A wondrous Mongolia motorcycle tour through Laos, China, 6,000 km to untouched Mongolia.
This is the tour itinerary next time we go, flying the motorcycles back to Bangkok, Thailand from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Day 1 Chiang Mai, Thailand / Luang Nam Tha, Laos
We will cross Mekong River & enter Laos riding the curvy road to LNT
Day 2 China Mohan-Jing Hong (180KM)
Arrival, met by guide, clear customs, drive to Mengla. Getting licenses and push to Jing Hong.
Day 3 Jing Hong – Kunming(550KM)
Ride to Kunming on highway.
Day 4 Kunming to Zhaotong (366KM )
Ride to Zhaotong,
Day 5 Zhaotong to Leshan (402KM on)
Ride to Leshan.
Day 6 Leshan to Chengdu (172Km on)
Visit Leshan Giant Buddha, ride to Chengdu
Day 7 Chengdu Rest Day
Visit the Grant Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu and rest.
Days 8-9 Chendgu Hanzhong-Xi’an (920KM)
Ride to Xi’an in two days, passing Hanzhong and Guangyuan.
Day 10 Xi’an Rest Day
Visit Xi’an Terra Cotta Army site, Muslim quarter.
Day 11 Xi’an to PingYao (565KM on)
Ride to Pingyao old city.
Day 12 Pingyao
Visit the world heritage old city of Pingyao.Pingyao ancient city, one of the classic examples of northern style ancient city in China.
Day 13 Pingyao to Datong xian ( 391KM )
We drive from Pingyao old city to Datong.
Day 14 Datong to Erenhot (455KM)
Ride to Ulanchabu., territory of inner Mongolia? reach Erenhot in late afternoon.
Day 15 Erenhot to Mongolia
Clear the customs and exit China to Mongolia
Day 16 – 20 Mongolia
A priceless opportunity to see how a traditional, untouched, nomadic race lives.
Our accommodation we be well set up Mongolian ger/ tent camps with good quality food and long-established cultures on tap.
We will visit the largest Genghis Khan statue in the world. Also in the Gobi Desert, we will visit the World Energy Center.
You will need to arrange a return flight home from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Thailand: Visa on arrival (G7 30 days / other nationals 14 days)
Laos: Visa on arrival
China: Visa needed in advance from Chinese consulate
Mongolia: Visa on arrival (except NZ)
Real easy to lose someone with all the turns from Chiang Mai, NE towards Chiang Khong, so far we’ve not lost anyone
A nice photo moment just SW of Mae Kachan
Chiang Khong by 1pm, things are looking good. An agent has been there a day ahead of us and all the Thai Customs temporary export for the Thai registered bikes is being dealt with. Just hang tight at the only coffee shop and wait for the green light call.
We get the all-ok call and down to the border we go
Signing all the pre-finished documents. WE did have a bit of a scare with Thai Customs – Thai registered bikes are only allowed out of Thailand for 30 days, these bikes will be out for 65-70 days. Nearly caused a problem but our fixer fixed it of course.
Through the Thai border with some mild panic , cleared into Laos easy and eastwards we go on R 3
We stopped to wait for 5 bikes that had disappeared behind, they were too long, we knew something was up. R3 had some reall bad uneven sections from the heavy trucks. Don had hit one of these and came off
20 minutes later he turns up thank the Lord
IN is crash, the right footpeg had snapped off, the good ‘ol vice grips did a good temp. fix until we got to the hotel
Time to get home from the fields and she can’t figure out what all the fuss is about
With the crash we’re running late & hit a massive storm going into Luang Nam Tha, not want you want on the firstv day
Up early …we have to get into China, get our Chinese registration, get our Chinese driving licenses and hopefully get to Jing Hong…. A quick ride and we’re at the Laos / China border
We were through in about 40 minutes …. Nice KLR 650 the other side!
