Awesome day today - everything worked out really well.
I only woke up at 8.30 as even though I had gone to sleep about 10 I once again did not sleep well as I woke up several times feeling cold. I hoped that I would be able to get a sleeping bag in Moron today. We were packed up and on the road by about 10. It was a beautiful sunny morning. The ride was really hilly all the way to Moron and I was glad that we stopped when we did last night as there was no way that my legs would have got me into town before dark.
The roads were mostly pretty good. Much better than the section between Ih-Uul and Tosontsengel. It was a bit too sandy in places which meant that I lost control a couple of times and road off into the grass when I hit a clump of sand while going down hill. So far I have not managed to actually fall off in Mongolia but there have been a few close calls....
Jenna was ahead of me and I stop to take this photo of her chatting and having a cigarette with a horseman who had come to say hello to us.
As Jenna was chatting to him a couple came along on a motor bike. They were carrying a live sheep on the back of their vehicle. It still seems very strange to me to do this with animals. The sheep did not seem to be very happy about its legs being bound and being transported in such a way.
The ride down into Moron was fantastic. It went down hill for about 7km and we hit tarmac again (the last bit before Russia according to the map) and so just rolled into town and arrived by just past 12.
I am not sure whether it was just because it was sunny and we were feeling good but Moron seemed like a much nicer town than Bulgan (which we only experience in the rain or cloudy weather).
Jenna was desperate for some cigarettes so we had a fast ride into town and to then find a store. We checked out a couple of hotels and there were some OK ones with showers but all were rubbish in comparison to a new hotel that we had seen on the way into the center of town. I was treating Jenna today as I had wasted so much of her time yesterday having to go back for my phone and faffing about and so her slightly tighter budget was not a consideration and so we decided to stay in luxury today.
I was in the shower for about 30mins. It took ages to get off all of the ingrained mud. It was so lovely. Having spent ages in there I found that I still was dirty when I was wiping myself dry with the towel. I think several showers will be needed during this hotel stay.
I really did not want to leave the hotel room and I just wanted to have a nap in the lovely soft bed with clean fresh white sheets (the first decent bed since Beijing 2 weeks ago). My leg were tried after the last few days riding and I was happy not to go anywhere but we were planning on leaving Moron tomorrow and I had loads of shopping and organising to do and so I eventually left the room at 3ish.
I tried to ask the receptionist (who spoke English) where I could buy a sleeping bag and some other things and she could not help but went to get a friend to help me. Tuk spoke fluent English and said he would show me where I could buy the things I needed.
He was amazing. We spent about 3 hours at the black market finding all of the things I needed and also fixing my front pannier rack on my bike. A section of the pannier rack had snapped in 2 a few days ago and although it was holding together it was not as strong as it once was. I wanted to get it welded but we found that this was not possible and so instead we found a block of metal that would fit over the top of the pannier and strengthen the broken section.
Tuk thought it was funny that I was trying to strengthen the way the front pannier attached to the bike with cable ties and so he kindly found some strong metal wire that could be wound round and would improve the strength no end :-) He got a pair of pliers and did a few for me and got me some extra wire so that I can use it if I need to at a later stage.
The most important purchase for me was a new sleeping bag! I managed to get one for £7.50 with a fleece lining and camouflage on the outside! It is huge though and means that I will have less space in my bags now for food and water. I was soooo happy. I have been loving biking through Mongolia. The only part that I have found difficult is not sleeping well as I have been awaking up cold many times through the night when camping. This will no longer be a problem :-)
Another problem has been getting sun burnt. I bought suncream in both UB and Bulgan but unfortunately neither worked very well at all. While I was shopping at the black market Jenna was doing some other shopping for food and managed to find some Avon Suncream for me and so hopefully this other issue will be fixed.
The black market was huge with everything you could want to buy. I had left the hotel just thinking that I was going to be wondering aimlessly round shops trying to find the things I needed and I had not taken my camera. What a shame. I wish that I had managed to get some good photos of the market.
The only photos I got were ones taken on Tuk's camera of him having a go at shooting a target. It was a very productive shopping experience. Between Jenna and I we managed to get peanut butter, oats, a warm sleeping bag, suncream, hose clamps, wire for fixing pannier racks, loads of nuts and bolts for broken parts, fresh fruit and veg, brown bread, tape for handle bars, cereal for breakfast, sugar and a few other bits and bobs! Awesome. We did not think we would see oats or peanut butter until Moscow! This town does actually have most things that you need :-) I feel all relaxed now that we will be really comfortable for the next leg of the journey.
I took Tuk and Jenna out for dinner at a restaurant round the corner to say thanks to Jenna for waiting for me yesterday and thanks to Tuk for taking me round the market. We had a feast of Mongolia dishes - we were very hungry having not had any lunch. It was great to talk to Tuk about Mongolian culture as we had not found any Mongolians to chat to that speak good English up until now.
After diner I left the others to go for a beer or two and I went off for a bit of time on my own and to update this blog at an internet place. I met them again at 10.30 at the "club" in town. It was such a funny place with strobe lighting and modern club music but the decore was from the 1980's/1990's as were many of the people's clothing. It was quite an experience. I am really glad I went.
Tuk had brought along his friend, Hishge, who was also from UB, had spent some time in India at the same time as Tuk and speaks really good English too. I took along some wine and we all sat and nattered over some drinks.
We even had a short dance. Jenna was Thai boxing dancing..... very funny! A good night. The boys said that they would try to borrow bikes and cycle with us to the lake tomorrow. I wonder if they will.....