14th - 18th October 2003
During our day off in Choyr the weather was overcast and bitterly cold with a strong wind. Happily the next day dawned clear and sunny with a steady tailwind and we pedalled off with our bikes groaning under the weight of water. We hadn't managed to get out of town when we were hailed by some firemen as we passed the fire station. "Chi, chi!" they shouted (tea, tea), I grumbled that we had only just started but it would have been rude to refuse and they gave us big bowls of milky tea, something we hadn't had since Ulaan Baatar. They were curious about where we were from, where we were going and what firemen in England earn. In Mongolia they earn $100 a month, but they got a satelite TV to watch and I don't imagine there are many fires.
It has to be said that the scenery was not very exciting, much of the road was bumpy or sandy or both and we hardly met anybody. There weren't any hills and the traffic was a mere handful of vehicles a day though, so no complaints there. We made good time, between 40 and 50 km a day, so it took just five days to get to Sainshand.
We did see some nice herds of horses, flocks or sheep and the occasional camel:
Further south we began to see grizzly corpses too:
There was a halfway village (called Airag or Tsagaandorvolj) where we bought more food and filled most of our water containers. Here we are at the end of that day, I have twelve litres in the blue container, the white container is empty (can hold five litres) and the red bag on the bottom of the left hand pannier is another four litres. Ju has ten litres in a bag inside the blue bag and four litres on the bottom of a pannier like me. With some other bottles and our two litre thermos flask we had thirty six litres altogether. When we arrived in Sainshand we had about fourteen litres left, but we were a day earlier than we expected. If we hadn't had the tailwind we would have taken a day more and then arrived with about five litres in hand. But we saw plenty of places were we could have got more, we just didn't know we would!
The next day when we stopped for a break I noticed that the red bag had gone. Optimistically thinking that it would be lying on the road just out of sight, I set off back for it on foot. Actually it was 4km away, but I did retrieve it and the four litres of water intact!
Sainshand means "good pond" and is the capital of the eastern Gobi Aimag (like a county). Back in civilisation, hotels, cafes, restaurants and shops!
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