The day before we crossed the border to Mongolia we stopped at a little town called Kosh-Agach. When coming into the town I got a feeling of coming into an old Western film with all these little houses made of different planks of wood. Not many houses were painted instead they had a mix of old and new planks. I cannot in my wildest fantasy get into my head how they can survive the Siberian winter living in these little houses. We stayed the night at a hotel at least that was what they called it. It was cheap but again the shower and toilets were in the corridor and it had a weird smell and the worst was that it looked like someone else slept in the beddings…. we slept in our own sleeping bags that night. I didn’t sleep very well that night, maybe it was because I was nervous about going to Mongolia have to ride off road but I don’t usually get worried about things like that. It couldn’t either be that I was homesick as I had my house (tent) with me. I have been a thinking about the roads in Mongolia and that I was probably rather stupid when we were offered free of road training before we left and didn’t do it…. As I mentioned I am not the person that normally gets worried about this kind of things but it is just that the bike is so bloody heavy, my legs are too short and the roads in Mongolia are not really roads… Anyway the morning after I woke up far too early and felt like shit and it didn’t help that it was pouring down with rain. When we packed the bikes a few men came and stared, yes I mean stared and didn’t say anything. I was probably not the nicest person on earth at that moment which I felt really bad about afterwards as they were just curious about us and the bikes. Luckily the rain stopped when we left, perfect timing. We stopped at a shop to get rid of the ruble we had left and there we met a couple from Australia or actually they were from the Netherlands and England but lived in Australia. It was very nice, after such a long time, to be able to speak with someone else than Anders and I could see that Anders felt the same. We had hardly met anyone for the last month that could speak English and we haven’t even seen a European car for over a month so we talked and talked and talked. They had just arrived from Mongolia and as we were going there we where eager to listen what they had to tell. We also exchanged some Mongolian money with them.
It just took about 40 minutes to the Russian border and there again we met some people from Britain and also some Belgium guys who were doing the Mongolian rally, which is a charity were they drive cars, fire engines etc. from their home country the whole way to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and then leave the cars to people who needs them and then fly back home. I think this is a brilliant idea as then the adventure people get an adventure and the people in Mongolia get newer cars which is much needed as the cars in Mongolia do not last very long due to the very bad roads.
The people at the Russian border were very nice again only the man at the registration office was a grumpy little shit. It didn’t take an awful lot of time so we got through to the next ‘border’, which Anders thought was the Mongolian border, but as I was very skeptical to. It was just a military guy who checked our passports and we didn’t even need to take off the helmets. For the last week we had had very good paved tarmac roads but what was in front of us came us a shock…. oh my god, after the barrier we only saw a gravel road with an awful condition with a lot of potholes etc. I was just thinking, fuck, this is not going to work, I will never in a million years travel on these kind of roads for a month….. But off we went, shaking like hell and I was again regretting not having a sports bra… after this trip I’ll probably need to look for my boobs down in my boots eeek. Anyway about 25km in no man’s land we came to the Mongolian border. This took a bit of time I must say but the reason for that was probably that two of the officers were playing a card game on the computer and another one was a sleep. Luckily for us there were a few others still doing some work and they were very nice and could speak a little bit of English so we even managed to make some jokes that made us all laugh… not sure if we laughed for the same reason though.
Short after coming into Mongolia some guys on small motorbikes stopped us and wanted us to come and stay with them and their family over night but both Anders and me weren’t prepared for tasting the fermented milk just yet so we told them that we were going a bit further. It started to get late so we left the ‘road’ after a while in the direction towards some hills were we could put up the tent. We rode for about 500 meters off track were we found a nice spot. We couldn’t see anyone so we thought no one would find us there. How wrong we were, just after we had had some pasta some kids turned up from out of nowhere, two girls on a little motorbike and two boys on two horses. First I was just thinking, oh no, I am too tired but these kids were lovely. the boys put up a show while riding their horses incredible good bareback. They had such a good sense of humor and we probably laughed for an hour without them understanding English and we without understanding a single word they were saying. The wanted me to ride the horse but unfortunately I am very allergic to horses so I had to do a little bit of acting were I showed them how I would not be able to breath and die if I touched the horse and though my acting skills are very poor they understood. After a while the sun started to go down while the two girls sang a beautiful Mongolian song. which gave both Anders and I goose bumps. After the song the boys and girls left us. We saw them riding down the hill into the darkness, it was such a beautiful sight. Anders and I were left alone sitting there in total tranquillity with a smile on our faces. I am so grateful that these children gave us such a good first evening in Mongolia, I will never forget this moment.
The day after we woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and when we set off we were both a bit disappointed that we didn’t see these lovely children again. We had a day of riding on some good roads and some less good road, or actually, I will rephrase that, we had a day riding on some less awful roads and some awful roads. We stopped in Ölgii where we stayed in a ger in Blue Wolf camp, which wasn’t a nice experience as it was dirty and holes everywhere which made all the insects to come in. Yet again, the bedding wasn’t clean so we slept in our sleeping bags and this time it was that bad that we actually put our own mattresses on top of the bed. The toilets and showers were fairly cleaned though and we had a very nice hot shower.
The day after we set off towards Uureg Lake. Which we heard should be really beautiful little lake in the northwest. The roads from hell started just here. Bear in mind that I have hardly any off road skill so after been dropping the bike several times I stopped and cried, yes it’s true I cried like a baby. I just didn’t want to do this anymore. The real reason for the tears was probably the combination of a few nights with hardly any sleep and also starting a day without breakfast, which is for me never a good thing. Anders, bless him, did his best to get me feel better, he even cocked me some noodles in the middle of the road (no big chance anyone would come on these roads anyway). The noodles made me feel much better and instead of the sadness I felt before, I became furious about myself not be able to ride on these roads. So with my anger we took off again and now I rode much better. I certainly stretched my ability to ride off road that day. I even did my first water crossings that day, which went brilliant. It might not have looked that professional, but I did it 🙂
After we done about 120km off road we stopped completely exhausted for the night. We found a spot, put up the tent and had some more noodles, yummy. It was very calm when we went to sleep but only half an hour later it suddenly started to become very windy. The wind just increased so I had to try to press down the tent to the ground while Anders went out to try to find some big stones to place on top of the pegs. I thought it was a tornado that would lift both the tent and us up in the air. I was thinking about my boys, my mum and dad. Maybe I should have written a farewell letter in case something would happen on this trip… Oh well, I said to myself, ‘Best not to be such a drama queen’. The wind stopped after a while and we where exhausted after had been trying to keep the tent and ourself down on the ground. Anders fell asleep sleep immediately while I was awake for a long time with my head full of thoughts.
The morning after we had to remove all the sand which was absolutely everywhere. Though I’ve little sleep I was in really good mood and couldn’t wait get going again. The reason for that might have been because riding off road the day before had boost my confidence.
We arrived to a lake in the afternoon and it was really beautiful. We put up the tent next to the lake and we were totally by ourselves and could have a swim in the lake and wash off all the dust. We had bought some chili con carne earlier somewhere in Europe that we said we should save for a special occasion and we thought this was that very occasion. We sat there Anders and me smelling of soap, seeing the sun goes down, eating Chili con Carne and thought that life sometimes is pretty good 🙂
In the next blog I will tell you about the man smelling of booze who stuck his head into the tent when I was half naked…..