Archive for August, 2011

August
30th
2011

Big City China


Big city China

We’ve fast-tracked from Pingyao to Xi’an, justifying another public transport adventure (or nightmare if you ask Justin) so we can avoid another week through China’s relentless industrial belt. The cycling would have been easy enough, but I asked for a get out of jail free card, sick of the constant rumble of trucks, the layer of grit coating my exposed skin and the low hanging smog leaving no view outside hazy outlines of factories and empty riverbeds. – Posted by Emma

August
25th
2011

Chinese Flash Mobs


Chinese flash mobs

Since arriving in China becoming surrounded by locals has become a daily if not hourly occurrence. Stopping in a small village to consult a map attracts a handful of helpful truck drivers, while a pause for a snack in a major town can attract a crowd so large we feel like minor celebrities and struggle to even do a head count. The source of the crowds is often a mystery to us as seemingly empty villages produce a horde of locals eager to stare at us, talk about us, touch our bikes and sometime upon occasion actually respond to our smiles and attempts at pronouncing “Nihao” (hello). In response to the suddenness of the crowd forming we have taken to comparing these gatherings to flash mobs. – Posted by Justin

August
17th
2011

Quick Exit From The Gobi


Quick exit from the Gobi

We see just a fraction of the Gobi desert on the morning our train speeds from Ulaanbaatar towards the Chinese border town of Erenhot. Rolling hills the same colour as the flat plains pass the train windows like early computer graphics randomly generating a landscape. After our own sandy desert crossing in the West of Mongolia we’re more than happy to be viewing it from picture windows. There’s a large concrete rainbow set into the ground at the immigration border and as the train passes it, passengers crowd to the aisle and look out the windows. We’re in China! – Posted by Emma

August
14th
2011

15,000 Kilometre Photo


15,000 kilometre photo

The 15,000 kilometre photo was taken 50 kilometres south of Erenhot in Inner Mongolia, China on 14th August 2011. The landmark came on our first day cycling in China after catching a train from Ulaanbaatar to quickly exit Mongolia. Having already shopped, slept and eaten in our first well stocked middle of nowhere Chinese town, we cycled the last stretch of sandy Gobi desert land on flat tarmac roads, with only occasional dinosaur sculptures to break things up. We’ll leave you pondering why Emma looks like she’s dressed for summer and Justin for winter, while the clouds behind could swing either way. – Posted by Emma

August
12th
2011

Mongolia By Numbers


Mongolia by numbers

Mongolia challenged us with deserts, mountains, hail and wind like no other country we 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. – Posted by Justin

August
12th
2011

Conquering The Boss Road


Conquering the boss road

The capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar (UB), had always seemed like a mile stone for us. Marking the end of three months of cycling through the Altay region of Russian and across Mongolia where we have experienced sublime scenery, challenging terrain and incredible hospitality. So it seemed fitting (in a twisted kind of way) that the final few kilometres into the city centre required us to do battle with roads flowing with thick mud, potholes covered with water that threatened to swallow our bikes whole and the inevitable heavy city traffic. – Posted by Justin

August
4th
2011

Road To Ulaanbaatar


Road to Ulaanbaatar

The sunshine reappears quickly, but it takes a couple of days for us to undo the damage done by our rainy arrival to Tsetserleg. As a break from mud related chores, we make the obligatory hike up a hill to the local temple early one morning, admiring the pagodas and bells on the way with just a handful of devotees. More fascinating to us is the cliff behind where the aim seems to be to get your strip of blue cloth as high up as possible, which must be a variation on the ribbon strewn hill-top ovoos we see each time we climb. – Posted by Emma