Mongolian roads

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We’re on our way to the far west of Mongolia and we are testing our car and ourselves to the max. Three days ago we saw the last stretch of paved road and since then it has been all gravel, dirt, sand, rock, steppe, pot holes, mud and more pot holes that we have to conquer.

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It’s very hard for us to estimate driving times each day, since it completely depends on the road conditions. Just outside Ulaanbaatar the road conditions allowed us to drive 90 or even 100 kilometers an hour, but that was three days ago. Now we’re forced on off road tracks through sand or grass if we’re lucky and on rocky roads if we’re not. Our average speed has decreased to maybe 30 km/h.

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Grass and sand tracks are the best, since they are mostly fairly smooth, but the worst roads imaginable are the washboard kind of roads as pictured below. I don’t know how they were created, but they are the true killers of our car. Every nut and bolt has been shaken loose and everything in and around our car now rattles. Our dashboard already gave up and is falling apart rapidly. It really is terrible.

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Today we went to the garage to check some worrying sounds we’re hearing while driving, but we can not fix it here in Uliastai, since they don’t have the spare parts here. We have to repair it later..

We knew about the bad ‘roads’ before we headed for Mongolia of course,  but actually driving on these ‘roads’ is nevertheless killing for our car. But until now, after driving 3800 kilometers the Blue Beast is still surviving and the views we get after each turn are breath taking. Especially the flocks of eagles circling above and flying over our car are spectacular. Just like the thousands of cute squirrels that are running and hopping around. The best part though was a group of about six vultures preying on what looked like a sheep or goat next to the road. I only saw this kind of scene on television, but never in the wild. When we stopped to take a picture they quickly dissapeared..

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After surviving some of the worst stretches of roads ever we stayed in a very small truckers hotel in Tsahir, a kind of wild west village. No shower, running water or toilet, but hey, they had a bed at least!

Last night after driving for 13 hours we stayed in Telmen, another small village. We were looking for a ger camp called Zambaga, but couldn’t find it. Only at about 10 PM (when it’s still light here in Mongolia) we found the camp about twenty kilometers outside of Telmen, but unfortunately it was closed, so we drove back to Telmen again.

Normally we would have camped in the wild, sleeping in our car, but decided against it this time, because of the large number of drunk Mongolians we encounter. This country really has an alcohol-problem. At night everyone seems drunk and is very intruding and physical towards foreigners it seems. We didn’t like the prospect of some drunk Mongolians waking us up for some more booz, so we drove back to Telmen.

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We arrived just before darkness set in and asked around for a place to stay. Soon we were brought to a English speaking Mongol, who happened to be the owner of Zambaga. He told us the camp was still closed but would be open in a couple of weeks. Too bad for us!

But as an alternative he asked us to stay with his family in his family ger. We decided to not intrude in his life and set up our own tent on his piece of land beside our car. We had a nice chat at night and in the morning when he offered us some really great food. Such a nice and hospitable guy!

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Today we drove from Telmen south to Uliastai. Here we stay in a hotel. After a couple of days without a shower we need one badly now. Hot water is only available after 6 pm, but that’s of course no problem. We’ll spend our time here cleaning and fixing the car and getting some good rest ourselves before we set off for a two day drive to Olgii.

Despite the challenges for our car, we are both so happy driving in Mongolia. This country is extremely beautiful, we love every second of it! If you ever have a change to visit: GO!

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I shot some really good video with my GoPro camera mounted to the car, but because of the slow internet connection here, that has to wait a bit…..

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4 Responses to Mongolian roads

  1. Rita & Wietze

    Eindeloos mooi!!

  2. Marie Anne

    Als ik op de kaart zie waar jullie nu zijn, vind ik dat jullie al best een eind gereden hebben. Ik denk niet dat de wegen voorlopig beter worden. Die rasterbord wegen kom je ook veel tegen in de woestijn van bv. Het Midden Oosten. Als de weg net gemaakt is gaat het nog, maar de vrachtwagens die met ongelijk draaiende wielen erover heen denderen zorgen voor die rare wasbord effecten. Ellendig. Maar mooie foto’s. Succes!!

  3. Corinne

    Haha. Ja, die wegen dat was ik bijna vergeten. Wij hadden spierpijn in onze buik en rug van het continue meebewegen.

    Kunnen jullie nog enkele voorspelen van de Naadam meepakken? Vooral het paardenrennen en worstelen is spectaculair. Zeker bezoeken als jullie in de buurt zijn.

  4. Kim

    Wederom een spannende episode die ik vanuit NL met belangstelling en grote bewondering volg.
    Prachtige foto’s completeren het geheel.
    Drive safely!

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