Day after day, after day ....
On the return leg of the second aborted IBA ride, I came across some of the "obstacles" that one might encounter along these roads.,
The camels just wander across whenever they choose, not bothered about the traffic. These were only 60kms from UB.
The next "obstacle" was worse, involving creeping past without scaring them. One little foal did back out and turn to look at me, but it didn't panic at all. Often, there are circles of sheep, goats, cattle or horses as well on the highway, all standing with their heads in and down, trying to escape the heat and the flies. There are thousands and thousands of these ponies roaming the steppes, although they are not wild, but domesticated. Frequently, one must stop as herds of animals are being shepherded across the highway by drovers.
The next few days were a blur of organising the obtaining and shipping of the required bike parts from Belgium, getting the correct documentation and addresses for delivery etc. But eventually it was all done, with the amazing help of Michiel in Belgium. The worldwide "family" of bikers is simply brilliant, helping out whenever they can.
It was HOT!
Sandra from Switzerland (KTM) chatting with Christian FRA who came back with his now repaired bike from out west.
We got word that Andrea, the Australian on honeymoon with her husband David, had unfortunately accidently ridden into the back of David's bike, and was hospitalised with a broken pelvis. David was rushing frantically here and there, organising her return to Australia in conjunction with the travel insurance company. It certainly pays to make sure you have good insurance and repatriation coverage when travelling overseas. Accidents do happen! Andrea is to be repatriated to Australia on a stretcher, which involves 9 seats being removed from the plane for each of the two legs - UB-Beijing-Brisbane - as her pelvis has a 2cm gap in it at the base of her spine. Gulp!!.
Whilst I was at the hospital visiting Andrea when David went back to the accident site to recover the bikes, a Mongolian man walked in and introduced himself. He had seen TV news coverage of an Australian woman involved in a motorcycle accident, hospitalised in the city, and thought he should visit in case she had no-one else here to speak with. Ganzo has spent a few years in Australia, working and studying at Uni (getting one of his FIVE Masters degrees!!) and is homesick for Oz. He wanted to speak with an Aussie again. So he got two Aussies to chat with.
When he and I were finally kicked out as the Consulate people had arrived to see Andrea, Ganzo offered to drive me back to the Oasis. So we did the whole guided tour of UB, which was great, as it is so much more interesting hearing about a city and its origins and peculiarities from a local's point of view. Despite my initial impressions of a relatively poor population, in reality it is the opposite, with Ganzo taking me through the areas of the various levels of wealth - over this river is into the RICH area; over this next river is into the WEALTHY area, where apartment buildings soar into the sky, both completed and under construction. These apartments sell in the US$2 million + range.
Below: Various buildings around the city.
Statuary, seen along the way.
Belle Vista, some of the US$2 mill apartments
There are huge expanses of apartment blocks everywhere.
The elaborately gated entrance to the President and senior Ministers' homes.
King's Gate, separating the Wealthy area from the Rich area.
The apartment block in which Ganzo has his apartment, way down the back on the left.
It was HOT!
Ganzo introduced me to the Dunjingarav market, rather than the normal "Black Market". This is a much cleaner, more organised (airconditioned) indoor market, with a huge international food court. Needless to say, I've had several meals there now, as well as wandering up and down all the aisles, checking everything out, making a few small purchases of necessary items.
That evening, Werner and Kurt, BMW bikers from Germany, and I went back to the Dunjingarav market for dinner and a wander through the stalls.
Above: A cute little girl in the market.
Werner had a fascination with the traditional nomad hats.
One of the nights at the Oasis was spent celebrating the 24th birthday of Gus, from Brisbane, complete with large birthday cake. He and Vinny, his mate from Canada, had flown into UB, bought a brand new pair of little Chinese 150cc Dayun bikes, and had then spent a month travelling 3500km all over Mongolia on dirt roads and paved. The bikes were then sold on to someone via the Oasis staff, and they flew out to their homes. So they lost little more $$$ than a rental would have cost, with way less documentation hassles.
Next day, Werner, Kurt and I ventured back to the market and then into the city on a "shopping spree" as the guys needed handcraft gifts for their spouses.
Traffic chaos - and this is with the lights working!!!
We went off to Mary and Martha's handcrafts, and the guys got wha tthey needed. Then it was off to the State Department Store. This is where the elite, in the Communist regime, used to buy their upmarket goods. It is now open to everyone, of course.
Two for you, Shari!
Kurt and Werner, and their hats.
Then it was a matter of flagging down a car to take us back to camp. Unofficially, private cars act as taxis. Just step to the side of the road, hold out your arm, and they screech to a halt, often cutting across traffic to the kerb. Then it's negotiate a price, relative to the kms to be travelled by 800 tugrigs per km, and pile in. A fair percentage try to rip off tourists, but it's easier to just walk away and flagged down another car.
There are lots of these, above, and lots of these, below
And lots of these, below.
Next morning, there was a mass exodus of bikes, mainly heading for the BAM road west of Lake Baikal in Russia and on to Magadan. 3000km of rough dirt -- no thanks!
There was Tony (UK) above and Vix (India) below
With Vix, below.
There were Thomas, above, and Sandra below, from Switzerland.
And they're off out the gate!!!
and lastly, Vix
Good luck, guys, it's a long hard ride to Magadan!
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