Mongolia 2012. Day 5: Dashinchilen – Gurvanbulag and beyond

12th of august, 2012.mongolia day 5

Is was the day the real Mongolia started for me! And not only because of the heat and the deep-blue skies! My first off-road was there waiting for me!

But first comes first…

10 kilometers following the paved road led me to some ruins. I decided to go and visit them, and found a nice (and lazy) guy guarding them. The visit was “expensive” for what the site can offer you, but the guy was funny, so it was worth it. The museum is ok as well. I used the chance to ask for directions, since the crossroad was supposed to be there and I couldn’t find it. The bloke pointed me in the right direction, and I started pedalling in a trail… full of sand.

Museum near the ruins from Dashinchilen

The trail north is supposed to start there as well. It is not very clear, to be honest. Maybe it was just because it was my first time looking for an off-road trail, or maybe because of the fact that when you’re cycling on the paved road whatever is away from there doesn’t look very clear.

The paved road continues. Actually, you can cycle on the paved road all the way to Kharkhorin or Tsetserleg (that’s what people told me, at least, and it looked real to me). I prefer the route I chose, but I should have kept on cycling on the paved road a little bit longer and then turn south; the beginning of the trail I took was pretty crap.

On the road to Gurvanbutag

I could cycle ok for a minute and then a patch of sand stopped me right away. The sun was hot. There were millions of paralell trails, and they all seemed to point in the same direction, but I couldn’t find the one without sand. Maybe there wasn’t. I stopped couple of times to ask for directions (basically to make sure I was going in the right direction) in couple of tents (which I discovered later on that were the so-called gers) and to some people taking care of kettle.

Owner of the museum; ruins of Dashinchilen

I got close to a river, and not only did the sand not dissapear, but moskitoes arrived. The water was muddy, VERY muddy, so I couldn’t even go for a swim (honestly, it was disgusting, and that said by me, being used to that, is a lot). The trail transformed into complete sand since it goes around a huge dune: I had to push my bike for almost an hour.

I did think of going back, but something kept me from doing so. It was a really hard time, with moskitoes eating me alive, the sun real hard, running out of water and no clear chance of going anywhere.

Now I’m glad I kept going.

Once you get away from the dune, the road gets better. Still sandy, but not that much. It’s ok to cycle. Arriving to Gurvanbulag wasn’t that long in the end. But i was really happy when I arrived there.

Gurvanbulag is a small town  in the middle of nowhere with lots of shops, no restaurant but with internet.  Whatever. There were clouds in the sky, no sun anymore, and with the road being better, I decided to continue.

I didn’t find the right way of out town straight away again; I had to ask the guy in the picture. But it wasn’t too difficult neither…

Gurvanbutag

…and the road was great!

That afternoon made it as one lf the best cycling moments of the whole trip. The road is quite good, almost no sand, nice trail, great views, incredible valleys, distant gers… I even saw one lf those squirrels!! The only one I saw during those 3 weeks! Constant up and downs, the road is very fast (or maybe I was very fast). Moskitoes still follow you around, but it wasn’t that bad anymore.

Honestly, a great cycling place!

Sadly, it started to get late and light started to dissapear. So I had to stop. In the middle of nowhere. In the middle of Mongolia. Great.

Another day without a shower. Glad I had some water and food on me.

Mongolian cowboy near Gurvanbutag

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