Ulaangom to Kosh Agach

Today plan was to get as far past the Russian boarder as possible which was looking good until we came upon our second river crossing of the day and probably the last of the trip. The weather was starting to turn so Kev walked the river for a good hour to find a suitable place to cross but it had been raining up stream so the river was raging and getting higher. The other problem with the river was that it splits into 5 or 6 rivers so had to find the safest path through each, we were able to ride through a couple though the rocks were very slippery and the current very strong which caught me out. Once again I dropped the bike but recovered it quickly, my 690 r is just a little to high for me and it’s difficult to keep my balance on slippery surfaces if I hit a boulder. We got to a middle island and I looked around and noticed that I had lost my tent, a flip flop and my camping stool 🙁 , I had loosened off the straps whilst waiting for Kev earlier thinking we may have to carry the gear across. In the rush to get across before the river became to fast and high I had forgot to tighten the straps back up.

On the way to Russian Border.

On the way to Russian Border.

Mountain pass near Russian border.

Mountain pass near Russian border.

Camels near the Russian border.

Camels near the Russian border.

 A couple of Mongolian horsemen arrived when we were half way across and offered ropes to pull us with their horses, these guys were really nice, they showed us a path through the rest of the river. By this time the wind and rain had started to hit hard, so after a quick chat, photo session and direction to the border we went on our way.

Mongolian river crossing near Russian border.

Mongolian river crossing near Russian border.

Mongolian river crossing horsemen.

Mongolian river crossing horsemen.

After Mongolian river crossing.

After Mongolian river crossing.

Mongolian river crossing with horseman.

Mongolian river crossing with horseman.

From the river we crossed an open plain, I have never experienced wind like we had there. At times I was leaving 45 degrees against it just to keep upright! It was bitterly cold and hail on top of the fact that I was wet, we climbed higher into the mountains where the Mongolian frontier is located, the tracks disappear without warning so at times we criss crossed to find more tracks going in the right direction. The last 100km or so is desolate with a few Ger’s scattered around and a small town 20km from the border but why it’s there I couldn’t hazard a guess. Riding along the road and suddenly the border fencing cut straight through it with no gate! we stopped to check the GPS and a young lad pulled up on a motorbike telling us that the border is closed for the night and we could stay with him in his house, he also knew where we could change money, get food or drink, get bike bits or anything else he could possibly sell us. Time was getting on so we told him we would check the border and get back to him if there was a problem, we followed the line of the border fence past the town until we hit another road, a quick dash to the border and what do ya know, the border was open but only just.

Mark emptying boots of water.

Mark emptying boots of water.

 

Passed the worst of the weather.

Passed the worst of the weather.

Way to Russian border.

Way to Russian border.

We arrived at the boarder at 5.15 only to find it closes at 5.30 on Saturday, we were the only travellers there and they were not to amused at us turning up at such a time. This was to turn out to be the quickest Mongolian/Russian border crossing ever only 45 minutes which included the most bizarre 25km run across no mans land. As we went through each check the staff were leaving behind us, what a result as we got back on the road in record time. We rode for another hour or so until we arrived at Kosh Agach, time was getting on so we rode around the town and found a B&B for the night.

Distance travelled 336kms Max Altitude 2510mtrs
Total Distance travelled 8152kms

Ulaangom

We broke camp this morning and started heading towards Ulaangom through the Mongolian wilderness, fantastic country side here but no roads only dirt, gravel or sand tracks but a lovely ride none the less. We arrived at a river crossing (our first in Mongolia!)in the absolute middle of nowhere at least 60km for the nearest town in any direction, Kev rode up the bank looking for a shallow place to cross when he spotted 3 guys with push bikes on the other side. He shouted across asking where a good place to cross was, they wave an pointed to a point near them.  We rode along and off the bank into the river, which was a bit deeper than we were expecting, we made it through with the only casualty being wet trousers and boots for the rest of the day. They hadn’t heard Kev and were just pointing to where they had crossed.

Early morning at 3rd campsite in Mongolia.

Early morning at 3rd campsite in Mongolia.

3rd campsite morning view.

3rd campsite morning view.

Mongolian track towards Ulaangom.

Mongolian track towards Ulaangom.

French cyclists crossing river.

French cyclists crossing river.

So we introduced ourselves and they turned out to be 2 French guys been traveling for the last 2 months on their bikes and an Aussie (Benji) who has been travelling for 6 years on an around the world every country bike ride! (nuts or what). Benji offered us tea so we sat for an hour listening to some of the crazy stuff he has done so far. He had crossed a frozen sea which took him 4 days camping along the way and he had just crossed the Gobi desert.

