I’ve made it to Ulaanbaatar! It’s the capital of Mongolia and home to almost half of the country’s 3 million population, meaning compared to the rest it feels busy, chaotic, full of life and plentiful in its offerings of fruit and vegetables. It’s the coldest capital in the world and also one of the most polluted, I also doubt many other capital cities have Yurt districts as their suburbs. However all this aside, I’ve been happy to rest a while as the last four weeks have been some of my toughest yet, mentally as much as physically.
Mongolia has been everything I thought it would be: tough, slow, hot, windy, beautiful, calm, empty and rewarding in so many ways. The roads have been everything from sand to pristine tarmac, horses stop and stare from the steppe and all the while on the horizon are nomad families, tending to their livestock adjacent to their gers. After entering from the North West in Russia, I’ve headed through the centre, through the Khangai mountains and across the empty, rolling Mongolian steppe: 1500km and four weeks.
The map above shows every place I’ve laid my head for the night in Mongolia. I’m busy writing up the stories from the road now and I’ll publish them in the next couple of weeks.
Speaking of the blog, this will be my last post at http://www.cyclingfordays.wordpress.com. I’ve been busy updating things and from now on I’ll switch over to www.cyclingfordays.bike – so please update your favourites. If you’ve already signed up for email updates when a post is published, you should continue to receive these. I hope you like the changes and new look and feel, any feedback would be greatly appreciated. In the near future I’ll also have additional content there such as gear reviews, route guides, country guides and much more, so keep your eyes peeled!
Upcoming Route – Decisions, Decisions
UB is only 600 odd miles as the crow flies from Beijing, so if I got my skates on I could happily be there in 10 days or so. But where’s the fun in that? I’ve been ruminating heavily on what my route should be for the last few weeks, ever since Mr Putin announced that World Cup FAN ID holders could return to Russia visa-free until the end of 2018 (see, he’s not all bad is he?). With some reliable internet to research and plan, over the last few days I’ve decided to take the long way round to Beijing.
From UB I’ll head up to Russia and Lake Baikal (the deepest lake in the world), from here I’ll head east through Siberia in September and October, via a quick detour to Yakutsk (the coldest city in the world, by winter temperature), round to the Pacific and Sakhalin Island (formerly part of Japan) by November. Following that, if possible I’ll go on another detour by boat or a plane to Kamchatka, the little bit that dangles down from Russia, close to Alaska, then back to Sakhalin Island and down to Vladivostok, end of the line and Russia. From here, it’s a hop, skip and a jump, via Japan and Korea, into China via the back door, so to speak, arriving in Beijing in time for (Chinese) new year.
Phew! So 6000km and a few more months yet, which means much more to come here as well (or should that be there). Now you know why I’ve called it Cycling for Days!