Ulaanbaatar - Kharkhorin
by Philip Deaton
(Harrogate, England, UK)
People I met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Juliana (Russia), Ed (England), Harry (England), Shuhei (Japan), Mr Lee (South Korea), Bayra (Mongolia)
1 Mongolian driver (Bayra) and 6 bold travelers get ready to venture into the wilderness, we have 3 English (Ed, Harry and me) 1 Russian (Julia), 1 Japanese (Shuhei) and 1 Korean (Mr Lee). First stop.... beer shop. With 6 cold Borgio's freshly uncapped we were ready to take on the World! We immediately realized Mr Lee spoke no English and Shuhei only a limited amount, so a couple of beers seemed to help with the communication barriers!
Our first stop was a couple of hours west of Ulaanbaatar, at a small cafe for some lunch. A sheep's leg greeted us on the porch as we entered with trepidation. The inside was actually quite normal and the usual menu of mutton and dumplings was served up. Having eaten, we stocked up the van with a few more beers and trundled on into the wilderness. The roads deteriorated the further from Ulaanbaatar we traveled and soon asphalt was just a distant memory.
Our first major problem struck around 16.00, whilst having a toilet break. When the side door opened, i could hear a hissing sound, which Bayraa came to inspect. The look on his face and hand gestures made everyone rush back to the van, as he motored on to the nearest small settlement for repairs. Luckily, this was only 10 minutes down the road and made for a pleasant break.
The community was like something from Mad Max, situated in the middle of a dusty patch of land, with car parts and old bath tubs littering the area. The people were friendly and Julia had a good chat with one guy who spoke fluent Russian and was now a farmer in this township of 40 souls. Eventually the mechanics fixed our tire and we were on the move again.