Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Motor Tour 2 - Roads

A good share of the time (perhaps 1/3) we had decent roads - mostly dirt. That is smooth sailing for a motorcycle! Unfortunately about 1/3 of the roads were really BAD. I didn't really mind the ruts, or washboard, or rocks... and I didn't even ride on the really hard road towards the end (bike broke down). But the sand was awful, and almost everywhere.

The best part of the trip was having no roads at all! I kept humming, "Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs, blocking up the scenery and wasting my time"... not really a problem here in Mongolia!

For example one can take off after eagles, or round up a few camels, or scout a difficult cliff or river crossing, or just go to the top of a hill and enjoy the view. Here we are with a few of the guys overlooking a valley where the local monks are beginning to rebuild some monestary ruins.

The roads weren't too bad, but don't be fooled by this easy-rider. It was HOT! Most days were in the upper 90's. Our mongolian friends thought they were dying, and they were all riding in cars! I don't think I've ever drank so much water in my life. Thankfully the layers of dust kept me from getting sunburned...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MotorTour 1- Darhan

Our adventure started on a regular old Saturday afternoon. Here we are getting gas after the big "sending off." My fellow traveler, we'll call him "Jack" (he might get in trouble if certain people knew he went on this trip!), talked me into this brave expedition... I didn't know we would be the only ones on bikes... and I didn't know he would get the fancy dirt-bike with all the cool gear ;)

It is interesting to me that they picked "Jack" to come along as their poster-boy for Darhan's 50th anniversary! He is certainly a charmer... who wouldn't want to come visit this beautiful city?!

Our first several hours (or so it seemed) were spent circling Darhan visiting the "main attractions." Having lived here 7 years, and wanting to get OUT of Darhan on my motorcycle, I did not find them all that attractive! But we did have some cops stop traffic for us once or twice while we flew by with our fancy banners.

Our personal favorite stop was the relatively new Metal Man. He is a creative (hub caps, sewing machines, welding tanks, you-name-it!) 10-meter tall representative of Darhan's steel factory as you come into town. And with us is Garret (his real name), the 3rd musketeer on this wild mongolian ride...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mongolia MotoTour

It was a wild ride - 5 days, 4 nights - traveling around to each of the cultural and historic sights around Darhan. In preparation for Darhan's 50th anniversary next year, a team of 18 was put together - videographers, historians, technicians, a few businessmen, and a pair of American bikers! - to record all of these sights in order to promote city-pride and tourism. It wasn't easy! The days were long (dinner was usually around midnight), the roads were dusty, and the days were HOT (about 100F).

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, traveling with this small horde across road, trail and steppe. We even rode our bikes across ancient battlefields like modern horsemen, and stopped to swim in the rivers and rest in the shade of mountains where Chingis himself once rode. In the next couple blogs I will try to show you these places, some of them beautiful and some of the harsh...

Saturday, June 05, 2010

High Fying

We enjoyed "International Childrens' Day" on June 1st, a popular holiday here in Mongolia. And we have had some great weather lately, but quite windy... perfect for kite-flying.

We ordered ourselves a present and have all been enjoying this 2-meter training kite - bigger ones are used for kite-boarding. Even this one can be a little strong for the boys, but if they get the hang of it then maybe next year we will get them a mountain-board (and lots and lots of pads!). See, there are fun things you can do with wind and LOTS of sandy steppe!