadn’t had the guts to tell me about his sore tooth as he was too afraid that I would take him to a dentist in Mongolia. The comment I got from Anders when I read this paragraph was that I should mentioned that half the tooth is gone, he is probably after some sympathy from you guys 😉
Ok so now I am travelling around the world exhausted, in rain, on muddy roads and with a husband with a sore and swollen knee and a half tooth… I am sure it can only get better from here.
We did a few water crossings and one day we came to a water crossing that we thought we wouldn’t be able to cross as the water was too deep. We started to check the river a bit further downstream without any luck but upstream we found one place that would make the water passing quite wide but the water wasn’t too deep. We took off the cameras, computer etc. and carried it over in case Anders would drop the bikes in the water (yes he kindly offered to take both bikes over so I could photograph him ;). Anders managed to get both bikes over though he looked a bit like an albatross but to be fair it was big slippery stones in the water so I think the albatross way to cross the water was safest way to do it. After we crossed the river we met a couple on a little motorbike. They stopped to say hello and we sat down there in the middle of nowhere and had a chat though we couldn’t understand each other. The guy offered us cigarettes but when I put up a little bit of an act by coughing and pretend that I couldn’t breath if I smoked, they both laughed. We got some sweets from them and we gave them a pen with our logo on. This moment made me so happy as I really liked this couple without even been able to speak to them. We took some photos and we got their address and promised to send them a few pictures. After a while they headed towards the river and we thought how on earth are they going to cross that river with their little bike. In about two seconds later they had crossed the river both on their bike and with all their bags on too… we felt a bit stupid as we stood there with our big expensive bikes, which we had had such a problem with to cross the river earlier. After they had crossed the river they stopped and waved to us. These are the kind of moments that put a smile on my face and make this trip worthwhile doing.
So what about the day when I poked a man in his eye. Not sure if I really should tell you about this one, but what the heck, I’ve already told you guys a lot of things anyway. The day was when I hadn’t had a shower for nearly a week, very little sleep and hardly anything to eat (this is when it is best to keep away from me..) Nevertheless, when we came to a little town and thought we could find some kind of place to stay, get some rest and a shower. Surprisingly there was a hotel but it didn’t have a shower, yes that is right, no shower and the toilet was just a shed in the backyard. The man told Anders that this is not a city where the hotels have showers…. Anyway we decided quite quickly that we didn’t want to stay at this place and I wasn’t happy at all. When coming back to the bikes there were as usually many people surrounding the bikes and though I really like the very friendly Mongolian people it can sometimes become a bit annoying when people constantly touch everything and sometimes sit on the bikes. This is mostly ok as when travelling to these remote areas you have to bear in mind that the people living here they don’t see tourist very often and certainly not these kind of motorbikes. Anyway on this day it became too much for me and I snapped when they started to touch my navigator, unscrew things etc. So what I did was that I got of the bike walked around it and with my index finger tried to poke this poor guy in his eye, and said to him in English ‘Hey, would you like me to touch your eye?’. Of course he didn’t understand me, and he must have thought I was a complete nutter and will probably tell everyone he knows about that crazy woman he met once on a motorbike. Just to clarify, I deeply regret this ‘little’ outburst.
On the other hand we have met so many amazing people on this trip and I can’t really write about them all as that would take me ages and I think the blog post would be too long. However, I have to tell you about the two guys who gave us petrol. One day when we had almost run out of petrol we asked two guys in a car, how long it was to the nearest petrol station. They said it was about 50 km, which wasn’t good news for us and as it was rather late we decided to find a place to camp and worry about the petrol the next day. We left the road and rode uphill and found a spot where we could put up the tent. After about an hour we saw a car coming towards us over the grassland. To our surprise it was the two guys that we met earlier coming looking for us with some petrol, how nice isn’t that? These Mongolian guys had been in a car accident so all the windows in their car were gone. As a windscreen they had just put some plastic foil and even so they took the time to come back to give us petrol. And on top of that they even refuse to let us pay for it. These are moments you will never forget.
The day when we saw tarmac again
We had heard that the tarmac roads should start before the town Tsetserleg but we had got different information about where it would actually start from. So when we were riding on the gravel road that was sort of prepared for asphalt, with many potholes and big stones, Anders, who was riding in front of me, were screaming I can see tarmac, I can see tarmac. My answer was just no way. Not that I thought he was lying about such a thing but I couldn’t believe that after all this hard time we had a smooth beautiful black tarmac in front of us. I can’t remember it but Anders told me that he could just hear me say no and then me starting to sob…. It was such a relief and I was so proud of myself that I had actually managed to ride the whole way to this point.
As I have mentioned before we have had some challenging time and we have lost quite a lot of weight since we started this trip. This is by having sweets for breakfast and peanuts for tea…. Never heard about that diet before but it works perfect…. You might need to travel around the world on a motorbike too but hey that is not that hard…
Some of the people that was happily photographed
The toilets in Mongolia were not always that posh 😉
A few roads we have been riding in Mongolia…