Aussie cyclist Benji.

Aussie cyclist Benji.

Back on the road and next stop was a small town/village where we stopped for some snacks and a fuel top up. As the guy started to fill our bikes we noticed that a woman was hand pumping the fuel from the pump! Funny how the man was just standing there with the nozzle and the woman was doing the hard work 🙂 . I guess it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, it’s always the same!

Mongolian horsemen.

Mongolian horsemen.

Mongolian track.

Mongolian track.

Eventually arrived at Ulaangom and found a fairly decent hotel for the night. After we had locked the bikes away in a secured garage and showered up we were out for a Friday night beer. Unfortunately Ulaangom isn’t exactly a kicking place and after a couple of pubs and one Karaoke bar (seems to be very popular in Mongolia) we called it a night.

Riding into Ulaangom.

Riding into Ulaangom.

Ulaangom centre.

Ulaangom centre.

Ulaangom.

Ulaangom.

Distance travelled 284kms Max Altitude 1410mtrs
Total Distance travelled 7816kms

2nd to 3rd campsite in Mongolia

We woke this morning and had a lovely breakfast of pasta in creamy sauce (the last of our ration packs 🙁 ), while we were eating a herd of wild hoses appeared on the other bank of the river so we sat and drank tea watching them for a while before breaking camp and heading off.

Wild horses at 2nd Mongolian campsite.

Wild horses at 2nd Mongolian campsite.

Leaving second campsite.

Leaving second campsite.

Mongolian Track.

Mongolian Track.

Kev mixing with the locals.

Kev mixing with the locals.

Noodle lunch.

Noodle lunch.

 

Camel roadblock.

Camel roadblock.

Mongolian track.

Mongolian track.

After a day of fantastic riding we decided to find a site to camp, there was this small mound in the middle of a massive plain surrounded by mountains. What a beautiful setting to spend the night, luckily there was some old fence wood laying around to make a camp fire as there are not many trees in this place!

3rd campsite Mongolia.

3rd campsite Mongolia.

3rd campsite fire.

3rd campsite fire.

Distance travelled 332kms Max Altitude 2035mtrs
Total Distance travelled 7406kms

Tsetserleg to 2nd campsite

Up early today and out for a quick look around and up to the monastery on the hill, weather was lovely warm and sunny. We decided to head west then take the northern route up towards Ulaangom. About lunchtime we stopped at a row of shops to get some noodles, chocolate, etc and decided to see if we could get a cup of tea 🙂 .

Cafe in Mongolia.

Cafe in Mongolia.

Kev drinking Yak milk.

Kev drinking Yak milk.

Towards the end of the day my bikes front tyre punctured just as we entered a village/town for some fuel, so out with the slime pump to get it up enough to ride away from the gathering heard of locals. After about 10 more stops to put more air in, Kev had rode on and found a fantastic camping spot just out of the view of the road next to a large river behind some trees. I decided to let Kev change my tyre as he needed the practice 🙂 . To be fair he did a good job and it only took him about 15 mins.

2nd campsite in Mongolia.

2nd campsite in Mongolia.

This was the first puncture of the trip and I think it wouldn’t have happened, my front was running the standard tube as when we rode to St Petersburg in June to drop the bikes off to the courier I had the front tyre changed to the Michelin Desert at a KTM shop in Germany. I had given them the 4mm tube to replace the standard but they didn’t do it, somehow what I asked for was lost in the translation.
Distance travelled 331kms Max Altitude 2650mtrs
Total Distance travelled 7074kms

Heading west out of Ulaan Baatar

We finally left Oasis with a crowd of fellow travellers waving us off and wishing us well, back across the city again in crazy traffic coming from all directions which was actually good fun.  On the way we bumped into the couple on the fully loaded GS1200 who stayed at Oasis for 10 days waiting for a replacment rear shock, for such a bit bike he was quite nimble through the traffic. Heading out of Ulaan Baatar west was a lovely new tarmac road for the first 400km, then it turned to gravel, mud, corrugated or deep rutted sand tracks. They seem to cut a new track every time the old one gets a bit rough so you find 10 tracks spreading out from the original one all going roughly in the same direction but not necessarily! A couple of times we started our own tracks to get the GPS back on track, we changed our navigation to cross referencing a Mongolian road atlas the GS1200 couple had given us.

Leaving Oasis Ulaan Baatar.

Leaving Oasis Ulaan Baatar.

GS1200 couple riding out of Ulaan Baatar.

GS1200 couple riding out of Ulaan Baatar.

Tarmac road west out of Ulaan Baatar.

Tarmac road west out of Ulaan Baatar.

