Day 36: Keep on driving

After a night drive we finally reached the city of Khovd (capital of Khovd province) at around 1:00AM. The entire city was no more than a couple of buildings mixed with yurts (traditional Mongol tent-like housing), an oversized police station, a run-down town hall + square and a handful of gas stations. At 8:30 we woke up in our “hotel” where we slept in a 5-bed room dormitory (luckily we had the whole room to ourselves). Unfortunately the hotel didn’t provide its’ guests with luxuries like showers, so we all happily took a “Turkish shower” in the bathroom sink.

While Philipp and Eugen were unsuccessfully looking for an internet café (there was only one in the whole city which was still closed at 9:30) the others refueled the cars and purchased water. We all perceived Khovd as a very frustrating, sad and grey place. There was no life on the streets, roads were covered in dust, most shops were still closed by 10:00AM and buildings were crumbling as you looked at them. On the way out we passed a police checkpoint which all the locals circumvented by taking on of the several dirt-tracks leading around it. Sascha was not quick enough and had to ask for directions to distract from our two missing license plates which we had lost to the Mongolian steppe the day before.

Main insight on food thus far: Writing a cookbook in these geographies like another team planned is utterly useless. Thus far all food can be summarized as follows: Soup, Shashlik and dumplings with various flavors. Even though we occasionally see cows and horses, we never seem to get beyond sheep in Mongolia. Wherever we go and whatever we order, we always get served sheep soup, noodles and dumplings. While Philipp simply refuses to have sheep and prefers to go on hunger-strike, the others go with the flow and continue eating what they are being served.

We then had breakfast at a highpoint with lake view (Philipp: “garbage disposal site”). Matthias gave Eugen encouraging instructions drawn from his extensive outdoor experience on how to properly open biscuit packs(*), feedback Eugen readily received.

The day went as follows:

10:00: breakfast FINISH, semi-paved road,
80km/h10:05: aiming for cows with banana peels
10:06: first hit, bad karma
10:15: dirt-track, 60km/h
10:30: bad karma in action: inferior dirt-track and lake, 30km/h
11:00: patience FINISH, First beer for Matthias and Eugen (well shaken)
11:30: surprise: paved highway, 120km/h
11:38: highway FINISH – back to depression
11:45: met first Mongol Rally team, ‘visibly’ haven’t showered in days
11:50: first beer FINISH – mood improves, high quality dirt-track (i.e. had previous contact with bulldozer), 70km/h
10:52: realization that we luckily have a SSD on this computer, a standard hard drive would have quit by now due to excessive vibrations (all five spines and four axles still seem intact)
12:28: overtaking zee German team
12:33: first tire of the day down
12:37: being overtaken by zee Germans
12:38: tire changed
12:39: overtaking zee Germans again
14:00: eating lunch: dumplings again
15:00: on the road again
16:48: second tire down
19:04: camping site selected 375km from Khovd
19:30: tent set up
19:45: storm moves in and it starts raining
20:00: team contemplates to abandon tent and drive to city (100km or 2.5hrs away)
20:15: first bottle of vodka is gone
20:30: card games and heavy rain, water enters tent
20:45: second bottle of vodka gone
21:00: card games, motion to abandon camp is turned down
21:30: beer supply depleted22:30: strong wind and rain, Eugen and Philipp take shelter inside cars while hardcore adventurers stay in tent
22:35: Philipp turns on car to activate heating
03:30: 5°C, Eugen wakes up half-frozen and also turns on car for heating

(*)Lessons learnt: “Don’t open the pack all the way, otherwise cookies will fall out”

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