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Old 04-28-2008, 04:57 PM   #91
simon thomas OP
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..just wondering, anyone else got any Bolivia photos? I know more than few riders form here have ridden thregh Bolivia

We'd love to see them!

Cheers
Simn T
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Old 04-29-2008, 07:22 PM   #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simon thomas
..just wondering, anyone else got any Bolivia photos? I know more than few riders form here have ridden thregh Bolivia

We'd love to see them!

Cheers
Simn T
Ferry across Lake Titicaca. I saw your logo on the wall at La Posta in Azul Argentina. I see you are going to be in Milwaukee on the 21st of June. I'll be visiting relatives in Madison Wisconsin about that time, hmmm.



Obligatory Salar de Uyuni photo. That is our own "Worldrider"

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Old 04-30-2008, 08:47 AM   #93
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Hey Andy,

Keep us posted with your travels, it would be great to meet up.

That ferry looks familiar. For some reason we had a tough time getting the bikes on, well tougher than it should really have been.



I've actually just come accross the email you sent us when you were at La posta. Did you put your name on the wall?

Cheers
Simon T
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Old 04-30-2008, 12:09 PM   #94
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Wow, what am amazing place
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Old 04-30-2008, 12:16 PM   #95
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June 21, Milwaukee? I'll try to be there too.
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Old 04-30-2008, 06:12 PM   #96
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Uyuni


Coming down into Uyuni. Salt flats in the background.




Coming into Uyuni on the back road from Potosi. Not a real inviting sight. "Welcome to the gateway of the salt flats!!".

C and I are enjoying your ride report. Thanx
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Old 05-03-2008, 03:45 AM   #97
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bloody hell, I remember all those plastic bags.

The Solar's incredible.

Simon T
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Old 09-29-2009, 03:02 AM   #98
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Mongolian Madness and the Gobi Desert

We've finaly got plugged back into the matrix, here in Kazakhstan after 3-months with effectively no internet.

Lisa and I (Simon) shipped from the USA back in June 2009 and spent a month exploring Japan, from the heady madness that is Tokyo to the centuries old and still unchanged fishing ports in the north east.  Complete with theirblue misty morings, where an eerie fog pulls back each moring to reveal a picture perfect scene.

Japan was stunning, but we were both keen to experience Eastern Russia.  A two day ferry crossing would bring us to Vladivostok, our spring board into Siberia at the begining of July. 

Heading North to the city of Khabarovsk before west through Siberia, where we were literally eaten alive by the elephant sized mossquitoes that swarmed in their millions.  If you thnk tha's an exageration just check out the Siberia video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3XpWo_mdXA  and watch to the end.  

 

Having lost an unsafe amount of blood we finally arrived at the Mongolian border on teh 8th August.  It was to be the start of over a month long ride that woudl take in The grassy northern plains, above Ulaan Bataar all the way down and through one of the toughest deserts in teh world....The Gobi.  This was some of the most demanding riding we'd done since the Amazon Rain Forest back in Brazil and re-affirmed our love of travel, puttin gourselves to the test and Lisa's bizzare love of sand riding, yeah, I know weird!

So sit down, strap in and let us share a country that has unquestionalbe put itself in our top ten.

................

15-08-2009

After yesterdays little ‘hiccup’, we were up at 5:45am determined to get down to the Mongolian border early. Jack from the Kudu tour had already warned us that we needed to give the process 3-6 hours. With the bikes loaded and the streets wonderfully quiet we made our way to the outskirts of Ulan-Ude and picked up gas at the same station as we had yesterday. South of the city we turned an easy left to pick up the A165 which would deliver us all the way to the border. Only 3 patches of bumpy pot-holed dirt interrupted our otherwise tarred route down to Russian immigration.

 

By 10:30am we’d picked up the last gas we’d find in Russia treating the bikes to 95 octane. Then the fun and games began.

On the Russian side we passed 23-30 trucks, cars and 4x4’s and rode straight to the front of the line and up to the closed metal guarded gates. Half an hour later and we were waived through along with 8 others, the gates were then closed behind us. We’d been waiting in line for 30 minutes when we decided to walk down to the unimpressive white bricked kiosk, realizing it was customs we picked up the required declaration forms (2 copies each) and were surprised to find them in English and Russian, that’ll make things easier.

