Again with the mist in the morning, an unnatural silver glow and no sign of the meadow we passed out in. The eastern horizon looks like it’s glowing, like the ground is full of scenic uranium.
Doxycycline sickness on the river crossing, bloody pills, plus it makes me constipated, I better have had malaria after all that.
The road we have chosen to Erden Bulgan climbs around 600 metres, which may or may not sound like a lot – but when the first 300 vertical metres and 15 or 20 kms is in thick grassy muddy boggy hell with maybe 30kgs of baggage including all the water you need to drink to prevent death and with biting flies you can’t hit away without falling off your bike, believe me, it’s quite a heaving chest and frequently cursing time.
It’s four of five hours straight uphill, the only other humans we see are two dudes on an old Russian motorbike (plenty of them in Mongolia), who are very amused to see us panting in the afternoon shade wolfing down buttery fish sandwiches. (I bought quarter of a kilo of cheese the day before, pointing to “byaslag” in the phrasebook – but, I walked away with quarter of a kilo of butter.)
The downhill ride, miraculously, is neither muddy nor grassy – it is a sweet flowing dream of a downhill, smooth and fast as hell with all our gear.
The scenery is ridiculously great – we have to stop and frolic in the wild flowers for a few minutes – and then a thunderhead comes over the pass and bears down on us, lightning strikes somewhere CLOSE and LOUD, we freak out and hoof it best we can to avoid lightning fry, except I get a puncture, the storm hits, we shelter under Tama’s tarp and don’t get hit.
A couple of hours later we are in this huge deserted valley full of wheat and no people, no people anywhere, no noise, just flat endless empty fields and us, maybe, are we really here? Are we really here in yet another pink red yellow blue meadow, in Mongolia, in a tent, with craploads of camera gear?