What a lush luxurious euro-breakfast of cheese and fresh warm milk and dutch quark, fried eggs and yeah almost like a holiday! It’s a good encouraging start to the day, we’re feeling good, ready to blaze trails east, make the cold springs on the hill, continue east … Bert’s wife Kana wishes us luck, and says: “After cold springs, there are no people, just bear.” Bears, shmears – we’re full of cheese, anything is possible. The riding is good, we resist being invited into anyone’s ger for salty tea of vodka, find a great lunchtime swimming hole, sleep under a tree … sorry guys, today was pretty nice, kinda boring to write about really!
Late in the afternoon we elect to not push on to the cold springs and the bear country beyond, so instead we head south, aiming to connect with the main road from UB to Ondorkhaan (and just before that, Moron). As the sun gets low, there are some whopping marmot holes, then some whopping marmots, marmots the size of beavers, probably not marmots at all, god knows what they are. It’s picturesque and rugged and manageable, the rocky churny roads are manageable, the friendly locals by their broken-down car who give us a slug of Airag then a bowlful each of vodka for the road are manageable, it’s all good, the choice to camp below the treeline seems sensible, the choice to drink more chinggis is brilliant, Tama’s Chinggy Chef efforts with potato and cabbage and fish are champion-grade, my marmothole tentsite is manageable, hanging all the food in a panier in a tree so the bears won’t get it – or us – is a charming joke. Tama falls into snores and I lie there drunk in the dark, hearing bears with every nylon rustle.