First time we’ve actually had the VIN numbers checked on the China side of the border
First Chinese fill up – 93 & 97 octane available — ” Jo-Maa” means fill up
Some aux. lights come loose …an easy fix
Into the Mengla police station to get our temp. registration and Chinese driving licenses
The truck inspection test had some breaking issues, a little weight on the back and it passed. They nearly went through the rear window’
The obligatory Police driving lecture
Then we’re off NW towards Jing Hong, time looks good
The expressways in China make for quick passage making, no windey roads, they just bore through the mountains
Whoa — what scenery
Army check on the highway … All the buses passengers bags are opened
Pretty easy day approaching Jing Hong
The famous bridge across the Mekong River
Into Jing Hong with plenty of daylight
More to come on the drama
Northwards out of Jing Hong’
This was a serious army checkpoint …. All temporary Chinese registrations and driving licenses were checked. Automatic rifles ready, this wasn’t messing around stuff
All ok back on the beautiful road north
Gas stops, Snickers bars & Angel Potato Chips were the only things that resembled snack food that we recognized
More beautiful tea country
Jack & I seemed to be riding at the same pace, his KTM 990 R is beautiful
I took a few photo’s here. What a piece of civil engineering?
Is that the KTM chap having a foot push ?
We’re not sure if its a strike or what yet
As far as we could tell, the story was that a man borrowed money from his local rural village to build the hotel, he then leased the hotel out to someone else without paying back any of the money to the village, it was the villagers that had surrounded the hotel and closed it. Riot police in place
One of the village elders arguing with hotel manager
Lots of confusion, we give up on this hotel and find a new one around the corner
A good nights sleep in Kunming and off towards Lijiang- praying we dont lose anyone in the traffic
About 200km north Robert’s KTM 690 “dies” – no power
We take the seat off, the ECU is steaming, it could be that or the battery.
Whilst waiting i notice a huge ding in my front rim, probably from R 3 in Laos
We pull the battery out, its bulging. By a stroke of luck, the CB 500 x spare battery is exactly the same size as the KTM 690. WE fit that, the bikes fires up and we’re off
Off we head westwards towards Dali, some more civil engineering masterpieces
Its a great fast ride this way to Lijiang, looks like Rob’s 690 is going to make it
About 2km out of Lijiang, Rob’s bike dies again
WE’re pretty sure its the battery, we dont have another spare, so we decide to tow it to the hotel
Chinese guys are worried about this, they say they can do the foot push
This should be interesting
Ok so far
Made it to Lijaing’s old city
A final push to the old city’s hotel
Cars are not allowed into Lijiang’s old city. A bicycle with a cart has to bring the luggage
The next day, we pass through one of the most beautiful places in the world – Tiger Leaping Gorge. Some complications in the morning hit us with a 2 hour delay, a quick snooze while we’re waiting
Down the steep hill out of Lijiang & it was a little slippy to say the least – no damage
Taking the local road so that we can get to the Yangze River viewpoint
The toll road above
What a view
One of the group in the red on the walkway
We follow the Yangze River all the way north to TLG
The few more hickups with the CB 500 X aux. lights
August is the busiest month in the Yunnan holiday region & Tiger Leaping Gorge being one of the most conjested. Here the turn off to TLG
Tickets in hand, in we go in to the gorge (note the leaping tiger)
Pretty cool riding your bike into one of the most beautiful places in the world
Jack getting ready
How cool is this guy?
