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Old 09-01-2013, 06:21 AM   #331
twflybum
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Nice update!
Looking forward to your Mongolia experience..

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Old 09-02-2013, 09:17 AM   #332
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Glad to see you two are riding (and posting)again. I was starting to wonder if something had happened. Looking forward to the updates. I had a good experience with a TKC on the back of my XC. Of course, airing down off pavement helps noticeably.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:50 AM   #333
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Hey,

keep it comming, good to see you both on the road again.

Greetings

Toine
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Old 09-03-2013, 02:57 AM   #334
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Great scenery! Keep up the good work
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Old 09-06-2013, 06:50 PM   #335
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Cool2 Olgii – Aocit Nuur – Kok Nuur - Olgii

We crossed into Mongolia with the Austrian couple (Rudy & Tess) but after a quick check of the map we thought it would take too long for us to travel together so we sped ahead and agreed to meet them in Olgii for lunch.





We were stopping all the time for photos so it wasn't long before the Austrians caught up to us and they offered to take our camera and get some action shots of us. We didn't have many photos of the two of us so we jumped at the idea.





The road between the border and Olgii is under various stages of construction and some has been sealed. It will be fully sealed within a year. Still, there was plenty of gravel to wet the appetite.

Coming into Olgii.



We had a delicious lunch at a hotel of stir fry and went to the Blue Wolf Ger Camp where we would stay the night. At the camp we met an Austrian guy travelling in a Unimig whose been coming to Mongolia for 15 years and leads tours. He basically laid out Mongolia like this.



We could see a plan forming.



If the most scenic lake is in the north west then of course we have to go there, but because it borders Russia, China and Mongolia we needed special permits. We could risk going there without them but if military pulled us over we could have to spend some time lokced up up and pay a stupid amount of bribes so we arranged the permits. The Blue Wolf Ger Camp where we were staying could organise all that and it would take a day and cost $15 each, so while we waited we would make an overnight trip to Aoicit Nuur north east of Olgii, the only lake that’s easily accessible for swimming.

The roads here shake the bejeezus out of everything and not long out of town we were already replacing missing bolts and cutting some of the broken mud guard where it was rubbing on the forks.







An oasis in the desert.





Loving this, great gravel/sandy roads and plenty to choose from.







The Austrians Rudy and Tess in their campervan. They brought the cold beers.



Some snaps from around the lake. I swear I didn't edit this photo, this is how it turned out.





We camped about 75 metres from the lake on top of a natural 3 metre ledge in the geography that drops down to the shore. Above the ledge where we camped in the wind there were no mosquitoes. We used the bike to break the wind.







In the morning birds danced on our tent and flapped around.

There is only one direct road to Aoicit Nuur so we had to do some backtracking. That was fine though, we knew the road so we blasted through the fine sand in really fun tracks.

Even though all three roads look to go in seemingly completely different directions they all lead to the same place




The stirfry where we had lunch with the Austrians was so good we went back a second time on our own. The Mongolians sure do know how to make a great stir fry. We came to this place three times during our trip. This time it was stirfry and duck. We didn't expect this type of food in Mongolia that's for sure. We had a quick lunch and restocked our supplies and headed for Kok Nuur.



So many tracks to choose from. They spread out like fingers in all directions but all meet at one point. This isn’t because the Mongolians have any particular fondness of making new tracks, it’s because the roads are generally so corrugated that they’re forced to leave the main track and make a new one or risk shaking their vehicle to pieces.







Bactrian camels. Not me, in the background



Just outside Ulan-Khus we were expecting to make some sort of water crossing through swamp land but luckily for us the swamp was dry and there was a bridge over the water crossing. September we are told is the driest month. The bridge made for a good photo so we stopped for some snaps.





