Continuation of 12.Russia part 1
Welcome to Mongolia
Day 286, Mai, 6, 2019 135.735 km What is slower than slow?
What is slower than slow? When we arrived at the Mongolian border, we met again the 5 vehicles that had passed on the way. We are very lucky that a Russian who speaks good English takes care of us here and explained what the first Mongolian border official had to sayand what will be of high importance for us. Fact is now: we can enter at any time, but as soon as we crossed the border, we would be sent to quarantine. The quarantine is expected to open this evening at 8 p.m..... because there were no other cases of plague up to now. That is the status at 10 a.m.
There is a possibility to fulfill the border formalities now and stay in the customs area until tonight with the possibility that we could go back at any time, even if the quarantine should be extended. The English-speaking Russian, who kept us up to date and also translated for us if we had any questions, chose this variant and we joined. We are currently in Mongolia, at the customs court and wait and see what new information comes tonight.
Regarding the formalities of bordervcrossing:
First our car was disinfected from the outside (100 rubles), then we got an immigration card to fill in and a self-assessment form of the state of health.
These two forms were collected again in front of the border. And after 4 of the 5 vehicles in front of us had been cleared, which took about 2 hours, we were allowed to drive in. Among other things we could see how one of the vehicles was completely disassembled and we thought, oh yeah, great, they are really more than strict here. We stopped at the building and were both allowed to get out at the same time (why mea s well, I wonder why, because it was only about the car and the dog). First the quarantine inspector dealt with us, took the health form and copied the dog papers. Ony that needed almost half an hour. What took half an hour? Only receiving the papers and to copy of the dog ID. It took a whopping half an hour for this. But it gets even worse.
Luckily, someone of the border guards spoke German and took care about us and our tasks. Because now it was about the car. Thomas' license, driver's license, car papers and passport were hammered into the computer, no not hammered, but the slowest kind of sleepwalkingt. It took an incredibly long time, then the customs certificate was printed out, and the 3 necessary stamps itselves took 5 minutes, get stamp, set date, unimaginably slow. Everything super polite, but at a speed, uh slowness, that can drive even the most balanced people mad. After the papers were done, we went to our car at a snail's pace. It was just a quick look inside and we got our documents and now we are allowed to wait in the customs area until there is new information on the quarantine. We do not yet have a stamp in our passport, we will not get it until we have actually crossed the border.
By the way, the cars waiting behind us outside the border zone are still there, waiting. Because after us they closed the clearance because of their 2 hourss lunch break, we really can not describe it, even slower than slow motion, they walking in slow mode about 500m in the canteen for lunch. The border has been closed during this time. We don´t want to stress the fact that border guards played MahJong during the whole procedure in there. Conclusion: a total amount of 5 cars have been dispatched from opening to lunch break. To experience that it is possible tob e so lazy and ignorant at work here is really unbelievable. Crossing this border is a kind of adventure. But they were always polite and courteous from start to finish, just not the quickest. The border crossing is really easy in itself, but you should be patient.
More later ....
directly after crossing the Mongolian border, we could observe how several people in protective clothing and respiratory protection cleaned out and disinfected a shop
our first night in Mongolia in the middle of nowhere, about 20 km beyond the borde
Photo 1: Monument in Ölgii
Photo 2 and 3: our first yurts
you can see the distance. Many, many animals, horses, sheep, goats, cattle, yaks, camels and almost no people
This is the entrance of Ölgii. The first town after the border at Tashanta where you can get everything, ATM, banks, SIM cards, several supermarkets, petrol stations. Everything in simple way, but functional. 95 km from Ulaanbaishint Checkpoint in Mongolia.
Day 287, May 7, 2019 135.790 km
Today we were fooled
Today we were fooled, because our idea was that we just drive into Mongolia as far and as long as we have fun and Rudi is not tortured so much. In Ölgii we received advice from the locals not to take the northern road towards Ulaan Bataar, which we intended to do, but the southern one via Khovd, Altai, Bajanchongor and Arwaicheer (means through Gobi desert). The first 20 km were awesome, see photo below, after that th new kind was blocked and weh ad to drive on a gravel road which runs absolutely parallel to the new built road. This part of which is not yet open to traffic on and this gravel road was of the worst kind over 150 km. Only the last 100 km were brand new roads again. And now we were told, use the lower, the southern road to Ulaan Bataar, because 1400 km of the 1700 km are paved. Of course we do not know whether this 150 km of gravel road that we have completed today is already part of it and thus half of unpleasant roads have been completed or not. If we turn around now, we will drive back 150 km of gravel road ... or are we already half way through??????
