Mongolia Sun 25th July.
Arrived bright and early 8.45 at border of Russia/Mongolia it turns out as the border has been closed for 3 days a number of people are now trying to get through having hung around for 3 days so our timing was spot on. It also turned out to be very social numerous travellers from all over the world including a french couple in a large motorhome so we aren’t the only heavy vehicle. We all had a good chat and exchanged stories even being told by the officials to keep quiet as they couldn’t concentrate. Despite all the jolliety it still took till 12 to exit Russia from there we were in a strange no mans land for approx. 20km here we reached a locked gate where another Russian offical took our passports disappeared off then returned some time later and let us out. Here the tarmac ended and we bounced the 10km to the Mongolian entry again lady luck was with us as they all wanted to rush off to lunch but had to deal with us first so we got off lightly on the search, still our most thorough to date, he would have made us turn out every pannier if he’d had time as it was we got away with half of them. We also escaped some fees for health forms which were a joke anyway. We almost made it out but there was a stop sign next to a ramshakled hut run by mongolians this turned out to be vehicle insurance which we had to pay, it looked like a sham had it not been in spitting distance of all the offical offices we may well have jumped the barrier. As it was, it wasn’t too much money so armed with offical insurance we are in Mongolia. We knew this would be the toughest section yet and we were under no illusions but it still takes you by suprise. It’s not the lack of tarmac but more the terrain one minute you are riding up the side of a mountain trying to change into 1st gear only to find you already are, then having to go around a hairpin bend all on loose gravel/shale or sand, once down in valley a bewildering choice of routes awaits you choose wrong at the start and you ride straight into the boggy flood plain with sticky mud. The scencery has been stunning so far and the interactions with the kids great. We have a potentual serious problem half way down the mountain we hit a rock which bent the sump guard and dented the oil filter casing so it was leaking out oil from the oil seal, this went unoticed (you hit so many rocks and hear things scraping you can’t stop or you get nowhere) until we found the only stretch of tarmac in the whole of Mongolia when we noticed the warning light on. Screeching to a halt I confirm oil is leaking. Kev drains the remaining oil into our washing up bowl (folding) and he is horrified to only get 0.5 of a litre it takes 3.5 we test out the locals flagging down cars and get lucky with the fourth who has 4litres and speaks english. We offer to pay but only have half of what we need but he lives in the town we a headed for so we take his card to pay the remainder tomorrow. Kev managed to straighten the oil filter to make it seal and I did the bash plate then we headed for Olgii. Here we recouperate for two/three days catch up on blogs, washing fixing the bike and all other sundries. From here to Ulan Bataar there are few towns so we will be off line for approx 3 weeks unless we find a phone reception. Wish us luck we’ll need it!