The Trip to Mongolia - 28th August 2013

29 August 2013

The trip to Mongolia has been long, not in time really, just in the journey.
This started last week as we prepared for a big chunk of time away.
Roadie in the snow at Mt BullerI had to pack for 2 days riding my road bike and doing businesses at Mt Buller.
Then the massive task of working out what to bring for the Mongolia Bike Challenge.
And then what I would need for Townsville the very next day after my return. And then with a quick trip home off to Canberra and then after that a quick trip to Port Macquarie for more training...and then home for a few days before heading off to Canberra. In fact I may not come home at all...might just meet Norm in Canberra!
Either way, we had a lot to consider before just hopping on a plane to Mongolia.
What on earth would be available? Everything from bike spares to nutrition, through to clothes and bedding even had to be considered, hot and cold weather, racing long hard days and recovery.
It was a big task and it took me a week to get the mix right.

The flight to Beijing went really well. Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Beijing. Sleep all night – well 30 mins at a time for about 7 hours. We even got served breakfast early at 3:30am for a 5:30am arrival time.

1238288 10151595093321003 1735916344 nOur flight to Mongolia was scheduled to leave around 8:30am and as we were proceeding out to the runway, we were told we would not be leaving. Bad weather in Ulan Baatar. Flight was rescheduled to 1pm and we were free to entertain ourselves until 12pm.

Coffee, some early lunch and some free wifi to kill some time and we were back. Only this time to be told that no, we would not be leaving until 7pm! Whoa, that just puts us into a whole new bracket of being very tired & sleep deprived. I suggested we get a relaxation massage and Norm agreed, heaven, and I really wanted 2 in the time I had.
1185281 10151595094861003 1205820656 nAfter the massage we went and found a lounge food venue that had recharge station for laptops and phones, enjoyed our ginseng tea, salads and coffees before it was time to head back around 5pm for our “free dinner”, not really amazing but I ate some for I did not know what was coming next. Would we be flying out? Would we sit on the tarmac waiting?
Thankfully this time, we boarded our plane and the flight went off perfectly.

Arriving in Ulan Baatar around 10:15pm I found myself feeling very very tired, I guess anyone would be though. The airport, small, very “concrete like”, what struck me first up was the radiant heaters all along the walls of the bridge wing, suggesting that this place needs warming up a fair bit.

1240557 10151595099756003 1185300184 nLined up in the luggage hall with the Mongolian National Wrestling team, we got our bikes and were escorted off with the MBC crew to our hotel at Bayangol Hotel.

Next striking difference that alerted me to the fact I was not in Kansas anymore Toto, was the roads! The main road from airport to city, I was not sure if it was being resurfaced or was just always like this, pot holes, many and major like a back country road that never gets graded. Cars going every which way, passing left right or wherever they felt, beep beep beep. Crazy and actually quite interesting to just be a part of and not have to think. Whilst absorbing my world watching from the comfort of our transport I soon realised that all roads are like this, whilst some not so bad, they are pretty much not “groomed highways” and once again, it gets me thinking about this crazy city and what it must be like when its minus 40 degrees celcius in winter. How do people get around? Is this what makes the roads like this? Is this why its not worth putting in big investment?

Before we arrived it had rained for about 2 days, heavily. There were puddles and pools of water everywhere. No drainage. But then with an average rainfall of 250mm per annum then I guess drainage is not really needed off the roads.

Its about midnight before I get to bed. The hotel is quite westernised and the room is comfortable with hot shower to boot. Now on that note, the hot water here is piped into buildings from power plants that heat water for the city with coal. You dont need a hot water service, all your heaters are wall hydronic ones and your water is hot anyway. Pipes, big fat steaming insulated pipes. Coming from a central location with big fat chimneys puffing out the smoke of the fuel burn off.

Interesting way of keeping your city warm. I dont know a lot about the old rule of USSR before Mongolia became its own country but you can feel it in the infrastructure. I cant wait to see what the morning brings.