Robert had changed the rectifyer on the 690 in Lijiang, it seems to have been the problem…. overcharging the battery and causing the fueling problem…bike is running sweet now
Tiger Leaping Gorge – So near to Thailand, its well worth a visit
Lunch & noodle soup in the Gorge
Tibetan barley cake
The back way from TLG to Shangri-La. 180km and always a smashing ride
Into the clouds
Roberts KTM running fine
Gas stop waiting for the others – Locals taking an interest in the F 800 gs
Lets hope they see me
Found them – last fuel station before Shangri-La
Getting cold up here now … lowest i saw above 3,000 meters was 9C
Everyone’s hands are getting cold now, almost into Shangri_la
Distinct change in the culture, much more of a Tibetan feel now
Finally into Shangri_la
Even with the late start we made it before dark
Rob in Lijiang changing the rectifyer… it fixed everything
Some photo’s of Lijiang’s old city from the other camera (sorry to backtrack a couple of days here)
Could be barley cake
Shangri-La north to Xiangcheng
Taking the local mountain roads north from Shangri-La, some beautiful valley scenery is immediately around us
The view of Shangri-La city as we head out in the photo below
Riding behind Jack again up in the clouds
Tibetan writing on the signs now
Pee break at the viewpoint
What a view
Then off again on the great valley road
Across the bridge and eastwards from Yunnan Province into Szechuan
Nasty unmade sections are everywhere here
Watch out for the falling rocks
This poor guy on an overloaded bike, hit a pothole, snapped his front fork and went skidding along the road
Dragging it to the side of the road
All done and off NE, pagodas along the way
Then some beautiful twisties
Most locals are shy, you can catch a photo riding by if you’re lucky
One of the CB 500 X’s in need of a bath
Beautiful towns litter the valley’s
Szechuan is famous for its mushrooms and fungus worms. Thye fungus worms are extremely expensive and supposed to cure everything. Being mushroom season, a local camp has been set up to do some picking
The KTM 990’s fuel light had come on – The KLR was the only carb bike so was easy to get fuel out
We pulled the fuel hose off and nothing came out of the KLR tank…. WE found out that the ignition needs to be on so that the fuel pump is energized
Some mushroom pickers watching us
Up we go into the clouds and above 4,100 meters ….6 centigrade
Got down to 4 centigrade at the top
Down the other side and some more cool villages the other side of the pass
Approaching Xiang Cheng,
Probably the fanciest hotel we’ve stayed in so far
A damp 8am start in Xiang Cheng
A wonderful ride out of the valley
We seem to have found a natural riding order, the 990 adv seems to be in front of me most of the time
Out of this mountain set and up towards the pass
Half way up the next mountain pass and some interesting traditional buildings
This is the highest pass we’ve been up to so far, over 4,600 meters, the temperature down to 4 centigrade
Pretty bleak up here
The houses now are no-nonsense, rugged stone. It must be a brutal place in the winter, this is their summer!
There’s some interesting history around Litang, 12 years ago there were horse racing festivals here but no more….. We are now in the area of the nomads who live in tents high in the mountains. The nomads are yak herders, one yak is worth around USD$ 1,200, so it can be a good business. Around 12-13 years ago a man related to the nomads was protesting in Litang about free speech/ freedom of rights etc… The police captured him, tortured him, killed him and hid the body. Word got back to the nomads in the mountains about this, some of the nomad men came down the mountain, shot the police officers and recovered the dead mans body. Since this incident this has been a very sensitive area, with Chinese army stationed in the area. Here, you are also near the Tibet border & there’s still lots of problems related to the Dali Lama. All around this area, 2 months around the Dali Lama’s birthday, ALL internet data is blocked from wifi and phone data…. no internet at all for 2 months.
There’s also been problems with Tibetan monks setting them selves on fire in this area, so its illegal to sell gasoline/ petrol in buckets here!
A couple of nomad / yak farmer tent photo’s below
Real rugged landscape, here at around 3,500 meters, it must be horrible in winter time by the signs of nothingness here
The main highway has temporary Tibetan style lunch spots every km once you get down to about 3,000 meters
The local boys was fascinated by the big bikes
At first, riding along, these looked like more nomad tents. As we got closer, we saw that it was a huge Chinese Army camp / base. There must have been several thousand soldiers based there, looks like the nomad situation is still pretty volatile with so many soldiers nearby keeping an eye on them
Headed for Ya Jiang, some Tibetan Monks near a temple on a pass
Into town for some fuel, it was chaos with the roadworks
Jack’s hydraulic clutch had failed on the KTM 990. All the oil had leaked out of the reservoir, through the master cyl. seal, this was not good news with 7,000 km to go. He went to hunt down some vegetable oil to see if we could get it working again
The local kids were very confused by us waiting there
10 RMB and they were gone
Jack had a little bit of clutch control so we pressed on
Back up at a pass, Jack’s clutch resvr. was leaking again, he had no way to disengage the clutch now
Rob inspected it inside to see if there was any obvious seal damage, we couldnt see anything
We manage to bump start Jack with no clutch, he rode in 3rd gear all the way then. Getting close to Ya Jiang now, looks like Jack will make it
Jack made it as far as town, he was then pushed the last bit to the hotel.