On the form we list our bikes details, make, model, year, etc along with the currency we are carrying and how much, then how many pieces of luggage we have. Basically at this point we’re making stuff up. We have no idea what counts as luggage? The tank bags? The water bags? The water proof waist bags? In the end we just wrote ‘3’. We already had a pretty good idea that no-one was going to check, and they didn’t.

Finally we are called to the front, and back inside the kiosk we hand over the declaration forms, proof of insurance, passports and pink Russian registration doc to the scar faced, square jawed officer who was dealing with us. Occasionally he’d snort, hacking up loudly something from the back of his throat, rounded off with a loud sniff.

An hour later we were done and could move all of 30 feet to the next kiosk where we were dutifully ignored for a good 30 minutes. Finally the curt female officer took our passports and then demanded I turn my head left, right, up, down and finally that I pull my hair back. She simply wasn’t convinced that the photo in my passport was me. Lisa was next – she was fine.

We cleared the last military checkpoint and said adios to Russia 3-hours after we’d arrived at the border.

On the Mongolian side things were about to get messy. Several squat buildings litter the compound, none of them signed. We knew enough that we rode into and through the deep concrete pit -filled in theory with strong antibacterial solution that by now was probably just shit-coloured slimy water. We were almost out of the compound when a female military official wearing camouflage shouted after us. We’d seen no sign of anyone and were still looking for where we’d start customs and immigration.

...our first glmpse of Mongolia


Here’s what we ended up doing. We got a royal bollocking from the above mentioned guard and then were told that we needed to go back to the small red-brick hut by the pit of slime to get a small piece of photocopied paper declaring we’d been through the disinfectant. Back at the hut we also handed over our passports and got given in total 3 pieces of scrappy paper. A white overcoated girl waived us into another larger building where we’d filled in a declaration confirming that we didn’t have swine flu, or coughs, itches, runny noses, wet asses, dribbly eyes, headaches, feeling of lethargy, aching muscles, and joints and so on and so on. (Actually Lisa said later that she could have ticked ‘yes’ to all of the above…but decided it best not to!)

Further into the complex we entered the only door we could see that was open in the derelict looking buling and again found desks and ‘officials’ all looking a bit bored. We handed over our passports, after being dismissed we milled around clueless as to where to go next – we had asked and the guy had waived us past with no specific direction indicated. Half a dozen officials lurk behind counters and none of them beckons us towards then. So, we just picked a window, turned up wearing our best ‘British, chirpy chappy grins’ and waited for something to happen. At the first window we handed over passports and confirmed our bike details. One of the scraps of paper was stamped; from there we headed over to another counter and simply handed over everything we had. More stamps. We were then directed back to the window we first come from. More stamps were issued onto before mentioned scraps of paper. The female military guard who’d run out and caught us earlier walked over and applied one last stamp. “You are finished…GO’! Exclaimed the official. We weren’t sure, we already been told that twice and then been pulled back in.

On the bikes we rode away only to have to hand over everything at the check point 200 feet from the immigration building. 50 feet further one last guard stared at us like we were offending his delicate sensitivities and then pulled back the iron gate and waived us through disdainfully.

Ha…here we are at last in Mongolia.


The nonsense of the border was forgotten almost immediately as Mongolia cast it’s spell. Green rolling hills blend into the horizon, each one dotted with white coloured Ger, the traditional Mongolian home. Livestock roam free, occasionally herded by a horse riding Mongol. Short two tone whistles can be heard over the bikes as the herder directs his horse and the flock. We count at least 3 Yak, each raising its head as we pass South. Cresting one hill we pulled over, realizing that a herd of Mongolian two humped camels wasn’t something we’d see every day. We’ve seen more livestock in 30 minutes in Mongolia than we have in weeks of traveling Russia.

 

 

 

Further south we pass dead-still lakes each one reflecting the yellow and green mountains around it. Two young children to our left are being pulled around like rag dolls as they hold on to a rope strung around the neck of petrified sheep. With each mad bolt the boys are yanked forward, their dirty skin and running noses all forgotten in the heat of the battle. They finally pull the sheep to the ground.

