As if to make up for being so burningly hot for the last couple of days, Day Twenty consists almost entirely of rain. This is a great change, at first, for the first two or three hours. “Just a bit of garden-variety suffering,” I say to myself. “Just like summer in Invercargill.” After the fourth hour, though, when we can’t stop for lunch, when the vodka shot from the nice man at the top of the second pass has worn off (plus I offered him some of our energy peanuts and he took the WHOLE PACKET, jumped in his SUV and hooned off – bloody Mongolian hospitality!), after the small town of Bornuur just isn’t turning up and it’s too wet to get out the map and check how far and there are no truck stops, none, it is no longer fun.
We hastily erect a New Zealand ger – piece of blue tarp draped over our bikes and leaned-to against a power pole in a paddock – and chow down on noodles and salami sandwiches, speaking not a word. We ride through Airag Valley (airag is a Mongolian drink made from fermented horses’ milk, 3% alc. vol. and not so good for your stomach lining) without stopping for a tipple, although the kitsch signs with lusty mares frolicking in photoshopped fields are somewhat appealing. Have a bit of an argument a few k’s out from Bayanchamandi – we’ve biked perhaps 95k’s by then, we’re not sure were the town is, whether we should stop at this ger village, it’s all a bit much – but finally we pull into Bayan(etc).
It takes just 45 minutes to get clear directions to a bed for a night, most people shake their heads and mutter “buko, buko” (not have, not have), but their is indeed a bed, plenty of em, all empty. It’s certainly not a “hotel” though, which is all the Lonely Planet can help us ask for. It’s a truck stop slop with mattressless beds, hard, but less hard than hitching a ride on the back of a truck into UB, which is meanwhile seeming less and less silly. (although less romantic than hopping a boxcar south from Sahir hobo-Kerouac style, which was our dreamy notion of a couple days earlier.)
Gorge on Huushuur, point at anything on the menu, don’t complain when it turns up. easy.