We spent the morning buying a SIM card. Not easy. Everywhere there are signs with the logo of the provider "Mobicom", when you go into the store (supermarket, drugstore, etc.) nobody knows about it, nobody can help. I got a card in a drugstore, but they didn't manage to unlock it and load data volume on it, so after 2 hours the employee called a taxi for me and told the driver to bring me me straight to a Mobicom store. You draw a number there. The current number was 106. Mine was 125. And the discussions of eachcustomer lasted forever, every customer brought the whole fmaily, it was crowded and chaotic. A lot of people waited and I experienced the same pace like at the border. Exasperated I went to the waiting taxi driver and tried to tell him with Google Translater that this will definitely take 3 days, I don't want to wait that long and if there are other options. He didn't understand and just said "Simcard". Ok what to do, what options do I have if I don't want to go to every shop in this place? So I went back tot he shop. Suddenly the shop assistant notices me and asks me in English how she could help. She ask me to follow her and take a seat infront of her desk. Wow. I couldn't believe it. 10 minutes later internet access worked with my brandnew card. The whole procedure took 3 hours in total. That experience and the bad road conditions later made that we only managed 300 km today.
The landscape is really impressive and we are fascinated by this huge amount of animals on the left and right of the road. From Ölgii to Khovd there are about 200 km of steppe, desert, no people and hardly any cars.
Yesterday evening while going to bed and even while getting up this morning, we both complained of a slight headache. In our minds is still this stupid story about the plague and we are very sensitive to observe if our status is getting worse. But it seems that the simple solution is, we are at an altitude of 2,500m above sea level and this may by a body reaction. We realized that fact in the morning, because we have already experienced the same thing in Russia. And of course we felt much more realxed and secure now. In the afternoon, when we arrived at an altitude of 1,300m, our headache were gone.
We also can not stop asking ourselves, are doing the right thing, or are we misjudging the situation, because the day when we were allowed to cross the border in the evening, i.e. the quarantine was lifted at 8:00 p.m. and we still could see stores being cleared by people in protective clothing and respiratory protection. The stores at this time were disinfected. After the first 20 km we were stopped at a check point consiting of people from military, doctors and police. We were told that we not allowed to enter the next small town without, we were supposed to drive past and not to leave the main road .We asked them why these measures if the quarantine is over, what's the point? If there would be still a risk, then we'd rather turn around and drive back to Siberia. We don't want to get infected. A very good English speaking doctor assured us that we were not exposed to any danger and that everything is under controls, that was only residual work. There would have been no further incidents.
We spent the night close to Khovd, from here it is about100 km to China
To now we did 1000 km in total in Mongolia, , 700 km like this kind of road, new and comfortable to drive, but 300 km was hell, gravel road with huge potholes, almost no road at all, or simply through the steppe, more or less with a compass
our first yaks. They are twice as heavy as cattles. The body is strangely square, yet they look more agile than cows and simply nice to observe
That was the first day , 175 km track between Ölgii and Altai, in the Altai Mountains, it wasn't that bad because it hee was easy to find your way
Steppe and Altai Mountains. Scenic, altitude at 2,600m and for hours we saw no people, just grazing animals everywhere, such as camels, horses, cattle, yaks, goats, sheep in huge quantities.
Day 288, May 8, 2019 136,108 km
We were woken up in the morning, well, it was already 9 a.m., by a group of convicts who had to collect garbage under supervision, in giants' groups they swarmed out in orange clothes, which was a bit uncomfortable because we were in factin the middle of it so that we decided to first set off without breakfast. We also had a really good, new road for 440 km (towards Altai) and reached a junction. The name Altai appears to be more common here. There is one Altai straight ahead, on the Chinese border and direction right is the next Altai that we wanted to head for (we are in the Altai Mountains). First we chose the wrong one, the wrong Altai, towards the Chinese border, about 70 km before the border, Thomas said "stop", the city here is on the wrong side of the road. According to the map, it should be on the right side oft he road. We stopped, had a look at the map more closely and we noticed that there are two Altais and China is not our wish at the moment (we don't have a visa and a dog they don't let in) and so we turned and drove towards the other Altai. It was a wonderful ride on a brand new road through the steppes and desert, where thousands of animals grazed. However, we had to stop constantly because the street was a popular place to rest for groups of animals, especially the bulls were very stubborn when it came to clearing the road. Approx. 30 km before our destination, we were stopped by a collapsed bridge (it has collapsed two years). At first it also looked like there was really no progress here and we have to drive back (including the 175 km of gravel road that we drove the day before). There is really only existing one street down here. We stayed there for a long time and Thomas pondered and pondered. Arriving Cars and trucks started to turn around. Only a few 4x4 struggled through there. The problem wasn´t the river, but the steep rise afterwards on the other side. Thanks to our air springs, we were able to raise up the car by 10 cm and that was our salvation. With a lot of speed (film follows), Thomas and Rudi made it to the other side. My heart sank because the rear wheels of the car took off from the groud.