By early evening and with the hazy sun to our backs we finally reach Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bataar and ride into the chaotic madness. This feels familiar, more akin to Africa in particular our time in Dakar Senegal. 3 lanes of traffic carry 6 as drivers push, bully and cram their vehicles into spaces that didn’t exist moments earlier. You need a different driving mindset here; Lisa characterized the 3 features you have to employ here n the city if you are to get anywhere; concentration, awareness and aggression. Defensive riding here just doesn’t work. You can’t be intimidated. Like circling sharks, Mongolian drivers in the capital can smell the blood and you’re just chumming the water.

By 10:00pm and with 380-miles and a border crossing under our belts we pulled into the Oasis café and guesthouse on the south eastern outskirts of Ulan Bataar. We’ve been given the choice of a room or a ger. How could you not want to spend your first night in Mongolia in a Ger? We’ve lit a small fire in the metal boiler inside and we’re tucked up tight, tired but very, very happy.

 

........

16 to 28-08-2009

........

10 days of working on the bikes and visiting embassies and generally trying to sort out exactly where and when we are going after Mongolia!
There were quite a few jobs that we needed to do and The Oasis seemed the ideal place to do them! Here we have an area to work and secure parking, a supermarket nearby (albeit with little ‘real’ food) and a warm area to sit inside.

 

The first job was my horn – I had ridden through Japan, Eastern Russia and yesterday Ulan Baatar without one and now really needed to ensure that it worked! It had been on the bike but not working since we replaced it in Washington. So, as usual a small job leads to a big one and many many more hours of work! On taking off my extra gas tank on the right side I notice that a bolt was missing – the area had worn around where it was meant to be and so I knew that one should be there! On mentioning it to Simon he looks and is horrified as what was missing was my main rear subframe bolt! Then on opening my left side pannier I notice that this was not sitting ‘quite right’…..we find that the main pannier bolt that holds the pannier frame onto the bike down by the foot peg had gone. The pannier frame was hanging and had been bashing against the rear swing arm. I had been saying that my bike had had a few more vibrations than normal!!

So, this was a pressure bolt that now needed to be fabricated! After going to the Mongolian embassy, sharing a taxi with Bianca and Zorin (a German couple staying here traveling in a large touring truck) we head off and find that the visa extension is very easy to do but not necessary for us until 14th Sept. We aim to leave before then!

The ger was great although the night was cold and rainy so it was great to be able to sit in the café area and work on the laptop and sit and chat to the others here.
The next few days we worked on the bikes, found that all small jobs lead to larger ones and did all the jobs that we had intended to do before we left the USA but ran out of time to do after having the bikes back from BMW for such a short time before we had to ship them!
After the 3rd night we decided that we couldn’t afford to stay in the Ger anymore and to be truthful we were missing being in our ‘home’ – the tent.

So we were able to put up our tent (we asked the owners Sybelle & Renee very nicely!) in the grounds. This will save us quite a bit of $$. Also after a couple of nights snacking on food from the supermarket I was really in dire need to cook us something so I now got out our stove and pots and pans.

Simon put a small aluminium tool box on the back of his bike as he had been carrying his tools around in his waterbags!! We need t o make sure that we have these bags available for carrying water when we head off into the Gobi desert.
Then after a few days here we have been into the city centre, found a really great French pattiserie with great crossiant and coffee, and more importantly Wi-fi! We had also enjoyed waling around Ulan Bataar. We had been trying to find the Kazahkstani embasy but had found out that it had moved. GPS ref: N47 53.552 E106 54.443

 

 

 

And was now over the other side of town. After a telephone call we find out that we can’t go until Thursday as this is when the Consulate is there! We had hoped to leave on Thursday!
However, this does give us a few more days to work on the bikes and the route.

 

 

During this time Mikai had arrived on his motorbike – 650 Dakar – in need of new fork seals. On entering the compound I went up to him to say hi and he came back with a ‘you are Simon and Lisa? – I am on your mailing list!’ Small World. Mika had emailed us quite a while ago asking a few questions re octane for the bikes. Apparently he as surprised that we had infact replied! One of my fork seals had also begun to leak so we decided to get oil for all of us. Found that it was very difficult to get the 10wt hydroscopic fork oil and after asking Renee where we could find it we gave up and got ATF fluid instead. We knew this was OK as we had done this whilst in west Africa.
Mikai and Simon worked on the forks, changing the seals and were always coming across small other jobs in the process.

