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Friday, September 28, 2012

Bayankhonger and Beyond

The next day we set off to Bayankhonger. We hit some rough spots right at the beginning when we got stuck in sneaky sand pits multiple times. We were driving in the middle of nowhere, through a desert with brush that looked like it was hard ground. But sometimes, out of nowhere, there were sections of sand that would victimize our cars. Out of the blue we would just get stuck! Luckily we had Dave and his Suzuki Jimny, plus all of our combined muscles to get us out of these situations!

Thanks for the tow Dave!

We kept going, through this remote, vast terrain with barely any vehicles in sight. We followed the GPS directions and found ourselves in a small village with a number of gers, tractors and rivers. We asked where the bridge was, only to be told there was no bridge. This was what we had been told about – the place where there are rivers you need to get towed across. Four rivers in fact! Deep rivers.

Peter asks for directions

We struck a deal with the tractor drivers, and watched a few people cross before us. The ubiquitous Toyota Land Rovers roared through like nobody’s business. People towed before us made it across without capsizing. But, one car (local – not a rallier) decided to go at it without a tow and nearly made it when he inexplicably turned the wheel as he was coming up on the riverbank. He ended up floating downriver, submerging his car and STILL needing to pay for a tow.

The river!

Sebastien and I rearranged the car to move stuff off of the floor and put the electronics where they would not be affected. Finally, it was time for us to go across the river. It was a bit nerve-wracking since we had heard so many stories about tow-wires snapping, cars submerging and things just going completely wrong. I don’t know why we ever doubted our little Perodua. There was slight leaking through the door at one point (the water was up to the windows) and that was it! No problems at all! In fact, our mats got cleaner so that was a bonus!

Saw some camels hanging out

When we got to the other side we were excited and kept on to Bayankhonger. Team Two Vagabonds and a Yak needed to get their tires fixed, so we grabbed some food and perused the market while they did that. We were all itching to hit the road and make up some time so we could make it to Ulaanbaatar the next day.

Mongolian scenery - lots of pretty purple brush that gave me crazy allergies!

Just hanging out

After a few hours, we were on our way and back into some awesome scenery. There were amazing, surreal rock formations surrounding us for kilometres. As the sun started to set we stopped to set up camp in the middle of some majestic mountains of rock. 

Off to climb some rocks

Everyone was eager to stretch their legs and the adventurous ones among us climbed to the tops of these formations and were greeted with an awesome view of the sun setting through the peaks.

Man on a rock (Sebastien)

I conquered one of the taller ones and Sebastien was impressed that I managed to get to the top in flip-flops.

Peter chilling on some rocks

Invigorated by our climb and starving from a day of driving, Sebastien and I made red curry for everyone for dinner. We chatted, drank some vodka (some more than others!) and called it a night.  

Another beautiful sunset!

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