We follow Mad Or Nomad as they continue their worldwide adventure on a motorbike... as they now enter Mongolia!
We crest the hill, switch the bike off and soak it all in. A thousand miles of green grassland lay in front of us. Hundreds of dusty trails slice their way across the plains, wiggling their way in every direction until they disappear over the horizon. We pick one, click the bike back into life, and follow the trail into the unknown. As the sun starts to dip, we pull over, put up the tent, fire up the stove and cook dinner under a billion shimmering stars. And that’s how we spent our time exploring Mongolia. There’s nothing to do there but ride… and ride in an attempt to make it to the capital, Ulaanbaatar. The hard part is dealing with whatever Mongolia decides to throw at you – and it thinks up something new every day.
The country is a forever rolling back-drop of sometimes mind-numbing, and sometimes pure expansive, wonderment. The vastness is mesmerising. Mountains and red cliffs poke out of the ground one day, and sink into flat grasslands as far as the eye can see the next. Two days later we’ll be digging the rear wheel out of a sand dune. The day after we’re wading through a river to check how deep it is before slipping and sliding through thick muddy swamps the next. And through it all we’ll go from wringing our t-shirts out with sweat to sitting huddled round an oven fire in a frosty yurt, soaking wet and trying to dry our pants.
There’s no planning in Mongolia. It’s just too unpredictable. It can take anywhere from ten minutes to two hours to cover 10 measly miles, dependent on how the roads and weather feel that day. The irregular terrain, broken roads, tricky navigating and temperamental skies can turn an easy day into a long, hard slog. And we had plenty of those. Sometimes the rain would fall so hard it hurt. Sometimes we had to lay by the bike for shade. Sometimes the days would never end and we longed for the dark – just to give us a break from the monotony. And sometimes it felt like we were going mad - we’d ride all day and feel like we hadn’t moved an inch because everything looked exactly the same.
Luckily, the locals we met along the way made our days easier. People were more distant and warier of travellers than in Central Asia. But they’d still stop for us if we were pulled over and insist on giving us whatever they had - from a bag of tomatoes to a bottle of horse milk. Even in the middle of nowhere we came across nomadic herders and yurts filled with families welcoming us in for buttery tea and cake. It wasn’t only the people who kept us company. It’s like an undiscovered frontier, and we’re not the only ones making our way through it. Wild camels slowly roam, smiling as we roll past. Herds of horses wonder the pastures searching for water. Eagles soar overhead and vultures circle carcasses and dried up bones – reminding us to stock up on fuel and food in towns. And there’s also the odd Billy Goat…
We took our time exploring the heart of Mongolia and the roads less travelled. But we didn’t feel like we really got what we wanted until we finally reached the glistening Gobi Desert – something we’d dreamed about seeing for years. After hours of crashing through dried up riverbeds, sliding in deep sandy trails and bogging in mucky swamps, we made it to the foot. Transfixed on the towering dunes we climbed to the top and sat staring into the emptiness. As we gazed at the sand sea, we wondered what was next. Again, thousands of trails wiggled their way across the land. We picked one, which we hoped headed north towards Russia, and followed it until it disappeared over the horizon…
Don't forget to take your BOING on your next adventures and then send us some pictures!