While we chatted and checked our vehicles were still in one piece a guy in a car came speeding towards the bridge like a mad man and skidded to a stop between the van and the bike, got out of his car and started yelling Mongolian at us and obviously wanted us to move our vehicles. He was frothing as he yelled that's how angry he was. There was room for him to go around but he was obviously upset so I went to the move the bike and as I put my helmet on he threw a rock at the bike He then walked over to his car and pulled out a shovel and raised it at me and I said “hey hey hey” and I expected him to hit me across the back as I rode past but instead he smacked the tent on the back of the bike. I didn’t want him to go postal on the bike so I moved it a good safe distance down the road but as I turned around I saw him waving the shovel in Tess’s face. She was in the back of the van and I could see she was trying to close the door but he had the shovel so menacingly in her face he was blocking the door. He then walked around the other side of the van where Rudy and Patty were standing and started on them and Rudy told Patty to get in the van. Patty was close to closing the door when he pulled it from her hands and started yelling Mongolian in her face. He then went around the other side and had a go at Rudy before getting in his car and speeding off.

We were visibly shaken up and not in a million years would we expect an encounter like this, over something so simple. We think drugs or alcohol must have been influencing him because there is nothing that explains just how irrational and violent his temper was.

Shaken we continued on to look for a camp site, the further the better from the bridge.



Riding these tracks was the whole Mongolian experience for me. They just snaked through the middle of a valley without shaking the shit out of the bike and we could comfortably cruise and bounce around in our seat and let our mind wander.





We found a nice spot by the Khovd River and we had a BBQ of spiced chicken and salads…and of course cold beers. Sorry no photos of the BBQ we were too busy eating and drinking





The roads were perfect and fun for the bike but it was slow going for the van. We weren’t in a rush so while Rudy got used to the military maps on his GPS we took our time and stopped for lots of photos.







Yaks in the foreground and a joint venture mine to the right between US, China and Mongolia.



We expected to make a pretty big river crossing of the Khovd River but instead we found a bridge. A new one is going in beside it.



The edge of Kok Nuur. Crappy and cold weather though so we weren’t looking forward to camping, and considered turning back and camping on lower ground.



The Austrians were starting to struggle in the sandy tracks so they wanted to setup camp before we got to the lake. It was windy, wet and cold and the easy solution would have been for us to setup next to them and use their van as a windbreak. It didn’t sit right with me though, we’ve come all this way to Mongolia only to puss out when the conditions got a little rough. So we left, and found a spot further along the lake. So glad we did. The scenery was unreal. A mountain bordering the Chinese border on the other side.



We found a spot on a hill and using the bike as a windbreak with some rocks underneath we pitched our tent and made ourselves a dinner of noodles and tea and sat in our tent while the wind and rain lashed our tent.







It was a very cold night and the winds continued until morning, but it was worth it. The next morning the scene was of absolute magic. Snow had lightly covered the mountain peaks and while a snow storm came rolling off the mountains towards the north west about 25 horses galloped after each other in the valley below. This was that moment we had been travelling for four months. Absolute magic. I wanted to stand there forever and just absorb it all but the cold was too much so we had to make tracks. Patty in particular was feeling the cold.







We quickly packed our tent to beat the oncoming snow and went back to meet the Austrians.



Snow is falling in the valley.



We said our goodbyes to the Austrians and made good progress back to Olgii. There is only one road in and out of the lake so again we had to do some backtracking. I couldn't remember the roads being so corrugated the first time. They shake everything, from the bike to the brain in your socket and leave your hands feeling numb. In sections it's so bad I couldn't help but wonder why anyone would want to come to Mongolia, but then it finishes and I understand why.









So far we're finding it hard to warm to the Mongolian people. The only interactions we've had have been with the guy wanting to hit us with a shovel, and men asking for vodka, money or my bike, and some times all three. We hope this changes.

Our route so far.

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Old 09-06-2013, 08:21 PM   #336
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Originally Posted by GuiltyParty View Post

North of the "swimming lake"...Not impassible/impossible solo... I did it no problems. You have to go south of Achit lake (swimming lake) though, you cant cross the river that flows into it from the north.
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Old 09-06-2013, 09:59 PM   #337
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Amazing pictures guys.

