Mongolia By Numbers

posted by: Justin

Mongolia challenged us with deserts, mountains, hail and wind like no other country weMulti-lane highway have visited so far. It also rewarded us with bewitching landscapes and the warmth of the Mongolian people. We had a rare insight into what it means to live a nomadic life in the 21st century while maintaining strong ties with a rich cultural past. We have already commented on Mongolian food at length and although initially it seemed disappointing we came to love the heaped plates of carbs served up with gusto from roadside cafes. We leave the country dreaming of nights in gers, regular sightings of traditionally deel-clad horse-men and feeling like movie stars when passing cars waved us down for photo shoots.

Here are some facts and figures from our time cycle touring in Mongolia:

  • 1588km cycled (longest day 120km, shortest day 30km)
  • 26 nights free-camping, 29 nights in real beds (including 10 nights in gers), 1 nights on train
  • 100+ Mormon crickets avoided on the roads (weirdly often eating their own dead)
  • 18.75 litres of water carried at full capacity
  • 15 feeds of tsuivan eaten (hand-made noodles fried over meat, yum!)
  • 13 international cycle tourists met between Jargalant and Ulaanbaatar
  • 12 days without washing ourselves or clothes (not sure we should be proud of this personal best?)
  • 10 chain cleaning and oiling sessions (mostly completed by Justin)
  • 10 hours lost to Mongolian-time (impatiently waiting for food in roadside cafes)
  • 10 words of Mongolian learnt (and one phrasebook lost)
  • 9 Mongolians who test rode our bicycles (not all fully loaded)
  • 7 groups of camels spotted
  • 6 rivers successfully crossed
  • 6 meals of non-Mongolian food consumed (best being first Thai meal since London)
  • 6 tumbles resulting in broken skin (4:2 to Emma)
  • 4 towns where a variety of fruit and vegetables could be brought including Ulaanbaatar and Bayan-Olgii
  • 4 times offered fermented mares milk products
  • 4 days cycling in the desert completed
  • 3 passes over 2000 metres climbed
  • 2 punctured innertubes (both caused by a piece of metal filing from rim drilling in Bayan-Olgii)
  • 1 dishwashing kit left in a ger camp by mistake
  • 1 horse race watched
  • 1 horse ride (not in horse race)
  • 1 spare wheel carried until Ulaanbaatar 

Justin’s most action hero moment: Witnessing a 4WD do a somersault and land on its roof and cycling at full speed uphill towards it, ditching the bike to sprint the last few metres only to be greeted by the very drunk driver asking if I could help him roll the car right way up. A few minutes later the car was rolled by me and the driver…oh yeah and about 10 other guys.

Emma’s childhood moment relived: Being placed in full control of a wild, free-spirited Mongolian horse after nodding when asked if she had ridden before. Secretly she wondered if a one week long pony camp counted?

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    2 responses to “Mongolia By Numbers”

    • Hi Justin,

      Just wondering if your ~19 liters of water was per person or for the two of you. 9 liters each certainly doesn’t sound like much for some of the long dry distances there, but 19 liters/person is really a lot. I think the most I’ve carried was about 15 liters/person in the Kalahari.

      I’m currently in Romania enjoying hardly carrying any water since it’s so easy to find water everywhere here!


    • Bryan Keith on September 8th, 2011 at 3:34 pm
    • Hey Bryan, the 19 litres was total for both of us and it was pretty much the bare minimum that we could get away with carrying. Strictly drinking and cooking no washing or luxury cups of tea. In hindsight we probably should have carried an additional 5 litre jerry can giving us 12 litres per person buts as they say hindsight is always 20:20.

      We are currently in China enjoying being able to get boiled water at every gas station and cafe we pass. Safe to drink and great for cups of tea as well!


    • Justin on September 10th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

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