 

We celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary here at The Oasis in Ulan Bataar – Sybelle had organized cake and candles!

Thursday and we can get our Kazkahstan visa form in! Went back to the embassy on the motorbike, completed the forms after specifying all of the places we wanted to go. We had decided that we would head right across Kazakhstan to Aqtar and get the ferry across the Caspian sea to Azerbaijan. This was due to Iran stopping visas.
We were told by the consulate that we could come back in a week if we paid $30 each for the visa – however – if we paid double we could get it tomorrow afternoon. We paid double as we really needed to leave UB and this would mean we wouldn’t leave until Sat morning. We would have been here a week!

We walked back into town and decided to go into the …Palace. After paying 2500 tug each (about $2 each) we were then told we would have to pay another 10,000 in order to take photos outside!! We expected restrictions on inside photography but not outside! Stuipd. Simon told them that they needed to learn about tourism but we went in anyway and I took photos and video outside anyway! Maybe a little naughty but we had paid to enter. When we left I was able to take even more photos of the buildings by just standing outside the main entrance! Simon said I did it just to make a point!
Friday afternoon and we were able to collect our Kaz visas. Arriving at 4pm we were told to come back in 30 mins and this gave us a chance to go and see the absolutely huge golden Buddha statue just down the road and grab a coffee and yet another Irish pub! We have found Monoglia to be full of Irish pubs!! We want to know what the connection is?

This café gave us a view over the city of Ulan Bataar and it was hard to believe that 11 years ago (after talking to Sybelle) there had been no high-rise buildings or concerete and brick, just a few wooden ones and the rest of the city was made up of Ger! The countryside was closer as the city was a lot lot smaller and hadn’t extended to the foot hills. Its amazing to think of how fast this city has grown – however – you can see that the traffic has increased dramatically as the infrastructure is unable to cope! Traffic here reminds us of the riding through Dakar in Senegal.

Going back to the embassy we were just handed our passports with visas included through the locked gates! All was fine with the dates. Cool – we now have our next country planned.
Saturday morning and we decided to walk down to the …market. Once again it remineded us of the mayhem of the large African town markets where everything and anything is on sale. This time we went with Sebastian and Annette another German couple that we had originally met when crossing the border from Russia into Mongolia. They had arrived at the Oasis yesterday.
We walked through the car/truck parts section of the market – amazing! Eventually we found the food section and a small café where we ate a wonderful lamb and rice dish with the lovely doughy bread that they have here – all for 4500 tug.

...modern UB.

We were dusty and hot by the time we got back and so after a shower ( the only place that the locals can get a hot shower is here) we crashed out here with the others and watched a film on one of the laptops – of course with a few beers.

We still had a few jobs to do – mainly the Autocoms had given up the ghost – even though they were the new ones! We now really needed them to work. Simon spent the day working on them with Mikhai.

Today we were meant to leave…but who should turn up but Tiffany from the UK with her pillion Annie. We met Tiffany quite a few years before at a rally when we were in the UK when we were all part of the UKGser club. I had heard from her recently as she was going to be traveling through Mongolia and we had hoped to meet up although she was arriving here in UB a little later than hoped and we were already going to be on the road…however..here she was!

...Mihai, a great guy who'd ridden from Rommania.

We decided to stay a few more days and apply for our Mongolain visa extension. Monday morning we went back down to the Mongolian visa extension office – applied for the extension so we could stay here in Mongolia until 24th Sept. We would be able to collect our visas and passports this coming Thursday. We MUST leave Friday!

 

...a wet ride out of the Oasis compound.

 

 

 

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simon thomas screwed with this post 09-29-2009 at 03:03 AM Reason: mis spelled desert in the title
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Old 09-29-2009, 03:05 AM   #99
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Mongolian madness part II

...................

29-08-2009

...................

Out of UB we pushed and jostled our way past old cars and belching jalopies and raced along with the fancy Toyota’s and Lexus 4X4’s. On the south side of town we easily picked up the main route and followed the new tar road for 15-miles. Out of the city and we quickly forgot the manic streets and traffic queues.