We were totally happy and continued on our way to Altai (83 km). Altai was very unpleasant to us , very simple and dirty, we only refueled, shopping here was canceled. The village has a kind of expedition character. The big adventure later began another 90 km behind Altai. The streets on the map look different than in reality and sometimes run in a different direction. We were very lucky that we tried to talk to truck drivers (showed maps by using our hands and feet), they asked us to use the upper road and not the more common, lower road A0303, which appeared a the bigger road on the map. Accoring tot hem we would need to turn around after 300 km gravel road because is big river is crossing the road 4 times and if it has a lot of water, the road is impassable (we name it road because it is marked on the map, there is no road, just steppe that you drive through). As we saw in the evening, the river in fact is carrying a lot of water at the moment.
Our route now ran cross-country through the desert / steppe, we only find orientation by using a compass and the Maps.me app, with the app we were able to observe whether the kilometers to the entered village of Buutsaghan (where guaranteed none of us would like to live) reduced. Due to the fact that a lot of people had to turn around at the bridge, hardly anyone was on the road anymore and we had a lonesome fight the first 70 km until the darkness through the steppe. We didn't need to look for a place to sleep, we just had to stop where we are. The only disadvantage, no internet access at all. we were exhausted and fell asleep very quickly. mind you. in the middle of the track, in the middle of nowhere, but nobody is driving here
After driving 150 km of gravel road or just following tracks we arrived at the collapsed bridge ... 2 years ago, as we found out. We saw a number of truck and car drivers turning around and Thomas did a long analysis and then dared to do so. Crossing the water wasn't the problem, but the rather steep hill that was on the other side of the river
mage 1: a yurt in the middle of the desert Gobi
Image 2: Taxi for horses ;-)
Image 1: You can find these places of prayer eve
Image 2: Every major city has its own gate
Impressions of the desert Gobi
Day 289, May 9, 2019 136,720 km
At 6 a.m we were woken up by truck drivers who raced with high speed close to us. They came from the opposite direction. This day consisted of only driving at a speed of 10-20 km / h towards Bajanchongor (200 km). No good prospects and no idea whether we can make it today or whether we can get there because maybe a stream, river, ditch, bridge or something else is blocking our way. At times we drove for an hour without seeing a cloud of dust. A cloud of dust was always another fellow sufferer (in "Mongolia Info" we documented the exact course of the road, road conditions). The two of us were so annoyed and exhausted that we wanted to beam out of here and got a really negative attitude towards Mongolia. We really felt no desire to continue at all. The only problem is, turning around was no longer possible. So we reluctantly had to work our way through the steppes. In the afternoon, when we reached the Baydrag Gol river, which carried a lot of water, we were panicked that we could not continue. We could see a black line at the back of the horizon. The closer we got to the river, the more the black line transformed into a street. And now we sent prayers that there is a way to get across this river and onto this street. And in fact, there was a brand new bridge followed by a 70 km long, brand new road. Ok .... but it was too early to start hapiness here, there was another obstacle. 70 km later the new road turned again towards 26 really hard kilometers of gravel. And then we were allowed to roll another 50 km over the new road into Bajanchongor. We are so exhausted as we haven't been for a long time, but relatively happy, because from here via Ulaan Baatar towards the Russian border there are still 1000 km of paved road (according to locals). The real condition of the streets we will just know after arriving there.
Bajanchogor is a larger city, the streets here are quite new. There is no running water, but a water house where everyone can get water in canisters. Paid with a special card that looks like an EC card. There is as well a bathhouse for showering. Since there are hardly any fountains or outdoor taps here in Mongolia, we have to look carefully and think about where we can get water for our tank from, which is a difficult job every time.
As you can see in the photo below, we are rewarded for this stupid day. Rest place close to a small river, lonely place in front of the city and actually still using the internet of the city.
Our negative attitude has also subsided, because we have come back down and now feel comfortable here again.
