After a few days in Irkutsk, we got back on the road onwards to the Mongolian border which was 670 km away. The last few crossings had been a nightmare so we were preparing for a full day trying to get through. Arriving at the border we saw hardly any people queuing, however, it quickly became apparent that things were still going to take a while! 8 hours later we left Khyagt Russia, and finally into Mongolia.
It was about 6 pm until my parents had also made it through all the border paperwork and we are in convoy to get off the road as quickly as possible and set up camp. It was the perfect time for that first ride, the sun was going down and everything was golden. The weather was warm and the scenery green and mountainous, it felt magical. We took track south-west and headed into a forest-y area, the trail became a mud swap which was actually really fun as we had been stuck on the tarmac for miles the weeks before.
Once getting through the mud, and my parents having their first bit of off-road fun on the trip we looked for higher ground to pitch up. After about an hour we saw the ideal spot up a pretty steep hill, so we leave the track and went full mountain goats. The grass was damp and like ice to ride on, Dave and I had nervous laughter in our intercoms the whole way to the top! We built a fire and made pasta for dinner, and a massive bonus to my parent’s landrover is the freezing box.. full of beers!
The Next Morning
We woke up to a new sound, like bees but higher pitched. We looked outside the netting into the porch area and there were thousands of mosquitoes. I had never seen anything like it! I’d read on forums and Facebook that Mongolia was bad for mosquitoes but even then, I didn’t expect this. We could actually hear them hitting the side of the tent trying to get to us, they were massive. I also woke up throughout the night scratching, my legs and hands were covered in bites so I was obviously eaten alive the night before through my mosquitoes repellent! We had breakfast bars, coffee and got moving.
We didn’t have as long in Mongolia as we wanted
As I’ve explained in previous blogs we were on limited time if we wanted to ride the BAM road (Baikal–Amur Mainline) in Siberia. It was agreed that we would have about 2 weeks riding South in Mongolia before having to ride back up, doing as much off road as possible.
Mongolia is made up of tracks and trails, with only a few tarmacked roads running across the whole country. The tarmac increases as you head towards the capital Ulaanbaatar, although we did want to see this area, the countryside was calling us so instead of heading further South we went West across the steppe.
We spent our two weeks completely lost on trails, I don’t think we could draw our route out if we tried. Riding and driving whichever way we decided to that morning. Days passed adventuring the steppe when we saw two or three people if that, living in their gers.
It was amazing to see how everyone was so self-sufficient. They farmed their own vegetables and had herds of animals when picking their dinner for the night. It was inspiring to see this way of living still exists.
It’s easy to think of this life as basic but they had everything they needed and wanted right there. We found that these people wanted to show us their lives. They often invited us all in for tea when they saw us passing by.
Those who spoke English explained they would like the world to know more about their culture. They said tourism would be a good thing for their country. I can definitely understand more tourism might financially benefit Mongolia. But I feel depressed when I think of this beautiful country becoming more westernised… and one day seeing a McDonalds next to a ger.
A Surprising Turn
On the last day of riding off-road before going to the main road and back into Russia… We came across a party in the middle of nowhere! We rode up to the gathering just to ask what they were celebrating. They ran over to greet us and started pulling on our arms suggesting to join in. We were so excited and grateful and got involved straight away parking up our bikes and landrover. As we walked into the large circle, we realised that people were actually getting up and giving us their chairs to sit on. This made me quite uncomfortable.
I felt we were so lucky to see this amazing party and I didn’t want to make a scene. But they wouldn’t take no for an answer! So we sat down and before a knew it we were surrounded by food. They just kept bringing more and more out! There was salad, soup, meat curry, rice and Vodka – lots of Vodka! There was a lady walking around with a huge bottle. Making her way around everyone there with a shot glass (seeing my mum and dad shot Vodka was pretty funny!).
There was fantastic music playing and children playing games
They explained they were celebrating reaching 1000 in cattle. The eldest members of the community sat right at the top of the gathering, surrounded by food. It was amazing to see the respect given to them! We asked to meet the elders and were invited into their tent. They were dressed in colourful traditional gowns it was really incredible to see. We couldn’t understand each other’s language but we all somehow were able to communicate. What an amazing last day! We’d never have dreamed of being invited into such a special celebration and see Mongolian culture. We were unbelievably lucky, and we’ll never forget that experience.
Over the next few days
We rode north back up to the Russian border. It wasn’t long till we would go a different way to my parents. They were planning to go back to Russia with us. Then as we went north they would aim for South Korea.
Before we knew it we were back at the border and leaving Mongolia. We were gutted we couldn’t have longer in this magical place. Although, we knew we’d be returning one day. The border didn’t take too long this time, and we once again rode North to Irkutsk. We stayed a night then set out East, nearly time to start our biggest riding challenge yet, the BAM.
WeBuyAnyBike would like to say a huge thank you to Jenny from RideUnlimited for sharing her journey with us once again! To read all about her previous check in… Click here!
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