After dinner, more vegetable oil was added & the clutch started working again – not leaking, all very strange.
What we think happened was at 4,600 meters the different air pressure, forced the hydraulic fluid to blow passed the seal. Think of a bag of potato chips you take up high and how it looks like its about to burst, we think the same thing happened to Jacks hydraulic clutch system. Once it had been opened and the pressure equalized, the seals could then cope with the climatic pressure again. It’s now working fine. All very unusual, would never have thought that would happen.
All fixed and time for a good nights sleep in Ya Jiang
More to come — teaser from the Labrang Monastery
Leaving Ya Jiang, some unusual corkscrew links between mountains, which were quite fun
Then off through the mountains
Back up at 4,200 meters
& Jack’s clutch starts playing up again
Magical toilets at this pass
Down the other side towards Danba & some nasty unmade sections
Some more well built, traditional houses
We’re now getting near the region where religion will change from Buddhism to Muslim. Here Buddhism is still quite evident.
Tibetan scripture on the rocks
Headed north, this might be one of the last Buddhist temples we’ll see before we hit the Muslim region
Looks like it gets slippy here
Getting near to Danbar, our intended destination for the evening
Rob & Jack get some real hydraulic oil and flush and bleed Jack’s hydraulic clutch
Since this has been done its been working perfectly
Jack now enjoying a bike with a clutch through the twisties north to Danbar
& into Danbar with its unusual houses with towers
The story goes, that damsels would be in the towers and the men had to climb up the towers and knock to see if they were “available”
WE’re staying in a traditional village out of town, now to find it
Getting there, found the village
To the GH, wowzy the mountain girls are strong
This weighs 80kg, she carried it down steps 100 meters
One of the coolest places we’ve stayed so far
Family run place I think this was the girls mother
Just enough time before dark for a quick look around the village
The whole family sleeps together in one big bedroom
Getting the feed ready for the livestock
& a toilet with a shoot
You see this Buddhist pattern quite often’
Probably watch towers from conflict days
Dinner was traditional with barley bread of course and some wicked moonshine that they say drives you crazy
Some of their traditional dress photos
Danbar was a very special stop-over, one you never forget. Next morning the usual rising moisture from being at 3,000 meters
More houses with towers on the way out
Jack’s clutch is still working like new
Looks like its drying out
Doing our best not to lose people through the cities with traffic lights
The a gorgeous river valley road north
At last, after 8 days a break in the clouds, the first time we’ve seen blue sky the whole trip!!
More of the corkscrew mountain links
Beautiful stone bridges
Nasty nasty dark tunnel with a sealed concrete road. It looked wet from the seal and made you feel very uneasy. The top looked like it was out of a horror amusement arcade
This cow was not going to move
Imagine how that was cut away?
