After going nowhere yesterday, we were keen to make some progress and get on the road again.
As we rose over the top of the hill we could see a huge valley below us. In the distance we could see some animals moving across the landscape as a group. They were well camouflaged against the shrubs and sand, but we could just make them out. They look like small deer and we’d seen them before, well fleetingly, but they don’t stick around long. We weren’t too sure what they were, but we now think that they were wild gazelle…
(photo by mongolia.panda.org)
We managed to pick up the new road again and the road surface was quite good. I was pleased that we cycled 10km so quickly and were doing well. Then the road stopped abruptly and we were back to dirt tracks again. It was quite flat and all we could see was the horizon ahead. We knew there was a small town near here so we headed for that to get more water. Cycling side by side, it was quite quiet and we were both lost in our own thoughts. Then out of the blue I slammed on my brakes and jumped off my bike. By the side of the road was a single purple flower.
In every country we have cycled, along the roadside we see purple flowers, mostly wild, sometimes planted. I love purple flowers, so much so that we will be having them at our wedding next April. And wherever you get flowers, you also get butterflies, which flutter along with us as we cycle. So far in the Gobi we have seen no flowers of any kind, so imagine my delight to see a purple flower, just sitting there! I took some photos and resisted the urge to pick it and take it with me – the poor thing has made it this far, last thing it needs is me plucking it from the ground.
We arrived in Tsomog and managed to locate its only shop, buying a few snacks and water. The two school girls there both spoke some English and another lady with a young baby appeared. We chatted to them a little and the baby had a go on Chris’s bike seat. Not long after an English teacher turned up and we had a chat with her too. Funny how in the middle of nowhere you can find people speaking English so well!
Leaving this small village, we saw a sign saying 300km to Ulaanbatar. That sounded like an awfully long way still. Oh well, better get on with it then.
The new road was too patchy to cycle on so we reverted back to the bumpy side track. It was hot and the sun was fierce. A big 4×4 stopped by us and 4 men got out of the car. One of them spoke excellent English (again!) and it turns out that they were the contractors for the new road. They insisted on giving us water and coke and a tin of meat. Then a bottle of whisky appeared and a shot was poured for Chris. Then one for me. I’m not a big whisky drinker at all but they were so keen for us to drink it that I managed to sip a little of it. After a photo we were on our way again, this time climbing up up up. As we went I could taste the whisky. It reminded me of my Grandad who always like a glass of Scotch of an evening. I cycled on thinking of my Grandad, wondering what he would make of me doing all this!
We managed 35km that day, not as much as we’d hoped but the daylight doesn’t last forever, and I’d been having some funny stomach aches for a couple of days so wasn’t feeling 100%.
We stopped to camp that evening up on a rocky hillside and watched an impressive sunset, from our tent.
As I cooked dinner I could see lightning in the distance, it looked like storm was heading towards us. I cooked as fast as I could and served up the food, then we quickly did up all the tent doors and moved everything inside. Safe inside out tent we ate and then fell asleep. The storm must have missed us, either that or we were too tired to notice it!