One off topic question... What kind of tent are you using?
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Old 09-07-2013, 01:52 AM   #338
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The stirfry where we had lunch with the Austrians was so good we went back a second time on our own. The Mongolians sure do know how to make a great stir fry. We came to this place three times during our trip. This time it was stirfry and duck. We didn't expect this type of food in Mongolia that's for sure. We had a quick lunch and restocked our supplies and headed for Kok Nuur.




Hey! shouldn't you take the picture BEFORE you demolish all the food?

I remember when I was living in China, some friends of mine visited Mongolia. They told similar stories to yours in regard to the locals. Drinking and fighting and generally being obnoxious to outsiders seems the norm -- a bit like Wales, where I'm from

One day they were in Ulan Bator, walking past a police station when a cop steps out, stops them and demands to see their passports and visas. Only one of my friends had his on him (the other guys' passports were in the safe, back at the hotel). The cop takes the passport into the police station to 'check it' and tells them to wait outside. After nearly 30 minutes of kicking their heels, they venture inside the cop shop to see what's up.
They say the conversation went more or less along these lines:

Friend: "Excuse me, where's my passport? Is there a problem?"
Cop: "What passport?"
Friend: "My passport. You just took it to check my visa."
Cop: "No. No. No passport. You go now."
Friend: "What the.....!?!"
Cop: "British Embassy that way"

After locating a shack-like building some streets away and asking to speak to the British consul they're shown into a room.
The consul, a Scotsman, quickly ejects the attractive secretary from his lap and straightens his tie.

This conversation went more like this:

Friend: "The police have just stolen my passport"
Consul: "Awww no. Not again"
Friend: "Err....AGAIN?"
Consul: "Oh yes. It happens sometimes here because... THIS is Mongolia!"
Friend: "Can you get it back for me?"
Consul: "Ooh no, no, no. THIS is Mon-gooo-leee-ahhhh. I have as little to do with those guys as possible. It's better to get a new one. I can help you with that."
Friend: "What? Oh. Well... ok. What do I do?"
Consul: "Well... these some forms and things....and a photograph.... I think we need a photograph. But it's going to take some time because thi-..."
Friend: "Let me guess! THIS IS MONGOLIA, right?"
Consul: "..- Mongoli-.... yes. Aye. That's right."

So, in ONLY three or four weeks - he escaped. Which was pretty quick. Because, as you too have already noticed, he was IN MONGOLIA!!!

-----

So, considering the roads, the rides, the "locals", and the quality of [I]help[I] you can expect to get from the officials, I have a ton of respect for you three (You, Patty, and Tiger).

This is quite a hard-core trip you've been undertaking.... and doing...and WINNING (no matter what the road has thrown at you)!

big round of applause

and staying tuned for more:
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:06 AM   #339
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Still enjoying the hell out of this report.
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Old 09-08-2013, 02:21 AM   #340
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoninMoto View Post
North of the "swimming lake"...Not impassible/impossible solo... I did it no problems. You have to go south of Achit lake (swimming lake) though, you cant cross the river that flows into it from the north.
The guy in the Unimog laying out the map for us obviously hasn't heard about Noah Horak. Impossible, pfft. He just said it's very easy to get stuck and because there isn't many people up that way if you get yourself in trouble you're on your own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paratrout View Post
Amazing pictures guys.

One off topic question... What kind of tent are you using?
It's a Lansan, can't remember exactly which one. I bought it from Kathmandu in Oz about 6 or 7 years ago and it's still going strong. It's a multi-season tent so it's not great when the wind really kicks up or when it's really cold but for this sort of trip it's been fine. I like the vestibule at the front for putting our gear in overnight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JJBrewbus View Post
Hey! shouldn't you take the picture BEFORE you demolish all the food?

