Hello everybody...just spent five days cycling cross country through the Toyn valley, which has been mountain pass after mountain pass to a height of 2450metres. We accidently camped in the lair of a mountain cat (wolf?) amongst the pines and the scary un-natural sounds that this creature made in the cold misty night scared the two of us and ruined a good nights sleep. Exciting stuff!! After a screaming descent to a lake the weather is back to a very warm heat. We are safe and well in the garden city of TSETSERLEG and have only 600km to go until we are safely ensconced in the capital of mongolia. The rest of our ride is on "highways" which resemble the Strezlecki track in the outback of South Australia. Our hotel tonight (5 days without a wash) has limited hot water and the plumbing leaks onto the floor & the Soviet handbasin broke from the wall like a loose tooth. When I did wash I was in the wrong room, totally naked & soaping myself, when a woman in her 30's just walked in and started talking to me...i am so used to the informality of Mongolians that i didnt flinch. People just shit in the open here, piss anywhere and even breast feed in public. I think the western world needs to let go of its mostly stupid social rules. In a country ranked 198th poorest in the world and where children have to cart water i really cant complain. It could be worse, in this heat sometimes no water comes out of the tap! At least i am laughing and to be honest a Mongolian smile and their hospitality is the warmest I have come across; well, at least on par with Bali - must have something to do with Buddhism. The food overall is poor, mostly old meat (marmots?) fried with flat noodles with butter poured over the top...the tea has butter and salt in it like Tibet. The exception was the above mentioned valley where the green pasture, mountain streams and lush Taiga pine forest produces a wonderfull emental cheese. We were abducted by the local children who were wielding pipes and sticks and they lifted us off our bikes, took us home and fed us. This was without payment as the Mongolian way is that you can walk into anyones home and be fed. Instead we share biscuits and chocolate. It took 1 1/2 hours to "escape" as the kids were sitting on our bikes as we attempted to peddle-away. The rest of the holiday should be without incident...the only annoying thing is that I have to pay for an Australian visa as I am travelling home on a British travel document. That really gives me the shits!!! Overall i am excited and feel good and we are about to visit the Buddhist temple for some solitude.
*****1750 kilometres so far...my ribs are showing and my arms have shrunk!!!!