From A Busy City To A Lonely Steppe
It took me an hour to get out of the busy city of Ulaanbaatar. Racing against the buses on the side lane was tricky. They drove the bus as in theyre riding a horse. It got quite dangerous most of the time. I found myself racing against the same bus since it was a bit faster than me but had to stop every few hundred meters to drop and pickup passengers.
After about an hour riding through the city, I saw less cars. No more traffic lights, no more shoulders and zebra crossings. Only one straight lonely road heading west towards the sunset. I felt much safer. No more honking and stress. I was finally out of Ulaanbaatar, the capital and biggest city of Mongolia.
I kept riding, taking a deep breath to smell the countryside of Mongolia and my eyes wide open… eager to see and explore the real Mongolia. It is still quite cold for middle of March, somewhere around 5c at daytime but my body is warmed due to cycling, which makes it very pleasant. I saw mostly lorries and trucks passed by me. I really feel like Im back riding in Northwest China especially in the Gansu Province.
I rode roughly around 80km on my first day, putting me somewhere in the steppe, in the middle of nowhere. I felt so tired since it was my first day of long distance cycling after nearly a year where I rode from Steinkjer to Trondheim in Norway. I then pitched my tent where I see horses, hoping that the horses will come near me and become my friends… but they went away. Im a lousy traveler, when I was about to pitch my tent, I realized that I have lost the tent pegs. So I had to use my scissors and knives as a replacement. Luckily my tent is a freestanding one. Would be a disaster if I brought my Swedish tent instead.
The night was cold, the temperature dropped around -12c at night and I was shivering since I took my lousy 0c sleeping bag with me. I thought carrying my badass -30c Mammut sleeping bag that I used in the Arctic was a bad idea since its heavy and bulky, but now I missed it. I slept under million of stars that night but it didn’t last long. I felt too cold and woke up as early as 4am… shivering. I couldn’t sleep since then, the sleeping bag is too thin. I really carried a wrong gear!
I only went out from my tent when the sunlight was out… warming the earth. The temperature rised steadily every minutes and it was finally pleasant. I celebrated it with a good breakfast. I took my time, charging all my electronic equipments with my Goalzero solar panel since the sun was shining proudly and did some video editing from inside my tent. After a while, I then packed all my stuffs and rode another 35km to Hustai. At one point, I was really struggling, the paved road ended and I had to pushed my fully loaded bike crossing the sand dunes… the last 13km to get myself to Hustai. Only at the hard packed earth I could cycle, but when the sand is soft and going uphill, it was like crossing into hell.
I stayed a day in Hustai, looking forward to see some Takhi (Mongolian wild horses). But didn’t spot any. The area is too vast… all I saw was normal Mongolian horses, cows and sheep. The locals said that I came at the wrong time, I should be here during summer… like any other tourists. All I can do is smile back. I don’t consider myself as a tourist, Im a nomad, and Im just passing through this land, just like all of us passing through this life.