We’d stopped for a few photos at the white and blue traditional monument on the left. The country side was opening up, the distant hills fading into light blues and greys on the horizon.

 

Amongst the maze of streets in Dzuunmod we did our best to interept our route. We’d set the GPS to get us to to Mandalgovi, some 150 miles due south. Now don’t get us wrong, it wasn’t the lack of routes that was causing an issue but the quantity. On the south side of town twenty different tracks lead off with none of them heading due south. All we could hope was that the track we’d chosen would turn. 130-miles later and we knew we’d got it wrong. The track had turned to tar for 11-miles a good indiction that it was leading to a major town, that had to be Mandalgovi, we’d guessed. They’re isn’t another major town anywhere close. The tar fissled into 4-5 minor tracks that all eventually faded away. There was nothing for it but to U-turn and ride back to Dzuunmod. What a waste of time, we already knew that by now we weren’t going to reach Mandalgovi by tonight.

 

Back at Dzuunmod we criss-crossed our original track and followed what had looked like a dead-end. Around the back of what appeared to be the shanty side of town the track suddenly broadened and cut a swath through the valley. In the distance we could see 15 or so tracks all running parallel to each other. This much traffic can only be going to Mandalgovi.

3-hours later and we’ve been up on the pegs continuously, the dark clouds dappling the countryside with patchy light, which ony enhances what is a vast and open landscape. 4-miles ahead and a dozen dust clouds kick into the air each one trailing the speeding 4x4 that’s creating it. What a sight. It looked more a desert race than a commute home. At the top of a small rise and before entering the next valley we take a moment just to take in the view. Words don’t do much in the face of such overwhelming beauty.

 

Pulling off the track we simply cut across country and headed up into the taller hills we’d been riding to for the last hour, the ground getting more technical rough and soney as we ride higher.

We eventually made camp high above the track and out of harms way as the speeding 4x4’s will travel into the night. With the tent up and a cup of coffee in hand we perched ourselves on the taller rocks and whatched the sun turn the heavy cloudbase golds, mauves and yellows.

Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

It’s only just beginning to sink in that we’re in Mongolia and camped on the steppes. Perhaps Ghengis Khan once passed this way, who knows. Tonight we’re tired but happy and excited at to what tomorrow will bring.

 

...................

30-08-2009

...................

We’d sipped on coffee, much like last night, watching the number of dust tails increase as the number of vehicles heading south did the same.

We were back on the track and snaking our way from valley to vale by 7:00am. By mid-day we’d found a steady pace and rhythem and had even become more accustomed to the weight of our loaded bikes.

As we round a crop of rock a white temple suprises us to the right, there’d been not a hint or sign or a mention of the temple on any of our maps. 20 or so white painted mini temples situated around a larger brightly painted one. The smaller white shrines walling the larger to the north, south, west and east. A Mongolian herder races into the centre, stood in the stirrups to make the picture all the more perfect. We snap a few photos whilst trying to deliberate the route. The GPS wants us to go straight but we can see the passing 4x4’s all turning west, up and over the hill behind the shrine. With directions asked from a few local herders we turn south to follow the GPS.

Two-hours later and I’m having my doubts as the tracks gets smaller and seemingly less used. By mid-afternoon and we’ve raced through low valleys and slowly wound our way into the next and stopped by a large lake. There was no way around, the track we’d taken had led us here. We needed to u-turn and search for another path. As we dead end again a half hour later outside a ger, the family come out, surprised to see us, their dog bearing fanged teeth until it’s brought to heel.

Our attempt to ask directions is met with frowns and looks of uncertain confusion. We thank them and cut across country, making our own track. I’d left Lisa as I rode onto the steep hill in the hope of looking down and seeing a track. The deep water cut trenches that cut into the side of the hill weren’t making life easier and the thick mounds of scrub grass kept the wheels and suspension bouncing as I rode higher. At the top and end I could see the faint wear of a track heading south and back with Lisa we ride into the wettest and marshiest area we’ve seen so far. As I slowly ride into a shallow puddle, I know instantly I’m going down,

 

the back of the bike slips out and my left foot simply slides as I try to find a solid footing. Lisa’s yells of laughter bring a smile to my face. Yeah, it was about time I came off the bike. It turned out to be impossible to lift the bike still loaded we simply couldn’t lift without our feet slding from under us. And so with the bags off got the big girl upright, we found drier ground and re-loaded.