North of Danbar still a very Tibetan feel to the area
More of the ancient towers
Typical Chinese lunch in China – nothing at all like western Chinese food
Im not sure if this baby had ever seen western people with noses before
Jack with some lovely ladies from Chengdu, showing them where we’re headed
Local furniture for sale – very colourful
This Chinese 21″ front tire has the wrong profile, the chicken strips will never be removed
Every day so far we’ve had bike drama, it was afternoon already and none so far. Thought too soon of course, a drive chain came flying out the back of one of our bikes
Luckily it was only the split link that had failed, we had a spare
20 minutes and back on the road again
Fuel stop – these are Snickers bars in Chinese, they’ve been a favorite with the riders
NW of Chengdu, & we’ve now worked our way out of the edge of the Himalayan Mountains and the topography is changing immediately – Yaks grazing on the plains
Bike drama isnt done for the day, Albert gets a rear flat, we think its a nail but turns out to be a bent cast rim and he’s lost the seal
The CB 500 X’s have a 17″ rear, the easiest thing was to put a tube in it
From Danbar to Hongyan, it was a 377KM day with 2x bike drama’s, lucky to get there in daylight
Very strange ground floor in this hotel
Very tired we all slept well, it was freezing though – 10 centigrade when we went to sleep
Hongyang to Labrang – 390 km
We woke up in Honyang and it was freezing – literally! … It was probably still below zero centigrade as the sun came up, frost still all over Don’s seat
WE all put on some more layers and headed out into the rising fog with the sun a blazing
100km north of Hongyan a cool monastery
Then to go take a look at the “first bend” of the Yellow River – The 3rd longest river in Asia
The viewpoint must have been 2,000 steps
A temple on the way there
Chinese boy that had never seen a KTM before
We had been told that the road north to Labrang was under construction, there was a dirt road that would save us 80km, we took a look on the map to see if it would be possible with the CB 500 X’s
Talking to the locals, it didnt sound like a good idea so we went the dusty potholed main road way
A black Nomad yak farmers tent on the right
Cute chalet GH’s
Flashy new monster Lexus in the gas station
A Chinese guy touring on a Shineray 400 (XR 400 copy) was delighted to see us
Off north to Labrang and a thunderstorm brewing
Some intrigued locals
Looks like we’re going to catch the edge of this thing
Initially, it looked like this huge truck had side swiped 3x cars and taken them off the road with it. After going passed it looked more like a car transporter that had rolled
Changing landscape and colours, we’ve definately entered a new region
First time we’ve seen goats like this
The hills and mountains have much different shapes to them now
The area is littered with unusual places of worship
NW China, something that would become a huge pain in the ass as we progressed north – petrol filling from kettles. Many gas stations in China consider motorcycles to be dangerous and are forbidden to use the petrol pumps, they have to use these 7 liter kettles/ jugs
This was the first day with no bike drama, into Labrang safely
Labrang is a charming town nestled between the mountains
The Monestary in Labrang was built in 1709 AD & is the most special, Tibetan Monestary i’ve ever been to, hands down.
Some photo’s of the Monastery, I hope they portray how special this place is
Two steps prayers, two steps prayers
The Monks gather in the main hall at 0600am & 11am, a horn blows as their prayers are about to start
The Monks all remove their Yak skin boots, how they find the right pair again is a mystery, they were all the same
Its hard to explain why, but the ancient authenticity of their ceremony is an unbelievably moving experience, you feel like you been time warped back 400 years
Truly magical experience
The petrol kettles from hell …..
Walking around Labrang – a few snaps
Nigel, the resident goat in Labrang
Female construction workers, quite common in China
Labrang – not ruined by foreign tourists yet
Yak skin boots
A couple more Labrang photo’s from the phone camera
Every motorbike uses a blanket over its seat here in Labrang
Changing face of Buddhism
Early morning exercise in matching tracksuits in Labrang
Immediately we get north of Labrang the religion changes from Buddhism to Muslim’
Mosques everywhere now
When I first started riding in China, the new rich Chinese all drove black Audi A8’s. The new weapon for the affluent is the Porsche Cayanne, they are everywhere. Letting a Chinese driver loose in a Porsche is a scary thought. Here even used as a wedding car
Goats being butchered in one of the Muslim towns
The whole trip so far, we’ve only seen one gas station carrying premium brand oil that we recognize
More Muslim construction
NW China is a huge pain in the ass for motorcycles. The reason being that you’re not allowed to use the gas pumps, they have a 50 year old mentality that motorcycles are dangerous and therefore have to fill from kettles 20 meters away from the gas pumps
Gorgeous Glenda filling up …. Fill up full in Chinese is “Jah-Mah”.
Muslim chaps checking out the bikes’
Low humidity warmer and very arid terrain now
We’ve seen a few Chinese riders touring, this was the first heavily loaded tourer we’d seen
Into Lanzhou for lunch … Huge city
Stopping for a cigarette break and the overloaded tourers catch us up
The Chinese BMW copy
This one has a leaky fuel cap … a home made gasket!
