Monguni Day 5: Cycle to Tsangam Sum 37km

We set off again after another hearty breakfast and rode along the valley before climbing to one of the highest points of the tour, at 2029m. After a brief rest at the top we had an epic descent where the geared unicycles powered down the hill.

After lunch it was another climb, this time mixed in with trees (a rare sight on the tour so far, which had been dominated by grassland steppe). It was a tough rooty climb to the top, followed with another descent to our campsite. This time we were camped in a grassy field, and the insect life was abundant as we desperately tried to get our tents up to seek shelter from the creepy buzzy things.

We’d had few injuries on the tour so far, but it was good to see Nathan riding again, after a tummy bug. However, this time it was Daniels turn to fall ill, and he took the day off in the support vehicle.

Monguni, Day 4: Cycle towards Tsangam Sum 30km

We had Omelettes and Flapjacks for breakfast, so were pretty well fueled for the days ride.

After saying farewell to our hosts, we set off down the lush valley, following the Tsenger River. Again we see many herds of horses, goats and sheep, who were somewhat startled to see us. They don’t have many bikes around these parts, let along unicycles!

The big challege of the day were our multiple river crossings, and we challenged each other to ride across the shallow ones without getting wet feet, usually unsuccessfully.

After lunch on a hilltop, we bid farewell to two our our Mongolian crew- Masha and Temur, who had accompanied us from Ulaan Baatar. They had come all the way for just the first couple of days to see us unicycle in Mongolia.

It was a fast ride back down the valley to our campsite by the river. After setting up our tents, it wasn’t long before we dipped ourselves into the refreshing (somewhat chilly) river to cool off. There were plenty of fish swimming about, mainly due to the Mongolians preferrence for red meat which leaves the rivers well populated.

Some of the riders climbed up the hill for a better view of the hillside, whilst others lounged by the river reading or playing cards. We were visited by some of the local horsemen who again tried out our unicycles whilst our unicyclists galloped about on their horses.

A biplane flew past our campsite, making several passes to greet our travellers. Apparently biplanes are more common in the countryside, as they are easier to land and take off from short runways

Christian and Didier (our French riders) brought out the Pastis (French Liquor) and Peanuts as an appetiser, and we followed that with barbequed fish caught from the river we were camped next to.

Monguni, Day 3: Tsetserleg to Tsenger Hot Springs 32km (continued)

Soon we were off, leaving the monastary and riding across the sleepy Mongolian town, with curious locals looking on. We proceeded straight into the hills, with endless grasslands filled with various cows, goats and the occasional ger (Mongolian tent house, also known as a yurt). The views were amazing everywhere we went, and our reststops were often punctuated by an impromptu unicycle lesson for the locals who chanced upon us. In turn, some of the Mongolian horsemen let us have a go on their horses.

Lunch was in a big tent set up by our Mongolian support crew, at the top of the hill, with nothing but streams and grasslands as far as the eye can see.

We had a couple of sharp climbs, followed by a swift descent into the valley below.

The riders finished in a small village by the Tsenger Hot Springs, and we were put up in Gers for the night.

After a hot shower and a heavenly soak in the local hot pool, we had dinner at the village. It was a interesting meal, and washed down at the end with ‘Airag’, or fermented mairs milk which apparently sustains generations of Mongolians (they drink litres of it daily). It is like a cross between some sort of alcoholic beverage, yoghurt and sour milk….and more than likely an acquired taste! This was followed by some yaks milk, which many downed more easily.

We slept well in our Gers that night, with each one being toasty warm courtesy of our hosts lighting the wood stove that is central to every Ger.

Monguni, Day 3: Tsetserleg

We woke up to a clear, crisp morning, surrounding by rolling hills and snow off in the distance.  It was cold but at least it was dry after last nights rain.  We fumbled around with frozen fingers and chilled extremeties, but there is nothing like a good warm cup of coffee/tea and a hot breakfast to warm you up.

