A solo trip to Mongolia on a 125cc

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by guerreronegro, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Knowing your ride took place over a year ago, it seems odd to say "Congrats on making it to Mongolia", but I'm gonna say it anyway - that's frickin' awesome @guerreronegro! What a culmination of experiences to get to this point in your adventure man.

    Like the short video you shot riding into the landscape, looks very desolate and quite wonderful. Reminds me of some of the high desert places I've ridden in SE Oregon, though not nearly as vast. That two-track in the last picture splitting off to the left would be tough to pass up and explore; though that might not be permitted or allowed.

    Look forward to seeing what comes next! It's been so long since I started following your report that I've forgotten where the rally stops? Sounds like you still have several days of riding in country before hitting that spot, so it'll be great to see where you ride.
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  2. DirtScaresMe

    DirtScaresMe Adventurer Supporter

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    After going down the ADV rabbit hole reading YOUR story I felt inspired and motivated so I ordered a copy of "10 years on 2 wheels" by Helge Pedersen. I was disappointed in the lack of detail and brevity in the book AFTER reading your story and its detail. Please keep it up!
  3. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, MICN Supporter

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    L2D,

    There is nothing like riding in Mongolia.

    The vastness, the ability to ride anywhere and without fence, the utter emptiness is something you can’t imagine. The high steppe outside of Olgi in the west of Mongolia probably does look and feel like high desert. That changes when you go east, or south or north. It is remarkable.

    The people are wonderful.

    I get asked often what Mongolia was like. I guess my standard response for Americans is “Montana 200 years ago”. If you can make it happen, just make it happen. It is so very easy to do. The toughest part about going to ride in Mongolia is deciding to finally make it happen.

    Thanks for sharing your trip GN!

    I have been following along every day. I guess now that you are finally in Mongolia I am feeling bittersweet. I am excited to see photos and videos and hear stories of Mongolia. On the other hand, I know that this trip will be ending soon. Hopefully not too soon tho.

    Thanks for having us along.

    Cheers!

    Tahoe
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  4. Nissedasapewt42

    Nissedasapewt42 n00b Supporter

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    I'm glued to this RR and eagerly await each new update. Thank you for recording it at the time and then taking the trouble to post on here to share your trip with us.

    I love hearing about all the locals who help you along the way. I have fond memories of meeting many such friendly locals during my own overland travels and people like this really are what makes the world go round.
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  5. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile Supporter

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    First and foremost this is an outstanding RR and something tells me it's nowhere near from being over, heck you gotta get home somehow right?

    I've always wondered how is it that riders know who to pay what at borders. They can make up all sorts of crap and what can you do? I guess you're in their "world" and have very little choice but to pay up.
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  6. Meriwether

    Meriwether Following big footprints.

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    Thanks for posting your RR, you have rejuvenated my desire for solo moto travel. This year is already mapped out with UK and USA trips, but thanks to you next year London to Vladivostok is now on the agenda.
    Regards, Mark.
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  7. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    In Mongolia as well as in most of the countries after Europe the concepts of permitted or allowed are a bit up to interpretation :lol3:lol3. I always tried to be respectful with private property or government regulations trying to apply common sense, because other than that, there is not much out there to tell you what is right and what is wrong. it is as @live2ridetahoe describes it, vast emptyness everywhere with just nomads in between (a great percentage of the total population I believe). Most of them are great people curious to see and interact with foreigners. It is really interesting to see their approach to life and how simple things for us can be an object of great fascination for them and viceversa. Their concept of private property, and how the state has kept out allowing people to really preserve their identity almost untouched living in small communities... A truky fscinating country indeed. Funny enough, a few days after I found myself crossing what it was supposed to be an airport in the middle of nowhere. I will write on that with more detail later on. The rally was meant to stop in Ulan Ude but as you can see from the map in the first page, I made it back so there are still some stories to throw in this thread, @live2ridetahoe :D:D:D

