First Steppe: Mongolia

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Joe Motocross, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    Well, it looks like we finally got our acts together for a journey through Mongolia. We typically ride dirt bikes or big dual sports around the deserts of Utah but we've done some other journeys as well: Thailand, India, and Bali.

    We really like doing minimalist journeys on our dirt bikes that we know everything about and do all the maintenance regularly. However, on our budget, you can't be too picky about your steed when you travel somewhere exotic. In Thailand, I met up with Minxter and we rented a 125cc Honda Dream. Basically, a glorified moped. The reason: it was cheap and all the local folks rode them. Easy to get parts although we only had one flat tire during our 3000 mile journey (two up an that little thing!)

    In India, we rented some Royal Enfields because that's what you do when you go to India. After that one (India ride report), I have such a distaste for the Enfields I would never do it again. If I were to go back, I'd rent a smaller Japanese make, like what most of the locals ride. It's true you can find parts for Enfields most anywhere but how many parts do you want to buy on a trip!! OK, enough bashing the poor Enfield.

    So now to Mongolia. There seem to be a bunch of really nice dirt bikes available to rent, but, so far they seem very expensive. I'm also concerned about finding parts for a WR way out on the steppe. We've found that you can rent a Chinese built enduro of some sort. I've heard it's what most of the local people ride. We don't have anything lined up yet so we'll spend a couple days in the capital trying to get some bikes and go with what makes the most sense.

    Our plan is to take our minimalist approach overseas (well documented HERE). We've got about 3 weeks to travel around the steppe and into the Gobi Desert. Instead of whiskey in the coffee (affectionately called croffee) it looks like it'll be vodka. We've already dubbed it a "Gobi Latte". Seems like the locals eat lots of meat. No problem. A common phrase used before departing on minimalist journeys is "I hope you ate your vegetables 'cause its all meat and whiskey from here boys!" I've heard there's root vegetables to accompany the meat, we'll find out shortly.

    So we're winging it for the most part. Got a few paper maps and we're bringing an iphone for a gps. A gps somewhat goes against our minimalist philosophy. We kind of like to wander aimlessly and see what happens. Improvising is our specialty.

    We leave Tuesday, August 23rd. We're flying stand-by on buddy passes from Buuuuurt, just our style. There probably won't be much chance to update this report while we're out there but we'll try when we come through more populated places.
    #1
  2. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    Minxter will be piloting her own bike on this journey. She's come a long way with her skills over the last few years:

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/HPRRQ6FOOEE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #2
  3. LC4Dakar

    LC4Dakar Been here awhile

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    Make sure any US currency you take with you is no more than 2 years old and unfolded, un-torn, and un-marked. Or they won't accept it, even in banks. Lots of counterfeit money there.

    Get your Tughriks from an atm. That is usually the best exchange rate.

    Most medium to large towns have internet cafes. Small towns won't. It's surprising how much cell phone coverage there is.

    There is a small paper map they have in a shop in the international arrival area that is better than most. It's about $10 (or was 3 years ago).

    These guys have a decent reputation for rentals and tours. Prices aren't posted on the website anymore, but they were competitive a couple of years ago.
    http://drivemongolia.com/wp/
    You see the Chinese bikes in all of the towns, but we never saw one very far from a town, and they aren't really enduros.

    Have fun!
    #3
  4. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    We're doing something a bit different on this journey; we're bringing a stove. *No TRUE desert minimalist would be caught dead with a stove. *I've heard that it's frowned on to burn wood while camping over there and I'm not sure what we'll find in some areas anyway. *So we're not happily bringing a stove. *[​IMG]
    Dismantled for air travel.


    Thanks for the beta on the possible bike rentals. *I'll check into them.
    #4
  5. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    So far, xt250 from Drive Mongolia at $100 per day. (ouch! A bit out of our budget)
    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    Chinese 150cc model from Cheke Tours at $15 per day.
    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. Northstar Beemer

    Northstar Beemer Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to the reports!!:clap
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  8. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    I'm in for this one for sure.