I remember when I was living in China, some friends of mine visited Mongolia. They told similar stories to yours in regard to the locals. Drinking and fighting and generally being obnoxious to outsiders seems the norm -- a bit like Wales, where I'm from

One day they were in Ulan Bator, walking past a police station when a cop steps out, stops them and demands to see their passports and visas. Only one of my friends had his on him (the other guys' passports were in the safe, back at the hotel). The cop takes the passport into the police station to 'check it' and tells them to wait outside. After nearly 30 minutes of kicking their heels, they venture inside the cop shop to see what's up.
They say the conversation went more or less along these lines:

Friend: "Excuse me, where's my passport? Is there a problem?"
Cop: "What passport?"
Friend: "My passport. You just took it to check my visa."
Cop: "No. No. No passport. You go now."
Friend: "What the.....!?!"
Cop: "British Embassy that way"

After locating a shack-like building some streets away and asking to speak to the British consul they're shown into a room.
The consul, a Scotsman, quickly ejects the attractive secretary from his lap and straightens his tie.

This conversation went more like this:

Friend: "The police have just stolen my passport"
Consul: "Awww no. Not again"
Friend: "Err....AGAIN?"
Consul: "Oh yes. It happens sometimes here because... THIS is Mongolia!"
Friend: "Can you get it back for me?"
Consul: "Ooh no, no, no. THIS is Mon-gooo-leee-ahhhh. I have as little to do with those guys as possible. It's better to get a new one. I can help you with that."
Friend: "What? Oh. Well... ok. What do I do?"
Consul: "Well... these some forms and things....and a photograph.... I think we need a photograph. But it's going to take some time because thi-..."
Friend: "Let me guess! THIS IS MONGOLIA, right?"
Consul: "..- Mongoli-.... yes. Aye. That's right."

So, in ONLY three or four weeks - he escaped. Which was pretty quick. Because, as you too have already noticed, he was IN MONGOLIA!!!

-----

So, considering the roads, the rides, the "locals", and the quality of [I]help[I] you can expect to get from the officials, I have a ton of respect for you three (You, Patty, and Tiger).

This is quite a hard-core trip you've been undertaking.... and doing...and WINNING (no matter what the road has thrown at you)!

big round of applause

and staying tuned for more:
We were so hungry photos were the last thing on our mind, and when we finished we were so stuffed we could barely lift the camera! That duck, amazing

We had our own run in's with the Welsh, the Welsh weather that is I've been there three times on the bike for some offroading and it's possibly the coldest and wettest I've ever been. Fantastic place to ride. And the locals are alright too

Your friend must have had a lot of stir-fry's in three or four weeks
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Old 09-08-2013, 02:47 AM   #341
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Obviously not!

Great pictures. I didn't make it west of Olgii. I guess I'll have to go back.

Where the heck are you guys now?
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:29 AM   #342
twflybum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuiltyParty View Post
It's a Lansan, can't remember exactly which one. I bought it from Kathmandu in Oz about 6 or 7 years ago and it's still going strong. It's a multi-season tent so it's not great when the wind really kicks up or when it's really cold but for this sort of trip it's been fine. I like the vestibule at the front for putting our gear in overnight.
Thanks! I've been wondering the same thing. I haven't been able to locate a tent with that vestibule layout.

Btw.. great update!
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:53 AM   #343
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Glad to see you both back on the road:
Thanks for sharing your RR and amazing pictures. Have fun and be safe
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Old 09-08-2013, 09:14 AM   #344
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Olgii - 10km outside Uliastai

Nervously we set out south from Olgii. We were venturing out into the big unknown with just the two of us, effectively solo as we had only the one bike. This is why we had been riding the past four months (if you include our 3 week stop in Tes while we repaired the bike) - remote Mongolia - the land with no fences.

Shortly out of Olgii we came to a barricade across the road. Great, the 'safe' route south has been blocked because of quarantine and we would need to go north into the mud or through the middle into the sand dunes we thought. It was a police checkpoint only and while he wrote down the bike details he demanded 5000 tughrik (about £2.50) to let us pass. This was tourist prices. I knew we were being ripped off by the smile on his face but we coughed up anyway, not knowing the real price.

South of Olgii is Tolbo Nuur with various stages of road construction underway.





Some roadworks have been perfectly rolled and haven't turned to pot holes yet.



A mountain pass.





Our first taste of mud



But it was nothing



We passed a car on the Mongol Rally somewhere on the pass but we stopped at the mud in case they needed a push...and for photos if they got stuck



We did another crossing after the mud and stopped to make sure the Mongol car got through ok.