By late afternoon we’d again worked our way across country and found the main piste, a wide and corrugated track that looked like it had seen recent rain. The deep hardened trenches scared deep by the passing of heavy trucks during or after recent rain were the clue.

Four hours later and we were cursing and swearing aloud as we skidded and bumped from the seemingly never ending washboard into the deep pockets of sand that line the piste. There’s no two ways about it, ride them fast or slow corrugations are a bloody nightmare and will drive you complety mad.

 

 

 

We were by early evening chasing the sun, trying to get to Mandalgovi before night fall, the idea of being out on the piste, still riding the sand and the washboard at night was a cruel one.

On the outskirts of town we flicked through the pages of the LP and after checking out one of the hotels it describes as ‘rundown’ we decided it looked derelict and headed for the hotel Temoujin. 12,000 tug seemed OK for night and even better to have the bikes locked up securely in a connected factory protected by 5 frothy-mouthed raibbied looking st Bernards. Massive animals that looked postivley wild, their heavy fur soaked in filth and oil.

With our bags in the room we headed down into the eating room, yeah, calling it a resteraunt just paints the wrong idea. With two cold beers in hand suddenly the day didn’t seem so long and by 9:00pm we’d been joined by two locals who’d hammered down from UB, who were stopping for food and drink and then carrying on for another 5-hours to reach east of Dalandzadgad. Without a comom language we had a bizarre conversation. Randomly they’d spit up English words. Mid beer sip, one of the guys would turn, grin and yell”Dianna, Charles” and then “Beckaham”. “Manchester United”and “Beatles” followed quickly after. The bizzarest part of the evening was when the older of the two guys stood from his chair and physically demonstrated that he wanted to ass shag Britney Spears, the conversation turned political. “Terrorist, Bin, Bib, Bin Laden…Ghinkas Khan…same” the older of the men stated. We couldn’t believe our ears. Mongolias most famous hero slash mass murderer was being exclaimed as a terrorist by one fo his own country men. We checked we understood but there was no mistaking the worlds and the hand gestures. This guy was saying the Khan and Bin Laden were the same, a couple of terrorists. Bizzare.

We turned in tired and slept heavily after eating a bowl of goat meat/fat stewed on hot water and onion. Sounds bad- tasted good.

 

...more to come soon.

 

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Old 09-29-2009, 03:26 AM   #100
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Thanks for the read, keep it coming.
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Old 09-29-2009, 04:51 AM   #101
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What a trip, in for the ride.
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Old 09-29-2009, 05:08 AM   #102
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Old 09-29-2009, 07:10 AM   #103
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Mongolian Madness Part III

..........

31-08-2009

At the last gas station in town we filled the bikes to the brim and set about cutting the 20 feet of tangled wire from Lisa’s rear wheel. It had got caught during yesterdays ride south and need to be cut with the Leatherman before it threw Lisa from the bike. There was enough of it to jam the back wheel if her luck ran out. She’d been lucky that it hadn’t already done that yesterday!

A mini interview with the film crew from UB didn’t seem odd until 30 minutes later when our location and situation sank in.

For the most part yesterdays corrugation had lessoned and we spent the day between wide open plains where we could gas the bikes and hit the higher gears and weaving over rocky paths that kept us in 1st and 2nd. Throttle control and a deft touch on the clutch kept us upright and moving forward.

evening set in we resigned ourselves to not reaching Dalandzadgad. The mountains views, valleys and passes we’d ridden through earlier had disappeared and we were definitely now traveling towards the Desert Gobi region. The landscape open, dry and vast. We’d had to watch our speed earlier as the thicker sand we’d heard about increased. As yet we’ve not yet let the air out of our tyres. We want to acclimatise to the sand first and then gain maximum benefit from the flatter tyres and the gain in control.

 

 

..........

01-09-2009

Sticking our heads out of the tent bought gasp’s of “wow”.

