|ROBERT - FROM USA.
Riding a motorcycle is the way to see mongolia.
While at times I froze, burned, cursed, got stuck in mud and crashed in the sand, I had the time of my life, one of the experiences I will remember forever. with the motorbike you have freedom to go anywhere and experience the wide open beauty of the steppe.
|I did the planned seven day trip alone. I rented a tent and a gps. Cheke was very helpful. She also lent me an atlas and bugnie cords to strap everything down. Having both the atlas and gps proved to be a good combination - the atlas tells what towns you are heading towards, as well as points for refilling petrol.
The GPS became helpful once I left the paved road - pointing me in the right direction (i didn't have a compass). It also brought me some on some interesting side adventures. Some days, while just cruising along the normal road between towns, I would look at the GPS track and see the trail had taken a turn some kilometers back. I would backtrack and follow it up a roadless valley, or over a pass, to beautiful places I wouldn't have thought of going, but in the end glad I did. At times I was a little nervous, for I was by myself and if I had any bike trouble things could have been rough. These side trails were not highly populated with nomads and not much traffic.
The GPS also has point of interest in it, like waterfalls and monastaries.
But the GPS does not always line up with a road or a trail. Especially on these side adventures, it meant bumping over pasture and ignoring roads. Often times it needed to be used just as a guidence in direction.
The bike I rented was in good shape and I had no major problems.
The first day is essentially the only day on paved road. I recommend driving far that first day, perhaps to ogiynoor (the lake), as it is fairly easy. The rest of the days are on dirt roads, tracks or nothing at all. 150 kilometers everyday is a good distance (but perhaps more on the first day).
I brought with me some bread, jam, canned goods, sausage, water and snacks. a good place to buy these things in Ulaan baatar is in the container market which is this big purple building with no sign just south of Bakula Rinpoche Süm. Most days I would eat one hot meal in town (lunch or dinner) and the other two I would cold picnic somewhere nice. Or sometimes eat with nomads if they invited me. Every day you pass through a town where you can buy more goods, like bread and water.
I ended up buying a DEEL (traditional mongolian coat) which helped my warmth situation much. Also doubled as a sleeping bag. I had bought a big russian trench-coat/rain jacket from the black market in UB, and though it didn't rain much I was quite glad I had it. And then the final day, I gave it to a nomad family who hosted me.
Most every night I camped with/next to nomads. It felt safer this way, for myself and the bike. So late afternoon/early evening when I saw a good spot, I would ride up to a ger and ask (through hand signals and showing my tent) if I could camp next to them. All said yes, and when I asked where they would show me. Sometimes that was that, other times they would come to say hi and to invite for tea, supper, or even to stay in their ger. I brought gifts of tea and cookies and sweets for the kids.
Every nomad has a big, barking dog which will protect the ger at night. The downside of staying next to the nomads is, once they go to bed and let the dog loose, leaving the tent is not a good idea. in the tent you are safe, (hearing the dog sniff around) but stepping outside the dog will go berserk.
While the nomads were fairly nice, i found some of the mongolian males along the way pretty aggressive. Some wanted to fight me for no reason or arm wrestle. One man threatened to beat me up and even tried to run me over with his minivan because I refused to pay him any money from a bet never made on an arm wrestling match. So certainly be careful.
Come prepared with warm clothing and for uncertainty and you will have an adventure to remember. Highly recommended.