Mongolia part two - where we learn that travelling in a group can be nice too

With Tom and Abby we spend a week together in an incredibly beautiful setting and enjoy the freedom to settle and put up camp anywhere. We cook together and help each other repeatedly out of trouble - as for example when we have a broken off brake-saddle in the sidecar to mend or push us out of a river where we have dug ourselves in. Tom has to change wheel bearings on the Chinese bike. We take pictures of each other – it’s nice to get some photos with both of us on and this goes for Tom and Abby too. It makes our time together the more enjoyable as they both have a similar sense of humor to us and  also common interests.  Travelling together brings lots of laughter, and the age difference is no problem.
First we drive to Karakorum , the ancient capital (in ancient times ) have a look around here and the temple complex which - I have to say is not quite as nice as the old temple we have visited previously but we can admire a group of women dressed in traditional costumes and posing for the tourists in front of the temple.
 The journey here has cost us already 2 nights because we do not drive really fast and there is always something to admire  we stop once to take pictures of golden eagles  which jointly with buzzards feast on discarded remains from slaughtering - it must to be 20 (twenty in words! ) eagles in one place. Unbelievable - I think of the many times when we saw one of the giant birds from a distance circling in the sky and I almost peed my pants with  excitement ( these are the pictures where you can see a brown dot in the sky and I declare quite excited that the little brown fleck really is a golden eagle – honest!) - my idea of the lone king of the skies has suffered some.

Again and again we need to stop for pictures and then we are usually quickly surrounded by people who admire us and the bikes.  Tom and Abby get just as much interest because to the locals it seems probably admirable that they travel around on one of these bikes which seem to be the Mongolian substitute for a horse.

To a large extent the road consists only of sand tracks here and it is difficult to find a good line for our two-track vehicle. We are slower here because the sidecar pulls quite a lot on lose ground and the suspension is rather hard and more than once I almost get catapulted out of the sidecar when Kevin bounces through a hole. Even though Tom really is first class on his Ching Chang - or whatever his bikes is called - Abby seems to have the same problems on the back seat of Tom's bike and I see her jumping up and down quite frequently - we are probably all very mad to enjoy this kind of traveling so much or we are just simply masochists .
Another thing slowing us down is that we are all not morning people. It just takes its time until we have made breakfast, washed the dishes and put away tents and their contents ......... also we are on an adventure – not at work! ! We also do get often a visit from locals who want to see who has settled in their neighborhood.
On our way to the White Lake we pass Tsertserleg - a really nice town situated in a picturesque valley with its colorful houses. Then we stop at a deep gorge of a river cut  into the basalt. We stop once to watch a group of little boys who practice the Mongolian national sport - wrestling.
After Tsertserleg there is no paved road - only sand track and there are still about 80 km to the lake . We rarely find settlements and shops and these are also very poorly stocked. Shopping can be a hassle - especially since we do not speak Mongolian and have to make ourselves understood with hands and feet - this sometimes leads to the funniest misunderstandings.  As we try to buy eggs one day and after we have all tried in vain to make ourselves understood Tom is trying to imitate an egg-laying chicken - the shop lady responds in pointing to the vodka and we all laugh ourselves half to death - maybe Mongolian men behave like this when they have too much vodka inside them ? - We do not get eggs .
At White Lake  we look for a beautiful place to camp in a valley with incredible views of the lake and before it gets dark Tom suddenly jumps on his bike and rides the steep hill - crazy guy , but he can ride like the devil !
On our way back we really need to be a bit faster as we have to be in UB in 3 days – Tom has to bring the rental bike back and we need to get on our way to the Chinese border. But first we try to find Kevin's landing net that has shaken loose on the way and got lost in a cloud of  dust . For quite a while we are pursued by a wild honking van and eventually we decide to stop because wonder if we have perhaps lost something again or maybe something else is wrong. The bus also stops and from windows and doors, climb an unbelievable number of Mongols who now all want to take pictures and shake hands with us  ...
As we ride on  I lose a glove and we're wasting almost an hour again searching until we find it again - in the meantime, Tom has once again discovered a hill to climb.
In the evening we find ourselves a beautiful campsite - surrounded by a river with trees and shrubs. On the other side of the river are a few Yaks picturesquely dotted about - in the distance you see Ghers . Tom and Kevin set out to find firewood and bring half a forest for a campfire and then Kev needs to urgently go fishing. Tom makes a photo safari and we girls want to make supper. I have stashed away flour and yeast since Russia, and we look forward to stick-bread - unfortunately  it turns out that I bought corn flour and it just does not rise properly – so we make corn tortillas instead - well - what is perfect?
Kev has caught 3 fish, so he sets off the next morning at first light to try and get us another 5 fish for a nice breakfast – successfully!!
After a week, we are again at the Oasis and we have to really make tracks towards Chinese border, and we have to repair the brakes in UB  do laundry , update website , shop, shower  charge batteries. The charger that runs off the bike has given up the ghost. We also do not know if and how it will be with electrics and Internet in China.
We meet Johan at the Oasis - the first one belonging to our Chinese travel group and he's just our kind of guy. We are pretty sure we can bear traveling together.

