|We pitch camp in the hills, there is a storm brewing so we tie out the guy ropes by the time we have the dinner cooking it is in full force and we don’t want to step foot outside for any reason. San banyo,(phonetic) san banyo, an urgent calling from outside, we try to ignor as do not want to engage in small talk in the pissing rain, SAN BANYO reluctently we open up. A lone horseman with his two dogs has been caught out by the storm we invite him in. Kev suggests he tie his horse to the bike but he does the time honoured way of tying both front feet together. Inside the tent we offer some of our dinner, he takes a bite out of politeness but says it’s too spicy we tuck in and finish our stew with the thunder and lightning raging all around then make a cup of tea which he gratefully accepts. He is looking concerned he is dripping all over the floor no worries we say and entertain him showing him how we can have a fire in here, where we have been and all sorts of things. Some 30 mins later the storm eases slightly, he is looking how to get out we show him how to unzip the tent, he practically races out was it something we said! No it seems he’s busting for a wee, he looks around for his horse and whistles for it, the dogs come he whistles again the horse has slipped his ties, he becons us out the tent and points up to the top of the ridge his horse is on the top it looks him in the eye for a second or two then turns and wanders over the bluff, it’s going home he says. He makes motions to fire up the bike and retrieve his horse, Not on your nelly doesn’t translate well into Mongolian, lovely slippery, grassy, 45deg slope on a heavy bike in the rain, so the language barrier is suddenly called into play no we don’t understand what you are saying, realising he won’t get a lift up the hill he turns and trudges homeward up after his horse in the dusk.
The storm rages all night long a brief laspe in the morning allows us to pop out for a wee but the road looks too waterlogged to attempt to leave. It starts to rain again and now continues to pour all day long. We decide to hole up in the tent for the day but it seems the longest day yet, we catch up on things but with no phone reception can’t even text home, we play cards, eat, write up notes. Next morning we wake “hear that” we say, bliss it’s stopped raining Kev surveys the track and decides even for the short distance he needs to put the outriggers on. The track successfully negotated he encounters a farmer the other end who having watched this strange four wheeled beast wants a closer look, by the time I have walked up he is giving Kev a hand to remove them.
We head towards the border but make a slight detour in the village of Degaam to look for the bow and arrow factory asking a few locals we only get blank looks I thought my impression of drawing and releasing an arrow was pretty good eventually the local drunk comes good and points the way. We ride right by the first time and it’s only the woman beconing us that makes us turn round. The factory is an unassuming shack and inside are two people making bows the traditonal way using horn and sinue which is mixed with a resin and spread on in five layers. When they realised we were keen they showed each stage of the process it was fastinating. It is a shame we couldn’t purchase some as they would have been comparitively cheap and we know a few people who would have loved them but they are a hard shape to disguise and customs would have had a field day.
By contrast our next and last campsite in Mongolia is delightful, a most Russian looking woodland all wild and untamed loads of wild flowers, silver birch and bird song all around,a fitting end to our time in Mongolia we have a celebratory fire and raise a glass of vodka. Thank you Mongolia