Sunday 24 June Day 8
Saturday was a rest day and we needed it. I went for a horse ride and the had a siesta.,
Sunday, we retraced our path away from the lake on a dry and dusty road (it had been muddy and puddled on Friday). I had another problem when my bash plate under the engine nearly fell off, but the mechanics had a bolt to fix it. It was a lovely day for riding. We turned off onto a dirt road and came to an enormous flat basin – we dubbed ‘mototopia’ – a perfect place to ride motorbikes. You could go anywhere you wanted, no roads required. Dave got bogged down by the lake.
We stopped for lunch at a volleyball court (yes in the middle of nowhere) but the accompanying shelter gave us welcome shade. Then we rode on to see bronze age (3000-4000 years old) deer stones. All very mysterious – about 1900 have been found mostly in Mongolia. They are thought to be memorials to significant people or even to animals. Whilst we were looking at deer stones a local family herded their flock with horse and people mover!
Our next ger camp was up another long dusty, rocky road and sadly the beer was warm but cold supplies were soon rustled up. After the evening meal, the family who owned the ger put on a Mongolian culture evening with singing (including harmonica and piano accordion) and dancing and explanation of the traditional clothes. We were invited to dress up and posed for photos. Great fun. I played ukulele and our group sang the Lion Sleeps Tonight to our hosts which went down well and we finished with a traditional dance. The headman treated me with great reverence because he discovered I was one year older than him.Our next ger camp was up another long dusty, rocky road and sadly the beer was warm but cold supplies were soon rustled up. After the evening meal, the family who owned the ger put on a Mongolian culture evening with singing (including harmonica and piano accordion) and dancing and explanation of the traditional clothes. We were invited to dress up and posed for photos. Great fun. I played ukulele and our group sang the Lion Sleeps Tonight to our hosts which went down well and we finished with a traditional dance. The headman treated me with great reverence because he discovered I was one year older than him.
Monday 25 June Day 9
A day of difficult riding though only 80kms. It was all on ‘dirt’ though it was very rocky in places and we crossed 2 passes over 2500 metres high. The valleys are immense it’s hard to describe the scale of it all. Here’s a picture of the view from a hill looking down on the support trucks down on the track. We usually stop on the top of passes to see where we’ve been and where we go next. Often then locals will come, and stare and we have a few gifts to hand out – I’ve been giving out little koalas.
We are in the remotest part of Mongolia with no WiFi and limited phone coverage. The people who live out here live really simple lives herding their sheep and goats, cattle and yaks. They move camp to bring the herds down onto then plains where new grass is growing before preparing hay for the winter and returning to sheltered places where there are rough stables for the animals. Many animals are lost because of the cold and lack of feed. In really tough years (called ‘yuds’ whole flocks may die). There are lots of young animals in the herds. Young yaks look and run like large dogs.
I hit a big stone and stalled my bike exiting a creek crossing today. I stopped the bike falling over but needed to wait for 2 other riders to hold the bike up for me to get going again. There have been more creek crossing lately, here’s Dave in a cloud of spray. We get wet but dry out pretty quickly when we get moving on the road.
We had a snack and drink in mid-morning and reached the ger camp for lunch at 1.30. The locals had a fire at the door to the dining room. What were they burning do you think? And why?
We had a doze and then tried our hand at archery – one of the traditional skills of Mongolians. There was a big electrical storm in the evening and there were fears that rain may make the next day even more difficult.
Tuesday 26 June Day 10
This was billed as the toughest day of the trip – only 165kms but all on dirt with many gullies, creek crossings, rocky sections and opportunities to get lost. Our leader has GPS but even he makes mistakes and we find ourselves making a ‘new road’ in the direction we have to go. We left an hour earlier than planned in case the rain had made conditions more difficult but made good time. All the 16 riders (except one) have done tours with Compass before so are pretty disciplined about being on time and following instructions. We stop every hour or so to get water from the support truck, take in the views and take a rest.
I had one unexpected and delightful moment. We have seen a few two humped (dromedary) camels on out travels but today I found myself riding parallel to 13 camels all racing along. I was doing about 40kph and they kept up the pace all the time.
We stopped in a dusty small town and bought drinks, snacks and the entire stock of 3 hats from the general store. At a stop on a pass a young lad rode up to check us out riding bareback. He posed for photos and showed us how he got on and off his horse and demonstrated galloping.
We were delayed for a while when one of our riders had a medical problem and needed to visit a doctor. He was able to join us for lunch under the trees by the river but was unable to ride any more. It was sad to lose one of the team because we have become a tight little community helping each other out and enjoying the adventure together.
We reached White Lake at 6.30 – tired, dusty and thankful to have completed the day. Here are Dave and I with the lake behind us. Dave is very dusty, he’s not usually as dark skinned as this.
End of Part #4,
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.