(I am transcribing this from an audio recording I made on my mobile phone last night.)
Ok. Hello. Because we don’t have any kind of phone reception right now, or internet, this is kind of my journal update for today, August 27th.
We got up around 8:30 in the hotel New West. I had hotel breakfast…last night Jerome realized that he did not bring a sleeping bag, so he went to buy one while I had breakfast. He took a cab there and got ripped off by the cab driver. He came back, bought a sleeping bag, I had the same terrible breakfast I got two days earlier. Then we basically took all of our packed stuff, which we packed the previous night, and carried it down to the bikes, put everything on the bikes, rode to the nearest and very close gas station where we had both of the bikes and the jerry can filled up with 92 octane gas. We also checked the tire pressures, and they were way too low, so we had a local direct us to an air wending shack, so we filled up the tires. We also had a tussle getting rid of a totally drunken guy who insisted on leaning on our bikes. I had to throw him to the ground but he climbed back up and did not want to leave us alone. In the end I stopped a local car coming from the gas station, the guys in there made him leave.
We tried to find this road that leads in the western direction out of Ulan Bator. Initially we got onto the northern road. After about an hour and 30 wasted kilometers we finally found the western road, and started riding all the way to this place 120 km out (Bayankhangai) where we were going to turn off the paved road and ride toward Bulgan. (While passing through town an old lady threw a rock toward my bike. Fortunately she threw like an old lady.) We also refueled there again just to be safe.
The road became a dirt road and became harder and harder to ride, especially because it was raining for most of the day on and off. Eventually we got to a really muddy part where I first dropped my bike, but nothing bad happened. Really the bike just fell over because the ground was too soft. Then Jerome dropped his bike trying to cross a very deep muddy puddle. All this time we were going 30 km/h tops. At this point we were just next to some natives who got stuck with their own pick up truck in the mud. We helped them push the car out of the mud and we got some vodka in return. They were very friendly and told us they were fans of Chelsea and Manchester United. Unfortunately we could not communicate about anything else. They showed us the direction to Bulgan.
It was just another dirt track. So we started going along it and after driving for 10 minutes, my bike fell over in the mud. I flew a good distance but fortunately was not hurt. However my windscreen and my left front blinker were destroyed, as well as my helmet visor damaged (it no longer closes properly). It was not obviously muddy but it was very slippery. Jerome correctly observed that the thread of our tires was getting completely clogged with mud so it was becoming super slippery. Then basically immediately after we noticed that we were being eaten by mosquitoes, a torrential downpour started. We were already completely uncertain whether to continue because we were nowhere compared to where we wanted to be. We were making very very slow progress. We put up a tent and decided to sit through the storm inside the tent. Unfortunately my cheapo tent is not waterproof at all, so we were using my wet t-shirt to soak up the water that was coming in and wring it out outside. Eventually the rain stopped, but it was already 6 pm, and we decided not to keep going, as the rain made the ground so soft that it was now completely impossible to go with the bikes without falling. We decided to wait through the night in the tent. We draped Jerome’s tent on top of my tent to create two layers which stopped it from raining inside. We took all my stuff inside and left Jerome’s waterproof luggage on his bike. We ate some canned herring and cookies, as by then it was again raining heavily — so no use trying the camping burner.
So right now we’re actually pretty warm, it’s not that cold. And its now almost 9’o clock. We saw one truck drive by here that saw we had pitched tent by the side of the road, but he did not stop so it kind of implies that they don’t think that we’re in mortal danger, either that or they just did not care. We’re now in our sleeping bags, we’re going to try to sleep until the morning, we hope that the rain is going to stop and that the sun will dry up some of this, and then we will try to drive back to Ulan Bator, and then take the northern way toward Russia, where the roads are supposed to be better. We lost the mood to drive off road in this weather, this could be nice if its dry, but if its wet its really impossible to make progress at the rate we’d need. So we will just go toward Russia and hope for some paved roads. So that’s the plan. We still have maybe like two liters of water here, that we definitely need to stock up on, as soon as we get somewhere. Well, yeah, that’s it. So we’ll try to get some sleep. We’re kind of feeling uneasy right now. Ok, bye bye.