This is what I’m in for in the next week! UGH! I hope my GPS can work it out and I hope I can stay upright!
Anyway, that’s in the future, back to the present!
I met a nice Spanish Biker in UlanUde. His name is Javier, he’s 52 and believe it or not he is riding from Barcelona to Vladivostok and back in two months! You think I’m crazy!!!
We will ride together through Mongolia then he goes off in another direction. I need him to pick me up if (when) I fall off in the Mongolian sand! Maybe he needs me too?
We had a nice Spanish Valencia wine at a little restaurant which was lovely. My first wine in what seems a lifetime!
The next day was sunny and surprisingly warm and we set off on the 560 K to Ulaanbaatar.. Inevitably the Customs was awful. It took three hours and there were hardly any other people at the border. All this silly stamping of papers from one window to the next, interrupted by the mandatory lunch break. SO frustrating
We then entered Mongolia and immediately it was totally different. We stopped at a little hut that served as a cafe and had some tasty dumplings. The old lady serving kept trying to give us more. Everybody was happy and smiling and so friendly. If this is typical of Mongolia I’m going to like it here!
I saw my first Mongolian Dog. VERY DIRTY and probably full of fleas and rabies!
Along the road there were lots of horses running about freely. They are so beautiful
We started to have a taste of roads to come…It’s a pothole nightmare and you keep having to swerve to avoid sinking into various holes and dips which would easily destroy the suspension.
We eventually reached Ulaanbaatar and settled into a nice Hotel that Javier had booked. I was intending to stay at the Oasis Hostel which is the Biker meeting place. I took one look at Javier’s comfy bed and that was it. I checked in!
Ulaanbaatar is a big and dirty place with horrendous traffic.problems. However, it is showing signs of wealth and many large and impressive buildings exist and more are in construction. The main square is huge and Parliament is at one end. The inevitable statue of Genghis Khan is standing guard at Parliament. There was an open air cinema in progress when we walked around.
Our dinner that night was very interesting but actually quite tasty
The next day Javier needed to change his tyres. It was Sunday but that doesn’t stop commerce here! We found a shed with a few blokes lolling around and a picture of tyres on the outside so we thought this must be a tyre place which indeed it was. Javier negotiated to have his tyres changed for $5.00 and before we could say Jack Robinson the rear wheel was off. There were at one point NINE blokes all trying to fit the new tyre.
It was chaos. Javier became quite edgy as the tyre leavers sank into his beautiful new tyres! however eventually all was fixed and off we went. Two hours later Javier had a FLAT TYRE!
We visited the Monastery which looks old and very beautiful but is only dated from the late 1800’s. As we walked in about three busloads of very beautiful girls arrived, all dressed n gorgeous outfits. We thought it must be a wedding but they were all girls, no Groom or males apart from a photographer.
Obviously the girls couldn’t resist having their photo taken with us!
Later we were told it was a Graduation Ceremony. I wondered why it was only girls celebrating graduating!
The next day Javier got his tyres changed again and we went off sightseeing.
We visited the BIG BUDDHA and the Winter Palace of Bogd Khan who rules around the beginning of thew 20th Century. The Russians under Stalin destroyed most of the Monasteries and most of the Palaces which is really sad.
Apparently Buddhism has only “emerged” again since the 1990’s.
The Winter Palace is quite dilapidated and is in need of a lot of restoration… but is interesting all the same. What a shame nobody seems to care.You would at least think they could keep up the garden!
We’ve not been very adventurous in our choice of places for dinner. I asked the Hotel for recommendations and was told that KFC was really good!
We resisted that temptation but went to the Irish Pub instead. This time we had a bottle of Australian Wine. It was called “Australian Bush” and had a picture if the inevitable Kangaroo on the label. Do the marketing people REALLY think that Kangaroos sell Australian Wine?….I have no idea where it came from but it was actually quite drinkable!
On our last day we went to see the Genghis Khan statue which is about 50K from the City.
The monument is only six years old and is 40 m tall. It’s made of stainless steel. It is very impressive. There is a lift to the top which was a relief. Apparently the site is where Genghis Khan found a golden whip!
We got dressed up as Geoffrey Khan and Javier Khan and had our photo taken
On the way out I met this Vulture!
Tomorrow we’re on the road again. This is probably the hardest part of the trip and I have to admit to a bit of apprehension as I don’t know just how bad and difficult the tracks will be. It has rained a lot which wont help. Still….If it gets too hard I could always find a big truck!
The distance across Mongolia from Ulaanbaatar is about 1700 K and about 1200k of that is tracks. I’m told that an average speed of 25k is doing well!
I’ve allowed about 8-10 days for this part of the trip..
I’ve no idea whether there will be any WiFi so there might be a long gap till my next post. I’ll try and give an update if i can!