- City: Kanpur
After a long gap in the storytelling we return to the short overnight stay at Hutag Undor.
The problem with Mongolia is the extremely long days, the sun rises too early and sets too late. I wanted to see the sunrise and woke up early, very early, inhumanly early to see the sun rise out from behind the hills. I waited for about 15 minutes as the sky turned crimson and then slept off at the penultimate moment, missing the much awaited sunrise!
The ride for the day was a rather long one. A 100 km ride from Hutag Undor to Ikh Uul. 100km does not feel a lot when i ride it on my roadie in Delhi, but on an MTB in the rolling terrain, bogged down with 25kg of luggage, a century ride is light years away from sanity! Nonetheless we egged each other on, made good progress throughout the day. The difficult terrain notwithstanding. We even crossed a couple of mountain passes. Not Himalyan standard Passes, but reasonably high.
Fortunately the weather in the morning was lovely, but as the day progressed the sun beat down on us. Not a whiff of breeze meant that we were running like steam engines. The heat being oppressive as if in a desert. The dryness of the air catching the throat, fortunately we had learnt our lesson on the first day and were carrying sufficient water. We stopped for lunch at a roadside hut, where we ordered without checking out the prices. It turned out to be the most expensive meal we had had in Mongolia till then, and the food wasn’t anything special either.
On the way we met a Russian couple who had been driving down in a Land Cruiser from Siberia and had threaded many countries before entering Mongolia and would exit on the other side of Mongolia and back into Russia. They were driving all the way from Khuvsgul Lake to Ulaan Bataar in one day, a distance that we hoped to cover in 7 days on our cycles. At that moment i truly felt slow and wished i had my Pulsar with me to make things move a bit faster!
We also met a friendly Mongolian shepherd who rode up to meet us on his very cool looking motorcycle. A real pocket rocket! He had given up riding a horse, and used this motorcycle instead to herd his sheep. He found it far more effective. There are a couple of pictures of this cool machine in this post!
Finally after thousands of pedal strokes we hit the town of Ikh Uul. The entire town from a distance looked like an oversized ghetto. With not a sign of a place to stay. A guy on a motorcycle saw us wandering and wondering and rode up to us and told us to follow him. He then led us till the other end of the town, which was probably a couple of kilometres away to a ramshackle looking building. From the broken windows i could see a disco ball hanging in a dusty hall, which probably hadn’t seen a human being in it for a few years at least. It gave me the creeps. Fortunately that wasn’t our accommodation, else i would have done a Scooby Doo! We stayed in a dormitory in the attic of someone’s house who was kind enough to give us space to rest our tired bodies.
In front of our room was a big tower, the tower was a bomb tower which was constructed during some time of war. Every time an air raid was expected, a siren would go off and the residents of the city would have to run from their houses and move towards shelter. Thankfully, the threat of war doesn’t exist anymore over there and the tower was defunct. Hopefully it will stay that way in the future as well. This little town was also the place where i met my biggest fear. The toilets were nothing but a hole in the ground, with two planks of wood covering it and a hole in the middle of it. You need to aim for the hole while ensuring that you didn’t fall into it yourself. I thought that was an exception of Ikh Uul. But as we meandered through Mongolia, we realized that it was going to be that ways for the rest of the trip!
Punjab style mustard fields in Mongolia!
The roads are incredible
Disc brake bike works as new age sheepdog!
Top of a pass
A country filled with sheep
Met this couple travelling across Russia and Central Asia