Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mongolia Or Bust?

Well we finally made it to Mongolia with a few ‘busts’ along the way, but we are in one piece.
Buddhist Temple
Today we nearly bust completely. On our way back from Lake Hovsgol our brakes failed. Completely. No brakes. Nada. So glad there wasn’t a herd of yaks in front of us.

Ironically, we were on our way back to the town of Moron to see about getting front brake discs replaced. Lawrence was driving (thankfully) and neither of us noticed a deep dip in the road until too late. He hit the brakes hard and the dip at the same time and then… no brakes.

We limped the 47km in town straight to the garage and it got sorted in no time. A main brake line was worn and the violent application of the brakes was the last straw and, of course, we lost all the brake fluid. As it happens this was a blessing in disguise as it was a disaster waiting to happen – better there than in the Gobi desert or some such.

The next disaster was that we found out that Wednesday is ‘no alcohol day’ in this part of Mongolia. This was worse than the brakes failing! We felt we needed a beer with lunch after our terrible morning. Lawrence used his considerable charm (OK, I exaggerate) and begged the waitress to serve us a beer. She did – afraid he might cry.
Camping spot on the way to Hovsgol
Anyhoo, we’ve been in Mongolia for a week now and the weather has been fab. Border crossing was the usual shambles but no real hassle – about an hour and 45 minutes.

We spent 4 days at Lake Hovsgol camped at a Ger camp with hot showers and cold beer. The weather was brilliant - blue skies, warm sunshine and gentle breezes. We did lots of domestic chores (including removing tar from Boris courtesy of Kazakh and Russian roadworks) and lots of lazing about in the sun. Bliss.
Yaks taking a bath

Yaks in the camp! Send in the SWAT team

More yaks!!

Lake Hovsgol

Nature's Door Ger Camp

I also spent quite a bit of time photographing yaks! They are hilarious looking creatures but have a speed and agility that belies their awkward, cumbersome looking shape. I find them quite photogenic.

Bird-wise, we’ve seen Demoiselle Cranes (so elegant), Steppe Eagles, Black Vultures, Black Kites and a family of Ruddy Shell Ducks.

The town of Moron (pron: Muroon) is terribly dull but has a great restaurant with a Korean influence. Not often you find food in this part of the world with flavour let alone some spice.

We were hoping to meet up with Bernard the biker from Belgium here but he’s had vehicle troubles as well, not sure where we’ll run into each other now.

With the brake problem fixed so quickly, we’ll leave tomorrow. Nothing to see here.

Tips for Travellers

Nature's Door Ger Camp is a great place to stay. You can camp or stay in a Ger. They were happy for us to stay in our camper and just pay for camping and showers. The manager speaks english. There is a restaurant, which is OK.
Take the airport road before getting into Khatgal. The 'new' road is terrible so take the side tracks where possible. The new road bed has been laid but the contractors ran off with the money before finishing it.

We wild camped on the east side for one night, but everywhere is just covered in yak poo. Better to stay in a Ger camp.

In Moron, there is a great restaurant which worth seeking out. AND restaurant serves food with actual flavour and even a bit of spice - a Korean influence. It's on the same road as the well hidden tourist info (where they don't speak english and can only sell you a map and some toiletries). Look for the 50 100 hotel and head up the side street about 100 metres (off the main road). It's worth it! But no alcohol on a Wednesday.

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