Day 69 Mongolia day 8

3 Aug

Day 69 Mongolia day 8, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

Great progress today. Nearly ran over a golden eagle early this morning, that’s how frequent they are over here. Then a long ride through more mind boggling landscape. It really is hard to take it all in, some of it looks like a different planet and it’s another planet around every corner. This country is astounding. In 8 days we’ve seen more varied landscapes than the rest of the trip combined, had more memorable experiences, encountered more friendly people and faced more challenges. Today’s ride was glorious. Miles of pristine wilderness, good dirt roads, mind blowing scenery, no other traffic, warm bright sunshine, a feeling of total calm and happiness, enjoying, loving every minute of it. I’ve been through some spectacular landscapes on this trip, seen some amazing views, met some amazing people, had some amazing times, but Mongolia blows them all away, makes them all seem tame in comparison. There are no superlatives to describe it. Approaching Moron, about half a mile away, I realise my bike isn’t squirming all over because of the gravel, but because I have a puncture. There’s a whacking great nail stuck in the rear tyre. The only spare inner tube i have left is punctured after being nicked with tyre levers while changing tyres, so i have to patch it with 3 patches. Thankfully it holds, and after an hour we head into Moron. Looking for a bike shop we of course don’t find one, though we’ve seen loads in recent towns. Now that we’re not looking for supermarkets, hotels, internet cafes, banks, we see loads. This town is even weirder than the others we’ve seen. A strange collection of old and new, sophisticated and basic. There’s a man in a smart business suit, walking home from work past a cow scratching its neck on a fence post. Efforts to find a bike repair shop selling inner tubes fail. In one tyre shop i realise that out here they don’t have new tubes, they just keep repairing old ones. One guy is working on a tube that is more patch than tube. I give up the hunt and instead we replenish supplies in a supermarket where we are followed around by staff who must be either suspicious or fascinated, then we get petrol and head eastwards out of town, to camp on a hill overlooking a lake. We eat Mongolian beef for dinner, accompanied by Mongolian wine. The beef is delicious, the wine awful. We switch to Mongolian vodka. It’s good. The vodka, the country, the riding, the challenge, the landscape, the view, the progress, the people. It’s all good, really bloody good. And it’s amazing to be here.