 

This incredible and solitary landscape is stunning. Lit pinks and golds, the long shadows cast by the rock piles shrink and pull back as the sun pushed higher. With strong coffee brewed we didn’t rush to pack up, it didn’t seem important when compared to the spectacle and views only ‘we’ seemingly witnessed. Not a bird in the sky or a beast on the ground. A private showing of daybreak just for us. These are the moments when I know our sacrifices of money and missed friends and family are worthwhile. In these quite moments I realise these times will be with us always, are part of who we are now and can never be taken away. The warm sun on our skin feels good as the chill morning air disapates.

 

With air out of the tyres we’ve gained more control and with this a confidence. At 60mph around mid-day, I had a Sahara moment! After a tougher section of sand I looked left to see a kitted out bike come hurtling past me; impressed by the rider and the bike it suddenly struck me it was Lisa and much like the Sahara 7-years earlier I felt an immense pride in my wife. “Cool” I said to myself out loud.

We’d seen no other vehicles for 5-hours when we at last rolled into DZ. The dodgy looking asphalt felt strange after all the soft terrain and after checking around town for a hotel that wasn’t $90, like the other two we’d checked, we ended up booking into a small hotel at the opposite end of town to the airport. (Find it at GPS: N43 34.515 E104 26.101) Clean rooms with secure parking around back for the bikes. The room cost us 20,000 tug.

After a quick shower we walked across to the miners camp, a gated area with a dozen gers. Dinner was spaghetti inside the largest ger in the middle of the compound. Miguel the French owner, entrapenour and professor introduced himself and his French speaking Mongolian wife and with half a dozen local Auzzie miners we enjoyed some rowdy conversation and a couple of drinks.

 

 

02 to 05-09-2009

Well, it’s been a good but frustrating few days and pretty awful for Lisa. The morning after we arrived, Lisa woke feeling ill, sick, nauseous with severe stomach cramps. A bad case of food poisning.

Lisa writes: I’d woken up in the very early hours of the morning with the most terrible stomach cramps. My first thought was food poisoning. Strangely enough I didn’t feel sick however, I could not even sip water without severe cramps a couple of seconds later. I had to just lie there. This was to set the trend for the next 48 hours….I kept thinking that it would just go- give it the usual 48 hours…….
Simon worked over at the Miners Ger camp on the laptop catching up with all of the writing etc. We had such a lot to do and of course here I was not able to do a thing.

So today I had left it long enough…..I needed to see a Doctor as things were not getting any better. Luckily enough Miguels wife was a Doctor and she came over to see me. Told me in French (my French is a bit rusty but I got the jist). What I had was indeed food poisoning – a very bad bout – and after checking she said that it would be the steamed ‘buuz’ (mutton dumplings) that I’d had in Mandalgobi…they mix them with camel meat there and its well known to have a very bad effect as the steaming doesn’t get them to a very high heat! She examined me and said that it was quite severe and I needed some very strong medicine and within a day I would be fine. Oh God I do hope so because feeling like this just wears you out. Off she went with Simon and Miguel to go and get my medicine, which cost about $4. 3 different tablets- not too sure what they were but they worked very quickly – by the evening my cramps had almost gone and I was for the first time in 3 days able to walk!!

I was still very weak and so we decided that before we tackle what will be some hard riding, I needed to get some food inside me and re-hydrate. A very gentle day for me.

Simon Writes:

With Lisa going a little stir crazy in the small room, we joined the french couple I'd met two before and headed into DZ by foot, hoping to fins some food and a coffee. After an hour we'd found nothing open, it's a Sunday. At the back of one of the larger stone buildings, we'd spotted some brightly dressed characters and after a quick chat, mostly with gestures and body language we got the OK to take a few photos. Little did we know these guys were the Mongolian Immigration traveling theatrical team, well, or words to that effect. Two of the smartly dressed officers led us all inside, offered us seats and without charge asked us to watch the show. Bloody hell, what a show. After almost 2-hours we'd seen acrobatic dancers, stoic soviet style singing, with a full orchestra, proudly voiced nationalistic speeches, recounting Mongolia's finest moments (we guessed) and heard some pretty incredible, professional sounding voices, belting out all manner of tunes. CHeck out a few of the photos, you'll get a better idea. I'll never be able to look at a immigration officer in the same way again. The whole thing seemed wonderful but so incredibly bizarre. The show totally out of sync, seemingly with our surroundings and what we'd expected to see or experience here in DZ. The four of us chatted and grinned all the way back to the miners camp, where I quickly downloaded the photos I taken.

