MONGOLIA day-18 Zoolongiyn Davaa
Tonight we are camped at 1975 metres after the gruelling ascent to Zoolongiyn pass with its magnificent granite tor landscape. Michael became very cold in the strong cold winds, small intermittent hail and the rigors of riding upon spongy and muddy ground. I spent my time slipping on wet rocky tracks, balance not being a bike skill that I have mastered. We saw very large eagles hovering over an enchanting “U” shaped velvet green valley, the colour ostensibly vibrating in the soft light. An oxcart loaded with wood was towed by two oxen and led by a horse rider; its wheels were planks of wood with re-used rubber nailed roughly to the oblate wheels. As we down hilled to the pretty town of Shine Idler we came across three truckers, who had previously plied us with vodka. When offered a tumbler you must drink it all in one hit; there was a certain aggression when I hesitated and I had to partake of Michael’s share when they were not watching. They had given three Flemish women a lift up a difficult, slushy mountain pass (we had met them in Khatgal), only to commence fist fighting each other in their drunken torpor. The woman told us over goulash in a Shin Idler restaurant, that they just un-hitched their Chinese bicycles and rode off with haste. During our lunch these men arrived and menacingly eyeballed us briefly before disappearing. This has been a day of three seasons in one day, with the blue skies at times kindly warming us.
* The photo was taken on day-19.