A reasonable night’s sleep. Jen said, “I’m not feeling great”. Oh dear. Packing up we headed back to Ulaangom to find a pharmacy. First we needed to sort out our WiFi issues. That done, because without WiFi, we cant use Google Translate and without that, there is not much chance of meaningful dialogue. It’s a pretty wild west town but seems to have most things. A pharmacy, but first Jen needed a doctor’s prescription. No problem, the hospital was almost next door. She came back feeling pretty good about herself. The young female doctor couldn’t believe she was 68, going on 69. I have been telling her that for years..:). The other thing she was very happy about was the five star treatment she got. From the end of a line of patients many meters long, she was escorted to the front of the queue.
Back on the road at around 11.30am we then debated, again, which direction we needed to go. Let me tell you folks, if you believed all your life that your left arm was on the left side of your body, then discover in Mongolia, it has been on the right, then you have some idea of the frustration of navigation here. There is only one thing you can trust and that is the compass. Maps, road signs and road numbers are simply a possible guide. MapsMe too was useless. We set off thinking we were taking the north eastern route, due to road signs, the map and MapsMe. It’s a great road but it was heading south east!! The first town we came to was Naranbulag!!!. But it cant be if we are on the north eastern route. Nope, it is and you are not on the north eastern route. OK, thats fine, we are going the way we wanted to anyway. Until another 100k’s down the road there is a sign saying A18. The road number for the north eastern route!!!! Give me a break!!
The landscape is amazing. A beautiful blue lake. Blue as blue. It’s effortless, the driving, compared to yesterdays struggle, until we came across a tanker spraying wet tar on it.
Why?? Fifty k’s on, without warning, the beautiful seal ends. Hammering along over a terrible road surface we decide to drive up onto the partly formed new road beside it. That was fine until we came to a barrier of freshly tipped dirt across it to deter people like us. This pile was a bit higher than the others we passed over with little difficulty. However Jen said, you won’t get over that. No, lets see. My theory was that if I hit it hard enough the front bumper would knock the top of the pile off and we would cruise over. Flawed theory. Well sometimes Land Rovers can’t go everywhere. And this was one of them.
So I had to spend the next hour and a half digging the old girl out as she was straddling the pile with not enough traction on front or back axle. Fortunately we have a brilliant shovel. It was bought for sand in the Sahara a couple of years back but I cut the square corners off the blade at Dave’s workshop and it did a great job. What a brilliant physical work out. Just what was needed to get the blood flowing.
Driving along the rutted bumpy road we came across what looked to be a car stuck fast in the middle trying to get off the newly formed road. Yep. It was. It would not have been karma to drive past and wave. Out comes the tow rope and within a few minutes we have him out of his predicament. He was rather sheepish and his wife no doubt told him not to go up there in the first place. Do you think he learned anything? …:)
So now we are parked 200m past Songrino on the open steppe and it’s tranquil, apart from a cow that seems to have a belly ache, nearby. Might just have to employ the catapult. We have showered and ready to turn in after a very interesting day. Jen’s feeling better too. What will tomorrow bring?