19th - 28th October 2003
This section was the most interesting one. Every day we met camels and even a sheep riding pillion on a motorbike.
This camel was vacuuming up a muddy sludge of water from a very nearly dry puddle.
Coming out of Sainshand we crossed grassed over dunes, and sandy washouts cutting across the track became more frequent. We have got better at riding the sand. The key is to stare resolutely ahead, keep your steering quiet and keep pedalling.
A few days saw us in Ulan Uul, where a very nice man braved a big dog to call the water pump man for us, showed us to two houses that were in fact shops and took Mark to buy a piece of cow from a pile of dismembered bits in a hut on the edge of town. Real meat is so much better than the disgusting reconstituted muck in cans, it is worth the grisly preparation and prolonged chewing. We were able to keep 3 days supply by putting it out to freeze at night.
Loaded with 5 days supply of water, we decided to make a detour to look for sand dunes. Following the compass we were soon in trackless hills. Mark took this as a record of the effort needed to produce this sand furrow. After a full day of 'ploughing', there was still no track.
The next day we found a track heading west (which we could have reached far more simply by turning off the main south track at kilometre 115 from Sainshand.) By the end of the day we were at the dunes.
Lovely ripples and crests. As the sun set, Mark's legs grew longer than ever. About 20km further west of these is Burdene Bulag, an area with even more dunes, but with dwindling water and a stiff head wind, we decided to take up our invitation for tea at a ger. We took away super milk biscuits and milk in exchange for gloves, a rope and some safety pins.
During the 4 days from the dunes to Zamyn Uud, we came across a ger selling food and water, so we topped up. The weather was much warmer this far south, we even had rain rather than snow. Each night we pitched in the lee of the propped up bikes, as there is no cover. In one squall, we draped the ground sheet over the bikes to improve the shelter
The last 20 km were clearly designed to heighten the euphoria we experienced when we reached the start of the tarmac, being bone-shakingly washboarded.
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