This is actually one of the first photos I took in the country. It's only 80 km from the border to my destination of Olgiy. Such an amazing change of landscape, I can see the magical mystical draw it has on people.
The beginning of the journey was a typical extremely rigidy road as they are when they have a fair amount of "traffic". It then turned into little tracks going every which way.. Which one do I follow!? Tried to keep my eye on the GPS, but it's difficult while standing up and negotiating the changing road.
They were doing road construction can you believe, with absolutely no way to pass and not a single sign as to where to detour. The few cars (about 4) that came through the border with me this morning were all trying different tracks. Luckily a young Mongolian boy on a motorcycle came racing up to me on his bike and showed me the way (through a creek!) This put me ahead of the pack - yay!
So, if you can find your way, the main "highway" has character!
Not much traffic to worry about, so I couldn't help but to get off the bike and take a good look around. I'm a bit cocky saying that, because after I was shown the way, I was whizzing through on the motorcycle, where the cars behind were needing to go slow with the deep ruts in the road and struggling.
My imagination running wild, I'm also getting used to riding the really rough dirt tracks again.
I loved the Michelin Desert tires we used through Siberia. Compared to my original tires, they felt really solid and in control. But now I have the 80/20's (80% paved road/20% dirt tire) from Heidenau.. (Another thing organized by Walter before he left!! - thanks Mate!) I was curious what they would be like on the dirt and gravel, and surprisingly they were great! I'm not good with motorcycle pieces and parts talk, but I could hardly notice a difference! This was good news to me.. Logically in my head I would have expected them to be rather slippery on the dirt.. but I felt confident and good with no slipping around. So I had no reason to change my riding habits from before. You know, those very skilled motorcross riding habits I have acquired... ;-/
Except these guys!!
Isn't it interesting that even THEY prefer bitumen to dirt?? Please don't call me a cow, but we are on the same page here!! ;-)
The paved road lasted about 30 km. And then I spotted the thriving city of Olgiy.
Knowing I was going to be facing 220 km of even less used dirt tracks tomorrow, I plan on staying the night here.
Just on the edge of town and little car with a man and woman are flagging me down. I refuse to stop. I don't want to be forced off the road for them to sell me something. Then he gets in front of me putting on his brakes to make me stop. I just go around him. I ride through town slowly having a look at what Mongolian culture is like and trying not to notice these crazy people in the car. I must stop to get some money changed and something to drink at the shop.
They followed me all the way, jumping out of the car when I stopped and by now I'm a bit ticked off. He finds that I speak English, so he gets his notebook out and flips to the "english" page where somebody has hand written his name and a total sales pitch to come and stay at his guesthouse, meal etc etc. I tell him no. I had the hotels on my gps from Walter's waypoints, and I wanted to check them out instead.
Long story short, I gave in to his plea for me to at least have a look. But not until I had sussed out the hotels. They looked really scary, right in the town and nowhere safe to park the bike. When I followed the man home, I got a complete little guesthouse to myself, with my bike parked right outside the door. I didn't like the pressure from the man, but it did seem the better choice.
His mom and Auntie got to work straight away in the kitchen to make my dinner.
Morat wants nothing but to watch me eat.. A bit uncomfortable.. but it was really good once I got used to the taste!!