This is how it looks, on the right the actual road is not passable and is only partially available over 150 km. So you cannot take this road as an orientation because it willstop soon. The other paths branch out more and more and get smaller and smaller
Image 1: one of our roads we have driven ...
Image 2: this is the dust that we whirled up while driving, because the wind is so strong, you can't see anything.
Image 3: In the middle but really in the middle of nowhere we found this sign.
Image 4: oncoming truck
Image 5: Rudi gets the next blessing
Photo 6: they stand and rest exactly where you want to go
After 270 km of dirty tracks a new road
Border to Ulaanbaishint Check Point 5 km of gravel
Ulaanbaishint Check Point of which 150 km of slope, the rest of the new road (the 150 km of gravel will soon be history, because the new road was finished but not yet open).
Khovd to Altai 445 km of brand new road
A bridge that collapsed 40 km before Altai is still not passable after 2 years. The site is occasionally made passable with an emergency bridge, but this is also constantly washed away by the river.
Altai to Delger 95 km new road
From Delger it is essential to go towards Buutsagaan / Bömbögör / there is slope to the Baydrag Gol river from there a new bridge
and new road to Bayankhongor is interrupted again with 26 km of slopes
The road that in shown in maps and Google as well is only a slope not a road and has 4 river crossings.
Arrived in Bajanchongor: a Buddhist temple. What you don't see in the photo the building are quite run down
Feierabend nach dem härtesten Ritt meines Lebens. die gefahrenen 242 km und ca. 10 Stunden, mit ca.
20 kmh durch die Steppe der Mongolei. Staub, Sand, Hitze, Schotter, Flussbette, Steine, Krater, nach Kompass fahren, Wellblech, extrem starker Wind und die ständige Angst um das Auto und zusätzliche immer noch die Angst, dass man wieder umdrehen muss und alles zurück fahren muss.
Feierabend nach dem härtesten ritt meines Lebens. die gefahrenen 242 km und ca. 10 Stunden, mit ca.
20 kmh durch die Steppe der Mongolei. Staub, Sand, Hitze, Schotter, Flussbette, Steine, Krater, nach Kompass fahren, Wellblech, extrem starker Wind und die ständige Angst um das Auto und zusätzliche immer noch die Angst, dass man wieder umdrehen muss und alles zurück fahren muss.
Bajanchongor, our overnight place. It is about 20°C and enjoyed a nice sunset. In the morning we were woken up by horses grazing around the car.
Day 290, May 10, 2019 136,962 km Things turn out differently than you expect.
21,500 km up to here now, 1,000 km in Mongolia and later 9,500 km back through Russia
Lake Baikal-Irkutsk-Krasnoyarsk-Novosibirsk-Omsk-Yekateriaburg-Saint Petersburg
A little later than usual this morning, we started towards Ulaan Baatar. On a road, well, let's call it a pothole-slalom-Hubbel slope, but after driving 300 km through the steppes, we weren't unhappy with this „road“, after all it is a raod somehow and not just steppe, it is marked red in colour on the map, but we could only drive between 30 and 40 km/h. And with really pleasant, 15°C and sunshine. The way guide further through the desert Gobi. Around noon it was about 17°C and still sunny , but a really strong wind started. Since we are driving through a sandy part, it was a really bad sandstorm there. 1.30 p.m., it suddenly starts to snow. 3 p.m., nothing works anymore, -4°C and we are now right in front of a construction site, which means we are led down the street and, as we have been able to find out, have to drive 20 km beside the road in the field. But since you can hardly see a hand in front of your eyes, the sandstorm has now turned into a real snowstorm, we decide not to tackle this 20 km construction site under these conditions and park on the right side and observe the situation first. Getting out of the car is hardly possible, the wind is so strong and icy that you are almost blown off the road. Our drain is also frozen, i.e. the process water no longer runs off. But that's our least problem right now. The situation is getting messier. Cars just slide around and even though we stand and park apart, we are afraid that someone will slip into us. We also have no Internet access here, which does not allow us to better assess the situation, e.g. to check the weather forecast of the coming days and so we decide to wait for a group of trucks and try to follow them and drive back to the next town. It took about 2 hours until a few trucks were arriving. We started to drive behind a truck in slow mode and on the right and left oft he road the cars were already in the ditch and slid. After we had managed very carefully our way back for 20 km (1.5 hours), we arrived at a parking lot at the city gate, here we have internet access again. We decided to stay here for the night. It is already reasonably dark and is getting colder and the snowfall is increasing extremely. 20 minutes later trucks gathered next to us and we took a deep breath that we are no longer alone here.
