Wednesday 20 June Day 4
It’s now Saturday, but I’m writing about Wednesday. We retraced our path down the main road of Darkham and the turned right (west) onto dirt tracks. Nice easy riding and lovely wide valleys with herds of animals roaming free. There are no fences, so the animals go where they like. It is necessary to take care as they cross then roads or loiter around the roads. We have had a rider hit a sheep a glancing blow. Fortunately, it got up and ran away (right in front of me) but I grabbed all the brakes and stopped.
We stopped for picnic lunch in a copse of trees and then rode on to our first ger camp. Before we settled in we went to visit a monastery via a couple of river crossings. Lots of animals taking a drink and lots of young. This is early summer for Mongolia lasting from June to August, so they have to get their young established before winter arrives (that’s basically the rest of the year).
The ger camp had a big ger for dining and a bar, three chalet type building for the staff, toilets and about 15 gers in the middle of nowhere. There were quite cosy and didn’t need any heating in summer.
After the evening meal I got my ukulele out and we sang and played songs together in the outsider pagoda. To maintain our reputation, we drank all their beer as well
Thursday 21 June Day 5
There are 3 mechanics who follow our line of 17 bikes. They have been kept busy with punctures and breaking bikes. It was my turn on Wednesday with a bolt falling off my hand guard and a bolt falling out of the back brake. Fortunately, a truck was bringing a new bike to replace a broken one and they brought the new parts for the brake. Honestly my bike is an old bomb well past its prime. It’s a 650 Suzuki with 40027 miles on the clock but as the speedo doesn’t work there is no knowing what it has done. It still handles well on the dirt and will go on paved roads at about 100kph so it’s doing its job.
Again, we retraced our path and then turned onto a wide gravel road until we came to a paved road. Thankfully the leader has GPS. We stopped for coffee at a roadside ger shop on a lovely sunny day. It often starts cold and then we strip off as we go along as it warms up. We rode on to Endernet an awful old copper town. It’s a smelly part derelict town and we found a nice area to stop for lunch. I had a purple taro ice cream to finish my lunch.
We often see eagles presumably on the lookout for weakling young animals or placental remains from births. Or maybe fallen motorcycle riders (but we have done well lately with no tumbles). We only had 2 punctures today – seems to be ‘normal’ with the local roads. Dave took an artistic picture of a rest stop from a field of butterflies.
The next ger camp was in a beautiful spot with classic views. Sadly, we were the first guests of the season and the showers were cold, the beer warm and the meal was cold. We gathered outside for another singalong. I tried to teach the group to back me on Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, my aim is to have it right for the last night dinner.
Got up for an early morning pee and snapped this sunset (sunrise? – Ed.). This was mostly a tarmac day and we rumbled along keeping our eyes on the clouds as a storm was forecast. We stopped for coffee and donned all out wet weather gear and sure enough it rained and as we were getting near 2000m above sea level it was getting cold. All very unpleasant but us bikies just grit our teeth and strive on.
We stopped at Moron for coffee in a nice warm hotel and pushed on in dry but cold conditions. We stopped at a reindeer camp – poor things are moulting ready to grow new fur for winter. The track to the ger camp was a 33kms long dirt track and all rutted and wet. Quite a challenge on a cold wet day but we all arrived safely. Dave held forth with his back to the fire and beer in his hand. He was soaked to the skin. Showers were hot, there was a fire in our ger and there was a lovely view over the lake. Rest day on Saturday and forecast of fine weather for the rest of the trip.
Toilet facilities on the roads are fairly basic – well very basic to fairly basic. Here are a few examples.
The prize for the most basic goes to male and female dunnies with no door (long drop). The view from the cubicle was pretty good.
Next is the dunny with a door and the best is a very long drop dunny with a door and a 500T (30c) entry fee.
Language is mixed Russian script and English but this pizza shop used French as well. I wonder how many of their clientele understood what it meant.
And finally, a prize will be awarded to anyone who can guess what these 2 signs are meant to represent. The notice was by a petrol station. Entries close when I get home on 3 July.
End of Part #3,
If you would like to know more about our Magical Mongolia tour, please visit the the tour webpage.
We have a few remaining places available on the August 2019 departure.