Olgii to Khovd and the start of the Gobi

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Heather on a fast stretch in the Gobi - Mongolia

Heather on a fast stretch in the Gobi - Mongolia

After the tour we decided that we would stay in Olgii to find some time to get the unfinished tasks done.. Unfortunately our time was mared by a mysterious virus that we both caught. After a night of watching a movie and having some vodka it hit home hard resulting in being seriously ill for the next few days… Despite being ill in Olgii we needed to get going again.

We felt completely drained but we had to get going… Originally we planned to go north and follow the mountain ranges then head south to Ulaanbaatar. Given that we got snowed in on the mountain passes during the tour and on the way to Olgii we have decided we need to head south instead.. that means the Gobi. We had reports from other travellers that the roads to the north are much worse, the main route to Ulaanbaatar was to head south… so south it was…

High Alpine Pastures - Mongolia

High Alpine Pastures - Mongolia

While we had been in Olgii we met an italian who was staying at our hotel who was riding a Honda Africa twin.. He had come up from Iran and was now looking to try and get into China… he also met four other Italians who are competing in the Mongol rally riding vespas… crazy… we introduced ourselves and compared notes. They had been working on fixing one of their vespas drive lines while we chatted to them.. apparently it was the fourth one to break due to the poor quality roads.. they said they had planned to leave for Khovd on the Sunday afternoon and hopefully make it there that day… You can see their progress on their web page.

Heather crossing yet another river - Mongolia

Heather crossing yet another river - Mongolia

We left Olgii early on Monday morning with the intention of getting to khovd around Lunch time as it was only around 250km away… shortly after olgii we realised that the “main roads” are actually main tracks and there was little to distinguish which road was actually the right one… signs are non existent and it seems that people just go their own way… about two hours later we stopped for lunch by the side of a beautiful lake, while we sat back eating we noticed a group of four other motorcyclists going slowly.. Heather bet that it was the Italians however I had seen them leave the day before… It turns out she was right they had yet another drive line failure on one of the vespas and had to stay the night in a ger to fix it… their final parts had been used. We wished them luck and set off.. The whole time thinking WTF.. Vespas this was now more offroad than road the corrugations are the same size as their scooter…

GPS says toad goes here.. - Mongolia

GPS says road goes here.. - Mongolia

it would be very slow going for them as the day progressed the quality of the road got worse and worse.. not to mention that there was a few 2400+ meter mountain passes that they would have to push the scooters up.. ouch! Anyway they get our respect that’s for sure 🙂 That night we camped early but we didn’t make it to Khovd… in total we did around 120km of the 250ish km and we had only been riding for 6 hours… not a bad effort.. we had got lost several times following the “road” where the GPS said the route was.. if we had continued to follow the GPS we would have blindly ended up in a ditch somewhere that is for certain. It was back to asking for directions… The thing with asking mongolians for directions is they expect everyone to be riding a horse which can go up cliffs and over mountain tops… not ideal for a motorcycle so you needed to ask them where the road is not “is this the way to…”.. it was just a sign of things to come. The following day we woke to dark clouds so we had an early start and made it into Khovd just before lunch after an early start… they charged us 1500T per bike as road toll to use the 500 metres of surfaced road in the town.. what a con. We restocked on our supplies as we had been told that there would be no fuel for at least 450km+ we topped up all our fuel containers, fuel tanks and bought a 2L coke bottle for good measure.. while I waited for Heather to go and get some fresh vegetables from the market I got surrounded by about 20 mongolian drivers from the bus/taxi station/stop.. all asking me where the chain was on my bike.. “what no chain is your bike broken”.. “me mechanic me fix”.. umm no sorry it has no chain its called a drive line.. their look of bewilderment was rather amusing.. they all said that it was around 420km to Altai and that we should be able to make it in a day… however we also got told that there was 3 days of rain forecast and we would be screwed if the roads got wet.. They all wished us luck and when Heather got back we set off on the road to Altai and the Gobi…

One Comment

  1. Comment by cindyhartwell:

    How you guys actually managed to find anything is the middle of nowhere is a mirancle hey!

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