According to the weather forecast, it looks like we're stuck here for 2-3 days. It is 18 km to the next village. We sat in the front of the car for quite a while and watched how cars were still trying to get on the road, which was now hardly used. At about 9 p.m. there was a knock on the door and we were asked for help, a pregnant woman with a child and an English-speaking Mongol asked if they could warm up in our car because their car broke down and was just being repaired by someone else. Since it was already -7°C outside now, which is exacerbated by the wind, it was nnot a question that we offered them asylum and sit with them for about 1.5 hours while drinking tea together. Then the car was repaired and they continued their way towards the city.
We notice again and again, here in Mongolia it does not seem tob e common to thank others. You just leave, without saying bye or anything else. We experienced that several times with amazement. We're kind of appalled, but it seems tob e the normal way . Within the last days we offered coofee , tea and food as well a rest in the waerm car to many people, no one has said in the end bye bye or thank you, they just left.
On the one hand, we are happy that we a heating in our car and that we have enough food and water on board. On the other hand, the situation is very confusing and we are also a bit concerned about how to proceed.
Everything was still good here, + 15°C.
Image 3: until here about 3 hours later we drove back at -4°C
Nothing works anymore. 7 p.m., we turn around and try to find a place where we are more secure. Because it is already clear that it will last for 2-3 days. Fortunately some truck drivers joined us afterwards, who also have to wait 2-3 days and have the same direction, so we hope that they will take us in the middle as soon as driving is possible again
Within 3 hours from + 15°C to -4°C, later to -10°C. The photo doesn´t show intensity the snowstorm. Due to the extremely strong wind, the snow comes in a sloping way. And you don't even recognize where you are driving or standing, nothing is visible anymore
We returned back tot he city gate and here we have been standing for 2 days and waiting for better weather, which is announced for tomorrow, it should be 15°C again. We are a bit worried about the 20 km construction site, where we have to drive through, could be a big problem when it starts to thaw and the ground gets muddy. On the way back from the roadblock, approx. 20 km, many other cars and trucks slid, skidded, we worked our way back to the gate at a very slow speed
Image 1: Truck drivers, we have given warm drinks and food during the snowstorm
Image 2 + 3: an emergency situation, the car broke down and had to be repaired, it is so cold and their car is without heating and so they got asylum in our car for several hours.
Day 291, May 11,2019 137,248 km
We had a really good night, the circumstances are not the best, we were awake at around 10 a.m. and tried to assess the new situation. We found out quite quickly that there was still no progress today. There is the possibility to drive 18 km back to the next city, but since we already have a good agreement with the truck drivers and the hope that they will take us in between them if they continue, we decide to rest here and wait. We could drive on the road without any problems, but our problem is the 20 km construction site. The road is again routed through the field and we wouldn´t see far enough during the snow storm. Again we offered coffee for the truck drivers, the could warm up a lttle in our car. Later I I prepared at lunch and everyone joined the meal, coffee and another warm up. Linguistically nothing is feasible, so we took a sheet of paper and painted situations, so we could communicate a little bit. At the moment it is 5 p.m. (in Germany 11 a.m.) and we persevere and hope that it can continue tomorrow, we will make it through this muddy slope. Thank goodness we had lots of food and also water / gas on board, because we have increased our stocks extremely in Russia in order to have to buy less here.
The situation is currently not pleasant. Although it is cozy and warm in the car and the gas would last for another 1-2 days, but as soon as you get out of the car, the struggle for survival begins. Our clothing, which would easily take us through the winter in Germany, is absolutely worth nothing here. The icy wind passes everything everything within seconds and you start freezing and trembling. Holding a dog leash hurts despite gloves, waiting until the dog has finally made a pile seems like hours. Smoking is canceled because it is not possible. If you are outside for a minute, you have to go back in, otherwise you feel like you are freezing to death.
Day, 292, May 12, 2019 137,248 km
We're fine! We are out of the ice hell, it is 15 °C at 1 p.m. today. And are behind Ulan Bator at the statue of Chinggis Khan, where we also will spend the night. Nice view. More later, we're pretty tired. Rudi also needed a new shoe today, huge hole in the tire.
We set the alarm clock to 5 a.m., sunrise, so that we wouldn't miss the starting of the truck drivers who had become friends and who promised to accompany us. The sky turned blue again, no wind, the sun had just risen, but the temperatures are still at
-10°C. Thomas got up twice during the night and let the car run for a quarter of an hour, because of the temperatures our starter battery was already in the red light and he wanted (and has) to prevent the battery from beeing empty or broken the next day.