We decide to ride to the border together. First, however, we still want to visit the Khan statue and camp a night in a nature reserve which was recommended to us by one of the travelers at the Oasis  also Tom and Abby still want to make this tour with us  which is definitely an incentive to make this little diversion instead of riding straight to the border.  The last week which we have spent together in the Mongolian wilderness was just awesome and we have grown quite fond of these two  - shame that they will continue in exactly the opposite direction.
The Genghis Khan Statue is a 250 ton stainless steel colossus and the largest equestrian statue in the world. It stands on a building that contains souvenir shops and a lift which allows you to go up into Genghis ' Trojan horse and an outlook on the ghers for tourists which are under construction everywhere around the place. The Mongol leader holds a golden whip in his hand, which he is said to have found here according to the myth.
We stop and a wide grinning woman rushes up to us: " Hi I am Anna ! " I cannot believe it  - that's another 2 people that will go with us to China and they seem also to be really nice - we have dropped on  really lucky . I have often wondered how these two are - we had only very short e-mail contacts before. We decide spontaneously  that the two will be joining up with us first to the nature reserve for tonight and then on to the border .
After wandering around Gengis an having taken pictures we set off. The reserve is less than 30 miles away and we are there quickly - of course the roads here are mainly sand tracks Tom speeds in front as if stung by a wild bee. Anna and James have their problems to keep up because their Transalp is very low, extremely heavy loaded, and the rear shock is pretty shot at. The landscape again is just amazing but unfortunately also full of tourists.
We drive until we finally come to a corner where no tourist-camps are ( probably because the road is really difficult here . We have to ride down a steep descent which we hope to be able to climb back up the next day. Then we find a nice camp right on the river in the forest  and we can even make a fire here.
It's been great - we are 7 people from 7 countries : Australia, Canada, New Zealand,  Poland, South Africa, Germany and England, and we really have a lot of fun . After the tents are pitched the hunters and gatherers head out to organize firewood. They find it too cumbersome to carry everything so they take our workhorse Liza for it.
The rest starts  to cook a good wholesome broth for dinner. Everyone brings their supplies in a pile and we just make mix it together and make something out of it - it tastes delicious. Then we sit by the fire  drinking our beer and vodka supplies and tell stupid stuff . It's really amazing how well we all fit together and the journey through China slowly starts to really be something to look forward to. We are all very relieved that we tick similar. The only unknown group members are  the 2 Germans who will accompany us with the car and we decide that we get them handled too .
 The next two days  we drive through the Gobi - Nothing much there but also of a beautiful in it’s simplicity. Again, we are captured by nature - driving is sometimes difficult in the soft sand - Mongolia has really been special to us in all it diversity but 3 and a half weeks are definitely not enough to explore the second-largest landlocked country in the world.
Unfortunately, the nomadic people are not accustomed to plastic waste and throw everything out the window or just leave their rubbish everywhere which was the only negative experience for us in this country. It is to be hoped that this will change but people just have too much space.
We definitely need to come here again sometime - maybe by plane and then we buy two small Chinese bikes and scramble through the Altai Mountains and then continue through the Gobi , Kev won’t be able to stay as long because he has no visa left and I will just ride on cause Germans don’t need visa here anymore ! !