By 7 o’clock we’d had enough so stopped in a town called Tsetserleg showing a hotel on the GPS, turned out the hotel was attached to yet another Irish pub though it wasn’t like any Irish pub I’ve been in before. The hotel was a bit grotty but we are in a third world country after all, we paid extra for the shower in our room and I guess we should have paid a bit more again for one that worked!

Tsetserleg Mongolia.

Tsetserleg Mongolia.

Cleaned up we headed out to the Irish pub, which was actually some sort of restaurant come karaoke bar. So a couple of beers and a mutton dinner later, Kev orders desert from the menu. The waitress didn’t speak any English and we no Mongolian so he points to a dish at the bottom of the menu thinking it’s desert. 5 minutes later out comes a massive bowl of rice! Oh well another beer and we were finished for the night.

Irish Pub Tsetserleg.

Irish Pub Tsetserleg.

Distance travelled 472kms Max Altitude 1710mtrs
Total Distance travelled 6743kms

3rd day in Ulaan Baatar

We had breakfast and packed up the bikes ready to leave when a couple of Irish lads arrived. They had just finished the Mongol Rally and were setting down here for the night before heading home after donating their truck (or what was left of it) to a local charity. We mentioned that there is a large Genghis Khan statue to the east of Ulaan Baatar and that we were going to ride over to see it, they asked if we’d wait 10 minutes and we could all go in their car (sorted a nice relaxing drive out we thought!). So an hour and half later we were on the road!.

About 40kms East of Ulaan Baatar is a massive stainless steel monument of Genghis Khan

About 40kms East of Ulaan Baatar is a massive stainless steel monument of Genghis Khan

Genghis statue face from the maine of his horse

Genghis statue face from the maine of his horse

View from the top of Genghis Statue

View from the top of Genghis Statue

It took another hour and half to cover the 40km to the monument but was well worth the effort, it’s the largest horse mounted statue in the world. All made of stainless steel, you can go up inside it and walk out on the horses mane which is a long way up!. We spent an hour or so at the statue then headed back to Oasis to get our bikes to head off but by the time we got back we had made arrangements to meet the lads in the Irish pub (Grand Khan) another night in Oasis. A German guy was supposed to be bringing us to see tyres this evening so we waited for him until 9 but he never arrived. Off to the Grand Khan to meet the Irish lads through the heavy traffic across town, by the time we had arrived they had left but not without good reason as 2 days a month in Mongolia you cannot buy alcohol and this was one of those days!. Ended up at Oasis drinking their stock of beers down with some other travellers including 2 aussies that had rode from Amsterdam and were looking at riding the old summer road. They had attempted to ride the northen road across Mongolia but had to turn back shortly after the border with Russia due to heavy flooding of 2 rivers, hope we have better luck in the next few days.

2nd day in Ulaan Baatar

The weather was terrible here this morning, rain absolutely lashing it down so only thing to do was sit in Oasis eating and drinking coffee / tea. After lunch the rain cleared up so off to the black market to see if we can find mirrors and tyres, the place is massive with all sorts of car, lorry, van, and motorbike new and used parts. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any tyres to fit the 690’s and the mirrors were different size stems 🙁 . The receptionist has a few places she can ring around for us to try locate tyres, fingers crossed otherwise we’ll be riding on 4mm tubes by the time we get back to Russia.

Arriving in Ulaan Baatar

Woke up early this morning to a fantastic view, the weather was great and it was actually warm during the night for a change. Kev didn’t wake up until 9am, think the journey is taking it’s toll on the old man 🙂 .

1st campsite in Mongolia.

1st campsite in Mongolia.

1st campsite in Mongolia.

1st campsite in Mongolia.

Today was an easy tarmac ride into Ulaan Baatar only about 150km on tarmac in great weather, biggest hazards were the herds of camels cows and goats on the roads at frequent intervals.
Straight into Ulaan Baatar and an 1 hour ride across the city to Oasis (right over the otherside of the city), traffic here is a nightmare they come at you from all angles so up along the sideways and pavments was a great option. Into the guest house and out with Kev’s sump plug while the oil’s still hot, service and repair time which took all afternoon and into the evening. The bikes have done well so far, only issues we have are the air filters getting blocked but with a clean out with petrol and some spare engine oil over them they are fine for a few days. Later we were off to the centre and an “Irish bar” (Grand Khan!) for a beer, very busy but not an Irish looking lad among them and not one strand of ginger to be seen!. Great pub though then off to a club called strings where they played live music.

Distance travelled 142kms Max Altitude 1595mtrs
Total Distance travelled 6271kms