PHOTO: KHAROKARIN, TYPICAL TOWN OF 30,000 people:
127.40 km: Today has been a comfortable downhill ride toward Tsetserleg. Our height is now 1640 metres and warm enough to sit outside the tent and watch the late Mongolian sunsets; (summer solstice is 16:02 hours of sunlight.) We’ve just been visited by the local mentally ill person. Even from 200 metres away her state of dishevelment was obvious, with a blackened body and a coiffure standing stiffly sideways. She sat for an hour before making a wide arc as she approached. She then sat directly behind me giggling to herself in an obviously schizophrenic manner. I offered her a biscuit which she tentatively took but slowly only ate half. I offered water and again she did the same. Eventually she wandered off and then lay prostrate in the creek bed. Dozens of children today have been selling Airag, a fermented mares milk, of a low three percent alcoholic content, with the texture of milk. In the middle of a lonely dusty track they have a small makeshift “teepee” style dwelling and come running with the excitement of a sale. I have dreamt of fresh milk and paid five hundred Togrog for 1½ cups, the smile on the young boys face clearly showed that my offer was too high. Instead of cooling milk, the unexpected taste was of tangy, sour and fermented yoghurt which fortified me. Michael couldn’t drink his portion so I wolfed it down finding the second serve not too bad. At our campsite I noticed a large marmot standing upon its hindlegs, its beaver like tail erect, whilst it made an insect like clicking sound - perhaps this was either a territorial action, or maybe a mating ritual. Unlike most of these animals he didn’t flee from us but remained brightly lit in the setting sun.
Day-22 Tsetserleg 14th July 20.78 km
Day-23 “rest day” 15th July 00.00 km
Day-24 Kharokarin 16th July 102.84 km
Day-25 kharokarin 17th July 25.02 km