The road is completely icy, between 4 and 5 cm of ice. We evaluated a while, whether to wait for the trucks or try it ourselves, because the drivers didn't show up up to now. Since Thomas did not want to drive that fast on the ice and we knew from experience that the trucks would definitely drive faster than we would like to do and there was still no traffic on the road, we decided to drive ahead with lowest speed. Because if we got stuck somewhere, they the truck drivers would find us later and would surely help us to get out. Our HUGE luck was that this 20 km construction site was lifted because of the situation and the many trucks that had fallen over and the road was opened again to traffic. So in the end we only had to drive through deep snow 2 or 3 times for a few hundred meters, but this was feasible because ground was still frozen. As the pictures below show, we passed several overturned trucks, including also a tank truck and numerous stucked cars. The pictures are just a small part of what we saw. After approx. 100 km the road was no longer iced, the temperature has risen in the meantime to 0 degrees. Suddenly everything turned back to normal, it appears, as if nothing had ever happened.
We drove through a sandy part of the desert Gobi and approached Ulaan Baatar quite fast on a solid road, but again bumpy and with a lot of potholes. But we didn't care about, the most important thing ist hat we dont need to drive no longer off the road via the slopes. Our goal today was the Chinggis Khan statue, which is located 50 km behind Ulaan Baatar. That means we had to cross Ulaan Baatar once, which took us 2.5 hours. Ulaan Baatar is a modern city, but not offering a good infrastructure, potholes everywhere and everyone drives without rules, we call it the city without rules. To our mind not a very beautiful city, not fascinating or inviting.
Here again we had to leave the road for about 20 km due to a construction site and drive on bad gravel road. Thomas was on the gravel road which was as wide as 2 cars when a madman overtook us by force. He had to steer hectically and dodge to the right. Rudi got a flat foot in the front right. He prevented us from having a dent in the car, but we now have a flat tire. We saved ourselves to the next gas station. Since Thomas cannot bend and lift, I started to change the tire until someone tapped me on the shoulder. The gas station attendant did the tire change for us and 10 minutes later everything was fine. We paid him $10 and a bar of chocolate as a thank you. 5 km later the spare tire we carried was put on the rim, so that we now have a spare wheel ready for use again. The broken tire could not be repaired because the hole was too large with more than 3 cm. That only took 10 minutes and the mechanic got $10. We didn't negotiate the price at all, we just gave him $10 and he was happy with it and for us it was worth it in this situation.
At around 7 p.m. we finally arrived at our destination, Chinggis Khan, below the statues camels grazed. Very nice scene.
The general sits in stainless steel and 25 m high on his horse and looks to the east with an almost grim expression. We parked below at the fence and enjoyed the rest of the evening and were really happy that we could achieve this. We drove across Mongolia once, although at the beginning we didn't want to go that deep inside because we thought that we would never be able to do that with Rudi's front-wheel drive. Mongolia is really a country to discover by 4x4 cars. Now there are still 400 km to go, according to the map it is a red road (asphalt) in front of us, we assume that the condition is bad, but hope that at least we no longer have to drive over the fields. Lets see hoe far we can make it tomorrow.
after days of snowstorm the sun came up again. And that's the result, excavators fell off the truck, overturned tanker trucks, and dozens of snow-covered, stuck cars and small trucks. Thanks to our prudent behavior, we have been spared such a thing.
The next 70 km on this ice track, 3 cm thick, in slow mode
Impressions from the desert of ice
Image 1: the next snow-covered village, we sometimes had to leave the street and drive through the snow.
Image 2: Rudi while the sun appeared again
Only 4 hours and 150 km later, desert Gobi with its sandy face and 15°C
Here's a hint that we're really in the desert Gobi. You hardly associate this weather with ice and snow with a desert
Animal transport, here all the time, as often as a taxi transport in Europe
the countless goats, sheep and cows end here. skins are being sorted here.
here we did a test. We simulated a breakdown and wanted to see if someone stopped and helped. Conclusion after half an hour: not a single one stopped. Thomas had put you under the car so that you can see that something is wrong here.
our easternmost point has been reached !! We are now right under the Chinggis Khan monument, 50 km east of Ulaan Baatar. And we also spent the night directly below this statue. He took great care of us and we had a really quiet night
Do you see the evil eye
we are really happy to have made it this far !!