    Well, everyone has a different style. I think most importantly besides inspiration is the amount of intel that you can gather from each point of view. Im glad you are liking it so far, when i started to write it I did not really know how to orientate it but I guess this is the style that defines me best. Me personally I appreciate those bikers out there putting together incredible videos telling a story, having been out there I just cannot see how to allocate time resources while riding.
  8. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    This is aways a dilemma. What to say about this? I heard how some foreigners ignored these people and continued without stopping, there is not really anyone pointing a gun at you to go through it. My personal approach to this is that while it is certainly pointless, I am not in the position to really question a bureacracy that I don't know nor understand. I see these people trying to make a living out of something "legitimate" even though one can argue that the insurance will not be useful at all with a 95% accuracy. Yet, in the end it was 10$ that will likely benefit someone in the economy. That being said I also found out that in Kazakhstan you also need one of those insurances after crossing the country which I never paid for because nobody was out there to tell me it was needed.
  9. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    When I saw this brand-new road, I felt a bit disappointed. In my head Mongolia was one of these countries that it was going to be quite hard to navigate. But I did not have to wait long to see how some sections of the road abruptly turned into gravel or just harsh terrain intermittently and without any prior notice. Then I realize even thought there was some asphalt, I might as well take advantage of it while it lasted, the rough terrain was so corrugated that I would not last long nor cover much ground with this bike's setup.
    IMG_20190826_135636.jpg

    I stopped in Olgi to do the usual business. Resupplying and getting a new SIM card were at the top of the list. The plan was to camp almost every day, so water was important as well as food to cook. I found a nice supermarket where I also bought some candy and things for kids, I presumed I would find at some point in the steppe. Fuel was a bit more expensive than in Russia, I think they import it from them already refined. I had to refuel as I had no clue how frequent petrol stations were going to be available. I also went to withdraw some more cash with my prepaid visa debit card. The development bank of Mongolia did not like the card and refused to give cash, so I went to the Khan bank, which seemed to work. Olgii was a decent village with almost everything you could need. They even had a place for overlanders to stay resembling the yurts nomads use. I still had much daylight to give up so I went to find a place to eat and look once again at the strategy to cross the country. I found a place that I could translate as Korean food, so in the benefit of time I entered it without hesitation. Interacting with Mongolians was a bit more of the same, with the translator and Internet running I wrote: “please give me something delicious that you cook everyday”. The girl was very nice and quickly got it while smiling she told me to sit and wait. The way Mongolians talk is truly fascinating, they use their throat to give shape to sounds in a way I have never heard before.

    Food was delicious and while waiting I decided initially, I would follow the road to Bayanghonkor, from where I would try to go down into the Gobi Gurvan, just to the right of the Gobi A as my paper map indicated. The difference between going north and south is apparently quite a lot from what I was told from other teams that decided to go towards Murun. This itinerary is more mountainous like a continuation of the Altai region in Russia. There were rumors that there were many river crossings plus less infrastructure to rely on so given the fact I was still riding alone I decided to avoid this uncertainty. Given the present conditions of the road, I signaled a lake close to Khovd in the map to attempt to camp there for the night. I payed the woman, started the bike and headed there before the sun ran out. IMG_20190826_184237.jpg
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  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    ^^^^
    Outstanding image and capture @guerreronegro! Enjoyed the update, look forward to hearing more about the spot you camped and interactions with the local population.
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  11. Cafeguzzi

    Cafeguzzi Been here awhile

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    ". The way Mongolians talk is truly fascinating, they use their throat to give shape to sounds in a way I have never heard before."
    i recently discovered per IG the art of Mongolian throat singing. absolutely fascinating!
  12. elron

    elron Still Standing Supporter

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    Querreronegro, Just started on this fine RR today. Think I'm around day 13 of your journey. Really enjoying it as you are letting both the enviroment and the folks you're meeting adjust your itinerary. In my mind that is what is making this such a fine report and a truer "adventure" for you. Looking forward to continuing this report.
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  13. SlowFinn

    SlowFinn Adventurer

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    Thanks for a great RR. Really enjoyed the pictures from Samarkand, a name and place from ancient tales.
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  14. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    Up until Khovd the road was in excellent condition. There was one bridge though, that had given up and collapsed. Instead traffic had already found an alternative way and since the river was dry there was nothing to worry about. I was able to see in the distance some Mongolian Gers and every now and then some camels, I think they are called Bactrian camels, often dispersed and sometimes together drinking from some small ponds. The landscape was astonishing, a mix of lakes, a few hills and just vast emptiness no matter where you looked. It was not arid yet, but rather a continuation of the steppe. The small grass growing will sometimes have funny colors, it just seemed magical. I stopped just to take pictures and a quick bite, and then continued.
    69784748_2371516732926748_5950141726445273088_n.jpg
    70386599_2371517129593375_3159160308354777088_n.jpg When I arrived in Khovd the sun was already going down and before I knew it, it was dark. I refueled before taking the track from this town into the lake. I did not know with certainty whether this was the right track or not but it certainly was good off -road fun. I saw some locals scattered around in Gers but they also had dogs protecting the cattle that would defend their radius without hesitation so I was forced to keep riding until I found something more placid where to pitch the tent.

    Without barely any light and quite tired I had to mount the tent and in the process of doing so, I could see a thousand mosquitos going after me or the light. I did this as fast as possible and sought refugee inside the tent. There would be more time to think tomorrow with light. I could hear however, the sound of active animals, probably horses as I saw some on my way in here. Wind was also moving the tent a bit so despite the last 30 km of off road fun, getting some decent rest was not going to be as easy. Coordinates of the camping place (not that I recommend this place at all) are LATITUDE: 47.92738 LONGITUDE: 91.99312 (for some reason it does not appear on the track).

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  15. Supahflid

    Supahflid Wheelieless Super Supporter

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    Absolutely stunning!!! Incredible journey!!! Your storytelling is excellent and having consumed the whole report up to the last entry, I anxiously await the next installment!!!! Thank you, thank you for taking the time to share this adventure!!!!!
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  16. Packer

    Packer Been here awhile

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    A remarkable adventure and a story well written. I hope to see further installments.
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  17. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    After an awful night I could see that riding and setting camp in the night was definitely something to avoid. The mosquitos were still there, and I could see the horses drinking water next to the lake, some of them passed and visit the tent during the night. I exited the tent and dismantled everything in record time to avoid the biting of mosquitos. Now I had to do another 30 km of off-road to get out to the main road in Khovd. Now I could see some locals in the main track, and their dogs with them. They were all friendly and sayed hi as I pass by. I cannot say the same about the dogs, they pursued me until I got out of their radius of action. It was incredible to see how old Japanese sedans can go through a great deal of punishing by driving them everyday in off road tracks like this as I saw form some Mongolians going from the city to their Gers and back.

    There was one local in one of these cars that came to my encounter honking a few times as I was checking the Garmin in an intersection. Turns out he wanted to buy my motorcycle or that’s what I could at least understand from him. When I said no to him, he looked kind of disappointed. He looked like at least I should give him a test ride just for asking. Nevertheless he helped me find the exit to the paved road, it was quite tricky to find the right track in such a labyrinth with the daylight as there were many paths and many intersections in the vast steppe.
    DSC02858.JPG DSC02857.JPG
    Back on the road I kept riding until finding a place to eat. I could not be bothered to prepare breakfast this morning. I could now start to appreciate Mongolian distances. Between different settlements with just a few houses in between there was a minimum of 100 km. Between petrol stations an average of 200 km. There is absolutely nothing in between but nature to see. In the restaurant I learn also how the nomads migrate 4 times a year matching the seasons and how they use the camels to move the Gers with them. Some nomads however, they have a fancy setup with solar panels, a small truck and a satellite antenna for TV. I would learn this later more in detail while visiting a few of them in person. The camels apparently grow their hair massively in the winter as I could see in the pictures of the restaurant, they just look like two different animals.

    Once again back in the road I could also notice a great number of falcons flying really low and suspiciously close unafraid of human presence. I was told later that the birds were domesticated, and it is an specialty of the Kazakh nomads. Big black birds were also standing still at each post or traffic signal. Birdwatching was just one of the many spectacles of untapped nature to appreciate while riding. The new road made riding effortless and I had pinpointed the city of Altai as my next destination for tonigh. Apparently, the road extended all the way to Bayanghonkor and I was a bit disappointed with just riding on tarmac. So I started to craft my plan for tomorrow and looked towards a place called bigger south east of Altai. In Mongolia I noticed, there are many towns with the same name repeated twice or even three times, so it is always a good thing to know exactly which rural population you were referring to.

    I stopped a couple of times for petrol today. Probably there was no need for it but I was following always a conservative strategy just in case. In one station I saw a local in a very beaten Chinese motorcycle attempting to refuel but he was not able to open the lid. I had some experience in lockpicking easy locks, so I helped him just by tumbling the key on the locking mechanism. I saw he also had his chain very dirty and rusty, so I also gave him some lube on the chain. He was really happy and gave me a high five.

    Then it was time for lunch but while breakfast had been a really pleasant one, this one was just not good. The place looked very western just at one side of the road with a clear sign for food. Maybe this was not the country to go to such places but at least they had a good ice-cream that helped low the temperature in such a sunny and hot weather. Later on, I do not know if because of the food or the weather itself I started to feel really drowsy while riding. It got to the point I had to stop. This time it was not like in Turkmenistan that I had company to keep me awake. So, before spelling the word disaster I stopped a bit out of the main road and took a power nap in the middle of the steppe and next to a bunch of camels. DSC02859.JPG
  18. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Excellent couple of updates @guerreronegro! I wanted to post after you included that shot of the bridge, but figured I'd wait until you had another update.

    I can empathize about the mosquitoes and having camp suck because of those damn bugs (horse flies too). After dealing with it for a couple nights, some guys camped near me took pity and gave me a can of bug spray - saved my arse for the last couple nights of camping.

    Smart call getting off the bike for a power nap, hard to believe it's a thing, but falling asleep while riding is possible - just like driving. Crazy about the interaction with the local who wanted to buy your bike and take it for a ride - wonder what he thinking about you continuing your travels...lol.

    The pics of the camels in your last shot are just plain cool - so crazy to think about seeing animals like that just hanging out on the side of the road. And really neat about the falcons being domesticated. Assumed they used them for falconry (and eating what they caught)?

    Look forward to the next update, this has been such a great report to follow!
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  19. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    @liv2day , Thank god I also had some mosquito repelant on me, that saved the night. For the Falcons I only saw the domesticated ones in the capital Ulan Bator, but some teams showed me nomads also dominating this art somewhere in the middle of the southern route. The ones I saw on the road they just seemed to be roaming free. And the camels is just cool to see them anywhere completely free, probably they have an owner but nowhere close to be seen at least at plain sight while looking for gers.


    Lucky for me Altai was not too far away. After waking up I resumed instantly. The bike proved to be a good place to sleep, I used the two wheels on top for the legs and the big waterproof bag in the back as a cushion. A throwback to Turkmenistan customs. It was a long time ago since I didn’t try Coach surfing and Altai seemed to be as cosmopolitan as it could get around here. I thought maybe I could find another local experience like the last time in Turkey so I sent a message to Bulgaa before getting back on the road again.
    IMG_20190827_163847.jpg
    After a few minutes of riding straight in the boring brand-new road I found a Belgian team in a Nissan Micra and an Opel Corsa on the side of the road. They were running out of time and needed to get to Ulan Bator as soon as possible. We took a picture and I carried on; they would be also sleeping in Altai tonight so there will be time to catch up eventually. I didn’t get any reply in Coach surfing so as soon as I arrived in the small city I saw a big hotel with some other ralliers inside. I went ahead and explored the city a bit before making a final decision. I saw a small business with one London taxi car, probably from previous editions of the rally, and next to it a guy with a pressure machine. I thought it would be a good idea to give it a wash and lube the chain today that I had some extra time to allocate.
    IMG_20190827_183057.jpg
    Then, I rode to the hotel where I met an archeology team who happened to be from my home city. Happy to see a few fellow compatriots, we exchanged numbers to see if we could go for a beer or something later for the night. Apparently, the Evolution museum from my home city and the Mongolian government had something going on and they told me they had been travelling all around the country visiting some ancient sites with some Mongolians.
    IMG_20190827_200719.jpg
    Inside the hotel the lady in the reception was telling me they had no individual rooms left. But after talking some non-sense for a few minutes she suddenly found one, the last one apparently. So, I was the lucky one that night I guess, I payed around 17 USD for a room in a very good place, almost like a three-star hotel. After taking a shower, I went down to the lobby and there I met Jorge, a Mexican dude from Puebla riding a GS1200 from Belgium to Vladivostok. We had dinner 9a really good one also) together and decided to travel together down south to go into the Gobi supporting each other in the next few days. Then the Belgians came in and joined us for a beer. Suddenly I saw a notification on my phone from Bulga, the girl from couch surfing telling me that it was not possible to sleep at home for tonight as she was remodeling but to come by to a coffee shop she had in the city center. Normally, days were getting too monotonous but tonight I had a few different options to hang out. The Spanish guys were not ready yet and I was not sure what was their definition of having a beer for the night, Mongolians included. Jorge and the Belgians were going to rest so I was left alone and decided to pay a visit to the mysterious couch surfing host.

    The coffee place remembered me of Chinese ones from my previous four months living there. Bulgaa welcomed me and offered me a really good decaf. Businesses in Mongolia apparently closed late, at 11 PM. We chatted for a while; it was interesting to hear the tales of contrast of one of Mongolia’s developed towns vs the emptiness around. She told me to have no fear of the nomad people but to be aware of their sense of property. They are usually very, very curious to foreigners, she told me, meaning by that I guess they would not mind to jump on the motorcycle or try my helmet if left unattended. Bulgaa was very kind and spoke perfect English, she had studied in Ulan Bator and returned to Altai upon completion of her studies to open up this small business to make a living. Life in Altai wasn’t exactly exciting as it was not too big, but it worked. She also told me how they definitely preferred the Russians to the Chinese, how the falcons were more a thing from the neighbors in the west and also a few words in Mongolian which I failed time and time again to pronounce right.

    It was already late, I thanked Bulgaa for the time and checked my phone again, the Spanish sent me a text but I failed to check my phone while in the conversation so it was too late already as they were also going back to the hotel. So we said goodbye and I head to the place to rest so to wake up early and meet with Jorge at the breakfast place.

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  20. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Great update @guerreronegro, cool to see a shot of you with a couple of other teams again. And that's really neat about connecting with the local lady who opened a business in her home town after going away for an education. So foreign to think of a local who wouldn't have an issue with getting on your bike or trying on your helmet without asking - maybe that's what was going on with the person who seemed to want to buy it from the previous day (lol)? And I wonder if it works the same way with their property - you could just get in one of their cars or throw a leg over their camel (LOL)?

    Interesting that Mongolians prefer the Russians to the Chinese. Don't know anything about the history of Mongolia, but would interpret that as the Russians might not interfere with their life and ways of life as much.

    Really cool you'll be traveling with another moto-rider as you make your way the next few days. Looking forward to those updates and seeing what you guys experienced!
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