After assembling our unicycles we packed up the tents and headed into the local town of Tsetserleg.  Some of went to explore the local market.

Unfortunately, this is the the last update we will have for the next 8 days, as this is the closest thing to an internet cafe we will have until we arrive back in Ulaan Baatar.

We will be riding to the Tsenger hot springs, 32km away.  We can hardly wait!

Photos will be uploaded when we get back!

Monguni, Day 2: Drive from Ulaan Baatar to Tsetserleg

Today was a long day, where we had a 10hr drive to the town of Tsetserleg.

After a far too early breakfast, we packed ourselves up like sardines into our vehicles and set off.

As we headed out of Ulaan Baatar, we were amazed by the rolling grasslands, interspersed with Gers (Mongolian tents) and various herds of animals kept by the Mongolians. Amongst them were sheep, goats, many horses, and even the odd camel was spotted.

Much of the driving was off-road, and it started raining and freezing towards the end of our ride.

We had a hot meal at our river campsite (cabbage soup never tasted so good!), and then set up our tents in the rain.

It was a freezing night but we were looking forward to the ride the next day!

Monguni, Day 1: Ulaan Baatar

This is the official start of the tour. We have most of our riders here already. After a quick breakfast we were off to explore the town and send off some postcards.

Roger and Ken were the first to hit the streets on their unicycles, and were quite possibly the first ever unicyclists in Mongolia.  It was difficult riding, with the footpaths full of people and the streets somewhat full of Mongolian drivers (need we say more?).  They sat down and had a nice cold Guinness at the local Irish-Mongolian pub after their errands.

We all changed our money for Mongolian Turgriks, at the many banks and money changers in UB.  Several of the riders became instant millionaires, with $1USD approx  MND1350 tugriks.

We also visited the Winter Palace, which was the residence of the regligious buddhist leaders about a century ago. We marvelled at the rich tapestries, taxidermied penguins, and the pornographic paintings on the walls, as well as many relics from that era.

After a group briefing we set off to dinner.  Beau and Oliver ordered the local Mongolian speciality meat dish. The waiter smirked and we found out shortly after why when he brought out a Mountain of Meat on a plate.  This will keep our youngest growing men in the group going for a while!

Others dined on horsemeat and other local delicacies. As the T-shirt said: Meat is for men, grass if for animals.

Not so good for the vegetarians in our group!

Arrival in Mongolia!

A group of us arrived in Ulaan Baatar from the Beijing flight, whilst others were arriving tommorrow. We all got a bit of a shock when we found out that Ashley had been turned back at San Francisco airport, because she didn’t have a transit visa. Luckily her airline sorted out their mistake and booked her in for a flight to join us the next day.

Ken was delayed at at Ulaan Baatar when his bag got sniffted for drugs by the sniffer dogs, and resulted in one rather large drug dog drooling all over his first aid kit (I’m not importing drugs into Mongolia- honest!)

The capital city of Mongolia, Ulaan Baatar was an interesting town. It seemed to be filled with nothing but pubs and banks. I guess there must be a big alchol and banking industry in Mongolia!

We had dinner at a Mexican/Indian restaurant- The Los Banditos. Apparently the only Mexican/Indian restaurant in Mongolia.  The curry went well with the nachos.

Counting down…3 days to go!

Not long to go now. Many of our riders are on their way to Ulaan Baatar.

We will try to update the website once we arrive in the Capital.

Hope I remembered everything on the packing list :-)

See you all soon!

Ken

The Mongolia Charity Rally

Looks like we will not be the only people doing something a little odd.

Here is a charity car rally from London to Ulaan Baatar, happening around the time our unicyclists will be riding through Mongolia. Various teams will be delivering vehicles (ambulances etc) to Mongolia, via a charity rally.

Hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of them during Monguni:

http://mongolia.charityrallies.org/

Now that gives me ideas about a London to UB unicycle rally….

Mongolia Map

Here is a nice Map sent to me by Nathan Hoover. It gives you an idea of our route through Mongolia.

Mongolia Map