Day 293, May 13, 2019 137,729 km
Our goal today is to arrive at the border at Altanbulag Border Port
Like yesterday it took us again 2.5 hours to drive through Ulaan Baatar (1.5 million inhabitants and totally chaotic road traffic). We decided to start very early this morning (6.30 a.m.) and pass through Ulaan Baatar. It is dawning at 5.30 a.m. It was a great, quiet, relaxing night beside the Chinggis Khan Monument, which faces east. Yes, that is also the easternmost point that we have reached in our lives. The crossing of the city took “only” an hour this time. Today's goal for the day ist to drive as close as possible back to the border to Russia (XXX). Here in Mongolia you do not know what happens next, how is the road condition 5 km later, or whether the road still exists, whether there is still a bridge over the next river (today we had a broken bridge again). And on top of all these topics always the risk remains if Rudi can handle these road conditions. Another 400 km to the border and the road turned bad again, we only had an average speed of 40-50 kmh. Only the last remaining 90 km to the border were in good conditions. We called it "pretending wrong facts" because whoever comes from the russian border and uses this street gets a completely wrong impression. Although we tried to avoid every pothole, we arrived at the border at 3 p.m. and were surprised, because we did not expect to achieve that already by today. And since there was not a single car in front of us and the border guard at the fence led us over to an office, we unexpectedly made the border crossing without further preparation. Somehow our car details were noted in this office, but this took 10 minutes (to fill out one single line in a book). After leaving this ofice, we were immedialtely ask to enter the next buiding. Since it was really a linguistic problem again, we did not notice that they made a mistake. Because we didn't get a routing slip. Next step was customs. And here they realized that our routing slip is missing, but they didnt inform as about it, maybe as well due to language problems. It was also a problem that we entered Mongolia through a different border than we are now leaving. Apparently there are still problems with us Europeans here, the routine seems to be missing and really very few Europeans cross this border every year. In any case, the official still asked for more and more people to help her to be able to putour data into the computer. After this was done and the routing slip was handed out another, we continued towards the passport control. Duration of the action approx. 20 min, after that passport control, the car was briefly inspected with 3 looks and we were allowed to drive. The entire Mongolian border crossing takes 50 minutes. There are reports on the Internet that describe that this transition takes 5 hours or more. Here is our summary of border crossing on mogolian side. The Russian border crossing and the rest of the day can be found in blog "Russia 2".
on the way from Ulaan Baatar to Russia: this is how 80% of the 400 km look like, including bumps. Oh yes and again a collapsed bridge, where you have to drive over the field again
Image 1: a salt lake with a vortex
Image 2: finally a partof road, which is easy to drive on.
Image 3: one of the 1000 overloaded trucks, beeing afraid that something will fall down and pop through the windshield, or something will fall when you overtake.
It is a deep feeling inside of us. A feeling that many other people have inside as well. To visit Mongolia once. We have also considered for a long time why that the case, why do you absolutely want to go to Mongolia? It's been inside of us since childhood. We now made a dream come true with this trip. The direct distance from Germany to Mongolia is approx. 8000 km. So easily accessible by car.
What did we expect?
Many free-range animals, such as camels, yaks, etc., a country that is hardly populated, where there is a yurt here and there, we also expected bad roads, many beautiful evenings in the great outdoors, outside in front of the car and warm, open-minded people.
First of all, we do not regret having visited Mongolia, so we were really happy to be here and about what we did experience here, but would not want to visit it again. We have already visited too many other countries that appeal to us more. Even if the following words will be a bit more critical, we are happy to have been and being able to build up an objective opinion.
Regarding animals, everything we expected was confirmed, thousands of animals, camels, horses, cattle, yaks, goats, sheeps run freely in the steppe. Even if we could not touch them, and always came up to 2-3 m at most, as they are very shy.
The country is hardly populated, we drove through lonely steppes for hours without seeing a human being. Could drive down left and right of the street everywhere, you can drive anywhere in the steppe, and stop anywhere, you don't experience any restrictions.
Regarding the roads ... yes ... if you enter the border towards Ölgi, towards Altai, they're about to finish a brand new street. Unfortunately we had the bad luck that 150 km of the completed road were not yet finished and allowed to be driven and we had to drive along the road on a slope, always with a view of the beautiful new road to Khovd. From Khovd to Altai, the road was brand new and ready to use. And now there are still 300 km (if you drive direction Buutsaghan only 150 km) in which you just have to drive through steppe, which is also possible with a normal front-wheel drive, you don't need a 4x4, but the speed may only 20 -30 kmh. From Delger it is essential to go towards Buutsagaan / Bömbögör / there is a slope to the Baydrag Gol river from there a new bridge
the road is great again to Bajanchongor. The road from Bajanchongor to Ulaan Baatar isvery old, there are millions of potholes. Ultimately, you drive this road with an average of 50 kmh. You should be aware that driving through the steppe is not that easy. Everything is possible, but it is very, very tiring.