 

 

 

Lisa writes: OK – so I am now able to eat….so today is the day for eating!!! Yippe. A good sign is that I am hungry ?

..........

06-09-2009

My relief was tangible as I watched Lisa climb onto her bike with a grin and the first dust cloud kick up from her rear tyre as it hit the dry dirt outside DZ. The 5-miles of tar out to the airport had been a nice start to the day before things got…technical. 500 metres off the tar and Lisa had already pulled over. U-turning and pulling up at her side my first concern was that she’d over done it and her health had let her down. She was fine.

“What’s up”I ask. “The bike feels wrong” Lisa answered, her face concerned. Now I love my wife but, friggin hell she’s annoying, when after 30-years of riding bikes, her answers are as vague as…”it feels wrong”. In my frustration I bring this matter up at the time, which in hind sight may not have been the best of times and shortly afterwards we’re both spouting angry words until common sense gets the better of us and we realsie that the bike’s not fixing itself.

After a little gentler prodding I get from Lisa that the problem is the bike feels loose with more vibrations being felt than normal. “OK, at least that gives me some direction, when I start to look at the bike. Five minutes later and I’ve found her rear sub-frame feeling looser than it should and then the culprit is found. Her lower rear left sub-frame bolt is almost completely out. Tightening it back up does the trick for a while. The same bolt was to come loose another 4-times through out the day.

Cuting across the dry dusty plain we made our own track until finding the smaller ones that would lead us to the main piste. The cement like mud track soon turned to loose sand and shale in places, left overs from rushing water after the winter snow melts. The bikes feel cumbersome and we needed all our experience to stay upright. Coming into one gentle twist I entered the turn too hot, I got on the brakes too late, hit a soft pile of crap over-cooked the corner and kept the bike upright by over running into scrub and then dropping down a steep embankment into an old river bed. My heart was in my mouth. It was another ½ km unitl I could find a low spot and gas up the incline and rejoin the track. Lisa knew what had happened, said nothing and when we finally pulled over, I grinned, she simply shook her head and raised an eye brow. This just made me grin harder. Bloody hell I love this stuff!!! I love having to think about the ride, every second, every corner, and each twist of the throttle, each tap of the brake. There’s a reward to it.

Todays ride was just a short 41-miles out to Yolyn Am Canyon (Eagle Gorge), where we drove to the end, took in the view and declined the offer of a horse ride into the pass. Whilst the seting sun painted the cliffs, incredible yellows we chatted to the 3 men and i women who'd offered us horse rides earleir and who were now whittling small pieces of wood into anumal forms; goats, rams, yak and snow leapards. Lisa baught a small wooden ram for $5 which also allowed us to shoot some photographs of the three. Smiles and giggles filled the evening air was we showed each photograph as it was taken. I couldn't stop looking at thier hands, cut, brusied with dirt as much a part of the make-up as the skin covering them, ground into the flesh. Working Mogolian hands.

 

 

 

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Old 09-29-2009, 07:47 PM   #104
lisa thomas
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Location: 10 years on the road and still going..back in USA!
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hope you like the pics!

Hi all...just seen Simons post....great photos and I was there!!
they still don't do it justice - it really is a beautiful country.
if you have the chance sometime soon - ride it!

We are off to Almaty, Kazakhstan today to get even more visa applications done - and then head off into Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan - where its meant to be even more stunning....so watch out for the further travel pods and reports.

BTW - if anyone is thinking of coming to Mongolia - let us know as we have tons of information..GPS log for everyday...dos and donts...advice on the equipment needed and spares for such a tough overlanding country to travel through.

let us know if you like this 'report' and we will keep them coming!
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Old 09-29-2009, 08:23 PM   #105
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Hi S & L from Canoas, RS. Brasil. WE have been following your adventures ever since you were here a few years back. Great ride reports and photos! Keep well Richard & Tania
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