Don’t miss the pictures from Usbekistan: http://bennobaumgartner.com/?p=4034
From Altai we headed south-east. No tourist ever makes it to here and also not too many Mongolians. The south west is a really remote place. We drive for many hours without seeing an other car. There are some yurts equipped with solar panel and satellite dish every now and then and we see livestock when there is water. But other than that there is only landscape and endless sky to look at. After a few days you starting to understand why this country is called the land of the sky. People here are still living nomadic, we see absolutely no agriculture.
Because we have added an extra day to wait for Dieter and Johan in Altai we now have to catch up to make it to Dalanzangad on time to catch Alexandras flight home. We drive a lot every day, around 200 to 250 Km, which, at an average speed of say 30 Kmh, takes time. Unfortunately this is also what team Dieter experienced and they didn’t make it on time to Altai and we have lost them. They drove straight to Ulan Batar and then to Baikal and are now already in Novosibirsk.
We visited the Saxon Woods in the Gobi desert. Saxon takes around 100 years to grow to a hight of up to 4 meters. The wood is so dense it does not float. I guess this sounds more impressive when you have not seen a tree for days. It makes good firewood anyways. In Altai we where lucky enough to buy some meet (2.5 Kg for like 3 Franks). Last time we got something we believe was a Yak, and it was really not that tasty. This time we got the good stuff: It was one of the best meets I’ve every ate, and I was in fucking Kobe. We are not sure what it was though.
Next day we headed to the famous flaming cliffs, and they are indeed spectacular. It is a red sand cliff and at sunset it looks like it is burning. It was given this name by American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews, who visited in the 1920s. The area is most famous for yielding the first discovery of dinosaur eggs. Thousands of Dinosaurs have been found here and hence the many tourists. Well, many means there are some tourists. Bernd, Manfred, Alexandra and I are driving the 90 Km to Dalanzangad because Alexandras flight is taking off the next morning. We can convince Bernd to stay in the Hotel, this is the first real shower and toilet in like a month, undescribable:-) Unfortunately this also means I have to let Alexandra go and be alone for the rest of the trip. It was awesome to have here with me and I sure going to miss her.
Quitschi also had its first serious break down: The power steering container started to leak badly: the vibration on the sand pistes where just too much for the old rusty thing. But fortunately we could fix it with the weapon of choice: Sika Flex. The stress on the cars is huge: Franz front suspension had to be welded because the metal was broken straight through. Relef lost one of the front dampers and had to replace them. The rear spring of Rolfs car broke.
We now reached Ulan Bator where things are a bit different, but UB is certainly worth a separate blog post: They have everything here, if you can afford it that is. I will further travel with the group to Bernaul-Russia through northern Mongolia. The group will be much smaller tough. Franz and Philip flew home today as planed. The mechanic team Rolf and Doris will no longer be part of the group because they had one fight too much with Bernd plus the rear spring of Rolfs car broke and they can no longer drive off road. Also the swiss team Therese and Fritz decided to leave the group here because they just can’t handle it. So it is me, Bernd-Manfred, Fifi-Ingrid, and Relef-Janette who will continue. But first I have 4 nights in Hotel Continental in UB, 3 days of long sleeping, me and everybody else really need this, it is tough and tiering but sure a trip well worth it.