Doing everything we can not to lose riders in Lanzhou, finding them again in the spaghetti of one ways would be horrendous
Cold noodles for lunch a Lanzhou local speciality
WE hadn’t had any bike drama in a while, Jack gets a huge hole in his rear tire, looks like it was a big nail
Be careful with your fancy Motion Pro wrench/ tire lever combo, we snapped mine without much load
The stock KTM toolkit with extension handle undid the wheel nut just fine
WE whisked it off to town to get a new tube in. Getting those 18″ rear tires off isnt fun. Luckily not raining, while we wait
Tire change cost us about an hour, we still made Baiyan in daylight, The Joyce Hotel in Baiyan was one of the best value we’ve stayed in
Baiyan to Yinchuan
We can feel the drastic change in the climate now. All the humidity has disappeared, bright blue skies and Gobi Desert-like landscape (once out of the city)
Just out of the city & we’re in what will become the Gobi Desert further north. Nothing really grows here, winters will be brutal, you can understand why its uninhabited except for nomad animal herders
A bit further north and it looks like they’re trying to harvest something green
Then back to nothingness
Muslim Mosques pop into the sky in every village we pass through
In for a fill up and 8 Police officers want to know where we’re going and why we’re here.
This is probably the first time they’ve seen a large group of foreign big bikes on the highway, they cant read the Thai number plates, its all very confusing for them
We show them our Chinese temporary driving licenses and Chinese temporary registrations for the bikes and that calms them down some what
We can go
They seem to be getting stricter with the filling of the bikes, further south we could sweet talk them, here they point to the side and there’s no negotiation, jugs it is.
80km up the highway, we realize we’ve lost Albert, 2 hours later we’ve got him back, thanks to email
400 km from Baiyan to Yinchuan, we;ve been averaging around 90km/hr with fuel stops cruising at 120 km/hr, all going good
Nearly to Yinchuan, now seeing goats and sheep being the main livestock transported around
Doesnt look like its going to be a good couple of days for these guys
New city, new smells, new cuisine, all the news make it very interesting
The Gongda Hotel for the night, right in the center of town
The red sign next to the hotel had a few of the male rider’s intrigued, turned out to be a gynecologists office – why a sign like that???
We now roughly on the same latitude (as far north as) Beijing but a lot further west. The Great Wall of China stretches all the way west to where we are and we’ve got a good chance of finding some remains of the wall not too far away
WE’ve got a good map and think we know where to look
The remains of the wall should be somewhere around where the green line is on the map below
Off we go in search of the western end of the Great Wall of China, still cant quite believe this far west of Beijing that the wall exists
Looks like we’ve found part of it
Jack going up to take a look at the wall’
Looking left to the other side & they’ve preserved the remains of the Great Wall on the other side of the highway
Rob getting set up for a 690 photo shoot
About 350 km to NE towards Ulan, easy straight. fast roads. we should be there in 4 hours moving time or less
Real kettles now
The Chinese seem fascinated about Glenda, a western lady on a big bike in China, probably the first time they’ve ever seen this
Huge wind turbine bladed being delivered
NW China, definitely isnt used to seeing big bikes, more excitement from the Police as we get on the highway, they are worried about our safety is what we’re told
All cleared up on we’re off on the highway, maybe they’re worried we’ll get sleepy
Another distinct change in terrain as we head north east. Now flat and desert like, this is how I was expecting Mongolia to be
Into Ulan, the truck will have to go off road around this 2.2m barrier
An unexpectedly awesome hotel with Mongolian flavor
Good food too
Ulan to Hohot
All pretty flat and straight where we are now, the 450km ride eastwards should be eaten up in no time. No police drama’s at the toll booth, plain sailing
There was some speculation that this might be a launch pad for Chinese rockets, in reality we think it was a oil drilling platform
Looks like they’re watching you if you put up stickers
Switch of highways and the next town
These were the most shocked/ stunned police we’ve come across so far, it was as if they thought we had come from the moon
Everything is checked once and twice again, they’ve never seen this before
Jak shows them where we’re headed, they see we know what we’re doing and start to relax a bit
The usual 1/2 hour of paperwork and we’re off again
4,000km ago, we saw the start of the Yellow River. 4,000km later a 5.6km bridge across it, we meet again
This will be the last time we will see the Yellow River on this trip
