Monday, 21 July 2014

Day 22 Sunday July 20th. 47 miles into Mongolia

Picture last night at the campsite.

We were unclear exactly where we had to go to obtain the border pass needed to travel within 100 km of the Russian border. Geoff went into Tsaganuur and was directed to an army base. The guard at the gate was very helpful, but didn't know about the permit we wanted, so he called his commanding officer and Geoff went and explained with maps, wifi internet signs, a permit for something totally unrelated, and a value of 3000 tsn that he had learnt on the internet that we needed a border pass. Eventually at the mention of the cost the officer produced a small permit and proceeded to copy out Geoff's details from his passport. When he had finished Geoff told him there were three other motorcyclists. He asked for their passports which Geoff did not have, but seeing there was space on the permit for more names, Geoff wrote the others names and the officer adjusted the price to 10,000 tsn and was very happy to issue the permit. So job done!

As we were packing to leave a man on horseback herding cattle came over for a handshake and to inspect the bikes.

A young man on a motorbike came over and chatted and then showed us to the petrol filling station and then the supermarket (corner shop), before directing us onto the right road out of town.

The rest of the day was riding off-road along stony tracks and the occasional loose sand which can catch you out.
As we journey along we passed yurts ( large round tents) and the children came running over to wave as we passed.
In total we must have had five or six bike down incidents just due to loose sand or boggy ruts, but nobody was hurt.

We went through a few very deep puddles in the tracks without incident, but then came to our first true river crossing. The water was about 2 ft deep at the deepest point, and we decided because of the large stones and boulders on the river bottom we would all help each other across. So with one person riding and two people pushing and supporting at the sides we eventually got all four bikes across. But very hard sweaty work. Geoff immediately stripped off and went for a skinny dip in the beautifully cool clear water.

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

We came to a second river crossing but this one was easier and everybody managed to cross successfully on their own. Geoff removes his iPad and electronic gear and walks across with them before risking the crossing. Most things in the panniers would not spoil if they got wet, but the electronic stuff is too big a risk to be totally submerged and depending only on zip lock bags etc.
it was now about 4:30 in the afternoon so we decided to camp the night at the second river crossing.
Everywhere in the daytime there are huge horsefly type insects that Shen they bite they actually draw blood. We can avoid them most of the time with deep and head nets. When the sun sets Mosquitos come out to play!!

Dinner was a repeat of last night, corned beef stew made with potatoes, onions, carrots corned beef and oxo cubes. Delicious.

We are in the middle of a huge plain with mountains all around on each horizon. Many of them have snowy caps.

More later

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