Well after a horrible day the day before I was pleased to wake up to a bright sunny day with little wind. Today was going to be much better. Chris had found a beautiful feather lying on the floor the night before, by our camp spot and gave it to me. I decided it was going to be a good omen for us.
We picked up the new road again which is a bit easier to cycle on. After 8km, making good progress uphill, Chris got a puncture. He does seem to be getting a lot of punctures, 1 or 2 a day – it must be the weight!? As it was hot, I decided to carry on. Chris cycles faster than me so I knew he would catch me up. The town of Tsaagandorvj couldn’t be too much further now.
After Chris joined me again, we arrived at the top of a hill and in the distance we could see a number of yurts. I wondered if this was the start of the town. Excited, we pedalled in that direction. As we got closer we could see a yurt near the road and headed over to say hello and see if they could tell us where the town was. As we pulled up, a small family came out to greet us, Mum, Dad and a little girl. They told us the town was 7km ahead, hurray. But first they wanted us to come inside and have some tea with them. So, delighted to be asked, we stepped inside our very first yurt!
We had tea and were impressed at how big the yurt seems inside. It was also pretty modern and had everything from a little dressing table, a teddy bear, sofas, rugs, TV to cooking utensils, cups, plates and of course a wood burner. It was very comfortable and the family were very welcoming.
The little girl was playing with her kitten and then brought a puzzle over to Chris for him to try and solve. It was too hard for him, but a good icebreaker and sweet to watch the little girl giggling when Chris got it wrong. The Dad told us he mines precious stones and he had a handful of small stones and insisted on giving us each a stone as a gift. Rocks from the Gobi!
We were both taken with the yurt, and the decoration on the roof slats and the door was very pretty and flowery. Quite similar in style to Romany Gypsy caravans. I asked if I could take a photo – they were more than happy for us to take photos and proud to show us their home.
After a few group photos outside and some questions about our bikes, we said goodbye and cycled off to find the town.
It’s so nice to meet local people and as most cycle tourers will tell you, the best thing about travelling by bike is the people you meet and the welcome they extend to you, despite you being a foreigner, unknown, dirty and smelly (not always but quite often!) and unannounced. It really is amazing and I can’t help wondering if we would be as welcoming to foreigners arriving in our country in the same manner, as we are generally more fearful of ‘strangers’. I hope that in the future we will have the opportunity to welcome people in the same way to our home; this experience has certainly made us much more open-minded and less judgemental about other people we meet.