Into Hohot quite a big city
Rob super glue-ing his throttle grip back on while we find the hotel
Good safe parking next to the police bikes at the hotel
We’re getting close to the Mongolia border now. A 450 km ride from Hohot to Erenhot & we’ll be at the China/ Mongolia international border crossing
Some protein to keep us awake
Talking very politely hoping we can use the gas pump, we have about a 50% yes hit ratio now
A bit further on thousands of acres of sunflowers
Ger camp, restaurant and B&B’s litter the highway in summer months
Not much of anything up this far north, then a monster structure appears in the distance
This is Ge Gen Tala, in the middle of July every year this is where the Nadam Festival is held, where the have equestrian events and wrestling. Kind of Mongolia’s version of the Commonwealth Games
Hundreds of Ger huts for sleeping and eating
IT becomes obvious that this area of the world is dependent on livestock. we now see bails of hay being the main thing on the trucks, sometimes looking quite scary when you’re on a bike
Straight roads with little traffic, we’re doing some good speeds now 160 km/hr ish
Time to switch over to the Mongolia map, not much showing up here now
Horses now becoming a hazard
Huge piece of pipe without a trailer
Next was goats
These dinosaurs have only been here about a year, i bet they gave the camels a shock when they came back there the next season
Into Erenhot at the Mongolia border and a well deserved rest day the next day. Lots of Chinese paperwork to be done so that the foreign bikes can leave China and the Chinese guide can get his sizable deposit returned to him
Decent hotel in the center of town, safe parking for the bikes which is a high priority here
A day of R&R in Erenhot, then its time to say goodbye to China, we’ve ridden it from south to north, around 5,000 km and head into Mongolia. We’re not sure if we can get Mongolian Tughrik in Mongolia so we find a money changer on the China side. USD$ 1 = 2,000 Mongolian Tughrik.
Off to the border
The usual pre border check, valid passport and Chinese visa etc….
We get the ok to proceed to China Customs to clear out
Customs was much less elaborate than expected
They were pretty thorough, presumably they get a lot of problems here, so understandable
All we could do was watch
ALL ok …China Customs sign us out, just an exit immigration stamp needed and we’re free
Russian made jeeps
All good lines not too long. One last China checkpoint, they check your passport for the exit stamp and you’re out of China
WE’re free, now in no-mans-land before we clear into Mongolia, the border checkpoint just ahead
Hundreds of old Russian jeeps go across to China to buy cheap goods and bring them to sell back in Mongolia, they load them to the max of course
This jeep in front had an “ingenious” inner tube retrofit. No hole for the inner tube valve stem in the rim, just cut a hole in the side of the tire for it…easy?
Mongolia Immigration entry office
Just Mongolia Customs entry left and we’re in Mongolia
All done, we’re free to go and our first Mongolian fill up, only 92 octane available
Hundreds of Russian made jeeps are parked at the border. We’re trying to decide if its people gone to work in China and parked them there or they ve been scrapped there left to die?
Time to move on and into the first small town for our first Mongolian lunch
This will do
Your first meal in a 3rd world country you’ve never visited before. Will the meat dish be all fat & gristle etc…?
Menu looks ok and the place is spotless
Food comes looks and tastes fine. Not spicey and tastes more like western food we’re accustomed too.
Its about 220km from Erenhot at the border NW to Saynshand in Mongolia. This is the first big town north, there’s lots of options of Ger tent camps in that area
We are in the eastern Gobi Desert now
The dust prefilter to keep the dust out of the radiator
The trains come down from Russia, through Mongolia to China. The problem is that when they reach China, China uses a different gauge (width) of train track, so the cargo buggies have to be removed from the rolling stock. We hear there’s a great deal of politics over this at the moment as it costs everyone a lot of money and they are aguing as to which gauge everyone should conform too
We’re now away from the border and inside Mongolia… Our first nomad ger tent home
These can be carried on a camel or a horse. An experienced nomad can have the ger tent sent up in 30 minutes. Under the white top layer is a layer of plastic to protect from snow and rain. The center section opens for ventilation
north we go
Our first Mongolian police check point
After a few minutes wanted his photo taken, all good
A worship monument we presume
WE,ve all elected that a ger tent camp would be a good first experience for us in Mongolia, so off into the wilderness to find it
WE find it everything looks ok
Rob picks his ger looks pretty happy
What a place?