    :lurk
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  9. LC4Dakar

    LC4Dakar Been here awhile

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    That's why they don't post their prices on the website anymore! That used to be their price for a Toyota Land Cruiser with 40 gallon gas tanks.
    #9
  10. young1

    young1 Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to the ride report
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  11. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    We're definitely doing things a bit different from our normal style. You see, we have a female on the journey with us. This is by no means a bad thing and in many ways a good thing. She will keep me and Buuurt in check so we don't do anything too stupid. *But we're not quite as minimal as we normally would be. *For instance, we're taking a tent. This is unacceptable when it's the boys only. The ultimate light weight shelter is Ambian. *If it starts to rain when your sleeping in the dirt you just deploy the light weight shelter and sleep through it. Wrapping up in a blue tarp is a legitimate minimalist shelter. Using a rain fly from a tent is a borderline acceptable practice*but ONLY WITHOUT THE TENT.

    So, we have three items that are frowned upon in the world of minimalists; a tent, a stove and an iPhone.

    Meanwhile, two days til departure and we're packing one of the most key pieces of equipment for a minimalist: the Voile strap.
    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    See what I mean? Here's Minxter dreaming about bringing a cot along!
    [​IMG]
    Actually, the truth is she is a top notch female minimalist.
    #12
  13. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    I'd love to hear *about anyone's experience with the Chinese bikes. I'm a bit nervous about them but it seems likely we're going to wind up riding them. Perhaps purchase new and sell them at the end of the trip.

    One reason we decided to finally go to Mongolia is that we have friends living and working there for two years. Minxter also has a Mongolian acquaintance who lives in the capital. They're going to help us get sorted out when we arrive. This is HUGE!
    #13
  14. zhu

    zhu Been here awhile

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    heya joe
    buying a new bike and selling it later is probably the way to go
    look around and see the bikes the locals use
    wuyang honda , zhongzhen or some suzuki joint venture bikes
    its common to see these with 50k km on them
    elctrical problems are usually the worst of it
    just take a spare regulator and ignition its going to cost about 10 bucks lol
    #14
  15. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    As I stated earlier, GPS units are generally frowned upon. Especially when you take someone on your favorite single track stash and the A hole tracks it and posts it all over the internet!

    I do have to admit that I like the iPhone as a GPS. I have friends who wrote the GPSkit and GISkit apps which work well. Many people don't realize that it works off satellite signals rather than cell towers. This is great for bringing it abroad. I just lock the sim card and use the satellites and also wifi when available.

    You can download all the maps you want for free. I downloaded aerial views of all the larger towns and cities.
    [​IMG]

    I also downloaded Google Terrain versions of the entire area we're going to travel around.
    [​IMG]

    I guess I look at the iPhone as the minimalists version of a GPS. You just don't want to use or rely on it too much because you'll lose your natural route finding technique.

    We leave in the morning.
    #15
  16. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    We've officially started our journey by getting split up right off the get go. Minxter got on a different plane than I did. That's the way it goes when you fly as a 'non-revenue' stand by passenger (buddy passes). You are at the mercy of fully booked planes and you just wait for the next plane that's not full. This can be days if you're unlucky and dealing with any checked bags is an additional challenge. You also are responsible for getting all the flights lined up to your final destination which includes buying any shorter flights where the non-rev option is not part of the program. The whole thing can be very trying. You just need to let it go and be ready to improvise.

    However, you can have a totally different experience when there's room and you get offered first class seats. This however cuts into the minimalist approach as you need to dress appropriately and respectful which means you can't wear your dirt bike gear on the plane like any self respecting minimalist would.*
    [​IMG]

    So, we're in Detroit waiting to see if we get offered first class.
    #16
  17. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    First class, boom boom!!!
    #17
  18. dieselcruiserhead

    dieselcruiserhead Long timer

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    subscribed
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  19. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    Of the few journeys overseas that I've done, this one was by far the best with first class seats on 2 flights and a very easy shuttle to our friends place in Ulaanbaatar. We've located some bikes and are going to try to purchase them today. Our partner Buuurrt comes in on Sunday so we hope to start riding then.
    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    Just saying but this upcoming ride report had better have lots of photos of dissassembled bikes, parts and empty beer bottles scattered all over the ground :D
    #20