Ulan Ude to Kyakhta (Mongolian border)

13th - 18th September 2003

We got out of Ulan Ude and onto the main road south at about 5pm, we were already tired from a day against the wind and going into and out of Ulan Ude, so we were keen to camp. The only problem was that we had left the taiga and were in open rolling steppe so there was no cover! We tried a motel but they wanted $60 for a room, excessive when they often charge just $10, so we ate in their cafe and then pushed on to finally camp after dark in some roadside bushes.

Next day we saw the biggest cricket ever:

The land was flatish and open, rolling hills with a some trees but also much open country, giving us a taste of what was to come in Mongolia.

Bu the most memorable thing about this part of the ride was the autumn colours. Here we are with a backdrop of yellow birch leaves.

Another night we camped amongst red/orange birch trees.

Ju found a Bull Rush in a swamp to adorn her bike with:

About 80km north of Kyakhta we met a group of three German cyclists who had ridden from Novosibirsk, down the Chusky Tract to cross into Mongolia near Tashanta. Then they had made a tour of western Mongolia before heading to Ulaan Baatar and back north into Russia to fly home from Irkutsk. Their website is www.sport-trifft-kultur.de.

Kyakhta itself was a pleasant enough town, big enough to have a decent range of food shops but not hard to find one's way around in. There are various relics of bygone day when it was an important tea trading post on the railway version of the Silk Road, but there is not much money around now. We saw two hotels, unfortunately the nicer looking of them (next to the Orthodox catherdral) was full but the where we stayed was OK. We bought a heap of vegetables and got ready to cross the border the following day.

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