The journey from Ulaan Batar to the border (400km) leads you along an ancient paved pothole road. Only the last 90km are easy going.
Related cozy evenings, it was 20°C during the day, but as soon as the sun was down, it cooled down quite well, so we were always in the car in the evening. We have not read in any of the numerous travel reports about these extreme wind driving the sand into your eyes and make them water immediately.
An example of the wind. When we drove over the slopes, we whirled up a lot of dust, for a while the direction of the wind was in that way that we couldn't see anything because the dust was being blown forward.
Regarding our dream of having campfires: there is hardly a tree in all of Mongolia, so no wood, and even would have found wood, it would not be fun because of the wind. Due to the experience at the beginning of our time in Mongolia and the issue of the plague breakout, we then completely stopped tot hink about the idea collecting dried camel shit, which would have been the alternative to wood.
Regarding the friendliness of the Mongols: yes, about half id greeting, but we also saw that many had a breakdown on the roadside and were on their own, you don't help each other here as it is known from other countries. We also had an experience of helping someone get across a river and after he passed the river he ould have helped us as well. Instead, and without saying thank you, lthe eyes streictly tot he other direction, he just kept driving. We had several experiences of this kind. Although not everyone is like that, there were also some nice people who made us feel like I would help you if you needed me. But the majority just waves and look tot he other direction.
What we felt very strongly in Turkey and Iran, hospitality and help without counter-performance, is almost non-existent here, or we did not encounter it. On the contrary, a lot of people here just try to take their advantage out oft he smallest things and it appears very self-centered.
To be fair, we have to say that we canceled the visit to a yurt and the people there because of the plague situation. We did not want to consume unpackaged food and drinks at the moment. There you will receive a friendly welcome, get milk tea with salt, fermented yak milk and be treated as a guest, which you shouldn't refuse out of courtesy. So we didn't want to snub the people because we didn't take part in this ceremony. Therefore, we avoided the whole situation completely.
That might sound stupid, but we were standing on the street with a lot of shops right behind the border and could see people in protective suits and protection masks cleaning out grocery stores and disinfecting them. We still have that in mind now.
When I was drinking water, I was led through a kitchen to the back of the shop. The hygienic conditions that I saw there were catastrophic.
The country is very very simple. In most cities, we are not talking about Ulaan Baatar now, there is no running water, but a bathhouse and a water house, where everyone fetches water.
While filling up the water tank at a water house, a local told us that it is normal to fetch water here because there are largely no water pipes to the houses.
The infrastructure is quite primitive. E.g. I didn't want to go shopping 2-3 times in a town because everything looked really dirty and unhygienic. And everyone who has read our travel reports knows that we are not really squeamish.
The Mongols are also very indifferent and extremely slow. Then again extremely selfish, which we could perceive in traffic and also when shopping. As we have experienced it here now, we have never experienced it anywhere else in the world. We are open and looking for contact, but mostly the result was very uncomfortable.
Of course, communication is hardly possible here, and the impression that education is not on a high standard. But while a Russians usually tried to understand us or deal with the translater, this was not possible here because the mongols blocked directly. There didn't seem to be any interest at all.
All in all, this is an adventure right now, it is one of the most exhausting countries we have visited so far. Developed for tourism: almost not at all. There is the possibility, for example, to fly by plane to Ulaan Baatar and book an organised trip to desert Gobi. We haven't met any other tourists or individual travelers like us.
Not every country has to please you. Out of all countries we visited so far, this is one of those we do not necessarily need to see again. Although we are looking for the individual and lonelyness, but here it is simply too inhospitable.
We are happy to leave Mongolia now and be back in Russia, even if it ist he part of Russia very deep in the east. Because from now on everything is more calculable for us. The roads are getting better and more reliable, communication is becoming easier for us again, Russians are more open-minded, the food is again up to our standards, and people in Russia are again following the rules, which was often not the case in Mongolia, e.g. while driving. We NEVER thought we would say that. Mongolia was really beautiful and interesting and we learned a lot. Actually we are always looking for the original and the freedom, but I need to say: it was a bit too original and too free.