“This isn’t a sugary drink place -it’s a scabhole” – Pugs
I’m awake before sunrise, happy not to be vomiting, excited enough by the gorgeous light to set up the tripod and shoot a few seconds of footage, even though the HD Flipcam is broken and I only have the ghetto-Flipcam to use. It’s a strange feeling at breakfast, only having 40k’s to ride … the final couple dozen k’s to Moron are as flat as anything we’ve seen in Mongolia. Low hills on the horizon, but all around – an American road movie of nothingness. Easy Rider keeps looping through my head. We take it relatively easy, stopping to film a couple of last shots, confident there’s enough material for some kind of doco, though how long and how manic remains to be seen … the Moron Gol comes into sight. “Moron” means “river”, and “gol” means “small river” or “stream”, so this translates roughyl to: “the river of tautological riverness”. It really is nothing much, this Moron Gol, and I’m very glad we decided against cutting north then following this pathetic trickle 70ks south-east into the town of Moron.
The town of Moron. It comes into sight around midday, and it is – nothing much. Almost indistinguishable from the dozens of other depressing small towns we’ve ridden through as fast as possible, stopping only to insult the locals and buy the first grocery store we see out of its entire supply of Mars Bars, “tom uus” (big bottled water), instant noodles and canned fish. This is what we were expecting, so it’s not a surprise. But it is weird, seeing the end of our journey after all these days (and the months, years behind them), nd there being absolutely nothing there of any note. Luckily, there is a roadsign saying “Mopoh”, so we can film some shots of us arriving.
Then, we arrive.
I don’t know what I was expecting really – fireworks? Freak lightning hailstorms? A parade of dusky maidens on moonlit stallions? Piles of broken Chinggis bottles?
Is it really over? Do I want it to be over? Maybe it would be nice to just keep on riding? We start planning our hitch-hike back to UB, ASAP. Tama doesn’t even necessarily want to go into the town proper, but I have enough currency left over for sugary drinks and Chinggis, so we head up the dusty roads into a dusty, abandoned town. It’s midday on Sunday, 1 August, and we find out later that either the first of every month or the first Sunday of every month is an alcohol-free day. Which may or may not explain why the lady shopkeeper was so grumpy and refused to sell us Chinggis, shaking her head as she added up our sugary drink purchase on an honest-to-god abacus. I kind of feel like we should film something, but there’s nothing to film, except Tama handing over our bag of un-given-away treats – little toy koalas whose heads fall off if children try to play with them; felt tip markers and notebooks – to a woman and her four ragged children, who can hardly believe their luck. And then lunch, and then it’s hitching time, which seems easy yesterday, not so easy on a dead Sunday with no trucks heading west, those that do already filled with stinky goats. But within twenty minutes we’re helping a nice middle-aged businessdude load our bicycle frames and wheels and paniers into the back of his soccer-mom van, and thirty minutes after that we’re sailing past the morning’s campsite, an hour or so after that we’re passing our vomity ridgeline campsite, dozing off in the spectacular luxury of a CAR, with SEATS … the drive back features a bunch of camels, a massive wolf-hunting eagle, a giant statue of Chinggis Khan that puts every other oversized kitsch statue of anything I’ve ever seen in my life to shame, some potholes near UB, the obligatory UB traffic jam – and that’s it.
He drops us at the door of LG Guesthouse, asks for more money than we were expecting, and we stagger inside, done.
The bikes are still downstairs in the basement, I hope. but gosh it’s been good not to ride them.
This morning at breakfast, a british couple over here doing aid work heard about our trip. “Congratulations,” they said. “Fourteen hundred kilometres? you’re mad. That’s really an incredible journey. you should be very proud.”
And I am, I guess. We are. Bloody good. We made it, it was epic and random and we bloody rocked it. And like the Irishman who hits himself in the head with a hammer, god it’s good when you stop.