Some abandoned buildings at the top of the pass.







Another water crossing in the middle of nowhere. Given recent history of water crossings we couldn't risk dropping it so I took the safe approach walked it across then piggy backed Patty across.



Fun





Proudly flying the aussie flag.



We passed through Khovd and through another police check point. The guy waved a receipt through the booth which showed 1500 tughrik (the first checkpoint outside Olgii was 5000 tughrik) indicating that's the amount we had to pay so we coughed it up, but then noticed the price board outside his office saying it was 500. We tried arguing and saying we want our change but all he could say was "nup", "nup". To us it's 50 pence difference and nothing, it's the principal of it. His attitude isn't helping us like the mongols more.

Five minutes up the road open desert laid out before us and suddenly our flavoured rice dinner didn't sound so appealing. We stopped to chat about our options - we could go back to Khovd, get a nice meal and head back into the desert or we could just find a hotel. We were knackered and decided we deserved a decent meal. I gassed the bike to spin it around without paying attention to the surface and before we knew it we were sprawled out on the road with the bike on it's side. A fine layer of sand covered the road. Meal and hotel it is

Dinner was another delicious stir-fry and to add a romantic touch we did it by candlelight...because the electricity kept cutting out At the hotel there was no hot water. The next day the electricity still wasn't on and the supermarkets wouldn't open without the electricty so we found a mini-market and bought a carton of milk and ate our breakfast on the street which got funny looks from passersby...what are these crazy tourists doing? Eating breakfast on the street?! We bought nothing else from the market because the lady wanted to charge us european prices.

Shortly outside Khovd we had slab



They stink



Hell



We were riding along a steppe with mountains on all sides and then it sunk in just how truly remote we were. Our past incidents popped into my mind. Did I have enough benzine? Did I have my spare tube? Tyre levers? We hadn't seen another car in miles and the tracks were so far apart how would we wave a car down if it did come past?

The only thing sharing the steppe with us was two wild sheep that ran across our path heads down at full speed away from the bike.



Just as we're thinking we're the only crazy people out here, we bump into this guy, a Belgian cyclist we met briefly in Olgii.



This trip I really wanted to camp with another traveller on two wheels so we asked if he wanted some company.



Raff had been travelling a year which means he rode through Western Europe in the middle of winter. Hardcore.



Corrugations of doom. So bad my temper was flaring. I wanted to chuck the bike and leg it the rest of the way to Ulaanbaatar. On the corrugations so far we could find a speed around 80km/h which would negate the bumps and we could sort of skip over them. Not on these ones. These corrugations had been made from 4wd's doing 100km/h + and the friction from their wheels created these bumps, so for us to skip over them we would could either do 20km/h (we may as well be cycling) or 105km/h. 105km/h in loose gravel and sand is dangerous. We're not Dakar riders trying to get to the finish line...so we sat on 20km/h In these moments I wonder why anyone comes to Mongolia, because it's certainly not for the roads



But eventually the corrugations stop and life makes sense again



We stopped in Altai City to stock up on supplies and found possibly the best market in all of Mongolia. Salami, cereal, fruit and milk in small cartons perfect for travel.

Back on the steppe, with incredible roads. Vast plains and rolling green hills.





And surprisingly we meet another cyclist. Surprising because we are on the middle route and normally we would expect people to be on the southern route because it's drier, safer and more direct to Ulaanbaatar. We met Stefan in Osh after our accident in Tajikistan when our bike was still out of action so he was really impressed when he saw us on the road.



I could do this road aalllllllll day long, forever. This, to me, IS Mongolia. The road between Altai City and Uliastai filled my every Mongolian need.

















At this time of year the mozzies are out in force and it's cold in the passes so by the time we found a suitable spot it was almost dark. We camped 10km outside Uliastai within view of the city.

The route so far, the 'middle' route

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Old 09-08-2013, 09:40 AM   #345
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It's nice to see you guys are having dry weather and the tracks for the most part look fantastic.
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