… begins at the Crack of 8am, when industrial jackhammers open up on the construction site located conveniently next to our window. I throw my shoes at the workers to shut them up, but they just throw them back, so I go back to not-quite-sleep. My whole body throbs, slowly but steadily, with exhaustion.
A leisurely café breakfast of eggs and “bread” and about four grams of almost-sausage is followed immediately by a big dirty meatlovers pizza down the road. Tama has found a swimming pool and sauna in the guidebook, located in this great commie slab of a “Sports Palace”, with some great old musty sports trophies and horse-wrestling carpet frescoes, so we flag the swimming and proceed directly to the sitting around sweating bit. We have the place to ourselves, but resist the urge to go commando. It’s good to sweat without exercising for a change, and great to stretch those poor old suffering leg muscles out.
After a bit of an afternoon nap / collapse, we itinerise the remainder of the trip – coming up with a punishing schedule of 12 consecutive days riding, no rest days, and at least two nights camping out somewhere trackless and wild as we try to bush-bush 30-odd k’s into and out of Terelj National Park without cutting south through Ulaan Baatar. If everything goes to plan – Mongolian shortcuts included – we will make it to the east Mörön (near Ondorkhaan) by the night of 3 August, and make our connecting flight out of the country a couple of days later. Rugged. Daunting. Not. Fun. After a prolonged blogging session in Internerenet, PCs frustrating in their sluggishness, we walk slowly back to our twin room. And as we fall towards sleep, Tama says: “There’s no real reason why we can’t go through Ulaan Baatar. I know we said we weren’t going to, but … sheeeeit …”
So we decide it’s not cheating to go through UB – and even have a rest day! It’s not quite as wild, but it’s still bloody Mongolia, and it’s still Mörön to Mörön.