Saturday, 12 July 2008

Roads are Overrated

Roxy making good progress on gravel tracks.

We’ve spent the last few days driving up from Altai mountains to the north of Mongolia. The scenery has been fantastic throughout. We all agree we like Mongolia the most out of all the countries we’ve visited so far.

The landscape is out of this world, there’s hardly any towns and the people are so friendly and curious.

Man without petrol

Most of the people live in Gers (or Yurts in Russian), a large tent and they are predominantly herdsmen with sheep, goats or cows.

There’s not really any roads in this country. “Main” roads are nothing more than a collection of tracks between a couple of towns a few hundred kilometres apart. The driving has definitely got a lot more interesting since we entered Mongolia.

Today has been our first day of bad weather since leaving England. Numerous times I looked out of the window and it could’ve been mistaken for Dartmoor.
We headed from our last night’s camp toward Hatgal, a journey of about 150km as the crow flies.

Roxy looking a little dirty after a mudbath - Dave wasn’t much cleaner!

We took several wrong turns - very easy when there’s no road signs, road surface or even accurate mapping - and ended up in some impressive gorges, with no way out. In the end we only covered about 80km.

Our neighbours who came and visited us one morning. I talked to them a bit with hand signals and our Mongolian phrasebook. A traditional greeting is to ask them if their animals are fattening up nicely, which I did.

We’ve just eaten a delicious plate of fish and potato curries that Dave cooked up - one of his best meals to date, possibly surpassed by his tapas selection. It’s started to rain again so we’ve abandoned the fire to play cards and savour a couple of squares of Dairy Milk which has come all the way from England.

We’ve heard through the Sat Phone that some of the Mongolians in Ulaanbaatar are a bit less chilled out than the ones we’ve met so far. Any further information and updates on the riots would be much appreciated (just click on ‘contact’). We’ll be down there in just over a week.

- Spike

Playing on the iPod: “Another day in Paradise” by Phil Collins

Police stop count: 20 (our latest happened whilst we were parked up. It seems the Mongolians don’t actually bother stopping you, they just bide their time until you stop)

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