Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: Getting Lost; Today: 70 km; Total: 4380 km

July 19, 2014

It rained all night. After having instant noodle and coffee in cold, we packed up and left the camp. I was shivering with cold and my hands were frozen. We had a 3000-meter pass ahead. From close to the pass, asphalt finished and we were riding on a dirt road.

The road was one of the worst I had ever ridden on. First, there was so much loose gravel and sand on the road that it was difficult to stay on the bike; second, some parts were so bumpy that we had no choice but to walk the bike; and worst, there were a lot of passing trucks which would raise a lot of dust in the air. For every passing truck, we had to stop, close our eyes and hold our breath for a while. This was nonstop. Several times, we decided to bike off the road. Then we sometimes had to deal with very loose sand.

Early afternoon, there was a sudden shift in the weather, and it started to hail with very strong head wind. We took shelter in one of the tunnels under the road. It was so small that we had to crawl to get in. It took one hour for the bad weather to pass us, but the wind was still there.

Thinking that the town, Moste, should be very close, maybe 10 km, we kept riding-- fighting the wind and sand and looking for a sign of the city or a road that would take us there. After riding for 70 km, we saw a yurt, which happened to be the only shop in the area. We asked for direction to Moste. She pointed toward the direction we were coming from and wrote on sand: 55 km! With further inquiry, we realized that we should go back 25 km to get to a side road which would take us to Moste. Disappointed, we looked for a spot to camp.

The idea of getting my iPad back was fading away.

The Pass: 3000 m

The pass: 3000 m

Wild Camels

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Tired and Lost

Seeking refuge from hail

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: Town but no Town ; Today: 85 km; Total: 4310 km

July 18, 2014

I woke up around 6, thinking about a way to get my iPad back. When I told Fausto about my idea of getting a Jeep and going to Bulgan to get my iPad back, he said that it was possible, but he thought we would not be able to find each other if we departed . He thought I should have gone to the town at 6 o'clock while he waited for me. Reluctantly, I decided to forget about my iPad and enjoy the trip. It was a tough decision to ride farther from my iPadonly 100 km....

After 10 minutes of riding, we saw two guys standing next to their broken motor bike with a flat tube. Fausto managed to patch two big holes in the tube. They wanted to pay him for that, but he smiled and gave them some extra patches. 

When we were having coffee and biscuit by a river on a break, Fausto thought I could still get Jeep to Bulgan in the next town 80 km farther. If I did, the distance to Bulgan and back would be 180 km. With this hope, I kept riding stronger for 60 km. A big part of todays route is asphalt along a river. We kept going up and up on the mountains until the river turned into a small creek, where there was supposed to be a town. But instead of a town, we saw a couple of houses some 500 meters off the road. I searched the area for a car, but I didnt see any. We checked a yurt which was supposedly a shop and bought some groceries and water. I asked if there was a jeep in the town. They gestured horse. We camped very close to the "town" and did the usual to prepare for a cold night close to 3000 m. 

Coffee Break

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: Goodbye iPad; Today: 100 km; Total: 4225 km

July 17, 2014

We woke up early, had breakfast, and prepared to experience our first day in Mongolia. A flat tire was the first thing I noticed when I finished loading my bike. I got a little anxious then: This is just the beginning of Mongolia; can my tires withstand the rough routes in Mongolia?

The road was smooth, the air fresh, and the scenery beautiful, but not for long. Gradually, the greenery gave way to arid land, and the sun turned into a scorching fire ball. With no trees in sight, we kept looking for some shade to make lunch in. To our surprise, we found a roofed bench with a make-shift table on the side of the roadwhy was it there? No clue. That was our dining/kitchen table, like manna from heaven.  After an hour of rest, we left, but the road turned into sand, and controlling the bike became a constant challenge. After going through deep sands, we were pleased to have met asphalt againso rewarding, but it was the end of our day anyway.

At about 6 pm, we arrived in a small town where we bought some water and groceries. And when I say town, dont expect even a small village. Town in Mongolia means a group of houses sporadically placed in an area. But according to our map, it IS a town.  We rode our bikes for another five km where we found a perfect spot for camping: by the river, under old trees, beside a tall cliff with an eagle nest on top.

We pitched up our tents, bathed in the river, washed our clothes, and relaxed for a while. It had been a rough day. After dinner, when I wanted to write my journal, I realized that my iPad was not in its place in the bag! In disbelief, I checked the bag again and again and again. No iPad! I had left it 100 km of hot sand back, in the hotel room!

I shared the news with Fausto. Then, I kept thinking what to do. I thought I would go to the last town, which was 5 km back, and get a Jeep to Bulgan. Fausto could go ahead, and I would catch up with him on the road or in the next town. The idea came to me rather late, so I couldn't wake Fausto up to tell him. With this thought in mind, and with a lot of hope, I went to sleep.  

Camp for the Night

Our Dinning/Kitchen Table