Inside there are 4 beds
Ropes are thrown over with heavy rocks suspended to stop the ger from flying away in strong winds
Well worth trying in the zero humidity
Next day its decision time. From Sainshand to Ulaanbaatar its 570km, easy roads quite do-able. There’s an option of several ger camps about 80km south of UB, we decide that iis a good idea.
First thing is to find our way out of here, sand tracks in all directions
Herding goats with horses
Then what the hell is this in the middle of no-where in the Gobi Desert?
A BRDM-2 Mongolian Army Reconnaissance Vehicle of course (thanks Keld)
Initially we’re not sure how friendly they are, so dont take any photo;s, as we approach they are smiling and give the thumbs up, looks like they are as curious about us as we are about them
Mongolia is one of the very few inhabited places on earth that sees a 60 centigrade change in temperature through the seasons. In winter in regularly gets to -30 C & summer to +30 C.
We’re not far from what Mongolians consider to be the center of the worlds energy (here in Mongolia). The Khamriin Khiid Monastery was built in 1820 AD
The monastery was completely destroyed by the military in 1938 during Mongolia’s religious purge. Currently two small ceremonial temples and several religious monuments have been reconstructed, with more than ten lamas now in residence at the monastery.
A monastery just before the CWE linked by A line of pagodas
Rob & Jak headed in below
Then 3km more, follow the pagodas to the Khamriin Khiid Monastery – The Center of the Worlds Energy
That dome in the middle is it – the CWE
In the middle of the barren Gobi Desert
We had a great phone signal there!
Time to click our heels, long way to go but easy on some fast roads
Nomadic makeshift villages every 50km or so
Looks like this guy competes in desert racing
When the low pressure systems pass through here the wind must roar with such huge flat plains
Our first Mongolian Mini Mart. In China we recognized nothing in the Mini Mart’s apart from Red Bull. WE’re shocked at this Mongolian one, 50% of the things we recognize – Lay chips, Twix bars, Kit Kat, Oreo Cookies etc…..
Don wins the prize for the best photo of the trip so far
Below is Don’s photo, fantastic!
The kids were intrigued
A Mongolian shepherd down for some supplies
About 80km south of UB we see our first real town in Mongolia
Looks like there’s some money in farming here
We think this is a graveyard with home made tombstones
Long shadows, getting late, lets hope we get there in daylight
Off the highway, into the sand to look for the ger tent camp
Perfect for Rob’s 690
Whoa – you beauty
Found it – what a spot!
This ger camp is different from the last one, more green hills, less desert-like
Time to take a look at the largest Genghis Khan statue in the world
You can take am elevator up and stand in the horses head
Exploring the plains
Good lunch spot south of UB
Unusual looking town
Into UlaanBaatar for the night, the hotel was like something out of a Russian movie but had safe parking for the bikes
Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia maybe has some of the most beautiful girls in the world, Genghis did an awesome job it looks like.
There’s a Genghis Khan monument of course
The beautiful, old Choijin Monastery in the center of town
The KTM 690 steering head bearing didnt feel too good, so with a layover day, we tried to get one in UB
Managed to get one, steering is now as smooth as a ladyboy’s bikini line
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia north to the Russian border
Its about 300km from UB north to the Russian border, easy roads without too much traffic, surprising with it being the link to Russia.
Note: Dont park next to buses in gas stations, many of them will blow the sand out of their engine bay & air filter, its makes a huge sand storm!
These Russian 4WD trucks are ultra-cool. Super simple, everything easily fixed and cost around USD$ 10,000
There is money in UB, Mongolia
Whether its the Mongolian Cashmere moguls, who knows
There;s many shopping malls in town, this is the fancy one
Easy to fly the bikes back to Bangkok, Thailand from Mongolia, what a fantastic Asian motorcycle tour?
If you are interested in a motorcycle tour to Mongolia, then click on the link below: