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Steppe Out: Travels Around Mongolia, Summer 2014

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by live2ridetahoe, May 22, 2014.

  1. kumatae

    kumatae Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    have flown many times on k-air and asiana. love the food that they serve! hope you weren't fooled by the duty free signs, it's really not that cheap...
  2. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    I wasn't fooled. I really didn't need that stuff. Yes, the food was quite good. Nice to have a real meal on a flight. The free alcohol was a plus as well...

    Tahoe
  3. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    I awoke to find the city of UB in all of it's glory...


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    Clearly it is not the most beautiful city, but I was anxious to get out and explore. I wasn't picking up the moto until the next day. This was going to be my sightseeing/supply day. I had plans to get a good map of Mongolia at the State Department Store as well as a Mongolian SIM card for my phone.

    I went downstairs for breakfast (sorry, no pictures) and was served by the girl who was working the front desk last night when I arrived. Her name was Tungaa, and she spoke English. After a bit of chit chat, she offered to show me around the city when she got off of work. I met her downstairs and we headed out into UB.

    UB is a pretty dirty city. They burn coal for electricity as well as heating and hot water. The traffic in UB is something else. People in UB drive like I would drive had I just spilt a beaker of hydrochloric acid in my lap. Merge, swerve, honk, swerve, speed up, merge, honk... Wait, pedestrian in the road? Honk, Honk, speed up, swerve, miss pedestrian... Insane. I cannot believe I didn't see one pedestrian get hit. I guess it is like a fine dance between pedestrians and the traffic. Everyone must have learned how to do it. I didn't take chances and just waited until it was clear.


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    Tungaa and I walked toward Sukhbaatar Square, located in the center of the city. We went to the State Department Store and she helped me pick up a Skytel SIM card (T10000), and a tourist map (T7000). It really helped having someone with me who spoke Mongolian. I'm sure I could have got it done, just not as smoothly as with Tungaa. When I was in Mongolia, 1 USD=1800 Tugrik. Not a bad price for 3G coverage for 3 weeks!

    We walked over to the square so I could check it out. I was the typical tourist snapping photos...


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    Flower Ger:


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    My guide, Tungaa:


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    Horsemen:


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    Statue of Chinggis Khan:


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    Wedding party:


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    The kid on the left is a bit underdressed. I was surprised at how beautiful a lot of the Mongolian girls in the city were.


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    Trying to get this little one to do anything was like trying to herd cats... She was pretty adorable tho...


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    It was after noon now and I was getting a bit hungry. Tungaa brought me to a restaurant she used to work at. We had a sit down lunch right near the Choijin Lama Museum. We didn't go in, but it looked like quite a place...


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    We walked to the amusement park, located about half a km from the square. It was T1000 to go in. We checked it out and it was largely empty at this time of the day. There were only a few families there.


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    We took a cab back to the hotel. I was going to meet up with Ben S. later at the Grand Khan Irish Pub. Ben is a fellow inmate who helped me a lot with the planning of this trip. I thought I would buy him a few beers to say thanks.

    Tungaa and I met Ben at the Irish pub.


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    Sad to say it was the first of the month and no alcohol was being served. Bummer. We had a couple of Cokes and some french fries and hung out for an hour and a half or so.

    After saying goodbye to Ben, Tungaa and I ended up seeing the movie "Lucy" starring Scarlett Johansson. It was opening night in UB and we got some of the last available tickets. Going to the movies in UB is a bit different than going here in the states. Here, it's general admission. Sit where you want. In UB, there is assigned seating. We got the last two seats located next to each other.

    After the movie, we took a taxi back to the hotel. Tomorrow I would get my moto and head out into the countryside. I couldn't wait....



    Tahoe
  4. bill42

    bill42 Old-School BMWs

    Joined:
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    443
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Gee Jeff, I didn't think I could ever do a trip like this but seeing the photos of your Hotel room, bathroom, and the pics of Tungaa, well lets just say I may have been looking at adventure riding totally wrong all these years!!!

    ;-)
  5. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    I splurged on this hotel. The rest of Mongolia was NOT like that... :)

    Tahoe
  6. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Adjustafork Chef

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    406
    Good on ya Tahoe!! Many only dream of doing a journey like this. Not that many commit and actually do it. Haven't spent any time on ADVtalker for a long time and noticed you PM'd me a while back. My apologies for not responding. It looks like you got things sorted well. I would have added that bikes from Cheke are hit or miss depending on mileage of the particular bike. We met a couple on one which was questionable at best. But you seemed to have good luck. Nice!!

    Looking forward to seeing your route and how it all shook out for you. SUBSCRIBED
  7. FlyingPenguin

    FlyingPenguin Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    "Where the Donner Party Dined"
    "Hit or miss....." Yep. You got that right!
  8. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Hey JM! Thanks for inspiring me to do a trip like this. I think it was your RR that really made me realize that a trip like this is doable. I agree with you about the bikes from Cheke, they can be a bit rough looking. I got a rather good bike. I met at least 7 people who had rented from her and no one had a breakdown. Some had little niggles, but they all ran and got the riders home.

    Thanks again JM!

    Tahoe
  9. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Hey FP! Checked your Spot and it looks like you were back in UB yesterday. Hope the trip went well.

    Tahoe
  10. FlyingPenguin

    FlyingPenguin Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    "Where the Donner Party Dined"
    It was an awesome trip. The little Yamaha performed admirably and I had a great time. So we'll in fact that I ended up back at Oasis a day early. Now to start the RR,,,,,,
  11. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Tungaa was picking me up around 10:00 to go and get my bike at Cheke Tours. I repacked all of my gear and headed downstairs for my breakfast.


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    Tungaa and a couple of her girlfriends gave me a ride back out past the airport. After a couple of wrong turns, we finally arrived at Cheke's place. I dropped off my gear inside and said my goodbyes to Tungaa and her friends.

    At Cheke's, there were several bikes out in the yard. A couple of them looked a little rough on the outside. I met two other guys who had come to rent bikes as well. They both were strapping backpacks onto the bikes. One, an Austrian named Franz, told me that he and this Spanish guy were going East to Gorkhi Terelj National Park for a few days. They had not considered renting motos until they met someone who had rented from Cheke.


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    As we were about to head out, Cheke came out with some milk and said a blessing over the bike. She sprinkled milk on the tires and foot pegs. The Austrian and Spaniard headed out and I asked Cheke for directions toward Kharkorin. She gave me some pretty general/rough directions to cut through Khustain Nuruu National Park . I was off.

    I followed Cheke's directions out of town, and ended up riding around valleys and gravel pits for the next two hours. I tried using my GPS, but it just gave me a straight line to the GPS coordinates Cheke had given me for the park. She had told me to "look for a road going up and over the hills". Thanks Cheke. I'll keep an eye out for that, because I'm sure there is only one.

    It was pretty out there in parts. I stopped to take a photo of the first bunch of horses I came across. Dust from the gravel trucks are is the background....


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    I had picked the bike up and got going around 1:30pm. It was now past 3:30. I had been running around out here for over two hours. The only thing I was sure of is where UB was. I backtracked my route and headed back toward the city. I decide to stay at the Oasis Guesthouse on the east side of town and then leave in the morning.

    On the way back to UB, I got stopped at a police checkpoint. They asked me for my passport. I left my passport with Cheke as my deposit for the bike. I gave them the photocopies of my passport and international driving permit, as well as the registration for the moto.

    After some discussion with another officer, the first officer comes back and points at my plate. He then points to the registration. The numbers do not match! Cheke had given me the wrong registration. I called her up and had her talk to the officer. The officer handed me the phone back. "Pay him T10000 and I'll reimburse you when you get back" Cheke told me. I told her that I was down the street from her place and would come and pick up the correct registration. That wasn't going to happen... Come to find out, she gave my registration to either the German or Spaniard. Great! She also told me to keep track of how many times I had to pay this fine and she would pay me back when I returned. Oh well, off to UB. Let's see how this plays out.

    I arrived at the Oasis after a rather exciting first ride through UB.


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    I got set up in the four bed guesthouse near the front gate and road. The room was large and I took the bed under the stair. I shared the room with a guy from Alberta, Canada named Edward who had been riding around Russian and the Stans. Edward was really tall. I'm 6'4". He had to be 4-5 inches taller than me. I believe he was heading to Siberia to do the BAM road or the Road of Bones.

    Pics of his bike...


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    I took a look around and saw the support vehicle from Kudu Expeditions was still at the Oasis. I remember reading about everything that went wrong on this trip on rtwpaul's thread. The bikes had been picked up the day before I arrived, but the Land Cruiser was still there. It was looking a bit rough...


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    I had a Mongolian Red Bull and vodka and worked on my moto a bit.


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    I installed a SAE connector from Powerlet onto the battery. I had a cigarette type adapter and a 2 USB adapter so that I could charge electronics while camping. I adjusted the clutch and front and rear brakes so that they actually worked now.

    I met Lukas M. and Lyndon Poskitt. Lukas was on his orange KTM 690 enduro with a Rally Raid kit. Lyndon was getting ready for Rally Mongolia.


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    Lukas had found a 690RR in UB and was looking into buying it. A gal dressed in yellow leathers showed up on a Honda VFR. She had ridden it from London and was heading to Vladivostok. Her name is Veronica Feeling. We chatted for a bit and then she was off for a "girl's night" in UB.

    The rest of the evening was pretty chill. I met some other travelers, had a couple of beers and enjoyed the wifi. I figured that since I was already on the east side of UB, I would head out the see the giant Ghengis Khan statue and Gorkhi Terelj National Park tomorrow.

    So I wasn't out of UB yet, but tomorrow would be different... maybe...

    Tahoe
  12. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Awesome! Looking forward to it. Hey, I lost your email. Please email it to me. Looking forward to catching up on this side of the pond.

    Tahoe
  13. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
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    I accidentally moved some of the photos in Photobucket. I'll fix the dead photos when I get home from work.

    Edit: Fixed.

    Tahoe
  14. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Adjustafork Chef

    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
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    406
    Well, I think it was a good thing that I never stayed at Oasis. I seriously don't know how I would have reacted seeing those KTMs and other nice bikes rolling through when I'M on a fucking Shineray!!! I might have snapped....
  15. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Concord, CA
    I woke briefly at 0330 to hear Veronica stumbling in after her girl's nite. I drifted back to sleep for a couple of hours. I made my way to the kitchen of the Oasis and started the coffee. After a couple of cups of coffee, toast and jam, and a quick FaceTime over the wifi with my daughter I was off. My goal today was to make it out to the giant Genghis Khan statue, check out Gorkhi Terelj National Park, and make it back through UB and out to someplace to camp.

    It was an easy ride out of the city to the statue. I figured that since it was a weekend, I should get out to the touristy stuff early. The roads were paved out to the statue. The outer industrial areas of UB gradually gave way to the countryside. My chinese bike buzzed away underneath me as I made my way out to the statue.

    The statue of Genghis Khan overlooked a lush green valley. The statue itself is covered in stainless steel. It was pretty impressive from a distance and even more remarkable up close. There is a museum in the basement filled with relics from the Mongolian empire.

    I got a parking space right up front and went to check the place out.


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    I spent enough time there to check out the museum and walk up the stairs to the observation platform on top of the horse's head. The view was quite lovely from up there. I could see more and more cars and busses coming into the parking lot. Probably time for me to get out of here.

    There was a man in the parking lot with a large vulture and eagle. You could get your photo taken for T5000 with one of the birds. Tourists were lined up and getting their photos taken. This guy must have made T50000 in a matter of 5 minutes. I sort of wanted my photo taken but decided against it for now. I thought I would hold out until Kharkhorin. Off to Terelj...

    Again, it was an easy ride out to Terelj park. This was another popular spot for people from UB to come for a day trip. The park and surrounding mountains and valleys were really pretty to ride through. I was starting to realize how long it takes to get anywhere when you top out at about 72kph on a good road.

    Terelj National Park:


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    Turtle Rock...


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    I stopped at the end of the main road for a coffee and a snack. Quie a few people going on horseback rides. Some looked more comfortable on a horse than others.


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    I gave the kids at the coffee truck a gum ball and a LED flashlight. They seemed to like them.


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    I encountered quite a bit of late afternoon Sunday traffic coming back into UB. After about 10km of bumper to bumper, I started following the locals down the side of the street. When I was getting close to UB, I pulled into the petrol station close to the Oasis. I planned to fill up here, and then work my way through UB to a spot to camp on the western plains.

    In Mongolia, you can not pump your own gas. When you pull up, an attendant will come out and pump it for you. I took my Giant Loop tank bag half way off and opened the filler. The female attendant filled the tank, but something happened to the nozzle when she tried to stop it and pull it out of my tank. It was stuck open and flowing full bore!! Shocked, she held it straight up in the air and shouted, "Aiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee!".

    I was instantly covered in gasoline. It was all over my tank bag, jacket, pants, helmet, luggage. In short, everything! I didn't want to spend my first night camping stinking of gasoline. Since I was 50 yards from the Oasis, and I knew they had laundry service, I decided to spend the night there and head out in the morning. I needed a cold beer and a shower.

    People at the Oasis were surprised to see me back, as they thought I would be camping on the west side of UB tonight. They understood pretty quickly once I got close to them why I was back. My arrival was preceded by the stink of gasoline.

    I had a beer, showered, and put my now freshly laundered clothes out to dry in the evening breeze. Since the kitchen at the Oasis was closed, a few of us decided to go for a walk to get some food. We found a decent place to eat and piled in.


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    Veronica, who had the girl's nite the night before, called up her contact in a local biker club and a few of them joined us for a few beers...


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    We made our way back to the Oasis with the biker gang in tow. I tried to stay up, but it was already after 1am. I had a long ride to Kharkhorin tomorrow. I said my goodbyes to my friends at the Oasis and my new biker friends. I was determined to get out of UB early tomorrow and out to the countryside....


    Tahoe
  16. Roadracer_Al

    Roadracer_Al louder, louder, louder!

    Joined:
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    2,235
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    Oh, jeez, that Chinggis statue is massive! That wasn't there when we were in UB 12 years ago.

    And KHOSHOR!!! I'd so totally eat one of those right now...

    Looking forward to the rest of your report!

    a
  17. BeninMongolia

    BeninMongolia n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2013
    Oddometer:
    4
    Hi Jeff - that was my wife that Veronica was out with until 3:00 am! Veronica is currently at Lake Baikal and had a spill of her bike but ok apparently.

    Enjoying reading about your trip.

    Cheers, Ben
  18. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

    Joined:
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    That was such a funny coincidence! Veronica mentioned how on girl's nite she ended up back at a condo in UB and how this gal's husband, who was an Aussie, had the same bike.

    "Was his name Ben?" I asked. You should have seen her face! Funny how you and I had just hung out two days before!

    Again Ben, it was great meeting you in person and thank you for all of the help with the planning and execution of this trip. i really appreciate it.

    For those going to Mongolia and following this thread:

    There is no alcohol served on the first day of the month!

    Don't meet up with an Aussie and try to buy him beers on this day.:D

    Thanks for following Ben!

    Tahoe
  19. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    After a late evening with the guys from the Gothic Riders, I was surprised how early I was up. I knew that I wanted to get through UB before traffic got too bad. It was Monday morning and I had no idea how bad UB traffic would be. I knew what Monday morning traffic in the Bay Area looked like and I just pictured that...It sucks. I was eager to get going.

    I was up and out before anyone else. I had a couple quick cups of coffee, some toast and jam, and a quick FaceTime with the family and I was on my way...

    Goodbye Oasis....


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    I found the way out of UB and headed west. After a couple of days of nice weather, a front had moved in. It was chilly and drizzling at times. The Mustang buzzed along at a steady 72kph. The outskirts of UB gave way to the grasslands. The road was decent, but had it's share of potholes. It was about 300kms to Kharkhorin and Erdene Zuu Monestary and I was on my way.

    The scenery west of UB:


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    I topped off my petrol in the town of Lun. I found petrol to be quite plentiful on the route I took around the country. The weather stayed chilly and moist. When I arrived in Erdenesant, I looked for a place to warm up and have some hot food. My options looked slim, but found a place with some nice looking people running it. Without being able to read the menu, I just ordered what it looked like everyone else was having. This was the way I ended up ordering in much of the country. I was brought hot salty yak milk tea and a plate of beef with pickled things and some balls of rice. The Mongolians like to put chunks of fat in their food, as I'm sure they use as much of the animal as possible.


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    I gave this one a flashlight. She just put it in her mouth. Next time I'll save them for the bigger kids...


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    I was back on the road, warm, and with a full belly. I continued past a couple of shrines on the side of the road...


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    It was mid afternoon by the time I arrived in Kharkhorin. I topped off the tank with petrol, bought some bottled water and went to Erdene Zuu Monestary, which was a short drive off of the main road. It was pretty touristy outside with it's row of shops and eateries, so I headed in. It is free to enter, but if you want to go to the museum part, that cost T3000 (about $1.60).


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    Nice knockers...


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    I came across this sign and had a decision to make...


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    I really wanted to see Tuvkhon Khiid Monestary and the waterfall at Ulaan Tsutgalan, but I did not really want to spend a day driving down there and another day driving back to Kharkhorin. I tried to find if there was a way through the mountains to Tsetserleg, the next big town 120km to the northwest of Kharkhorin. I asked all of the Mongolian tour guide outside of the monastery and no one could give me a good answer. There was a language barrier for sure, but even with my map out and charades, they all shook their heads (I came to find out there IS a track that cuts through the mountains...). I made the decision to head toward Tsetserleg and find a place to camp.

    It was late afternoon and I was pretty beat from a long day on the Mustang. I headed about 10km up the road and started to look for a place to pull off and camp. I really liked the thought of motoing up a hill and having a nice view of the valley and sunset, so that's what I did...


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    I set up camp and had a Red Bull and vodka while I cooked up some of Joe Motocross's famous "Steppe Stew". As the sun set, I pulled out my binoculars and was checking out a group of gers down in the valley. While looking at the group of gers through the binoculars, I notice someone looking up at me with a monocular! I waved at him and he waved back! I'm sure everyone just wants to know who their neighbors are....

    It was great to finally be out in the countryside.

    Tahoe
    Bunnyscoots likes this.
  20. levain

    levain STILL Jim Williams

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    wow